Na czym polega terapia odnosnie traumatycznych wydarzen z przeszlosci?

O trzech etapach terapii traumy nauczylam sie na szkoleniach prowadzonych przez Complex Trauma Therapists Network UK. Bylo to doswiadczenie ktore duzo wnioslo do mojego zrozumienia struktury i kolejnosci okreslonych etapow czyli co po czym powinno nastapic.

Mam szczera nadzieje, ze po przeczytaniu tego wpisu wszystkie osoby ktore kiedys doswiadczyly traumy pozyskaja wieksze  poczucie kontoli nad tym co w terapii bedzie sie dzialo, co pozwoli im zmiejszyc poczucie strachu i niepewnosci “przed nieznanym”.

Etap I

Opanowanie umiejetnosci radzenia sobie z nieprzyjemnymi fizycznymi reakcami ciala, nieprzyjemnymi reakcjami emocjonalnymi oraz z poczuciem bezradnosci.

Na tym etapie pacjent buduje poczucie swojego wewnetrznego bezpieczenstwa. Pacjenta i jego stan psychiczny mozna tu porownac do budynku ktory ma byc poddany remontowi. Etap pierwszy mozna porownac do budowania rusztowania wokol budynku co ma zabezpieczyc budynek przed dalszymi zniszczeniami z zewnatrz I przygotowac go do dalszych prac. Pacjent uczy sie na tym etapie jak stawiac granice w stosunku do problematycznych osob obecnych w jego zyciu. Pacjent poznaje zdrowe sposoby na przetrwanie trudnych momentow i testuje je na sobie uczac sie co najlepiej pozwala mu zapewnic sobie wewnetrzny spokoj. Etap pierwszy jest niezbedny aby mozna bylo przejsc do kolejnych etapow leczenia. Po zakonczeniu Etapu I moze okazac sie ze pacjent bedzie zadowolony z postepow po tym etapie az tak bardzo ze nie bedzie zainteresowany dalszymi pracami naprawczymi w terapii. Nie ma w tym nic zlegoiI mozna sprawy zostawic na tym wlasnie Etapie I.

Etap II

Przepracowanie nierozwiazanych wewnetrznych dylematow / sytuacji konfliktu dotyczacych doswiadczenia wydarzen traumatycznych w przeszlosci.

Ten etap mozna porownac do prac budowlanych we wnetrzu budynku ktore wymagaja polozenia nowych tynkow, zmiany rozkladu scian / pomieszczen w budynku (w psychologicznym wnetrzu pacjenta). Dzialania budowlane wewnatrz osobowisci pacjenta sluzyc maja komfortowi wewnetrznemu pacjenta w swoim wlasnym towarzystwie. Sa to prace prowadzace do akceptacji siebie, swojego wnetrza oraz nowo odkrytych czesci swojego wnetrza ktore wylonily sie w odpowiedzi na wydarzenia traumatyczne.

Etap III

Process zespolenia sie rozbitej podczas traumy osobowosci po to aby czuc sie w pelni soba w kontakcie z innymi ludzmi.

Etap III to jest etap wykanczania i upiekszania wnetrza budynku, etap dodawania swoich wlasnych rozwiazan pod swoje preferencje do wnetrza osobowosci pacjenta. Robi sie to po to aby stworzyc swoje wlasne wyjatkowe miejsce ktore nalezy tylko do pacjenta i ktore odzwierciedla prawdziwa osobowosc pacjenta. Czesto Etap III obejmuje zrzucenie maski ktora pacjent nosil przez wiele lat udajac do otoczenia kogos innego. To jest etap ostatecznego wyzwalania sie z traumy ktora zafalszowala obraz pacjenta na temat siebie samego wjego wlasnych oczach na jego niekorzysc. Na tym etapie pacjent stawic czola moze tez swojemu doswiadczeniu odsuniecia/odrzucenia przez rodzine w nastepstwie wydarzen traumatycznych, poczuciu dlugoletniego odizolowania od rodziny, poczuciu bycia gorszym w porownaniu z innymi czlonkami rodziny. Na tym Etapie III pacjent buduje nowe relacje z rodzina lub z innymi ludzmi aby zaspokoic swoja naturalna, normalna i zdrowa potrzebe przynaleznosci do grupy ludzi ktorym pacjent moze zaufac.

