The Adult Chair Model
is a psychological understanding of our three primary selves, the inner child, the adolescent, and the adult. This proven model leads us to a place of self-love, emotional balance, and joy.
The Inner Child
Also known as our child chair, our inner child is the part of us that is the container for our true feelings and true needs. Not knowing (and never being taught) what to do with negative emotions, most of us abandon our inner child at an early age. Our inner child is where we find our vulnerability. Although vulnerability seems scary, it is necessary to cultivate deep and connected relationships with our self and others.
The Adolescent Chair
Also known as our adolescent chair, our adolescent is the seat of our survivor. It is where our ego was born and currently resides. Never allowing us to be present and always living in the past and/or future, our adolescent self is continually making assumptions about the future and stories about the past. Our adolescent’s reason for existence is to protect us and keep us safe from dangers. What we discover through our work with our adolescent is that these dangers are mostly imagined.
When seated in the adolescent chair, we are controlling and judgmental, feel that we must be perfect, blame others, and wear a mask to cover up our true, authentic self from what it believes to be a cold and rejecting world.
The pain of not being able to show the world who we truly are is so great that we resort to negative behaviors and addictions to numb ourselves out. This often leads to a reactionary and codependent life as we view ourselves as victims. Most of us reside unconsciously in the adolescent chair until we awaken and decide we are ready to make a change.
The Adult Chair
The adult chair represents our healthy adult, and it is our highest self in human form. Our healthy adult self is the part of us that is able to connect deeply into our inner child’s feelings and needs and can objectively witness the actions of our adolescent self. Like a patient parent, our adult self loves our inner child and can wait patiently for our adolescent self to finish its tantrums.
Our adult self is a part of us that few know and experience regularly because our parents, teachers and other adults in our lives rarely demonstrated how to live as a truly healthy adult.
When seated in the adult chair, we are in the present moment, dealing in fact and truth (versus stories and assumptions), and we are patient and compassionate. Our adult self is our protector, possessing the strength and clear voice to set firm boundaries. Living from our adult chair we become unstuck and are able to make change happen. Our power resides in our adult chair, and it is here, and only here, that we can become aware of—and overcome—the emotional triggers and negative patterns that hold us back.
This work is new for most of us, but when we learn to sit in the adult chair we find our authentic self and realize that we truly love ourselves and don’t need to hide behind our masks any longer.
When I met Michelle and she introduced me to the 3 chairs I was at a turning point in my healing journey. This is the closest I’ve ever come to knowing my self and healing from a past I thought I would never let go of. Those 3 chairs changed my life and can change yours too.
The Adult Chair Podcast
In the first four episodes of our podcast, we cover the basics of the chair model. Listen to each episode below to get familiar with all the chairs have to teach us.
This week on The Adult Chair, Michelle Chalfant and Pete Wright introduce The Adult Chair and share insights into how the adult supports our growth from child and adolescent every day.
This week on The Adult Chair, we talk about the critical developmental milestones of the adolescent and provide a foundation for understanding when we’re getting stuck in our adolescent chair as adults.
This week on The Adult Chair, Michelle introduces us to the child chair and brings into focus the path we can take to discover our relationship with our own inner child as we continue our series on the three chairs.
This week on The Adult Chair, Michelle Chalfant shares a bit of her own story with Pete Wright, the story that
We cannot heal our self if we do not know ourselves.
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