“Ask Dr. Forgiveness” is a dedicated column on the IFI website where users can ask questions related to even the toughest forgiveness topics and receive an informed response directly from IFI co-founder Dr. Robert Enright who is often referred to as “Dr. Forgiveness.” It is the IFI’s most popular website component and has garnered questions from individuals across the globe who are seeking answers and information on forgiveness-related topics.
As illustrated in the info-graphic at right, the IFI’s “Our Forgiveness Blog” section contains the second-highest number of website entries. Every one of the 513 entries in that section has been personally written by Dr. Enright (with the exception of a few guest blogs from prominent forgiveness advocates).
Those IFI followers who track Dr. Enright’s blogs have learned about the wit and wisdom of his 35-years pursuing scientific forgiveness research, the meticulous validation of his scientific procedures, his prominent international role in creating forgiveness education curricula, and his dominance in developing forgiveness therapy interventions.
In addition to those 500+ essays on the IFI website, Dr. Enright has also authored 86 additional blogs for his column called “The Forgiving Life” that runs monthly in the magazine Psychology Today. That publication, which focuses on mental health and behavioral science issues, established its partnership with Dr. Enright more than five years ago.
“The 2,000+ milestone we just reached with our blog and news sections is a hugely significant accomplishment,” according to Dr. Enright. “Compared to other websites that focus on moral development, the IFI website is by far the world’s largest portal to anything and everything forgiveness-related.”
Part of the reason Dr. Enright can make that claim is because of his life-long aspiration to share the unvarnished results of his scientific research and interventions with not only interested scholars but with other psychologists, psychotherapists, and, essentially, the entire world.
That’s why the IFI website now contains the full texts of many research documents produced by Dr. Enright and his research teams (available at no cost). Additionally, the site contains the full documentation (including instructions and scoring algorithms) for the most popular research tools Dr. Enright created during his career (again, available at no cost). In just the past three weeks, those tools have been accessed by scientists and clinicians from 21 different US states and 17 foreign countries.
“We provide all those resources on our website because we want to expand the availability of crucial forgiveness knowledge,” Dr. Enright says. “Our goal is to reach across continents to help satisfy man’s innate curiosity about forgiveness and to help disseminate the good news about the abundant benefits of the virtue of forgiveness.”
A new and innovative online training course is now available through The Forgiveness Project, a London (UK)-based organization that collects and shares stories of forgiveness in order to build hope, empathy and understanding.
“Working with stories of lived experience – the transformative power of storytelling,” draws on The Forgiveness Project’s 16-years of experience to explore approaches and perspectives relating to forgiveness, restorative narratives, shame, and resilience. The course also offers tools and techniques to build participants’ knowledge of and the use of storytelling in their work.
An introductory forum kicks off the course and is followed by five 3-hour sessions starting in July. Participants are expected to devote an estimated 3-4 hours of their own time between the sessions exploring and trying out different creative approaches. Because of the difficult subject matter being covered, all potential participants will be interviewed prior to final acceptance into the course and enrollment will be capped at 18 participants.
Marina Cantacuzino, MBE, The Forgiveness Project founder, and Sandra Barefoot, the organization’s Programme Development Lead, will facilitate the course. Cantacuzino is an award-winning journalist who embarked on a personal project in 2003 collecting stories of people who had lived through trauma and injustice, and who sought forgiveness rather than revenge. Barefoot, among her various responsibilities, is the manager of the organization’s prison program, RESTORE, and the lead facilitator of that work for the past eleven years. Course participants will be offered one-to-one mentoring time with each of the two facilitators.
Learning objectives and detailed course information is available on The Forgiveness Project’s “Working with stories of lived experience” website page. Cost of the course is £950 GBP (~ $1,350 USD) for individuals and £1350 GBP (~ $1,900 USD) for organizations.
“The Forgiveness Project shares stories of forgiveness in order to build hope, empathy and understanding.”
As the title of this innovative course suggests, storytelling can indeed embody the power to transform lives. That power is exhibited in the hundreds of personal stories shared on The Forgiveness Project website from both victims/survivors and perpetrators of crime and conflict who have rebuilt their lives following hurt and trauma.
That reliance on storytelling is also a crucial component of the strategy employed by the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI). Co-founder Dr. Robert Enright has incorporated storytelling (through the use of childrens’ literature) into most of the 17 Forgiveness Education Curriculum Guides developed by the IFI. Additionally, many of the same individuals featured on The Forgiveness Project website have been featured on the IFI website including:
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner for his opposition to South
Africa’s brutal apartheid regime, forgave those who tortured him and established a nonviolent path to liberation for his country. Archbishop Tutu is a “Founding Patron” of The Forgiveness Project and an Honorary Member of the IFI Board of Directors.
- Eva Mozes Kor, the Holocaust survivor who forgave her Auschwitz persecutors and who partnered with Dr. Enright on various media and personal projects before her death on July 4, 2019.
- Anne Gallagher, a Belfast, Northern Ireland nurse who: 1) tended to victims of bombs and bullets on both sides of the sectarian divide; 2) founded Seeds of Hope, an organization that facilitates storytelling based on The Troubles; and, 3) helped the IFI establish Forgiveness Education Programs in Belfast schools more than 19-years ago—programs that are still operating today.