 

 

Historic trauma focused talking therapy stages

Skills – Memories- Integration

 

I have learned about this specific way of dividing the process into 3 stages from the trainings with Complex Trauma Therapists Network UK which were absolutely wonderful and very informative.

I do hope this is going to be helpful giving survivors a greater sense of control over the process that might be initially perceived as “scary” and “unpredictable”.

Stage I
Learning The Coping Skills in response to unpleasant bodily sensations, unpleasant internal emotional responses and a sense of helplessness.

This is a stage when a patient builds their own sense of inner security and safety. We could use a metaphor in here of a patient and their personality being portrayed as a building that is not in a very good condition and needs a refurbishment. Stage one is like putting a scaffolding around the building. The scaffolding protects the building from any further damage and allows it to be well prepared for further works. Patient is supposed to learn how to set boundaries towards problematic people present in their life. Patient explores several ways of healthy survival strategies during difficult moments. Patients test these strategies to learn which specific strategies are going to be most effective in bringing inner peace experience for the patient. Stage one is essential and necessary for the treatment to progress to Stage II and Stage III. After the completion of Stage I the patient might be so very pleased with the level of their new balanced subjective experience of their inner self that they might decide to end the treatment at this stage. There is absolutely nothing wrong about it – many patients choose to end their treatment completing Stage I only.

Stage II
Processing of Unresolved Aspects of Patient’s Memories Referring to Historical Traumatic Events including internal conflicts and self-image

This stage could be compared to construction works inside the building. These changes could change the layout of the space which metaphorically means the way the patient sees themselves after the experience of the trauma. The construction works at this stage serve the purpose of establishing an inner comfort of the patient internally for them to feel comfortable in their own company. These works lead to self-acceptance of own internal aspects of personality and to openness and acceptance towards the new aspects of internal landscape that could have been created in response to traumatic events from the past.

Stage III
Process of Personality Integration, integration of the parts that got separated from the core during the traumatic experience. This stage allows patients to once again feel fully themselves internally and in contact with other people.

Stage III is all about the finishing works inside the building. It is all about the manifestation of patient’s ideas about the interior design of the building that belongs to them. This stage serves a purpose of creating such a version of interior design which fully reflects the true personality of the patient. Very often Stage III is the experience of getting rid of the mask/masks that the patient could have been wearing for many years pretending to be somebody else. This is a stage of final release of trauma from the patient’s personality. This moment of release addresses also any false believes the patient might have been holding on to about themselves for a very long time. This is also a stage when the patient is ready to effectively face the experience of having been moved away/rejected by their family of origin which might have happened in response to traumatic events. These sense of rejection and isolation is all about the patient feeling like someone “worse” than others when compared to other family members. During Stage III the patient makes an active attempt to rebuild their relationship with their family or, if impossible, with other people. This process is helpful in meeting their normal, natural, and healthy need for connection and belonging. The reconnection could take place with the old-changed or new-different group of people the patient is able and willing to trust.

Brexit Fears

The last day to register for the “settlement” scheme is June 30, 2021.

Postponing registration is a bad idea especially due to the nature of anxiety (fear) which intensifies as the time goes by. So there is no point in postponing this quick operation, especially if you have a simple situation with documents and you know some basic English. The questions are written in simple English and they are easy to answer.

Detailed information in English from gov.uk with other EU language options

The application for the Android phone can be downloaded from the Google store

Your smartphone must have the NFC (Near-Field Communication) option activated – just enter this NFC symbol in the phone settings Search window and the phone will find it for you. This will be needed for the phone to be able to read the micro-chip inside the passport. You will need to place the phone on the passport with the bottom of the phone touching the passport pages or its front cover. Sometimes it takes a while to make this work and you have to turn the phone on the passport, put the phone on an open passport, put the phone on a closed passport, etc.

