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Cognitive Behavioural Chairwork

Dr Matthew Pugh &

Dr Tobyn Bell

A perfect introduction to how (and when) to introduce chairwork into your CBT practice
'On demand' New Year Sale - £40

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Pugh & Bell, Chairwork: Text

Cognitive Behavioural Chairwork


Chairwork refers to a collection of experiential methods which use chairs, movement, positioning, and dialogue to bring about change. Since its development over one century ago, chairwork has gained a reputation for being one of the most powerful and versatile methods of intervention in psychotherapy. In CBT, chairwork is an effective way to generate heart-level belief change, shift entrenched cognitions, and develop new behavioural skills. As such, it represents a valuable addition to therapists’ toolkit.  

In this experiential and practice-focused workshop, therapists will be introduced to the core chairwork techniques which are utilised in CBT. Using a combination of group discussion, self-practice exercises, and live demonstrations, participants will have the opportunity to observe and experience chairwork from the inside-out. Ways of overcoming common obstacles in cognitive behavioural chairwork and adapting these techniques online therapy will also be explored.  

Learning objectives

- Explore the history and evolution of chairwork as a therapeutic method

- Introduce the four pillars of chairwork (principles, processes, procedures, and process skills)

- Experience chairwork directly through guided self-practice

- Demonstrate how cognitive behavioural chairwork targets common issues in CBT including negative automatic thoughts, distressing cognitive processes (e.g. worry and self-criticism), and behaviour change.

Key references

Bell, T., Montague, J., Elander, J., & Gilbert, P. (2019). ‘A definite feel‐it moment’: Embodiment, externalisation and emotion during chair‐work in compassion‐focused therapy. Counselling & Psychotherapy Research, 20, 143-153.

Bell, T., Montague, J., Elander, J., & Gilbert, P. (2020). 'Suddenly you are King Solomon’: Multiplicity, transformation and integration in compassion-focused therapy chairwork'. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 31, 223–237.

Bell, T., Montague, J., Elander, J., & Gilbert, P. (2021). Multiple emotions, multiple selves: Compassion focused therapy chairwork. The Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, 14, e22.

Pugh, M. (2019). Cognitive behavioural chairwork: Distinctive features. Routledge.

Pugh, M. (2019). A little less talk, a little more action: A dialogical approach to cognitive therapy. The Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, 12, 1-24.

Pugh, M. (2021). Single-session chairwork: Overview and case illustration of brief dialogical psychotherapy. British Journal of Guidance and Counselling.

Pugh, M., & Margetts, A. (2020). Are you sitting (un)comfortably? Action-based supervision and supervisory drift. The Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, 13, 1-19.

Pugh & Bell, Chairwork: Welcome
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Dr Matthew Pugh

Matthew Pugh is a Clinical Psychologist, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist, Advanced Schema Therapist, Voice Dialogue Facilitator, and chairwork practitioner. He has worked in eating disorders services for over 10 years as both a senior therapist and team leader. Alongside his NHS role, Matthew is a Teaching Fellow (University College London), clinical and research supervisor, and trainer. Alongisde Tobyn Bell, he co-directs – a international provider of chairwork-related training and supervision. Matthew is the author of ‘Cognitive Behaviour Chairwork: Distinctive Features’.  

Pugh & Bell, Chairwork: About

Dr Tobyn Bell

Tobyn Bell is a Compassion Focused Therapy Trainer, Supervisor and Psychotherapist. His is also an accredited Schema Therapist and Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist. He is a co-founder of Chairwork ( and a co-author of the book ‘Compassion Focused Therapy from the Inside Out: A Self-practice/Self-reflection Workbook for Therapists’. Tobyn regularly provides national and international training on compassion and chairwork, and is actively involved in ongoing research within these areas. He currently works as a lecturer and operational lead at the University of Manchester.

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Pugh & Bell, Chairwork: About

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