The Power of Feeling Seen: Perspectives on Validation from Individuals with Eating Disorders
Josie Geller1,2, Avarna Fernandes1, Suja Srikameswaran1,2, Rachelle Pullmer1, Sheila Marshall3
1St. Paul's Hospital Eating Disorders Program, VANCOUVER, BC, Canada/2University of British Columbia, Department of Psychiatry, VANCOUVER, BC, Canada/3University of British Columbia, Department of Adolescent Health and Medicine, VANCOUVER, BC, Canada
Objective: While improvements in self-compassion are associated with more favourable treatment outcomes in the eating disorders (ED), barriers are common. Validation may be central to overcoming these barriers. This research conducted an exploration of validation from patientsí perspectives to inform care provider actions that reduce barriers to self-compassion. Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals with EDs (7 recovered, 11 in treatment). Participants identified barriers and facilitators to self-compassion and the importance of validation was highlighted. Thematic analysis focused on the meaning and impact of validation to participants. Results: Five themes were identified: i) made time and space for me, ii) offered a compassionate perspective, iii) understood and recognized my treatment needs, iv) showed me I can do this, and v) walked the runway. These themes were associated with four key participant experiences (feeling trust, cared for, empowered, and inspired), that facilitated participantsí development of self-compassion over time. Conclusions: This research provides insight into patient perspectives of validation and how care providersí use of validation helped overcome barriers to self-compassion. Recommendations are offered that describe strategies care providers can use (e.g., compassionate reframing of difficult life experiences, matching intervention to readiness, modeling vulnerability) to facilitate the recovery journey.