Tagged: “forgiveness therapy”

It seems to me that a safer approach when treated unfairly is to engage in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and not forgiveness.  Forgiveness invites an unwanted guest back into the heart.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, in contrast, helps me to think in new ways so that I do not condemn myself for letting the injustice happen and it helps me keep my distance from the one who hurt me.

Research does show that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as a psychotherapeutic technique can be helpful in changing one’s attitude toward difficult situations, but it may not be as effective as Forgiveness Therapy in getting rid of the elephant in the room which is deep, excessive anger that just won’t quit.  Forgiveness Therapy has been shown to be very effective against the effects of trauma suffered because of others’ injustice.  Forgiveness Therapy can take time and is a struggle because you are growing in the important virtue of having mercy on those who did not have mercy on you.  Yet, the effort is worth it because the toxic anger can be reduced and eliminated.  Some residual anger can remain, but it does not control the one who forgives.

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Forgiveness Research Goes Viral

Surging world-wide interest in the virtue of forgiveness was vividly demonstrated this week when the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) released updated distribution totals for its prized Forgiveness Research Tools.

In just the past 17 months, the IFI has fulfilled requests for 717 copies of its Forgiveness Research Tools–requests received from individuals and research organizations in 41 countries and 43 US states plus the District of Columbia. The IFI began offering the tools for free on April 1, 2021.

The forgiveness tools were developed by IFI co-founder Dr. Robert Enright and his associates through the Enright Forgiveness Lab that he established at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Enright has validated those scientific measuring tools and used them in more than 50 forgiveness research projects he has conducted at locations around the world since 1993.

By far the most popular and most requested forgiveness tool (223 requests) is the Enright
Self-Forgiveness Inventory
(ESFI
) that “captures the Aristotelian view of forgiveness as a moral virtue practiced toward the self.” According to Dr. Enright, the tool is based on the premise that “self-forgiveness is a moral virtue, not a psychological technique.”

Close behind in requests (201) is the Enright Forgiveness Inventory-30 (EFI-30)—a shortened version of the Enright Forgiveness Inventory for Adults that has become the interpersonal forgiveness measure tool of choice for research professionals since its development in 1995.

Two other forgiveness tools developed by Dr. Enright are also extremely popular:

  • The Enright Forgiveness Inventory for Children—an objective measure of the degree to which one person forgives another who has hurt him or her deeply and unfairly (125 requests); and,
  • The Enright Group Forgiveness Inventory—a newly-developed research tool that takes forgiveness from its traditional focus on individuals to a higher magnitude by concentrating on group forgiveness—an area of intervention that has dramatic implications for its ability to enhance peace efforts in the world (109 requests).

Dr. Enright is a licensed psychologist and an educational psychology professor at UW-Madison who pioneered the scientific study of forgiveness. He wrote the first scientific journal article on person-to-person forgiveness, is often introduced as “the father of forgiveness research,” and has been labeled “the forgiveness trailblazer” by Time magazine.

In 2019, Dr. Enright received the international Expanded Reason Award from the Universidad Francisco de Vitoria and the Vatican Foundation Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI and he holds the Aristotelian Professorship in Forgiveness Science (2020) from UW-Madison. Earlier this year he was awarded the 2022 American Psychological Foundation Gold Medal Award for Impact in Psychology. His work integrates psychology, philosophy, and psychotherapeutic disciplines.

Dr. Enright’s 37-year quest to harness what he calls “the power of forgiveness” has resulted in the development of curriculum guides for students at each level from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade that are now being used in more than 30 countries around the world.

His groundbreaking clinical manual Forgiveness Therapy, developed with psychiatrist Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons through the American Psychological Association, is the basis for the world’s first online forgiveness education course for psychologists, social workers, nurses, and other professional counselors. It is offered exclusively through the IFI.

“When I first began exploring the virtue of forgiveness, I was unable to find a single scientific journal article on forgiveness that had been published anywhere in the world,” Dr. Enright recalls. “Today there are literally hundreds of such articles and based on the demand for our research tools, that number will soon be growing exponentially.”

Dr. Enright’s forgiveness research tools are available free upon request at the International Forgiveness Institute website: internationalforgiveness.com or via email: director@internationalforgiveness.com.

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I have tried cognitive and cognitive-behavioral therapies and they do not work in a deep way for me.  In other words, I can change my thinking about the situation, try not to see it as a catastrophe, but still I have unsettled emotions inside that need healing.  Can forgiveness aid the recovery of more positive emotions and, if so, how does this occur?

Yes, you could include forgiveness in your therapeutic work.  In contrast to the therapies in which you have engaged, forgiveness goes beyond the examination of your symptoms in the context of the injustice(s) against you.  Forgiveness therapy goes to the root cause of the continued emotional upset by having you do the work of focusing on the one who hurt you, trying to see this person as someone who possesses inherent worth.  As you see the other’s worth, this can enhance a sense of empathy and compassion toward the other and this has the paradoxical effect of lowering the temperature of your anger.  So, adding forgiveness to your program likely will be beneficial for you.  I wish you the very best in your healing journey.

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“Forgiveness Pioneer” Wins Inaugural Gold Medal Award for Impact in Psychology

The scientific application of forgiveness, forgiveness education, and forgiveness therapy is being singled out for its “game-changing impact on the field of psychology” by the country’s largest and oldest organization of doctoral-level psychologists.

The American Psychological Foundation (APF), the grant-making arm of the American Psychological Association (APA), has just announced the winner of its first-ever Gold Medal Award for Impact in Psychology—Dr. Robert Enright, a professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and founder of the International Forgiveness Institute.

