Validation: It's Not About The Nail.

Have you ever had that experience when someone (usually your partner or family member) comes to you upset or feeling low, and when you try to help out by advising them how to solve their problem, it only makes things worse? I think we've all been there.

One of the pillars of good psychotherapy is validation. Validation is particularly crucial during the first few sessions working with a new client. While it's true that clients are looking for more effective strategies to solve their problems (i.e., change), often what they need to hear first is that you, the therapist, understands them.

This fall, I've been taking a workshop on Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and one of the central dialectics is the balance between validation of the client's current ways of being, and necessary change. The psychologist teaching the workshop used the following video to demonstrate how difficult if can be for therapists to validate their clients' experiences when the  solution to their problems seems obvious. It's a very popular clip (almost 12 million views), and for good reason. Check it out.