Volume 32, Number 1, January 2010
1. Introduction to the Special Issue on Forgiveness in Therapy
Nathaniel G. Wade
Psychological and clinical research on forgiveness has grown exponentially over the last two decades.
Recognizing that counselors might be able to help clients not only reduce the negative in their lives but
also promote the positive, researchers and clinicians have addressed ways that forgiveness might be promoted
after interpersonal hurts and injustices. In this Introduction to the Special Issue on Forgiveness
in Therapy, the four articles following are placed in the larger context of forgiveness and clinical
2. An Analysis of a Sample of the General Population’s Understanding of Forgiveness: Implications for
Mental Health Counselors (Pages 5-34)
Suzanne Freedman; Wen-Chuan Rita Chang
Forgiveness can be a long and treacherous process, but it can eventually lead to a better understanding
of ourselves, as well as a deeper understanding of the person who hurt us. These interviews
have shown the impact of forgiveness in real life. They have reinforced the importance of
including forgiveness, or at least parts of the forgiveness process, into our recovery from a deep
hurt. By recognizing the opportunity to forgive, [we] may already have a greater understanding
of [our] pain and may have the potential to offer forgiveness in a seemingly unhopeful situation.
—Honors student who conducted three interviews on the
general population’s understanding of forgiveness
3. Comparison of Two Group Interventions to Promote Forgiveness: Empathy as a Mediator of Change (Pages 35-57)
Steven J. Sandage; Everett L. Worthington, Jr.
Undergraduate student volunteers (N=97) were randomly assigned to one of two six-hour forgiveness
psychoeducational seminars or to a wait-list control group. Based on attachment theory, forgiveness was
conceptualized in relation to the care-giving behavioral system (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007). Both the
Empathy Forgiveness Seminar and the Self-enhancement Forgiveness Seminar facilitated forgiveness to
a greater degree than the wait-list control group at post-test and six-week follow-up. Empathy mediated
changes in participants’forgiveness scores regardless of seminar condition. Shame-proneness was negatively
related to post-test forgiveness scores and guilt-proneness was positively related to forgiveness
at post-test and follow-up. Implications for interventions are discussed.
4. Sustained Effectiveness of Two Brief Group Interventions: Comparing an Explicit Forgiveness-Promoting Treatment with a Process-Oriented Treatment (Pages 58-74)
Wei-min G. Blocher; Nathaniel G. Wade
The present study is a two-year follow-up to an outcome study conducted by Wade and Meyer (2009) in
2004–05, in which participants were randomly assigned to an explicit forgiveness treatment, a
processed-oriented treatment, and a wait list. The effectiveness of both treatments was maintained after
two years. Participants’revenge ideation and psychological symptoms remained the same as when treatment
terminated, but negative reactions to their offenders had continued to abate. Positive regard
toward the offender was the same pre- and post-treatment but was reduced during the two-year period
between termination and follow-up. No statistically significant differences in the outcome measures were
found between the two treatment groups. However, in qualitative analyses of open-ended responses
about their experiences with the treatments, participants seemed to favor the forgiveness-promoting one.
Most participants, regardless of condition, identified group therapeutic factors as major contributors to
their positive group experiences.
5. A Psychoeducational Intervention to Promote Forgiveness in Christians in the Philippines (Pages 75-93)
Everett L. Worthington, Jr.; Jennifer L. Hunter; Constance B. Sharp; Joshua N. Hook; Daryl R. Van Tongeren; Don E. Davis; Andrea J. Miller; Fred C. Gingrich; Steven J. Sandage; Elson Lao; Linda Bubod;
Psychoeducational group interventions to promote forgiveness have been studied mainly with college
students who are struggling to forgive. Mental health counselors must tailor interventions to different
populations. It is important to investigate whether forgiveness interventions generalize to different contexts.
In the present study, we provide a rigorous test for adaptation of one evidence-based psychoeducational
group intervention. Five pre-test/post-test interventions were conducted in the Philippines
adapting a five-step forgiveness model for both religion and culture. Groups were conducted at three
Christian churches (n = 5 for individuals; and n = 8 and n = 7 for couples participating individually);
one Christian retreat center (n = 8); and one college dormitory (n = 4). Participants reported a decrease
in unforgiving motivations toward their offenders and an increase in forgiveness of the offenders.
Adapting the Christian-oriented forgiveness model to both Filipino culture and religious terminology
was generally effective, suggesting robust application in practice.