IFI News

Forgiveness: How Anyone Can Learn This Virtue

MercatorNet.com, North Strathfield, Australia –

The world is overshadowed by atrocities which cry out for justice – and forgiveness: the World Aseabrutality of ISIS, the abductions of Boko Haram; the Boston Marathon bombing; terrorist attacks in New York, London, Madrid, Sydney, Paris; the Charleston massacre…

We asked Robert Enright, a psychologist and founding board member of the International Forgiveness Institute, as well as author of a new book, 8 Keys to Forgiveness, how some people manage to forgive even crimes like these, and whether it’s an art that can be learned.

That’s the introduction to an article published today by MercatorNet, an Australian online news and commentary site whose goal is “navigating modern complexities.” In the article, Dr. Enright explains:

  • Why some people forgive while others remain full of hate;
  • Why forgiveness is so much more than just a coping mechanism; 
  • Why forgiveness education should be a learning staple for all children; and,
  • How forgiveness, including self-forgiveness, can be learned by anyone in the world.

“Forgiveness is about having love in the heart for those who have not been loving to you,” Dr. Enright explains. He adds that the “how to” of 8 Keys to Forgivenessforgiveness, including even how to forgive yourself, is spelled out in his just-released book, 8 Keys to Forgiveness.

“Forgiveness is open to all people in the world if they choose to exercise this particular virtue when hurt by others,” the article quotes Dr. Enright as saying. “Our research includes people of many faith traditions, as well as those with no faith. When those who choose the forgiveness path finish the work, their well-being tends to improve as seen in the research findings.”

Read the entire article: Forgiveness: why we need to have mercy on the merciless. . .and how anyone can learn this virtue.

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Dr. Lisa Gassin, IFI Founding Board Member, Receives Award for Academic Excellence

Dr. Elizabeth (Lisa) Gassin, a founding board member of the International Forgiveness Institute, received the 2015 Samuel L. Mayhugh Award for Scholarly Excellence from Olivet Nazarene University during the 102nd Commencement Convocation on May 9.

Dr. Lisa Gassin Founding IFI Board Member

Dr. Lisa Gassin
Founding IFI Board Member

Dr. Gassin teaches courses in developmental and cross-cultural psychology. She has been an Olivet faculty member since 1995, except when she was working in Russia from 2000 through 2003. In 2007, she received Olivet’s Richard M. Jones Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence.

She holds degrees in human development; educational psychology with an emphasis in gifted education; educational and developmental psychology with minors in research and statistics and moral education; and marriage and family counseling. She focuses her research on the psychology of forgiveness, bereavement and play therapy.

Dr. Gassin has produced various publications and presentations on the topic of forgiveness. She is a member of the Association for Play Therapy and the American Counseling Association. Serving the greater Kankakee community, she provides counseling services and also volunteers with Hospice of Kankakee Valley.

She has earned a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, two master’s degrees — one from Purdue University and one from Governors State University — and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California-Davis. Currently, she is in a specialized graduate research program in Olivet Logoqualitative research methods with Nova Southeastern University.

“Dr. Gassin is an outstanding example for our students of scholarly achievement, Christian service and compassion for others,” said Dr. Dennis Crocker, vice president for Academic Affairs. “Her commitment to learning and growing, both as a professor and an academic leader, continues to inspire others.”

Olivet Nazarene University is an accredited Christian, liberal arts university offering more than 120 areas of undergraduate and graduate study. Olivet’s main campus is in Bourbonnais, Illinois, 50 miles south of Chicago.

Read Dr. Gassin’s full Curriculum Vitae.

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8 Keys to Forgiveness: Dr. Enright’s New Book Unlocks the Forgiveness Process

While it may seem like a simple enough act, forgiveness is a difficult, delicate process that, if executed correctly, can be a profoundly moving and deep learning experience. Whatever the scenario may be—whether you need to make peace with a certain situation, with a loved one or 8 Keys to Forgivenessfriend, or with a total stranger—the process of forgiveness is an art and a science.

8 Keys to Forgiveness is a how-to guide by the man Time magazine has called “the forgiveness trailblazer”—Dr. Robert Enright, who has researched, developed and implemented forgiveness education programs for the past 30 years.

This hands-on guide walks readers through the process in 8 key steps. How can we become forgivingly “fit”? How can we identify the source of our pain and inner turmoil? How can we find meaning in what we have suffered, or learn to forgive ourselves? What should we do when forgiveness feels particularly hard? All these questions and more are answered here, leading us to become more tolerant, compassionate, and hopeful human beings.

