If acceptance and change are viewed as ends of a continuous dimension, then validation is the strongest or most obvious acceptance-based strategy.
The practitioner communicates to the client that his or her responses make sense and are understandable within his or her current life context or situation. The practitioner actively accepts the client and communicates this acceptance to the client (Miller, Rathus, & Linehan, 2007) (p59).
Validation means acknowledgement of that which is valid. It does not mean “making” valid, or validating that which is invalid. Validation does not necessarily mean that you like or agree with what the other person is doing, saying or feeling.
Validation just means you understand where the other person is coming from.
At the most basic level validation involves paying attention, expressing interest, and making an effort to understand what is being said (Miller, Rathus, & Linehan, 2007) (p60).
The next step involves accurately reflecting back the client’s own feelings, thoughts, assumptions and behaviours (i.e. empathy) and conveying understanding and acceptance of the client’s behaviour, thoughts or feelings (Miller, Rathus, & Linehan, 2007) (p60).
At the highest level validation conveys a genuine belief that the client has the capacity to change and move towards life goals (Miller, Rathus, & Linehan, 2007) (p61).
The purpose of validation is to reduce emotional arousal, provide reinforcement, and model self-validation for the client (Lynch, Chapman, Rosenthal, Kuo, & Linehan, 2006).
Self-validation involves perceiving your own feelings, thoughts and actions as accurate and acceptable in a particular situation.
Miller et al (2007) provide handouts and exercises for use with clients to support their skills in providing validation for self and others.
Remember that validation is used in synergy with change strategies. Too much validation can contribute to a client staying stuck.
These notes are based on (Miller et al., 2007)and (Lynch, Trost, Salsman, & Linehan, 2007)