You can also use the smartphone application if it is installed on your friend’s phone. What matters is the data entered into the system of the Home Office, not the phone which is being used for the data to be entered.

You need to have your home address, your e-mail address, your National Insurance number and your Permanent Residency Card number if you have one.

Remember that there will be a stage in the process when the application will ask you to take a “selfie” so dress nicely and find a good place at your house, where there will be a smooth bright wall against which you can sit/stand to take this “selfie”. This “selfie” will not be printed anywhere in documents. This is only for the use of the Home Office.

If you use your passport for the settlement application registration process, you do not need to send anything by post (unless they ask you later to send them anything else).

Please note that if you use your National ID Card, you will need to post it to the Home Office.

Ok, so now when it’s all ready to go, you can open the application on your phone and start answering questions and entering data.

The application will guide you on each step of the process with simple words.

After completing the process, which takes about 15 minutes, you will receive an email from the Home Office confirming that the application has been submitted.

After about a week you will receive another email confirming that you have been registered as a “settled” in the UK.

If you need to send additional documents to the Home Office, they will write to you and you will have to respond to their request. From what I’ve heard, this does not tend to happen with a standard registration without any complicated history of stay / employment / etc.

So put the fears aside and make it happen as soon as possible.

As far as I know there are no fees connected with this process.

Brexitowe niepokoje

Ostatni dzien rejestrowania sie na “osiedlenie” to 30 czerwca 2021 roku.

Odkladanie na pozniej rejestracji jest pomyslem niekorzystnym z racji niepokoju (strachu) ktory ma w naturze intensyfikacje w miare uplywajacego czasu. Nie ma wiec sensu odwlekanie szczegolnie jesli ma sie prosta sytuacje z dokumentami i choc troche zna sie angielski. Pytania sa napisane prostym jezykiem.

Sczegolowa informacja po polsku ze strony gov.uk

Aplikacja na telefon Android do sciagniecia ze sklepu Google

Telefon musi miec uaktywniona opcje NFC (Near-Field Communication) – wystarczy wpisac ten symbol NFC w ustawienia telefonu i telefon sam to znajdzie. To bedzie potrzebne zeby telefon mogl odczytac mikro-chip z paszportu jak sie telefon na paszporcie polozy spodem telefonu do paszportu. Czasem to troche trwa i trzeba telefon poprzekrecac na paszporcie, polozyc telefon na otwartym paszporcie, polozyc telefon na zamknietym paszporcie, itp

Mozna korzystac z aplikacji na telefon w telefonie kogos znajomego. Licza sie wpisane dane a nie telefon z ktorego sie te dane wpisuje.

Potrzeba miec przy sobie swoj adres domowy, swoj e-mail, swoj numer National Insurance oraz swoj numer Permanent Residency Card jesli sie ja wyrabialo.

Trzeba sie ladnie ubrac i znalezc w miare dobre miejsce w domu gdzie bedzie gladka jasna sciana na ktorej tle bedzie sobie mozna zrobic “selfie”. Tego “selfie” niekt nigdzie nie bedzie drukowal. To jest tylko dla potrzeb urzedu.

Jak sie skorzysta z paszportu to nic nie trzeba poczta wysylac (chyba ze oni poprosza potem aby im cos doslac).

Jak sie skorzysta z dowodu osobistego to niestety trzeba bedzie dowod do urzedu wyslac.

Ok czyli teraz jak to wszystko jest gotowe to mozna wlaczyc aplikacje na telefonie i zaczac wpisywanie danych i odpowiadanie na pytania.

Aplikacja poprowadzi kazdego krok po kroku prostymi slowami.

Po zakonczeniu procesu ktory trwa okolo 15 minut dostaniecie e-maila z Urzedu Home Office z potwierdzeniem ze aplikacja zostala zlozona.

Po okolo tygodniu dostaniecie kolejnego e-maila potwierdzajacego ze zostaliscie zarejestrowani jako osoba ”osiedlona”.

Jesli bedzie potrzeba cos wiecej doslac urzedowi to oni napisza o tym do Was i trzeba bedzie ta prosbe spelnic. Z tego co slyszalam to sie raczej nie zdarza przy standardowej rejestracji bez zadnych skomplikowanych historii pobytu/zatrudnienia/etc.

