Affirmation Exercise

'''Abstract''': Affirmations are closely tied to values. What feels affirming to one person may feel false or irrelevant to another. This exercise is a way to consider what a genuine affirmation feels like to each participant.

'''Overview''': Affirmations are the A in OARS skills and are sometimes overlooked by trainees. Yet an accurate affirmation can support self-efficacy and enhance therapeutic rapport.

'''Guidelines''': The trainer asks the trainees to remember a time when they received a deeply meaningful compliment from someone they trusted and respected. This can be done as a private exercise, or as solitary writing, or in dyads. Thus, trainees can simply remember the compliment, or they can write it down, or they can tell it to their partner in the dyad.

When Nancy’s husband died and she was, herself, hospitalized, I organized a phone tree of people to stay in touch with her. The compliment I received from my friend Mary about it was this: “I appreciate how you reach out to help others when they really need it. As a recipient of your care when I was hospitalized, I might be especially sensitive to your ability to see what’s needed and provide good help. I imagine Nancy is very grateful you’ve organized support now for her.”

The trainer may want to debrief the exercise by asking “What made that affirmation personally meaningful for you?” Sometimes debriefing is not needed, as the participants understand the point.

Thanks to: Carolina Yahne


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