What is Validation/Empathy and How Can it Benefit You?

EmpathyOne of the most important concepts that ALL clients benefit from has to do with the idea of offering validation to others. Now, let’s be clear, validation IS some things and IS NOT some things. It IS listening and allowing someone to have the feelings they ALREADY have and letting them know you HEAR them and combine that with and empathy statement that lets them know that you get it with respect to how it might feel if you put yourself in their place.

Validation IS NOT “fixing” the problem. It is not related to whether or not you understand the issue or feel the same way. It is not talking about how the same situation/problem has occurred for you (because then, the focus shifts away from them to you). It is not telling them their feelings are not worth being upset about (that is actually the opposite of validation and is DISCOUNTING of their feelings).

The reality is that people feel how they feel no matter if we think it is silly or that they shouldn’t feel that way and it is important to allow them to have those feelings and hear them and empathize with them. THEN, AFTER we have given them validation, they may be more open to hearing solutions or other input or hearing how their feelings may not be worth worrying about or how that same thing may have happened to you.

Women are usually much better at being naturally validating of others and men are unfortunately not as good at it, but they can learn. Females are more socialized to be better communicators whereas males are raised to be tough and strong and not in touch with feelings. Think about how easy it is for a woman to cry and how difficult that is for most men.

It DOES take practice to be better at validation, but I guarantee it will increase the depth of your relationships and be a great benefit in a lot of ways.

By Ron Deage
Clinical Director at A Turning Point

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