Tak ze strachy prosze odlozyc na bok i zabrac sie do sprawy juz teraz.

Wg mojej wiedzy nie ma zadnych oplat zwiazanych z tym procesem.

Zaloba oraz jej naturalny przebieg

Załoba po stracie bliskiej osoby jest jak najbardziej normalnym wyrazem żalu i głębokiego smutku po dotkliwej stracie kogos z kim bylismy blisko zwiazani. Strata moze pojawic się w zwiazku z rozstaniem, rozwodem, smiercia, diagnoza nieuleczalnej choroby, nagla niepelnosprawnoscia lub kalectwem, niemoznoscia posiadania potomstwa, dlugoterminowym zagubieniem sie zwierzecia domowego lub jego smiercia.

Najpierw pojawia sie ZASKOCZENIE a po nim nastepuje faza strachu, zalu,  bolu i cierpienia oraz odretwienia. Poczatkowo dominujacym uczuciem jest rozpacz, lek oraz gniew, ktiory moze być skierowany zarowno do bliskich, znajomych, wspolpracownikow ale tez do zmarlej osoby ze tak nagle odeszla;

Po tym naglym poczatku oraz silnej fali zaskoczenia mieszanego z niepewnocia czy to naprawde sie dzieje pojawiaja sie okresy smutku, pustki i osamotnienia. Zycie wydaje się niekompletne, pozbawione sensu oraz puste. Osoba w zalobie zwykle wtedy zamyka się w sobie i wspomina ostatnie wspolne momenty spedzone ze zmarla osoba.

Przedmioty, miejsca, sytuacje, osoby kontaktujace sie z kondolencjami – wszyscy przypominaja jakos strate tej bliskiej osoby oraz przezycia z ta osoba zwiazane. Pojawia sie w zwiazku z tym drazliwosc oraz skłonnosc do placzu co jest nadzwyczaj naturalnym sposobem na wyrazanie smutku. Bardzo charakterystycznym zjawiskiem dla tego okresu moga tez byc pretensje oraz wrogosc kierowana do osob, ktore stykały sie z utracona osoba ale jakos zawiodly lub nie odegraly swojej roli zgodnie z oczekiwaniami. To jest bezradnosc i bezsilnosc osoby cierpiacej a nie zlosliwosc czy uszczypliwosc w stosunku do innych. Ten trudny okres trwa dosyc dlugo – zwykle do 2 lat po smierci osoby bliskiej. Sa jednak osoby, u ktorych załoba trwa znacznie dłużej co wtedy jest juz albo zaloba skomplikowana albo zaloba z powiklaniami co utrudnia poroces powrotu do normalnosci z przed czasu straty.

Ogolnie zaloba jako bardzo trudny moment ktory wystawia kazdego czlowieka na swoista probe. W trakcie tej proby czlowiek moze bardzo latwo ulec pokusie kojenia bolu roznymi uzywkami, narkotykami, jedzeniem, itd co wtedy  utrudnia powrot do normalnosci poniewaz wprowadza element uzaleznienia ktory blokuje process zaloby ktora trwa.

Ukojenie przychodzi gdy czlowiek mimo bolu ktory staje sie z czasem slabszy przystosowuje sie do nowej sytuacji, wchodzi w nowe lub umacnia stare zwiazki, rysuja sie przed nim nowe cele zyciowe. Wtedy tez w miejsce smutku I rozpaczy zaczyna pojawiac sie fala pozytywnych wspomnien o osobie zmarlej. Pojawia sie tez nowa sila ze zycie ma sens i ze trzeba wrocic do tego co bieglo tuz obok przez wiele miesiecy ale juz tak byc nie musi. Ukojenie nie zamyka calkowicie wystepowania  bolesnych napadow smutku. One po prostu staja sie  rzadsze i coraz bardziej delikatne co do intensywnosci.

