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I see you're in pain: the effects of partner validation on emotions in people with chronic pain
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work. (CHAMP)
School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Örebro University, Sweden. (CHAMP)
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work. (CHAMP)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5359-0452
Department of Psychology 298, University of Nevada, Reno, USA.
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2015 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Pain, ISSN 1877-8860, E-ISSN 1877-8879, Vol. 6, 16-21 p.Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

Background and aims

Chronic pain not only affects the person in pain, but can also have a negative impact on relationships with loved ones. Research shows that chronic pain is associated with difficulties in marital relationships, which in turn is related to a variety of negative outcomes such as psychological distress and conflict within the family. This suggests that couples where chronic physical pain is present also struggle with emotional pain and relationship problems, and thus targeting relationship skills and interpersonal functioning might be helpful for these couples. Although studies in this area are promising, their numbers are few. In the present study, validation as a way of communicating is suggested for handling emotional expression in interpersonal interactions. Validation communicates understanding and acceptance of the other person's experience, and it has been shown to have a down-regulating effect on negative emotions. It has previously been demonstrated to be important for these couples. However, the feasibility and effects of increasing partner validation in these couples are unknown. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate if a brief training session in validation for spouses would result in more validating and fewer invalidating responses towards their partners with pain, and to investigate if changes in these behavioural responses were associated with changes in emotion and pain level in the partner with pain.

Methods

Participants were 20 couples where at least one partner reported chronic pain. The study employed a within-groups design in which spouses of people with pain received validation training (without their partner's knowledge), and their validating and invalidating responses were rated pre- and post-intervention using a reliable observational scale. Also, positive and negative affect and subjective pain level in the persons with pain were rated pre- and post-intervention.

Results

Results showed that the validation training was associated with increased validating and decreased invalidating responses in the partners. Their spouses with chronic pain reported a decrease in negative affect from pre- to post-training.

Conclusions

Our results indicate that the partner or closest family member, after brief validation training, increased validating responses and decreased invalidating responses towards the person with pain, which had an immediate positive impact on emotions in the other person.

Implications

This study suggests that using validation in interpersonal interactions is a promising tool for couples where chronic pain is present.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier , 2015. Vol. 6, 16-21 p.
Keyword [en]
Affect; Chronic pain; Emotion regulation; Invalidation; Partner communication; Validation
National Category
Applied Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-37521DOI: 10.1016/j.sjpain.2014.07.003ISI: 000217936400006Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84927607276OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-37521DiVA: diva2:752722
Available from: 2014-10-06 Created: 2014-10-06 Last updated: 2017-10-30Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Calm down: strategies for emotion regulation in clinical practice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Calm down: strategies for emotion regulation in clinical practice
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Problems with emotion regulation are common in people who seek help from health care professionals working with problems featuring psychological factors. Two such patient groups, chronic pain patients and patients with severe anxiety, are of interest in this dissertation. Effectively regulating and increasing functional emotion regulation in these patients is often challenging for clinicians, and effective strategies are needed. One treatment that greatly emphasizes the importance of functional emotion regulation is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). DBT has a strong empirical basis in other patients with severe problems with emotion regulation, raising the question of whether the treatment and its more specific components (e.g., validation, which means communicating understanding and acceptance) could be effec-tive in the groups of patients of interest here.

Accordingly, the overall aim of this dissertation was to expand our knowledge of how to use functional emotion-regulation strategies from DBT to regulate emotions in patients with chronic pain or treatment-resistant anxiety disorders. Study I examined whether brief training was enough to increase validation in partners of people with chronic pain, and whether this was associated with better-regulated emotion in the people with chronic pain. Study II explored patient perceptions of validation and invalidation by the physician in a clinical chronic pain context. Lastly, study III investi-gated whether a more extensive treatment intervention inspired by DBT was feasible and effective in patients suffering from treatment-resistant anxiety disorders.

The findings indicate that emotion-regulation strategies from DBT can be effective in regulating emotions in these patients. The dissertation also illus-trates some of the difficulties in doing this, providing important information for future work, such as suggestions for modifications that might further increase positive outcomes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro University, 2017. 108 p.
Series
Örebro Studies in Psychology, ISSN 1651-1328 ; 38
Keyword
Emotion regulation, validation, invalidation, chronic pain, treatment-resistant anxiety disorders, dialectical behavior therapy, communication
National Category
Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-61072 (URN)978-91-7529-216-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-11-21, Örebro universitet, Långhuset, Hörsal 1, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-09-18 Created: 2017-09-18 Last updated: 2017-10-30Bibliographically approved

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