The first time I heard about Validation, I did not automatically understand what was meant with that word. I thought that was because I am not a native English speaker. But I noticed friends in the UK and the US also did not understand straightaway what Validation is about. However, when it was explained to me, I thought, right, that makes sense. It is something I already did in certain situations, but without being conscious of it, and that probably, there was room for improvement.
I see the essence of Validation in the element of acceptance, or better, in acknowledgement.
And this is where I find an interesting link to another word, that has been buzzing for a few decades now: mindfulness. At the Athena Group, where we give training in mindfulness, we distinguish as one of the core elements of mindfulness (as opposed to mindlessness) being able to be non-judgmental. This means not having an immediate reaction to everything all the time, but to acknowledge a person, a person’s behavior or a situation and take a little distance from it; to observe objectively without your emotions taking the driver’s seat of your behavior.
A second core element of mindfulness, which is also a key element for validation, is empathy. By putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, you realize there are more options to responding than you initially were aware of. Then you decide on the best response, and so are more likely to come to a win-win solution.
The Validation method, as developed by the Validation Training Institute, focuses specifically on how to apply these skills, being non-judgmental and applying empathy, in situations with people who are living with cognitive decline. There are many other skills involved as well. But these simple prerequisites to validating are extremely valuable for many situations. For example, when speaking with a less-than-favorite colleague or boss at work, or when helping a friend who is going through a difficult period. This basic Validation attitude makes anyone’s life much easier by taking away unnecessary tensions and resistance.
Validation includes a basic human skill that should be part of everybody’s communication and interaction skillset. More people should be aware of this. Learning to integrate the basic attitude has helped me in my interactions with friends and colleagues. The 6 Skill Building Blocks cost only $25 each, which is a small price to pay for skills that last a lifetime, both in your work with older adults, but also outside that sphere.
We need to get the word out there. Which is what the VTI is working on, as the marketing office for the Validation method. We are funded by people who realize that Validation has a wide and positive impact on humanity, and that it does make the world a better place. We are grateful for your support to help us spread the word.
By: Rudolf A. Rodenburg, CEO and Co-Founder, The Athena Group, Zurich/Barcelona
The Validation Training Institute (VTI) is a non-profit organization that advances knowledge, values, education and research rooted in the Validation method. The objective is to nurture respect, dignity and well-being in the lives of older adults experiencing age-related cognitive decline and their caregivers. Our vision for the future is that every older adult experiencing age-related cognitive decline, and their caregiver, can feel the joy and love of meaningful communication.