Friday December 7, 2012 – Friday December 7, 2012

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Dialectics of Validation

Alan E. Fruzzetti, Ph.D.

The central dialectal tension in DBT is between acceptance and change, and it is common to think about validation as the instantiation of acceptance and problem solving as the instantiation of change.  However, each of these apparent “poles” in the dialectic may also be understood to include both acceptance and change components, depending on the particular function of validation at that moment (e.g., validation as a discriminative stimulus, establishing operation, reinforcer, and so on).

Recent research demonstrates that validation helps modulate negative emotional arousal (Shenk & Fruzzetti, 2011), and that although therapists in other therapies also validate, the types of validation employed, the targets for those validating responses, and the timing of therapist validation all differ significantly (Fruzzetti, et al., 2012).  These findings have implications for being effective in-session in DBT.

This workshop will utilize lecture, discussion, demonstration/role playing, video, and participant practice to explore the various functions of therapist validating responses, along with the different levels or types of validation outlined by Marsha Linehan (1997).  We will also look at how the targets for validation (e.g., expression/experience of emotion, overt behaviors) might influence how we choose to validate.  Finally, we will look at how to use validation most effectively (type and timing) both to maximize its impact on skill-strengthening in-session and to reduce therapy-interfering behaviors.