Editor’s Note: The Validation Training Institute (VTI) Board is comprised of 12 people. The VTI would not be where it is today without the support of our hardworking board members. We will be spotlighting our members in our monthly blogs. This month’s spotlight will be on Steve Klotz, CVM
VTI: Thank you for joining us today, Steve. What do you do for a living?
S: I teach various levels of Validation classes to co-workers for Country Meadows Retirement Communities. Country Meadows is a senior care company that focuses on personal care for seniors. CM has 11 campuses in south-central, eastern, and western Pennsylvania, plus one in Frederick, Maryland. I also supervise and support our seven Certified Validation Teachers, do presentations for family support groups and other organizations, and occasionally teach certification courses for other groups and companies.
VTI: How did you first learn about Validation?
S: When I started working for Country Meadow’s home office in Hershey, PA in 1999, my boss instructed me that it would be good to take the new Validation Worker certification course that was being offered. I did a little reading about Validation beforehand, but my first real exposure was in my first Worker class with Naomi Feil.
VTI: Was there a specific moment when you first realized Validation worked? If so, what was that moment?
S: There were several such moments. In one of them, I was practicing with a man who was in Phase 1 / Malorientation. My previous training had given me the habit of talking pleasantly with sympathy and encouragement to individuals having concerns. This man wasn’t interested in my politeness and positivity, and he dismissed me. After reflection, I went to him on another day, this time ready to meet him and accept him wherever he was at with his emotions and energy. This time he was able to express what was frustrating him, and he thanked me for listening to him. We had several good Validation sessions after that.
A second such instance happened in the first Validation group I had assembled. A woman in the group who hadn’t talked for months listened intently as our Chairwoman beautifully summarized the discussion we had just concluded. That women looked at the Chairwoman and then at me. She said “I used to be like that,” pointing to the Chairwoman. Then she added, “But now I’ve gone down, down, down. But you understand me, don’t you?”
I said, “We all understand you. And even when you aren’t talking, we understand you then too.”
She kept talking in the weekly group sessions, as well as outside of them, for many weeks.
VTI: How long have you served on the board?
S: It seems like a long time, since 2007.
VTI: So far what do you enjoy most about serving on the board?
S: Seeing how the focus has remained on the older people living with confusion, disorientation, and memory impairments – and on finding new and better ways to bring Validation to them via those who care for them as family members or professional care providers.
VTI: What do you hope to contribute to the VTI by serving on the board?
S: Helping it to maintain its core mission while encouraging its growth in creative and effective ways of getting the Validation message out.
VTI: What the most important thing Validation has taught you?
S: To set my own thoughts, agenda, and needs aside when a Validation moment presents itself; to deeply listen to and observe this wise, experienced, and inwardly strong elder so they can express their emotions, basic human needs, and unfinished business to someone they can trust to fully hear them and join them in this part of their journey.
VTI: So, where do you live now?
S: I live in York, PA – about 45 minutes north of Baltimore.
VTI: What do you like to do when you are not working?
S: Answer questionnaires! I like to watch the high school football team my son coaches, spend time with our dogs, and be out in nature whenever possible.
Thank you, Steve, for serving on the board!