Validation Examples

I would like to thank Joel R. Sneed, Marsha Linehan and Carrie Dorrance for providing this document.


What does validation mean?
  • To confirm, to verify, to authenticate.
  • Validation can be verbal or nonverbal.

  • What are the different types of validation?

    1. Focus on listening and observing; staying aware; be in the moment
    Your mom is upset about her cat dieing.  When she is talking and crying, you are nodding your head and holding her hand.

    2. Focus on accurate reflection; restate what the person had said.
    Your brother is upset about not getting a raise at work. He said he is furious and it looks like he has 'steam' coming out of his ears. You say, 'You are furious about this.'
    3. Focus on observing and stating the unspoken; restate what the person's  nonverbals are.
    You sister is talking about how she does all the housework and her husband only spends 20 minutes a week cutting the grass. Now her husband wants her to cut the grass too. You say to your sister, 'You're thinking it's unfair and that you shouldn't be asked to do that.' 

    4. Focus on causes of behaviors including past and present; restate past and connect it to current issue.
    Your friend was raised by alcoholic parents; she put up with constant lies and raising her siblings.  When she got old enough and was dating, she said she would never put up with drinking in her immediate family.  It's been 25 or so years now and she just found out her 17 year old was at a party drinking.  You say to her, "Hearing your outlook, based on your home environment when you were raised, it makes sense you'd respond so angrily."

    5. Focus on person's history and point out how current response is not helpful; restate the past and connect it to current issue and their choices
    Your friend was raised in a home with a physically violent father and a neglectful mother. Your friend is in his forties and has never hit his children. He saw his fiance threaten to hit his children. The scene brought back a lot of memories for him so he threatened his fiance. You say to your friend, "Because others have treated you badly in the past, it makes sense that you'd be angry, but threatening to harm someone only prevents your progress and makes you miserable." 

    6. Focus on treating the person as an equal; hope for the person; genuinely believe the person is capable of change
    Your friend has been divorced for 3 years. He feels uncomfortable doing activities with other couples because he is the only single person in the group. You say, ?It's normal; most people feel this way.? 

    Discussion Questions

    When someone validates you, how do you feel?

    Why do you think it is important to validate ourselves and others?

    Are there times when we should validate people and other times we shouldn't validate people?

    When you are in a difficult situation, who can you rely on to be there for you?  In your support network, who validates you?


    What is invalidation?
  • Negates or dismisses behavior independent of the actual validity of the behavior.
  • To weaken, to nullify, to cancel, to reject, to dismiss

  • What are examples of invalidating responses?

    1. Reject self-description as inaccurate
    You just passed a difficult math test. You said that you feel like Einstein. Your dad says, "You don't know what you are talking about."

    2. Reject a normal response.
    You are really into watching your favorite show and don't feel like doing your chores.Your mom says, "He doesn't want to do his chores because kids are just brats."

    3. Reject response to events as incorrect or ineffective.
    Your favorite teacher yelled at you today and you just told your sister what happened. She said, "That's stupid to feel that way. She's just a teacher."

    4. Dismiss or disregard.
    Your beloved dog just was hit by a car.  Your brother says, "Oh well, stuff happens."

    5. Directly criticize or punish.
    You are at your grandpa's birthday party.  Grandma cut the cake and you are passing out the cake.  You accidentally drop a one of the plates. Grandma says, "You idiot. You don't need birthday cake if you just smear it all over my floor."

    6. Reject and link responses to socially unacceptable characteristics.
    You are helping your grandpa in the garage.  One of the bigger tools just fell on your fingers. Your grandpa says, "Crying means you are weak. Suck it up."

    How does invalidation impact us?

    1. Confusion about self: learns not to trust self and relies on social environment for the correct response.

    2. Problems regulating emotions: Ignores or withholds emotions or is extremely emotional.

    3. Oversimplification: Highly sensitive to failure, perfectionism, and forms unrealistic goals.

    4. Responses to and view of the world are not accurate.

    5. Look to others to tell you how to do things.

    Discussion Questions

    Have you ever felt invalidated before?

    What does invalidation feel like?

    Why do you think invalidation is so hurtful?

    How has invalidation impacted you?

    If someone is invalidating you, what can you do? What are your choices?

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