Validation just means to make sure the client knows that you understand what they are thinking, feeling, saying. If they say something like: "There is a green elephant standing behind you" a way to validate would be " You see a green elephant behind me" not something like "Are you crazy?" It is not about agreeing with what they say, it is about assuring them that you understand. Feelings must always be validated no matter how irrational they are. I think you get the idea.
While mindful listening, clarification, etc. are helpful, validation is the precise expression of empathy in the therapeutic setting. One of the patient populations in which validation is important is with dementia
. Those patients often will think you are a relative or their child, or that they are not in the hospital, but at their job, for example. Validation is very important for these patients. They are never to be corrected, but validated. Such as, "Yes, your work was difficult today, wasn't it?" or "Yes, wasn't it nice of your daughter to come to see you today?"
Please let me know if you have questions. This is a very important concept for students to understand.