Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training

Article excerpt

Forgiveness has become an increasingly prominent in psychology over the last twenty to thirty years. Along with a growing body of theory and research, a number of interventions aimed at promoting forgiveness have been developed. These applications often focus on identifying and processing one's own feelings regarding the offense as well as developing empathy for the offender; they include techniques such as journaling, letter writing, group role plays, and empty chair techniques.

Wade, Johnson, and Meyer sought to evaluate the concerns about utilizing these forgiveness interventions. Specifically, they addressed the idea that discussing forgiveness will communicate judgment and further victimize the client; Wade, Johnson, and Meyer suggested that this difficulty can be avoided by exploring each client's ideas and perspectives on forgiveness rather than imposing one's own ideas--just as how and ethical therapist would interact with a client around sexuality or some other controversial topic. The theorists also noted that evidence suggest that clients are generally open to discussing forgiveness.

In a similar manner, Wade, Johnson, and Meyer also addressed the concern that promoting forgiveness will encourage clients to reconcile with hurtful people. they noted that in discussing forgiveness with clients, it is important to provide psychoeducation that forgiveness and reconciliation do not automatically forgiveness and reconciliation do not automatically go hand in hand. Wade, Johnson, and Meyer encouraged further research into both of these areas.

Wade, Johnson, and Meyer also discussed concerns that therapists may not have enough training to use forgiveness interventions or that such interventions are simply not helpful for clients in therapy. In addition, they addressed concerns that there is not enough time within therapy to utilize such interventions, that such discussions will invoke religious or moral imperatives, and that such discussions will reduce anger needed to propel people to work toward societal change. Like the topics noted above, Wade, Johnson and Meyer, reviewed literature both directly and indirectly relevant to these topics in order to address these claims. Again, they concluded that although forgiveness research shows a moderate degree of development, further research is needed in specific areas like those discussed above. …

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