Affirmation and Healing
The lack of affirming love in a person’s life can have a dramatic effect on how they perceive themselves, others and the world. Unfortunately, while various traumas are clearly recognized for their serious impact, often others are not familiar with the profound effect of the deprivation of love, and so many persons report that they feel they cannot voice their interior pain. The Baars-Terruwe Model of Affirmation Therapy provides a voice by identifying a syndrome (grouping of symptoms) which may arise when persons have not received adequate unconditional love in childhood.
An unaffirmed person needs the consistent, authentic affirmation of another human person in their life. Since unaffirmed persons have missed being loved and affirmed as a child, the person needs to be able to experience the unselfish, unconditional, authentic love of another human being. This is the focus and basis for Affirmation Therapy. The therapist himself must be a fully affirmed, mature person in order for this affective therapy to be fully effective.
According to Drs. Terruwe and Baars, since the emotional life of an individual with this disorder was arrested or never formed as a child, therapy provides a safe environment where these persons may be themselves and begin to grow through the same developmental stages that one normally experiences during childhood. As the individual comes to feel loved and accepted by another person, the emotional life will begin to grow at the stage in which affirmation was denied or stopped during childhood.
The Affirmation therapist remains consistently and affectively present to the person, inasmuch as he or she provides the emotional affirmation as well as the intellectual affirmation that the person needs to grow properly. Ultimately, for healing to be successful, the person must be able to feel his or her goodness and uniqueness and so experience his or her own worth. The person must feel safe and secure in this relationship with the therapist so that he knows that he is no longer alone—someone finally understands and accepts him, just as he is. The therapist also offers intellectual affirmation through gentle correction of distorted beliefs and thinking acquired during times of emotional trauma.
When this state finally comes about in the therapeutic milieu, the individual’s emotional development can resume its natural course and the symptoms of the disorder will gradually disappear. Although there are no techniques specific to Affirmation Therapy, it will be important for the person to absorb as much as possible about the goodness and necessity of his or her emotions, and the essential role they play in one’s life. Learning to live affectively oneself will be an ongoing process of learning to be open and receptive to the goodness of Nature, ideas, others and oneself.
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