- Thordis Elva and Tom Stranger—Elva was a 16-year-old student in Iceland when she was raped by 18-year-old Stranger (an exchange student from Australia). She later forgave her attacker and the two have since appeared together in countless presentations and co-authored a book South of Forgiveness.
Stories like those and the many others featured on the websites of The Forgiveness Project and the International Forgiveness Institute demonstrate that forgiveness is first and foremost a personal journey with no set rules or time limits. True forgiveness is also a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and an alternative to the cycles of conflict, violence, crime and injustice so prevalent around the world.
A pioneering research study conducted with primary and secondary teachers and students in Spain has support for Dr. Robert Enright’s ideas on anti-bullying, which offers forgiveness education to those who do the bullying. His original Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program is available on our website.
Two recommendations in the study in Spain are these:
1) That school administrators “incorporate education in forgiveness into bullying prevention programs;” and,
2) That “forgiveness-based education, as an empirically supported approach to reducing anger, may be one of the answers to peace within conflict zones and societies.”
The study, Evaluation of the effectiveness and satisfaction of the “Learning to Forgive” program for the prevention of bullying, was published this month in the Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology. It was conducted by psychologists at the University of Murcia—one of the largest and oldest universities in Spain (established in 1272)—with technical and procedural guidance from Dr. Enright himself.
The “Learning to Forgive” program that was the focal point of the new study, was inspired by The Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program developed by Dr. Enright in 2012 based on his now more than 35 years of research into forgiveness. Forgiveness education as a way of reducing excessive anger has been tested and used for more than 17 years in schools located in places such as Belfast, Northern Ireland, and more recently in Monrovia, Liberia (West Africa), Iran, and Pakistan.
The purpose of the antibullying forgiveness program is to help students, who bully others, to forgive those who have deeply hurt them. It is based on the understand that bullying behavior does not occur in a vacuum, but instead often results from a deep internal rage that is not originally targeted toward the victims of those who bully. In other words, those who bully oftentimes are displacing their built-up anger onto unsuspecting others.
To help those who bully to forgive is to reduce the excessive anger that can be a direct motivation for hurting others. In this way forgiveness can be a powerful approach to reducing repressed anger and eliminating bullying behavior.
“This program tries to change the typical understanding, often incomplete, that we usually have about forgiveness,” according to the study in Spain. “With a deeper understanding about what forgiveness is, then the students may show less resentment, fewer relationship breaks, and less unpleasant emotions over time. Teaching young people this more complete view of forgiveness might avoid, in the words of Enright himself, many sufferings in adulthood.”
Study participants consisted of 88 primary and secondary school teachers at 11 educational centers and 153 students at 4 educational centers. In Study 1 of the two-part research project, “statistically significant improvements were found in the forgiveness group regarding their knowledge of forgiveness and marginally significant in emotional forgiveness compared to the control group.”
In Study 2 participants noted “high satisfaction with the program and that it had helped them forgive in a remarkable way. In line with other studies, it is recommended to incorporate education in forgiveness into bullying prevention programs.”
According to the study authors, their research as well as other studies indicate that “forgiveness is a protective factor against emotional problems and prevents victims of harassment from now demonstrating bullying behavior toward others.” They also recommended adding in-depth modules for adults who could then provide in-home reinforcement in helping students achieve and maintain their forgiveness-related skills.
“The results of these two pioneering studies in Spain on the ‘Learning to Forgive’ Program inspired by the research of Robert Enright and his team show positive results, both in teachers and students,” the report concludes. “The promotion of interventions based on empathy, compassion, and forgiveness contribute to sowing the path of peaceful coexistence.”
Read the complete English translation of the Spanish bullying-prevention study.
Read the complete Spanish version of the study.
Learn more about The Enright Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program:
- A School Anti-Bullying Program That Works
- The Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program – FREE for a Limited Time
- Can We Get Anti-Bullying Programs to Work?
- Obtain the Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program
EDITOR’S NOTE: This blog is reposted from Forgiveness Factor, the website of Tim Markle, a contributing writer and speaker for the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI). Markle says his two major aspirations in life are “helping individuals with developmental disabilities and educating people about the benefits of forgiveness.”
I like watching ice hockey. Live is best (if I could afford it and if there was not a worldwide pandemic), but I also enjoy watching it on TV. When I watch other sports, I think to myself, “I could throw or run a football, I could catch a baseball, I could kick a soccer ball, I could dribble a basketball–nowhere near the level of proficiency of a, well, 7th grader, but I could do it.” But hockey–not a chance.
There is so much about hockey I could never do. Let’s just start, and end, with skating on ice. Not going to happen. As I watch the games, I see hard hits, slap shots, precise passing. But what brought forgiveness to mind was watching someone skate the puck up the ice as they were constantly poked, prodded, slashed, blindsided, bothered and battered just for doing their job.
Sometimes forgiveness is hard because it feels like we are being constantly poked and reminded of the pain some else caused. We can be blindsided by a memory or prodded by anger.
