When I first began working in residential treatment at Sunrise, I was hit by so many new therapeutic terms.  All these terms have their own meanings, purpose, and uses.  As I love my found knowledge of these helpful words, I would really like to touch on one specifically, Validation.  If you are a parent of a current Sunrise student I am sure you have heard this word.  You have probably heard it from your primary therapist asking you to validate your daughter or asking her to validate you.  As I work with many parents I often get asked “How do I validate my daughter when she is telling me she wants to cut herself or kill herself?”  As I do my best to answer this question I first ask myself what does it mean to validate?  According to the Merriman- Webster dictionary, validations, in a therapeutic sense, is defined as, “to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of (validate his concerns).“  This can be hard when someone is asked to validate someone else and they don’t feel like the other person’s perception is correct and therefore does not want to validate something they don’t agree with.  But here is where I want to bring us back to Webster’s meaning and focus in on “illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of” part of this definition.  In the residential treatment world, when we refer to validation we are usually asking to validate the emotion, not necessarily what the person is saying.  Emotions are never wrong.  What we do with our emotions is usually where we go wrong.  So the next time your daughter tells you that she is so sad and depressed that she wants to self harm, you don’t need to argue with her about how she should not self harm, just validate that she is feeling sad and that is something you can relate to.  Everyone has experienced emotions in one form or another and that is something we can all validate.
– written by Vanessa Leach, Residential Manager