UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The power of feeling seen: perspectives of individuals with eating disorders on receiving validation Geller, Josie; Fernandes, A.; Srikameswaran, Suja; Pullmer, Rachelle; Marshall, Sheila, 1956-

Abstract

Background A common complaint of individuals suffering from mental health conditions is feeling invalidated or misunderstood by care providers. This is notable, given that non-collaborative care has been linked to poor engagement, low motivation and treatment non-adherence. This study examined how receiving validation from care providers is experienced by individuals who have an eating disorder (ED) and the impact of receiving validation on the recovery journey. Methods Eighteen individuals who had an eating disorder for an average duration of 19.1 years (two identifying as male, 16 identifying as female), participated in semi-structured interviews on barriers and facilitators to self-compassion. Seven were fully recovered, and 11 were currently participating in recovery-focused residential treatment. Thematic analysis focused on the meaning and impact of receiving validation to participants. Results Five care provider actions were identified: (i) making time and space for me, (ii) offering a compassionate perspective, (iii) understanding and recognizing my treatment needs, (iv) showing me I can do this, and (v) walking the runway. These were associated with four key experiences (feeling trust, cared for, empowered, and inspired), that participants described as supportive of their recovery. Conclusions This research provides insight into patient perspectives of validation and strategies care providers can use, such as compassionate reframing of difficult life experiences, matching interventions to patient readiness, and modeling vulnerability.Plain English Summary Feeling validated (or feeling understood and accepted) is an important aspect of a patient’s experience with health care providers. The purpose of this research was to learn about the role of validation in eating disorders treatment from patients’ perspectives, and to learn how the experience of validation supports recovery from an eating disorder. In this research, interviews were conducted with eighteen individuals who were either currently seeking intensive treatment for an eating disorder or had recently recovered. Five care provider actions were identified as engendering feelings of validation: (i) making time and space for me, (ii) offering a compassionate perspective, (iii) understanding and recognizing my treatment needs, (iv) showing me I can do this, and (v) walking the runway. These actions were associated with four key patient experiences: feeling trust, cared for, empowered, and inspired. Recommendations for care providers to practice validation are made based on study findings.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data

Rights

Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Usage Statistics