The Importance Of Validation

The Importance of Validation During Treatment

Est. reading time: 2 mins
Posted Under: For Families

Clinically Reviewed by: Amanda Fialk, PhD, LCSW, LICSW

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Originally published April 2016.

Welcome to the second of our monthly family newsletter installments!

Our hope is that we are able to provide some basic concepts and ideas that give you both an idea of what your loved ones are working on and how you can best offer them support during this time.

As parents, you are critically positioned to impact the outcome of your child’s journey in treatment and in their efforts to move towards independence. Although you may not understand how to harness it effectively, the power you hold is unparalleled and if used effectively can have an extraordinary impact!

For change to happen in a family system it is critical that everyone does his or her part to support that change. The family is a system, so even if there is only one person in the system that is struggling, everyone in the family is impacted, and is impacting the struggle.

Last month in our family newsletter we stressed the importance of taking care of yourself, modeling the concept of putting self-care first, just as we stress to your children. This month we would like to offer you an additional practical AND applicable tool to apply and incorporate into your interactions with your loved ones. This month we would like for you to consider the importance of validation during treatment!

Why is this important?

The field of psychology has recently taken an interest in studying validation, or more specifically, one’s experience of feeling invalidated. The findings in this area of research are staggering. We are beginning to understand just how detrimental feeling invalidated can be to our mental and emotional health.

Three simple ways to support your loved ones:

  1. Stop and listen. Make sure that when you are engaging with your loved one you are giving them your full and undivided attention. Try not to be multitasking while engaging in discussion. Show them with your reflective responses, attention and body language that you hear them, and are really trying to understand.
  2. Do not give advice. Parents are fixers! It’s part of our job! We have been trained to fix our children’s suffering the moment we see it. After all, isn’t that what most of parenting is? When you give advice to your young adult, they’ll hear it as though you’re dismissing their experience—it’s invalidating. Time and time again I’ve sat in family sessions and watched as parents respond to their children’s cries by trying to fix it. Despite how intuitive that may feel, it’s precisely the opposite of the intervention that they need right now. When parents give advice it incites any opposition that might be present and can influence your children’s decision making in the “wrong” direction.
  3. Be patient and let them work through it. Remember that during different developmental cycles of life a different type of parental intervention is most helpful to our children. Just as post-adolescence and emerging adulthood are hard on us as parents, it is an extremely difficult and confusing time for our children. It’s supposed to be! Key to their success is that they learn precisely how to problem solve during this time. The truth is that they’re not looking for your problem-solving skills; they are looking for your empathy, love, and compassion. They simply need you to validate that what they’re going through is real and that you’ll always be there as a shoulder to cry on.

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