Emotional validation means acknowledging and expressing acceptance of someone’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors as understandable. Sometimes understanding someone else’s thoughts and feelings requires a lot of work because the way they think makes no sense to you.

Emotional validation is different from emotional invalidation which means someone’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors are judged, rejected, or ignored.

Validation is particularly important for emotionally sensitive people. So if you love or care about or interact with someone who is emotionally sensitive, using validation can help build your relationship or help communication go more smoothly.

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Practicing Validation

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  1. I’ve been reading quite a lot on BPD in the last bit. It seems to me that the only “risk” to using DBT skills or some of the workbooks available is being viewed at times as seeming stilted or hesitant while trying to decide my best response (and keeping literature hidden)
    My spouse had been dx’d with BPD (while hospitalized) years ago. He doesn’t believe this for reasons I understood before we got married but now think maybe the dx was correct. I care more about better ways to deal with and maybe re-frame my daily life than him getting diagnosed, so would using skills outlined in various resources cause any harm or maybe create problems I’m not seeing? I’d prefer to not amplify things.

    • Most of the DBT skills were developed for the individual to use to mange his own emotional reactions more effectively. However, people have found that using the skills when they have someone in their family who has BPD is very helpful. Shari Manning, Ph.D. wrote a book called Loving Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder which is about applying DBT skills to interactions with others. I think you could find some good ideas and examples in her book that could be helpful to you.

      Validation is a skill that is used interpersonally and has been found to help people calm themselves. In general, using validation and the skills that Dr. Manning describes should not amplify issues. Unfortunately though I cannot say specifically that it won’t make the situation worse for you, because I don’t know your specific situation.

      My best wishes to you.

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The Power of Validation
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