Tagged: “Forgiveness books”

Forgiveness Interventions Help Depressed Adolescents Cope and Thrive

Ample research has shown that depression is a significant and growing problem for today’s adolescents.  Depression can impair a teenager’s cognitive functioning (i.e., thinking, reasoning, etc.), relationships with parents and peers, academic performance, and for cases of severe depression may even result in suicide attempts. Moreover, adolescent depression is also associated with poor outcomes in adulthood such as low-income levels, low educational aspirations, and high substance use.

Now, two international education and forgiveness specialists believe they may have uncovered one of the keys to reducing adolescent depression and major depressive disorder (MDD).  According to the researchers, their first-of-its-kind study has shown that promoting social skills such as responsibility and self-control could be “particularly salient for the prevention of adolescent depression.”

The new study, A Longitudinal Analysis of Social Skills and Adolescent Depression: A Multivariate Latent Growth Approach, was published in the current issue of the International Journal of Psychological Research (the official publication of the Faculty of Psychology at San Buenaventura University in Medellin, Colombia.). The study authors included Dr. Zhuojun Yao, an educational psychologist and lecturer at Soochow (Suzhou) University in Suzhou, China, and Dr. Robert Enright, of our International Forgiveness Institute.

Concert Hall, Suzhou University in Suzhou, China.

BACKGROUND: Adolescence is a period of increased vulnerability to depression because of complex changes in biology, cognition, and social domains.  According to the  2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 3.5 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States (14.4% of the total) had at least one Major Depressive Episode (MDE), and 70% of these adolescents had an MDE with severe impairment in 2018.

Most clinical  depression among children starts in middle adolescence (ages 15-18) and is much higher for those in that age group than for those in early adolescence (ages 13-15). Although there are substantial empirical research studies demonstrating the association between social skills  and adolescent depression, the authors of this study could not locate a single scientific work investigating how the change in social skills influences the change in depression from early to middle adolescence.

THE STUDY: To  address  this  gap  in fundamental knowledge, the researchers in this study questioned how changes in social skills (cooperation, assertion, responsibility, and self-control) influence changes in depression from early to middle adolescence. Using internationally respected measurement tools, the authors measured both social skills and depression in 1,064 participants (half boys, half girls). Those participants were drawn from a separate longevity study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (NICHD SECCYD) that ran from 1991 through 2008.

STUDY RESULTS: According to the study authors, adolescents who had more increase in responsibility  and self-control from 5th grade to 9th grade tended to experience a slower increase in depression; while adolescents who had more reduction in cooperation  and assertion from 5th grade to 9th grade tended to experience a faster increase in depression. Overall, the results suggest that responsibility in early adolescence may decrease adolescent depression by protecting adolescents from risk-taking and problematic behaviors in middle adolescence.

These findings have important implications for practices in prevention science, say the authors: “For example, to facilitate adolescents’ cooperative and assertive behaviors, the ethic of care should be emphasized in community and school context. The ethic of care is characterized by a desire to maintain relationships, caring about and responding to others needs, and a responsibility not to cause harm. With a care orientation, adolescents would be more likely to make connections with others and to embrace cooperation for mutual benefit.”

“When used in association with other therapeutic modalities. . .the psychotherapeutic

use of forgiveness can resolve the anger associated with depressive disorders.”

Dr. Robert Enright


IMPLICATIONS FOR FORGIVENESS: Interventions to reduce adolescent depression are becoming more important with each passing day because, as outlined above, adolescent depression also is associated with poor outcomes in adulthood. A 2009 study revealed that at least 27 million Americans take antidepressants, nearly double the number (13.3 million) who did so in the mid-1990s (Olfson & Marcus, 2009). Less understood is the fact that approximately 80% of adult mental disorders begin during childhood and adolescence (Kim-Cohen et al., 2003) and typically include an intense emotional state of anger.

“Anger begins in early childhood and later extends to relationships with significant others, particularly those one wants to trust,” Dr. Enright writes in Forgiveness Therapy, the widely-heralded forgiveness intervention manual he authored with psychiatrist Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons. “Anger from childhood hurts and disappointments with parents and others can be unresolved and later misdirected unconsciously at others. [page 108]

“Once anger develops, three options are available for addressing this powerful and complex emotion: denial, expression (active or passive-aggressive), and forgiveness. If the anger is resolved through a forgiveness process, it can facilitate the healing of the associated sadness, depression and the tendency to ruminate over past hurts.”  [page 108]

According to Dr. Enright, “This study provides yet another compelling reason why we need Forgiveness Education in our schools NOW.”

This study on adolescent depression is just one of the many research projects undertaken by Drs. Zhuojun Yao and Robert Enright. Others include:

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The Transformative Power of Storytelling

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

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

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu

    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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.


 

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How do we promote the true meaning of forgiveness, given that there are so many misunderstandings of it?

We have resources to help, such as three self-help books (Forgiveness Is a Choice, The Forgiving Life, and 8 Keys to Forgiveness).  We also have forgiveness education curriculum guides for teachers and parents in our Store.  With all of these materials, we have tried to be very accurate regarding what forgiveness is and what it is not.

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Coveted Forgiveness Research Tools Now Available at No Cost

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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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    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.
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  • 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.


 

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How to Find a Therapist Who Has Forgiveness Therapy Training

Because Forgiveness Therapy interventions are becoming standard practice for more and more psychologists and others in the helping professions, the demand for the International Forgiveness Institute’s (IFI) Forgiveness Therapy Continuing Education Course continues to grow. As far as we know, the IFI course is currently the only one available that provides in-depth training for forgiveness therapy so those who have completed the course are a unique group of trailblazing professionals. Our course is based on the clinical manual also called Forgiveness Therapy that is authored by IFI co-founder Dr. Robert Enright (a licensed psychologist) and Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, an MD and a psychiatrist.

Those who successfully complete the course receive a completion certificate from the IFI that can be displayed in clinics and offices alongside other professional credentials. Those individuals may also, of course, advertise their forgiveness expertise in their clinical promotions and printed materials. That means the best way to find a therapist who has trained with the IFI is to ask the practitioner if he or she has undertaken forgiveness therapy training and, if so, who provided that training. Don’t be afraid to ask for documentation of that training (i.e., an IFI Certificate of Completion).

The best advice we can give on finding a therapist is to follow the step-by-step guidance we provide on our website in the section called “Find a Helping Professional.” There you will be able to access valuable fact sheets like “How to Choose a Psychologist” and “How Do I Find a Therapist Near Me?” If you think online therapy might be a viable option to consider, you will find guidance in our article “Reasons to Choose an Online Therapist.” More importantly, that page of our website includes links to three different reputable agencies, including the American Psychological Association, that provide no-cost services to help you locate a helping professional by geographic area or practice area. You’ll find all that at our “Find a Helping Professional” section.


 

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