The hockey player keeps his feet moving, his stick moving, the puck moving and keeps his eyes on the goal. It can be the same with us. When life wants to bounce us around, keep moving forward. Remember the goal of forgiveness. Remember the rewards of the goal are less anger, less anxiety, less depression, less stress, more confidence, more joy, and a better quality of life. Keep your eyes on the goal, keep moving forward and if you get knocked down, get back up and find that puck.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tim Markle is an Outreach Specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Waisman Center. In his various capacities, Markle works to improve the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities and neurodegenerative diseases, some of life’s most challenging conditions. He also develops curriculum for a variety of audiences, provides training for both children and adults, and is a prolific speaker.
Markle has a BA in Psychology from Bowling Green State University, a Masters in Counseling (MC) from John Carroll University, and a Master of Arts in Christian Studies (MACS) from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. As the capstone project for his MACS degree, Markle developed a six-week course that focused on how to forgive and why forgiveness is indispensable for dealing with anger, depression, anxiety and trauma. The course is based on the ground-breaking work of Dr. Robert Enright, co-founder of the IFI. Markle is also the founder of a forgiveness education organization called Forgiveness Factor.
The man Time magazine has called “the forgiveness trailblazer” is blazing forward in a new direction by offering to social science and moral development researchers around the world the accumulation of forgiveness research tools he has developed over the past 35 years. And he is giving them away at no cost and with no strings attached.
Dr. Robert Enright, co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI), announced today that he is now providing his highly regarded scientific research tools absolutely free to any forgiveness researcher who requests them.
“This initiative is designed to help expand and broaden the growing collection of crucial forgiveness knowledge,” Dr. Enright says. “This area of moral development has already had significant impacts in the realms of education, medical treatment, and emotional therapy, so why not try to expand on that?”
Often introduced as “Dr. Forgiveness” because of his 35-year academic commitment to researching and implementing forgiveness programs, Dr. Enright is acknowledged as the unquestioned pioneer in the scientific study of forgiveness. The research tools he and his associates have developed have become highly coveted tools because of his meticulous validation of the scientific procedures he employs.
All of Dr. Enright’s research is done in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is a Professor of Educational Psychology. You can access his peer-reviewed empirical studies, research abstracts, and published studies at Forgiveness Research.
In addition to sharing his research results, Dr. Enright is now making available his user-validated forgiveness research tools at no cost. Those tools include:
- The Enright Forgiveness Inventory-30 (EFI-30) – This tool is a shorter version of the Enright Forgiveness Inventory for Adults that has become the interpersonal forgiveness measure of choice for research professionals in the U.S. and abroad since its development in 1995. The EFI-30 reduces the number of items from 60 to 30 for the purpose of a more practical assessment of this construct. Data from the United States were used in the creation of the new measure and applied to seven nations: Austria, Brazil, Israel, Korea, Norway, Pakistan, and Taiwan to develop its psychometric validation.
- The Enright Self-Forgiveness Inventory (ESFI) – This measure is based on the conceptualization of forgiveness as a moral virtue. The ESFI is a 30-item scale featuring six subscales with five items each. Five additional items at the end of the scale allow for measurement of pseudo self-forgiveness (PSF). Although several competing self-forgiveness measures exist, Dr. Enright’s is the only one that captures the idea that self-forgiveness is a moral virtue that includes behavior toward the self.
- The Enright Group Forgiveness Inventory (EGFI) – Newly validated and published earlier this year, the EGFI has 56 items across seven subscales with each subscale having eight items. Those subscales measure a group’s motivation and values regarding forgiveness, peace, and friendliness toward the other group. Like the ESFI, it also has a PSF component and has dramatic implications for its ability to enhance peace efforts in the world.
To develop and validate the EGFI, Dr. Enright worked with a team of 16 international researchers who collected data from 595 study participants in three different geographic and cultural settings of the world—China and Taiwan, Slovenia, and the US. The study team’s findings documented that this new measure has strong internal consistency as well as convergent and discriminant validity.
- The Enright Forgiveness Inventory for Children (EFI-C) – The EFI-C is an objective measure of the degree to which a child forgives another who has hurt him or her deeply and unfairly. It is a 30-item scale similar to the 60-item adult version and is presented orally to very young children and in writing to those who can read well. Thanks to a researcher in Pakistan, the EFI-C is now available in the Urdu language—the native language of an estimated 230 million people, primarily in South Asia.
Dr. Enright is the author or editor of seven books. He published the first social scientific journal article on person-to-person forgiveness and the first cross-cultural studies of interpersonal forgiveness. He also pioneered scientific studies of forgiveness therapy and developed an early intervention to promote forgiveness–the 20-step Process Model of Forgiving.
By publicly sharing all his research studies and results in more than 100 publications over the years, Dr. Enright has earned recognition as being in the forefront of the science of forgiveness. The Los Angeles Times described Dr. Enright as “the guru of what many are calling a new science of forgiveness.” The Christian Science Monitor called him “the father of forgiveness research.”
Learn more about Dr. Enright’s free tools on the Forgiveness Research Tools page.