Validation is a word we hear more in recent days.
While the concept may have originated elsewhere, I first became aware of it through the work of Marsha Linehan, a clinical psychologist and creator of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). In my work with couples and families, validation is something that comes up almost every session.
So let’s talk about what it is and how we can use it to build stronger relationships!
What does Validation mean?
When we validate someone else, we are recognizing or confirming that their feelings, opinions, or beliefs are valid and meaningful. When we validate the feelings of others, we put ourselves in their place to understand their emotional experience and accept it as real.
This is sometimes where people get stuck thinking “Can I still validate someone if I don’t agree with what they’re saying?” Yes!
Confirming your child’s feelings does not mean forgiving or agreeing with your child’s actions. It simply lets your child know that you understand their feelings and that it is okay to have those feelings. Whatever message the child is conveying, one thing that is always true is how he feels.
To validate someone, look for the underlying emotion. By validating your child’s emotional experience, you can help them learn how to handle the larger feelings that often lead to tantrums, meltdowns, and conflict within the family.
Why is Validation important?
We’ve all probably been in a situation where we’ve felt hurt or upset about something, only to have someone tell us we’re overreacting, being dramatic, or needing to calm down.
Can you remember how that situation made you feel? Most likely, it fueled anger, frustration, or insecurity instead of helping you feel calm and secure. Author Karen D. Hall, PhD, and Melissa H. According to Cook, LPC, in his book “The Power of Validation,” validation helps ease emotionally charged situations, while allowing the other person to be heard and understood.
When we are validated, we experience a decrease in the intensity of our feelings.
We are then able to decide what to do next, rather than letting emotions drive the behavioral response.