Osoby doswiadczajace zaloby bardzo czesto doswiadczaja pogorszenia stanu zdrowia fizycznego co jest zwiazane z duzym nasileniem stresu, napiecia oraz obnizona odpornoscia organizmu ktora jest reakcja na silny stress. Ludzie moga wtedy czesciej niz zwykle zapadac na rozne mniejsze lub wieksze choroby co niestety dotyczy tez szybkiego rozwoju chorob nowotworowych.

Dlatego tez nalezy przyjac smutek i cierpienie po stracie najblizszej osoby jako naturalne skutki utraty z bliskim kontaktu. Nalezy pozwolic sobie plakac, wyciagac reke do innych po to zeby sie wyzalic, pozwolic innym na pomoc w postaci przygotowanych przez innych posilkow, zaproszen, odwiedzin, itd. Oczywiscie wspaniale by bylo gdyby byla mozliwosc wybrania sie albo do bliskiej osoby znajomej albo do terapeuty aby stworzyc okazje do rozmowy o swoich uczuciach w celu wyrazenia ich slowami. Proces ten pomaga w przechodzeniu przez process zaloby w zdrowy sposob oraz ze zmniejszonym ryzykiem komplikacji wlacznie z wydluzeniem sie cierpienia na dluzszy okres czasu siegajacy ponad 2 lata.

Grief and sadness are natural parts of a loss

Feelings; Sadness

Sadness is the most common feeling found in the bereaved and really needs little comment. This feeling is not necessarily manifested by crying behaviour, but it often is. Crying is a signal that evokes a sympathetic and protective reaction from others and establishes a social situation in which the normal laws of competitive behaviour are suspended.

Feelings; Anger

Anger is frequently experienced after a loss. It could be one of the most confusing feelings for the bereaved, and as such is at the root of many problems in the grieving process. A woman whose husband died of cancer said to me “How can I be angry? He did not want to die”. The truth is that she was angry at him for dying and leaving her. If the anger is not adequately acknowledged it can lead to a complicated mourning. This anger comes from two sources: (1) from a sense of frustration that there was nothing one could do to prevent the tragic event, and (2) from a kind of regressive (disabling/helpless) experience that occurs after the loss of someone close. The bereaved might have had this type of regressive experience when he/she was a very young child on a shopping trip with his/her mother. The child suddenly looked up to find that the mother has disappeared somewhere. The child felt panic and anxiety until the mother returned, whereupon, rather than express a loving reaction, the child hauled off and kicked her in the shins. This behaviour is, according to researchers, a part of our genetic heritage, which symbolises the message “Don’t leave me again!”

In the loss of any important person there is a tendency to regress, to feel helpless, to feel unable to exist without a person, and then to experience the anger that goes along with these feelings of anxiety. The anger that the bereaved person experiences needs to be identified and appropriately targeted towards the person that is gone to bring it to a healthy conclusion. However, it often is handled in other less effective ways, one of which is displacement, or directing the anger towards some other person and then often blaming them for the tragic event. The line of reasoning is that if someone can be blamed, then he is responsible, and hence, the loss could have been prevented.
One of the most risky maladaptation of anger is the posture of turning the anger inward against the self. In a severe case of retroflection, an angry person, who is also down on himself might develop suicidal behaviour.

Feelings; Guilt and Self-reproach

Guilt and self-reproach are common experiences of the bereaved; guilt over not being kind enough, over not doing certain things in the past, etc. Usually the guilt is manifested over something that happened or something that was neglected around the time of the death. Most often the guilt is irrational and will mitigate through reality testing.

