WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO LET GO?
AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE FACILITATING & OBSTRUCTING FACTORS
OF FORGIVENESS – THE THERAPIST’S PERSPECTIVE
Counselling Psychology Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 4, December 2008, 337–348
The phenomenon of forgiveness, initially neglected by psychotherapists due to its religious connotation, is finding increasing recognition as a transformative process involving the injured party in a profound way. This thesis is based on therapists’ experiences with clients who have been wounded. However, its content may be of relevance also for those who are struggling to forgive as well as those who are in a position to help others undergoing this process.
Fifteen practitioners, most of whom are highly experienced, from eleven different countries on four different continents, have shared their observations and experiences by filling in an e-mail administered in-depth questionnaire.The topic has been approached with the following study objectives: the nature of forgiveness, intrapersonal and interpersonal factors affecting forgiveness, and the role of the therapist in the client’s process of letting go. A qualitative research design has been applied for the data analysis, to identify the major themes of each research question, representing the facilitating and obstructing conditions relevant for forgiveness. Since the danger of premature forgiveness emerged as a recurrent concern, a ‘forgiveness chart’ has been developed, assigning the analysed data to relevant categories:
A reference tool designed to support a genuine process of letting go.
Keywords: Forgiveness and psychotherapy, premature forgiveness, facilitating and obstructing factors of forgiveness