Forgiveness and the Healing Process: A Central Therapeutic Concern

By Terri Spy; Cynthia Ransley | Go to book overview

Introduction

Cynthia Ransley and Terri Spy

A woman phoned one of the editors, Cynthia Ransley, to explore having therapy. Charlotte (not her real name) explained that religion was important to her and asked Ransley whether she was a Christian. Though she said no, Charlotte decided to meet her. At the first session, she stated her goal and this was the seed from which this book has grown.

Charlotte said that what she wanted was to find a way to forgive her parents for the abuse she had suffered as a child. This took Ransley by surprise. No one had ever raised forgiveness as a goal with her before. An agnostic, she had always had something of an antipathy towards the term 'forgiveness', considering it rather patronising and value laden, like 'charity' and 'tolerance'. She talked about it with Terri Spy, another integrative psychotherapist, knowing that as a practising Christian Spy saw forgiveness as an integral part of the therapeutic process.

It was immediately obvious how often clients talked about forgiveness with Spy and how rarely it came up in Ransley's practice. What was not clear was how far this was connected with religious beliefs. Spy is explicit about her Christian beliefs. Some clients are drawn to her because of her faith, although the majority are not practising Christians. Ransley does not offer information about her beliefs and the client mentioned above was one of the few to ask. How much do our different value bases influence both what the client brings to the psychotherapy process and what do we as therapists tune into and miss? (Certainly the word 'forgiveness' has come up more often in Ransley's practice since she became involved in this book!) This question led to others. How aware are therapists of these issues? To what extent is forgiveness seen as a therapeutic goal?

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