Psychologists' use of forgiveness in psychotherapy

Denise Joan Hanson (1996)

This study was designed to assess psychologists' use of forgiveness in psychotherapy, their personal and professional attitudes about forgiveness, and factors that are associated with its use or lack of use. Eighty-six licensed psychologists participated in this study. There were slightly more male psychologists (54%) than female (46%). The instrument used in this study, the "Forgiveness Questionnaire", was designed specifically for this study. The major findings of this study were that psychologists did report that they use forgiveness (self-forgiveness and forgiveness of others) in psychotherapy with their patients and that the degree of use of forgiveness is context dependent. In addition, there were some significant relationships between use of forgiveness in psychotherapy and personal and professional characteristics of psychologists and their practices, values, and beliefs. The implications and conclusions of this study were numerous. The major implication was that psychologists use forgiveness, value forgiveness, and believe in supporting its use in psychotherapy, yet there is a paucity of research and literature on forgiveness use. This suggests that the use of forgiveness in psychotherapy is not being written about.