Forgiveness Therapy

A research study to find the effects of forgiveness therapy (FT) on depression, anxiety, and
posttraumatic stress for women after spousal emotional abuse was carried out. The study
hypothesized that abused spouse who participate in forgiveness therapy (FT) will have less
anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress symptoms and more self-esteem than those that
participates in the alternative therapy (AT). Forgiveness therapy was compared to other
alternative therapies like assertiveness, anger validation and interpersonal skill building for
women who are emotionally abused and have been separated for two or more years. Twenty
women who are between the ages of 32 and 54 and who are emotionally abused participated in
the research. They were divided into groups of 10 pairs and matched as closely as possible in
age, duration of abuse relationship and time since separation (Reed & Enright, 2006). All
participants were made to sign the informed consent form before the pretest, posttest and follow-
up. After pretesting, the pairs were divided into two groups consisting of the experimental
participants and the control group. The experimental participants were subjected to one hour of
weekly forgiveness therapy session based on the Enright Forgiveness Process Model while the
other group participated in a weekly one-hour alternative therapy using participant-initiated
discussion of current life concerns. Time of treatment for each pair was equal. The result from
forgiveness therapy (FT) and the alternative therapy (AT) were compared on all dependent
variables with matched pair t-test (Reed & Enright, 2006). Analysis of result shows that
forgiveness therapy (FT) participants did better significantly compared to the participant in the
alternative therapy session. The research shows that forgiveness therapy (FT) is more efficacious
than alternative therapy (AT) in reducing anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress symptoms
for emotionally abused women ( Reed & Enright, 2006).

Spousal emotional abuse is the behavior that humiliates, intimidates or undermines
victim??™s self-worth or self-esteem. Its debilitating effects include anxiety, depression, low self-
esteem, helplessness and posttraumatic stress (Reed & enright, 2006). Study have shown that
emotionally abused women always have difficulties adjusting back to normalcy for a long time
after the abuse because of resentment about the unfair treatment (Reed & Enright, 2006). The
prevalence of spousal emotional abuse is about 35% for all women in the United States and the
underpinning reason for the abuser is to gain or maintain control over the spouse (Reed &
Enright, 2006). There are several methods used by the abuser and it includes humiliation,
dominance, threats, isolation, intimidation, blame and denial. The extent of damage done to
women who are emotionally abused, and the cry for adequate solution, are the reasons that
attracted me to this unique problem in our society.
Several alternatives therapies are available to alleviate the symptoms of emotional
spousal abused women. None of these alternative therapies are empirically validated treatments
until the inception of forgiveness therapy (Reed & Enright, 2006). Forgiveness therapy is
empirically formulated to quantify level of wellness in emotionally abused spouse. Forgiveness
therapy (FT) was found to be more efficacious therapy than other alternative therapies (AT)
available (Reed & Enright, 2006). What forgiveness therapy (FT) does is to focus on reframing
the partner in good-light by considering their inherent human worth rather than concentrating on
shame, anger, and grieving alone ( Reed & Enright, 2006). Forgiveness therapy is by far the most
efficient of all the therapies that are employed to alleviate the symptoms of emotional spousal
abuse (Reed & Enright, 2006).

With the advent of forgiveness therapy (FT), professionals now have new ammunition to
tackle the symptoms of emotional spousal abused women. By using forgiveness therapy, it is
possible to know if a client is improving or getting healed through counseling. The counseling
session is based on the Enright Forgiveness Model. It consists of a weekly one-hour session
where clients are asked open ended questions. The first phase of counseling consist of examining
and uncovering past abuses and the injustices done to the client. This is done in order to get the
expression of anger towards their partner out of them. Clients are encouraged to relate their
experiences in their own term with the ultimate goal of forgiveness to their partners. The next
stage in the counseling is to encourage the client to take the path of forgiveness. Once the path of
forgiveness is taken, clients are advised to relinquish resentment and revenge towards their
partners and to see them as a worthy human beings (Reed & Enright, 2006).
Focusing on forgiveness and the inherent worth of the partner helps the emotionally
abused client to see her own inherent self-worth. Because the client have discovered their own
self-worth, they are now strengthened to continue using forgiveness therapy (FT) on regular
basis ( Reed & Enright, 2006).

Reed, G. L., Enright, R.D. (2006). The effects of forgiveness therapy on depression, anxiety,
and posttraumatic stress for women after spousal emotional abuse. Journal of Consulting
and Clinical Psychology. 74(5), 920-929. Retrieved October 26, 2011 from: