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Previously, we discussed the using the
Cold Weather Analogy to help your clients accept and experience negative feelings
towards their highly valued Great Catch.
you know, the victim of verbal abuse is invisible because she does not have physical
bruises as evidence of being victimized and attacked. Therefore, she is invisible
to, for example, the legal system. To magnify the problem, her family and friends
may view her as being lucky to have gotten such a great guy.
Techniques for Social Work CEUs, Psychology CEUs, Psychologist CEUs, Counselor CEUs, Addiction Counselor CEUs, and MFT CEUs
3 Feeling-Validation Strategies
Strategy #1: Jekyll-and-Hyde Reframing
I expanded upon Marcy's Jekyll-and-Hyde description by saying, For you, when hearing Rons promises of time you would spend together, Ron was like Dr. Jekyll. He was your Great Catch; the ideal partner. Marcy agreed, Yeah, at those times its easy to forget about his other side.
as you know the Dr. Jekyll, All-American guy-side, actually facilitates
Mr. Hyde's abusive goal of control and dominance of the relationship.
of a client you are treating who feels she is in a relationship with a controlling,
abusive partner, while at the same time, she feels that he is a "Great Catch,"
a prized possession so to speak.
Decreasing Selective Forgetting
age 30, married Tom, an electrician, after they had dated for 4 months. The first
time he yelled in a rant for five minutes was on their wedding night. Jenny stated,
It was like an out-of-body experience for me. I couldnt believe that
Tom would yell so violently. And all over the fact that I tripped slightly on
the hem of my nightgown as I walked towards him in the bed. His face actually
turned red. He yelled things like, clumsy klutz, you ruined this perfect
moment for me! You don't think I'm going to put up with all your bullshit like
I did when we were dating, do you? At first I was afraid. What if he hit
me? But after he wound down, he felt so bad I didnt think it would ever
happen again. I remained optimistic. I thought we were going to be Mr. and Mrs.
Happily-Married couple again.
As you know, like many clients, Jenny put the honeymoon night incident behind her and tried to pretend that it had never happened. Think of a client you are currently treating whose way of coping is to ignore the problem. Your client convinces herself that feelings of devastation aren't such a big deal. Forgetting the impact of overwhelming events is a common defense mechanism we all use to cut life crises down to manageable bits and pieces that can be handled. I have found, like you, that just by the act of encouraging Jenny's expression of feelings, and recall of the forgotten events of the first time she can recall that sinking feeling of being abused, helps to affirm to Jenny that her feelings are valid.
Think of a client you are treating, or have treated, that might benefit by recalling the first time they felt abused. Would this recall be a beneficial feeling-validation strategy?
As you will see, Jenny used excuse-making and minimizing to cope with Toms increasing angry flare-ups. She blamed the honeymoon-nightgown-tripping episode on too much stress for Tom at work. She explained, "I know he couldn't help himself from getting angry. Its no big deal now. There had just been a major subdivision power outage the day before our wedding. Who wouldn't be upset with that level of responsibility? I'm lucky to have him. I'm lucky to have someone like him as a husband. He's really a great guy and didn't mean it"
have found a good feeling-validation strategy with a client like Jenny, who is
excuse-making and minimizing, is assisting the client in identifying their underlying
values. As you know, underlying values guide your clients habitual reactions,
as part of their core self.
Compare this with Marcy, who I described at the beginning of this track. Marcy's inner dialogue was, "Oh, it looks like he's being Mr. Hyde again. I'm just going to forget this happened." What do you think about the idea of helping your client in their next session identify underlying values by asking them what their inner dialogue is. Do you feel a discussion of their inner dialogue will help your client identify his or her underlying values in your next session by asking them to describe their inner dialogue?
summary the three feeling-validation strategies just described are:
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Graham, S. M., & Clark, M. S. (2006). Self-esteem and organization of valenced information about others: The "Jekyll and Hyde"-ing of relationship partners. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(4), 652–665.
Halmos, Miklós B., Parrott, Dominic J., Henrich, Christopher C., & Eckhardt, Christopher I. (2020) The structure of aggression in conflict-prone couples: Validation of a measure of the Forms and Functions of Intimate Partner Aggression (FFIPA). Psychological Assessment, 32(5), 461-472.
Happ, C., Melzer, A., & Steffgen, G. (Apr 2015). Like the good or bad guy—Empathy in antisocial and prosocial games. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 4(2), 80-96.
Keulen, R. F., Adam, J. J., Fischer, M. H., Kuipers, H., & Jolles, J. (2002).
Lundh, L. (Mar 2017). Relation and technique in psychotherapy: Two partly overlapping categories. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 27(1), 59-78.
Winston, C. N., Maher, H., & Easvaradoss, V. (Jun 2017). Conceptualizations of the good and the bad life: Two sides of the same coin? The Humanistic Psychologist, 45(2), 134-161.
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