Feelings; Anxiety (fear)

Anxiety of the bereaved can range from a light sense of insecurity to a strong panic attack. The more intense and persistent the anxiety, the more it suggests the pathological grief reaction. Anxiety comes primarily from two sources, first, the fear of bereaved that he/she won’t be able to take care of themselves on their own. People who experience this type of anxiety often say something like that “I will not be able to survive without her”. Second source of anxiety relates to heightened sense of personal death awareness; the awareness of one’s own mortality heightened by the loss of a loved one (this could refer to some profound sense of inner change, being a different person for the rest of their life like a victim of trauma, a survivor of a very rough patch of life journey). Carried to extremes, this anxiety can develop into a full-blown phobia (also phobia of relationships). Well known author C.S. Lewis knew this anxiety and said after losing his wife: “no one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawing. I keep on swallowing”.
Feelings; Loneliness (a form of sadness)

Loneliness is a feeling frequently expressed by the bereaved, particularly those who have lost a spouse and who were used to a close day-by-day relationship. Even though very lonely, many bereaved will not go out because they feel safer in their homes. They often say “I feel so all alone now” especially after losing their spouse after 50-something years of married life together; “It has been like the world has ended”

Feelings; Fatigue (a form of sadness)

We see this feeling of fatigue frequently in bereaved individuals. It may sometimes be experienced as apathy or listlessness. This high level of fatigue can be both surprising and distressing to the person who is usually very active.

Feelings; Helplessness (a form of sadness)

One factor that makes the event of a loss so stressful is the sense of helplessness it can engender. This close correlate of anxiety is frequently present in the early stage of a loss. Females (or very feminine, caring males) often feel extremely helpless. One woman left with a young child said “my family came and lived with me for the first five months- I was afraid I would freak out and not be able to care for my child”

Feelings; Shock (a form of surprise)

Shock occurs mostly in the case of a sudden, unexpected loss.

 

Feelings; Yearning (a form of sadness)

Yearning for the lost person is common experience of the bereaved, particularly among females (or very feminine, caring males). Yearning is normal response to loss. When it diminishes, it may be sign that mourning is coming to an end.

Feelings; Emancipation (a state of inner peace)

Emancipation can be a positive state after a loss. A good example here could be a young woman whose father was an unbending dictator over her existence. After losing him, she went through the normal grief process, but she also experienced a state of emancipation, because she no longer had to leave under his tyranny. At first she was uncomfortable with this feeling but later was able to accept it as the normal response to her changed status.

Feelings: Relief (a state of inner peace)

Many people feel relief after the loss of a loved one, particularly if the loved one suffered a painful illness. However, a sense of guilt often accompanies this sense of relief.

Feelings; Numbness (a state of inner emptiness)

 

Some people report a lack of feelings. After a loss, they feel numb. Again, this numbness is often experienced early in the grieving process, usually right after learning of the tragic event. It probably occurs because there are so many feelings to deal with that to allow them all into consciousness would be overwhelming. So the person experiences numbness as a protection from this flood of feelings. In commenting on numbness, researchers say “we found no evidence that it is an unhealthy reaction. Blocking of sensation as a defense against what would otherwise be overwhelming pain would seem to be extremely normal”

As you review this list of feelings, remember that all the items represent normal grief feelings and there is nothing pathological about any of them. However, feelings that exist for abnormally long periods of time and at excessive intensity may portend a complicated grief reaction.

Fragments from the old book considered to be the must-read regarding grief and grieving: “Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy” by J. W. Worden (1991), p.22-25

What is validation?

Validation is one way that we communicate acceptance of ourselves and others. Validation doesn’t mean agreeing or approving. When your best friend or a family member makes a decision that you really don’t think is wise, validation is a way of supporting them and strengthening the relationship while maintaining a different opinion. Validation is a way of communicating that the relationship is important and solid even when you disagree on issues.

Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person’s thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behaviors as understandable.

Learning how to use validation effectively takes practice. Knowing the six levels of validation as identified by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D. will be helpful.

The first Level is Being Present.

There are so many ways to be present. Holding someone’s hand when they are having a painful medical treatment, listening with your whole mind and doing nothing but listening to a child describe their day in first grade, and going to a friend’s house at midnight to sit with her while she cries because a supposed friend told lies about her are all examples of being present.

Multi-tasking while you listen to your teenager’s story about his soccer game is not being present. Being present means giving all your attention to the person you are validating.

Being present for yourself means acknowledging your internal experience and sitting with it rather than “running away” from it, avoiding it, or pushing it away. Sitting with intense emotion is not easy. Even happiness or excitement can feel uncomfortable at times.