Classified as one of psychology’s highest honors, the award “recognizes a psychologist whose work has had a game-changing impact on the field of psychology,” according to APF board president Terence M. Keane, PhD.  He added that the new award acknowledges “a psychologist’s body of work that has been impactful, innovative, and transformational.”

Prior to this year, the award was called the Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement and it has been bestowed on exceptional psychological innovators by the APF for the past 65 years. Previous winners have included B. F. Skinner (the 1971 winner who developed behavior analysis), Harry Harlow (the 1973 winner and a UW-Madison psychologist like Dr. Enright), Rollo May (1987), Mary Ainsworth (1998), and Albert Bandura (2006).

“For the APA and the APF to position forgiveness alongside the creative achievements of those giants in the field of psychology is truly a profound pronouncement,” Dr. Enright said after learning of his recognition.

As a grant making foundation, the APF helps fund psychologists and students worldwide who are using psychology to address major issues and improve lives. The APA has more than 133,000 members—doctoral-level researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students (associate members). Combined, the two organizations have more than 500 staff members who focus on providing services to psychologists like Dr. Enright who have dedicated their lives to improving the mental health and welfare of others.

Dr. Enright, a licensed psychologist, has devoted 37 years to the scientific study of forgiveness. As the unquestioned pioneer in the field of forgiveness, Dr. Enright published the first social scientific journal article on person-to-person forgiveness and the first cross-cultural studies of interpersonal forgiveness. He also pioneered forgiveness therapy and developed an early intervention to promote forgiveness–the 20-stepProcess Model of Forgiving.”

The Enright Forgiveness Inventory (EFI), an objective measure of the degree to which research participants forgive another who has been unjust and hurtful toward them, is now used by researchers around the world. The Enright Forgiveness Inventory for Children (EFI-C), the Enright Self-Forgiveness Inventory (ESF-I),  and the Enright Group Forgiveness Inventory (EGFI) have all become standard research tools known simply by their abbreviations.

Dr. Enright also pioneered the use of forgiveness therapy in clinical practice by developing interventions that gained critical acclaim with the APA’s publishing in 2015 of Forgiveness Therapy, an instructional manual for clinicians written by Dr. Enright and psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons, MD. The two authors were selected in 2019 as recipients of the prestigious Expanded Reason Award presented by the University Francisco de Vitoria (Madrid, Spain) in collaboration with the Vatican Foundation Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI (Rome, Italy) “to recognize and encourage innovation in scientific research and academic programs.” 

Dr. Enright’s ambitious approach to forgiveness education included the development of 14 Forgiveness Education Curriculum Guides for students in grades Pre-K through 12th. Through stories, children learn about the five moral qualities most important to forgiving another person–inherent worth, moral love, kindness, respect and generosity—and eventually, how they themselves can become a forgiving person.

A just-completed meta-analysis by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers involving more than 1,500 students in 10 countries shows that students enrolled in Forgiveness Education Programs demonstrated reduced anger and increased forgiveness toward those who have hurt them. Those forgiveness guide lesson plans, distributed through the IFI, have been requested by educators in more than 30 countries and contentious regions around the world.

Adding to its forgiveness education agreements with many of those countries, the IFI’s newest Branch Office is IFI-Pakistan, a partnership with the Government College University Lahore, Lahore, Pakistan–the first in that country and in Southern Asia. In Greece the IFI has trained more than 600 grade school instructors in the past 8 years who are now teaching forgiveness to more than 6,000 Greek students.

“Although the virtue of forgiveness has made astronomical strides in the past few decades, we are just on the edge of what it can offer us for the future,” Dr. Enright says. “Forgiveness must have a seat at the peace-keeping and peace-making table.”

According to Dr. Enright, his body of work has clearly demonstrated that as people forgive, they become less angry, less depressed, less anxious, and more hopeful of their future. In other words, people become more peaceful within themselves, making the possibility of peace with others more likely.

Dr. Enright has outlined his grass-roots approach to peace through a variety of forums beginning with his 2010 article Forgiveness Education as a Path to Peace,” his 2014 address to the United Nations Population Fund “Forgiveness as a Peace Tool,” and his recent series of 3 essays on peace published on the Psychology Today digital website.

In 2015, Dr. Enright accompanied Eva Mozes Kor, a survivor of the Holocaust, on a series of US radio interviews to promote peace through forgiveness. His peace initiatives have earned him peace educator awards including being named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International in 2016.

Time magazine has called Dr. Enright “the forgiveness trailblazer.” The Los Angeles Times said Dr. Enright is “the guru of what many are calling a new science of forgiveness.” The Christian Science Monitor called Dr. Enright “the father of forgiveness research.”

As the recipient of the 2022 Gold Medal Award for Impact in Psychology, Dr. Enright will be honored during APA 2022–the annual American Psychological Association convention on August 5th in Minneapolis, MN.  He will receive a gold medal plaque and a modest honorarium during the APF Friends of the Foundation reception.

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You emphasize anger in your forgiveness model.  Yet, I am not feeling anger. I am feeling pain.  Might you have missed this in your model?

I agree with you that pain occurs after being treated unjustly.  I think the sequence is as follows: 1) Someone is unfair to you; 2) Next comes shock or even denial; 3) Then comes pain, as you describe; 4) If the pain does not lessen or if you have no effective way of reducing and eliminating the pain, then you may become angry.

That anger can be at the person for acting unfairly, or at the situation, or even at the pain itself that resulted from the unfair treatment.  It is the anger, if it abides and deepens, that can lead to health problems (fatigue, anxiety, and so forth).  So, I emphasize anger within Forgiveness Therapy because it, in the form of excessive anger or resentment, can be dangerous to health, relationships, and communities.

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