The treatment of forgiveness in counselling and therapy.

MACASKILL, A. (2005). The treatment of forgiveness in counselling and therapy. Counselling Psychology Review, 20 (1), 26-33.


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Situations involving perceived hurts, slights, and other interpersonal maltreatment are at the core of counselling and therapy. Resolution of these situations frequently involves forgiveness of the transgressor. Despite this the concept of forgiveness has received relatively little attention within the counselling and therapy literature. The reasons for this are explored beginning with the association between forgiveness and the Judaeo-Christian tradition. Freud avoided the term forgiveness and psychoanalysts until very recently have followed suit. Ways in which forgiveness are conceptualised are explored. Difficulties related to forgiving associated with our conceptualisations of natural justice are identified. A cautionary note is struck about the dangers of pathologising non forgiveness given the enthusiasm for forgiveness in the current research literature and in Positive Psychology. Distinctions between processes of forgiveness are made which are particularly potent for counselling. A summary of the literature with regard to the health benefits of forgiveness is presented and some client dilemmas in relation to forgiveness are outlined. Most of the emergent research on forgiveness is being undertaken by academic psychologists and the argument is made that counselling psychologists are uniquely equipped to contribute to the growing research literature on forgiveness.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Forgiveness, therapy, counselling
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Psychology Research Group
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2008
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2015 05:41

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