What is an invalidating environment

11-Apr-2020 10:26

“It completely makes sense that you are looking to others to figure out how to respond because you’ve been told your whole life that you’re overreacting or making too big a deal out of things.” I also think this can be incredibly useful and even validating to parents.

It is so hard to be an emotionally vulnerable person walking around in this world and at the same time, it can be so hard to parent a person who is so vulnerable to emotions.

Environment – or the “social” half of the biosocial theory – plays a key role in understanding emotion dysregulation.

An invalidating environment is one that pervasively rejects both valid and invalid behaviors, regardless of the actual validity of the behavior.

Second, an invalidating environment intermittently reinforces escalated behavior.

For example, a child who cries or says, “I feel sad,” doesn’t elicit a response from his parents, but sometimes when he says, “I want to kill myself,” the parents become hugely concerned, and provide care and support.

To be clear, we are all invalidating at times, and often with the best of intensions.

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Their emotional reactions stay elevated, and thus what ends up happening is that they never quite return to “baseline” because they are still highly sensitive to emotional cues; there is always something else in the environment that is going to provoke a response.

First, it rejects communication of internal – or private – experiences.

That is, it communicates to a person that what they are thinking or feeling is wrong; it doesn’t fit the facts.

Sara Schmidt to learn all about the role that emotion regulation plays in DBT.

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In Part 1 of this interview, Sara took a deep dive into the idea of emotion regulation and what it means to experience emotion dysregulation, as well as a framework therapists can use to help their clients assess their emotions.They oscillate between escalated emotional responses and shutting down completely. They internalize the invalidating environment and are quick to self-invalidate (e.g., “I overreact to everything;” “no one will ever love me.”) From a behavioral standpoint, we believe that all behavior is caused – even when we don’t know the causes of behavior – and all behavior makes sense in context.

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