Please make sure that you have read ‘What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) & How it Can Help You: A Beginner’s Guide, Part 1‘ before reading this article.
In part 2, we’ll deal with validation as a way of connecting to others.
Validation is a complicated skill and using this will give you the opportunity of learning about a more advanced approach to the validation component of GIVE (which we will cover at a later stage).
You can use “VALIDATE” as an acronym in order to remember the building blocks of this skill. The acronym stands for:
- Value others
- Ask questions
- Listen and reflect
- Identify with others
- Discuss emotions
- Attend to non verbals
- Turn the mind
- Encourage participation
Let’s take a closer look at what is meant by each building block.
- It is essential to validation that you seek the inherent value in others.
- Use an acceptance attitude towards others.
- Let others know that they are important to you by demonstrating caring and concern.
In order to help clarify others’ experience, we need to ask questions. Be sure to ask specific questions like:
- What are they feeling?
- What are their thoughts?
- What are their beliefs?
In order to draw out others’ experience, we need to ask questions. We must be genuinely curious to learn what is behind others’ behaviors.
Listen & Reflect
It is important that you listen to the answers of the questions you asked. If needed, you can invite others’ to confirm your understanding or lack of understanding. For clarity, you must continue to question, listen and reflect.
Identify with Others
In order to identify with others, you need to try see the world through their eyes. What makes sense to them in respect of relationships and the world? You must always try to understand others’ and identify when you can understand and accept differences when you cannot.
Make sure that you talk about the feelings of others’ and how their perspective is affected by them. This is not about how their feelings affect you. Once you acknowledge the impact of others’ experience on them, you will start to demonstrate understanding.
Attend to Nonverbals
Make sure to notice the nonverbal communication of others’. This can give you information about their experience.
- Do they look open or closed?
- Are they making eye contact?
- What about their facial expressions helps you identify feelings?
- What about their body language helps you identify feelings?
Lastly, make sure to clarify your observations with others for accuracy.
Turn the Mind
That we agree with others is not what validation means. Validation means that we accept what they feel, think, experience and how behaviors make sense given their context,
non-judgementally. When it is difficult to relate and in conflicts, it is important to turn the mind towards validation.
As validation can be a difficult process, we need to encourage ourselves and others to be engaged with each other. Don’t give up, even when understanding is hard, when you feel disconnected, or when you are in conflict with others.
Validation Is Not:
Validation can be confused with certain interactions.
You need to practice validation as it is complex. Once you understand interactions that are not experienced as validation, you will improve this skill. Validation often gets confused with the following ways of relating to others. Certain ways of relating can work, however we want to minimize their use or use them in balance with accurate validation.
Personalizing Others’ Experience
We need to make sure that we keep the focus on the other person. One or two self statements that help communicate your similar experience can be validating, but once we start to tell our own story, the focus is now no longer on the other person.
Getting Too Absorbed
When we connect with others’ experiences, we are validating. We must however not get absorbed into it. You can validate without taking on others’ distress. Make sure to be with others’ in distress without being their distress. Taking someone on as a project must also be avoided. We are not responsible for the feelings of others but we can show concern and connection.
“Fixing”, Offering Solutions, or Giving Advice
Most of us do not need our situations to be fixed or we already know how to do it ourselves. What we are looking for is acknowledgement and understanding. While “fixing”, offering solutions or giving advice can sometimes be effective, they are on the opposite end of the dialectic from validation.
Cheerleading and Encouragement
Using these approaches can be effective if they are in balance with validation. They can also feel condescending or dismissive if a person has not been validated first.
One must avoid looking on the bright side by stating that the situation could be worse, or one-upping others to try put their situation into perspective. These approaches do not work as even if what the other person is saying does not seem like a big deal to you, always remember that it is a big deal for him or her.
Agreeing or Giving In
Even if you disagree, are in conflict or want a change to happen, you can still validate others’ experience. A starting point for change can be Validation.
Reference: Akeso Crescent Clinic