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Journal of Mental Health Counseling
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Volume 32, Number 1, January 2010


1. Introduction to the Special Issue on Forgiveness in Therapy (Pages 1-4)

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 research.
Full Article

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
Full Article

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.
Full Article

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.
Full Article

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; 
May Monforte-Milton

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.
Full Article

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