Often one of the reasons other people are uncomfortable with intense emotion is that they don’t know what to say. Just being present, paying complete attention to the person in a non-judgmental way, is often the answer. For yourself, being mindful of your own emotion is the first step to accepting your emotion.

The second level of validation is Accurate Reflection.

Accurate reflection means you summarize what you have heard from someone else or summarize your own feelings. This type of validation can be done by others in an awkward, sing-songy, artificial way that is truly irritating or by yourself in a criticizing way. When done in an authentic manner, with the intent of truly understanding the experience and not judging it, accurate reflection is validating.

Sometimes this type of validation helps someone sort through their thoughts and separate thoughts from emotions. “So basically I’m feeling pretty angry and hurt,” would be a self-reflection. “Sounds like you’re disappointed in yourself because you didn’t call him back,” could be accurate reflection by someone else.

Level Three is Mind-reading

Mind-reading is guessing what another person might be feeling or thinking. People vary in their ability to know their own feelings. For example, some confuse anxiety and excitement and some confuse excitement and happiness. Some may not be clear about what they are feeling because they weren’t allowed to experience their feelings or learned to be afraid of their feelings.

People may mask their feelings because they have learned that others don’t react well to their sensitivity. This masking can lead to not acknowledging their feelings even to themselves, which makes the emotions more difficult to manage. Being able to accurately label feelings is an important step to being able to regulate them.

When someone is describing a situation, notice their emotional state. Then either name the emotions you hear or guess at what the person might be feeling.

“I’m guessing you must have felt pretty hurt by her comment” is Level Three validation. Remember that you may guess wrong and the person could correct you. It’s her emotion and she is the only one who knows how she feels. Accepting her correction is validating.

Level Four is Understanding the Person’s Behavior in Terms of their History and Biology.

Your experiences and biology influence your emotional reactions. If your best friend was bitten by a dog a few years ago, she is not likely to enjoy playing with your German Shepherd. Validation at this level would be saying, “Given what happened to you, I completely understand you not wanting to be around my dog.”

Self-validation would be understanding your own reactions in the context of your past experiences.

Level Five is normalizing or recognizing emotional reactions that anyone would have. Understanding that your emotions are normal is helpful for everyone. For the emotionally sensitive person, knowing that anyone would be upset in a specific situation is validating. For example, “Of course you’re anxious. Speaking before an audience the first time is scary for anyone.”

Level Six is Radical Genuineness.

Radical genuiness is when you understand the emotion someone is feeling on a very deep level. Maybe you have had a similar experience. Radical genuineness is sharing that experience as equals.

Understanding the levels may be easy. Putting them into practice is often more difficult. Practice is the key to making validation a natural part of the way you communicate.

Consider this example

Joanna calls you and talks about her diet. She complains that she has eaten chocolate cake and other sweets and wants to eat more, but she doesn’t want to gain weight. What level of validation can you use?

Level 3 would be a good choice. Joanna didn’t mention any feelings though she is eating for emotional reasons. You could say, “Has something happened? My guess is you’re upset about something.” Then she might tell you that the cat she’s had for six months died yesterday. At that point you could use a Level 5 or 6, depending on how you feel about losing a pet.

When Shawna was a teenager, she almost drowned in a large pond. She was a poor swimmer and swam out further than she realized. When she stopped swimming, her feet couldn’t touch bottom and she swallowed water. She panicked and a friend swam to save her. Since that time she’s been afraid of water. A neighbor invited her to a pool party. A guy who was flirting with her pushed her into the pool and she panicked, even though she was only in waist high water. She tells you that she’s ashamed of her reaction and she hates being crazy.

Level 4 validation would work in this situation. “Given your history of almost drowning, of course you panicked when you were pushed into water. Anyone with a history of drowning would probably react the same way.”

Emotional Invalidation

Emotional invalidation is when a person’s thoughts and feelings are rejected, ignored, or judged. Invalidation is emotionally upsetting for anyone, but particularly hurtful for someone who is emotionally sensitive.

Invalidation disrupts relationships and creates emotional distance. When people invalidate themselves, they create alienation from the self and make building their identity very challenging.

