PTSD Survivors: Why is validation so important for healing?

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Throughout my years in therapy, validation was comparable to receiving a gift, at times triggering tears of sadness, yet happiness and contentment at the same time.   Finally, someone was not ignoring me, was respecting my feelings and best of all, no interruptions with cruel words.  As a daughter of a narcissistic mother, very rarely showing any validation, empathy and usually telling me “you’re making things up again.”, this was all new to me.

Validation means to express understanding and acceptance of another person’s internal experience, whatever that might be. Validation does not mean you agree or approve. Validation builds relationships and helps ease upset feelings. Knowing that you are understood and that your emotions and thoughts are accepted by others is powerful. Validation is like relationship glue. –

This article from explains ‘Validation’.

Have you ever wished you could take back an email that you sent when you were emotionally upset?  Or maybe you made some statements when you were sad that you didn’t really mean or agreed to something when you were thinking with your heart that you later regretted? Or maybe you wanted to be supportive and helpful to someone you love but couldn’t because your own emotions made it difficult?

Communicating when overwhelmed with emotion does not usually work well. Being overwhelmed with emotion is not a pleasant experience. For emotionally sensitive people, managing their emotions so they can communicate most effectively and with the best results means learning to manage the intense emotions they experience on a regular basis.

Validation from others is one of the best tools to help emotionally sensitive people manage their emotions effectively.  Self-validation is one of the best ways for emotionally sensitive people to manage their own feelings. Self-validation is the step that comes before self-compassion. Acknowledging that the internal experience exists and is understandable comes before self-kindness.

Understanding Validation

Validation is a simple concept to understand but difficult to put into practice.

Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person’s internal experience as being valid. Emotional validation is distinguished from emotional invalidation, in which your own or another person’s emotional experiences are rejected, ignored, or judged.  Self-validation is the recognition and acknowledgment of your own internal experience.

Validation does not mean agreeing with or supporting feelings or thoughts. Validating does not mean love. You can validate someone you don’t like even though you probably wouldn’t want to.

Why is Validation Important?

Validation communicates acceptance. Humans have a need to belong and feeling accepted is calming. Acceptance means acknowledging the value of yourself and fellow human beings.

Validation helps the person know they are on the right track.  Life can be confusing and difficult. Feedback from others that what you are experiencing is normal or makes sense lets you know that you thinking and feeling in understandable ways.  Your internal experience does not have to be the same as anyone else’s but it helps to know that your experiences is understandable. Or not.

Validation helps regulate emotions. Knowing that you are heard and understood is a powerful experience and one that seems to relieve urgency.  Some say it’s because when we don’t feel understood it creates thoughts of being left out or not fitting in.  Those thoughts lead to fear and maybe panic because of the importance of being part of a group is critical for survival, especially in the early days of mankind, and of the potential loss of love and acceptance which is a basic need.  Whatever the reason, validation helps soothe emotional upset.

Validation helps build identity. Validation is like a reflection of yourself and your thoughts by another person. Your values and patterns and choices are highlighted and that helps people see their own personality characteristics more clearly.

Validation builds relationships.  Feeling accepted builds relationships. Some research shows that chemicals related to feeling connected are released when someone is validated.

Validation builds understanding and effective communication.  Human beings are limited in what they can see, hear and understand. Two people can watch the same event occur and see different aspects and remember important details differently.  Validation is a way of understanding another person’s point of view.

Validation shows the other person that they are important.  Whether the person being validated is a child, a significant other, a spouse, a parent, a friend, or an employee, validation communicates that they are important to you and you care about their thoughts and feelings and experiences. Validation also shows the other person that you are there for them.

Validation helps us persevere.  Sometimes when change is very difficult, having the difficulty of the task recognized helps people keep working toward their goal. It seems to help replenish willpower.

A simple way to understand the concept, validation is powerful and often more difficult to practice than it might at first seem.  In my experience, the results are well-worth the effort.

This article was written by Karyn Hall, PhD @

10 thoughts on “PTSD Survivors: Why is validation so important for healing?

  1. Now I understand why it meant so much for my brother to validate me for the first time about what I went through as a child. At 65 you wouldn’t think it mattered to me, but it meant the world to me. Thank you for posting this article!


    1. Validation is everything. It hurt me so much when my brother said to me (living with my narcissistic mother and he was the favorite), “we must have lived in different houses because I never saw this happening”. At any adult age, it matters, especially when you are older, and I was 55. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Karen Downton

    I loved reading this! I am also a PTSD survivor, these days PTSD is not war related like the “shell shock” many people came back with from the Vietnam war. PTSD is real…very real.

    This year marks 10 years since I entered what I can only describe as a hell hole. I was in a rehab facility which mainly had older people, I was the youngest there at 29 years old and the way I was treated by the staff is plain unforgivable. It was the first time I actually wanted to take my own life.

    The main purpose of me being sent there was so the hospital could get their bed back, I still had an ongoing health problem of osteomyelitis (an infection in the bone) but the hospital didn’t care about that and just pumped me full of intravenous and oral drugs and only acting on symptoms of me getting worse as it occurred.

    when I contacted the patient representative (what a joke!) she doubted this was happening and basically didn’t validate my feelings, she just palmed me off to psych who also didn’t want to listen to how I was feeling.

    I contracted MRSA ( a superbug) and nearly died from it. Still, nothing was done for me until December ’08 when I went and saw a private specialist who I researched and found myself and he did more for me in 5 weeks than what the hospital and rehab facility did for me in 22 months.

    I was already on anti-depressants but it wasn’t until I started experiencing flashbacks and wanted to blow the rehab place up or at very minimal wanted to call in a bomb threat.

    I didn’t like what was happening to me, and it frightened me. I went and saw my local doctor and told him how I was feeling. He decided that I needed an increase on my anti-depressants for a little while.

    10 years on I have somehow managed to move on and I’m grateful to be alive, though I can’t forgive the people who almost cost me my life, I hope I never see any of them again


    1. Your experience was horrible and yes, ptsd applies to any event where abuse, tragedy, or frightening experience occurred. I was thinking of doing a post in the future on PTSD. The post would include events in people’s lives (war or sexual/domestic abuse), and permission to include your story of ‘patient abuse’.

      So happy you were able to overcome what happened, but going through it is hell. Hospitals are cutting back and some don’t give a shit anymore. Thanks for commenting and stay strong. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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