'Validation' in Counselling

Essay around ‘validation’ in counselling

Analyse the types of validation, their importance and the context in which each is used

“Validation is the experience of having someone concur or support your experience of reality”.

According to Eric Fromm [1], we wouldn’t feel as if we exist, if it wasn’t for validation. Being understood is felt to be central to feeling like we actually exist!

In a conversation in which the other person is failing to understand, we can feel ‘disconnected’, isolated – bad. It is always likely to be challenging helping someone for whom you cannot ‘understand’, or where they cannot understand you.

Clearly, ‘understanding’ the issues a client brings to a therapy provider is core to facilitating meaningful interventions and a strategy for recovery. To achieve this, the therapist is required to pay mindful, undivided attention providing, verbal and non-verbal cues that the therapist is interested and that the client is being heard and understood. Validation also includes clarifying and summarising, placing the behavioural symptoms into a larger context, and ‘normalising’.

The therapist can ensure their client knows they are understood by demonstrating they have listened, summarising the essence of what has been said. This lends itself to correction of any areas misunderstood, and clarification. This is useful for both parties.

By putting problem behaviour into larger context, the therapist does not ignore the client’s problematic behaviour, and may avoid more negative behaviour. An example being acknowledgement, e.g. yes, the client had made a negative comment to
someone, but the other party had also acted in a likewise fashion...then re-enforcing any positive actions. Normalising can be achieved when the therapist explains that the clients reactions can be legitimate and those reactions are likely to be those of others in a similar situation]

Available aspects of Validation

Level 1 - Listening and observing –...