Self-invalidation and invalidation by others make recovery from depression and anxiety particularly difficult. Some believe that invalidation is a major contributor to emotional disorders.

Most people would deny that they invalidate the internal experience of others. Very few would purposefully invalidate someone else. But well-intentioned people may be uncomfortable with intense emotions or believe that they are helping when they are actually invalidating.

In terms of self-invalidation, many people would agree they invalidate themselves, but would argue that they deserve it. They might say they don’t deserve validation. They are uncomfortable with their own humanness. The truth is that validation is not self-acceptance, it is only an acknowledgement that an internal experience occurred.

Verbal Invalidation

There are many different reasons and ways that people who care about you invalidate you. Here are just a few.

Misinterpreting What It Means to Be Close: Sometimes people think that knowing just how someone else feels without having to ask means they are emotionally close to that person. It’s like saying they know you as well as you know you, so they don’t ask, they assume, and may even tell you how you think and feel.

Misunderstanding What it Means to Validate: Sometimes people invalidate because they believe if they validate they are agreeing. A person can state, “You think it’s wrong that you’re angry with your friend,” and not agree with you. Validation is not agreeing. But because they want to reassure you they invalidate by saying, “You shouldn’t think that way.”

Wanting to Fix Your Feelings: “Come on, don’t be sad. Want some ice cream?” People who love you don’t want you to hurt so sometimes they invalidate your thoughts and feelings in their efforts to get you to feel happier.

Not Wanting to Hurt Your Feelings: Sometimes people lie to you in order to not hurt your feelings. Maybe they tell you that you look great in a dress that in truth is not the best style for you. Maybe they agree that your point of view in an argument when in fact they do not think you are being reasonable.

Wanting the Best for You: People who love you want the best for you. So they may do work for you that you could do yourself. Or they encourage you to make friends with someone who is influential when you don’t really enjoy the person, telling you that that person is a great friend when it’s not true. “You should be friends with her. She’ll be a good friend to you.”

There are also many different ways of invalidating. I’ve listed a few below.

Blaming: “You always have to be the cry-baby, always upset about something and ruin every holiday.” “Why didn’t you put gas in the car before you got home? You never think and always make everything harder.” Blaming is always invalidating. (Blaming is different from taking responsibility.)

Hoovering: Hoovering is when you attempt to vacuum up any feelings you are uncomfortable with or not give truthful answers because you don’t want to upset or to be vulnerable. Saying “It’s not such a big deal” when it is important to you is hoovering. Saying someone did a great job when they didn’t or that your friends loved them when they didn’t is hoovering. Not acknowledging how difficult something might be for you to do is hoovering. Saying “No problem, of course I can do that,” when you are overwhelmed, is hoovering.

Judging: “You are so overreacting,” and “That is a ridiculous thought,” are examples of invalidation by judging. Ridicule is a particularly damaging: “Here we go again, cry over nothing, let those big tears flow because the grass is growing.”

Denying: “You are not angry, I know how you act when you’re angry,” and “You have eaten so much, I know you aren’t hungry,” invalidate the other person by saying they don’t feel what they are saying they feel.

Minimizing: “Don’t worry, it’s nothing, and you’re just going to keep yourself awake tonight over nothing” is usually said with the best of intentions. Still the message is to not feel what you are feeling.

Non-verbal Invalidation

Nonverbal invalidation is powerful and includes rolling of the eyes and drumming of fingers in an impatient way. If someone checks their watch while you are talking with them, that is invalidating. Showing up at an important event but only paying attention to email or playing a game on the phone while there is invalidating, whether that is the message the person meant to send or not.

Nonverbal self-invalidation is working too much, shopping too much or otherwise not paying attention to your own feelings, thoughts, needs and wants.

Replacing Invalidation with Validation

The best way to stop invalidating others or yourself is by practicing validation.

Validation is never about lying. Or agreeing.

It’s about accepting someone else’s internal experience as valid and understandable. That’s very powerful.

This is a shortened version of the article published originally by Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pieces-mind/201204/understanding-validation-way-communicate-acceptance