“This book has the potential to enrich and improve more lives than any psychology book in decades,” according to Frank Farley, Ph.D., former President of the American Psychological Association. “Robert Enright is the pioneer of the psychology of forgiveness, and his great wisdom, experience, and very practical advice are all compiled in this highly readable guide. Don’t give up on forgiveness in your life until you read this book and try its proven strategies.” (Read more reviews and endorsements here.)

Dr. Enright’s latest book is officially publishing September 28 but will be available directly from W. W. Norton & Company for mid-June delivery at the W.W. Norton & Company website.

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Forgiveness Education Thrives at Mar Elias High School in Israel

When teachers at the Mar Elias Educational Institutions (MEEI) recently focused lessons on the benefits of forgiveness, some students couldn’t see the point. They vehemently opposed the idea of forgiving anyone, even in their own families, but especially after the 7-week war of 2014.

Mar Elias Students

Mar Elias High School Students

Although Building Peace on Desktops is MEEI’s highest goal, teaching skills for peace-building can be a challenge – especially when students encounter discrimination and hear news of violence on almost a daily basis. 

This year, thanks to a Pilgrims of Ibillin partnership, MEEI teachers have a new resource: a Forgiveness Education curriculum created for Northern Ireland, tested and refined there over the last 14 years. The creator of this curriculum is Dr. Robert Enright of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, founder  of the International Forgiveness Institute. 

An internationally recognized leader in the field of forgiveness education, Dr. Enright has visited Ibillin twice in the last 8 months to meet with teachers and introduce his forgiveness curriculum. With his guidance, eight high school teachers at MEEI began teaching forgiveness this school year, involving about 600 students in the lessons.
Dr. Enright plans to increase his involvement in training MEEI’s teachers, and MEEI will become a regional training center to offer Forgiveness Training to other schools in Israel/ Palestine as well:
     • On a return visit in June he will meet with MEEI’s elementary and high school teachers for a day of exploring more deeply what forgiveness is and is not.
     • Four other directors of regional schools will be invited to this in-service training, with invited leaders coming from both Arab and Jewish schools.

     • Mar Elias will begin planting forgiveness education deeply in the 9th grade curriculum next year and then continue over the coming years until it is instilled for grades 9, 10, 11, and 12.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is from the Feb. 2015 newsletter of Pilgrims of Ibillin–an organization whose vision is to foster peace and justice in Israel-Palestine through education. Dr. Enright was introduced to the organization and Mar Elias Schools by the Rev. Joan Deming, Executive Director of Pilgrims of Ibillin.

Pilgrims of Ibillin was founded by Abuna Elias Chacour (“Abuna” means “Our Father” in Arabic), a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, who recently retired from serving as the Archbishop of the Melkite Catholic Church for Akko, Haifa, Nazareth, and all Galilee. He is also the author of the best-selling Blood Brothers which has been translated into more than 20 languages.

Father Chacour founded the Mar Elias Schools more than 30 years ago in Ibillin–a small Arab village in the Galilee region, near Nazareth, where Christians and Muslims have lived together peacefully for hundreds of years. The cluster of MEEI schools now serves more than 3,000 students from preschool through high school.

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New Book Means “Forgiveness Therapy” is Now Professionally Sanctioned

Forgiveness, as taught and practiced by clinicians in healthcare practice, took a huge step forward this month with the publication of a new book co-authored by IFI founder, psychology professor, and licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Robert Enright.

The American Psychological Association (APA) has just published Forgiveness Therapy: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope by Dr. Enright and psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons. Publication of the book by the APA signifies that Forgiveness Therapy is now professionally sanctioned and rightfully taking its place alongside such historically-accepted therapies as Psychoanalysis, Humanistic Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy–a huge step forward for forgiveness.

Forgiveness Therapy is actually a Forgiveness Therapynew and updated version of a previous book by Drs. Enright and Fitzgibbons. It is the second edition of Helping Clients Forgive: An Empirical Guide to Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope that was published in 2000.

Benefitting from more than 14 years of new research, the second edition of this title is a vital tool for clinicians interested in this unique method of therapy. Featuring entirely new chapters, the second edition also expands all of the text with new case studies, new empirical evaluation, modern philosophical roots of forgiveness therapy, and new measurement techniques.

From their 30+ years (each) of practicing Forgiveness Therapy, Drs. Enright and Fitzgibbons have demonstrated that forgiveness is a pivotal process in helping clients resolve anger over betrayals, relieve depression and anxiety, and restore peace of mind.

In this new volume, clinicians will learn how to recognize when forgiveness is an appropriate client goal, how to introduce and explain to clients what forgiveness is and is not, and how to provide concrete methods to work forgiveness into therapy with individuals, couples and families.

The book can be purchased at Amazon.com or on the APA website.

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The Missing Piece to the Peace Puzzle

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