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Helping Clients Forgive: A Model of Forgiveness Daniel Klassen PhD “Having looked the beast in the eye, Having asked and received forgiveness, Let us shut.

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Presentation on theme: "Helping Clients Forgive: A Model of Forgiveness Daniel Klassen PhD “Having looked the beast in the eye, Having asked and received forgiveness, Let us shut."— Presentation transcript:

1 Helping Clients Forgive: A Model of Forgiveness Daniel Klassen PhD “Having looked the beast in the eye, Having asked and received forgiveness, Let us shut the door on the past. Not to forget it, But to allow it not to imprison us.” Desmond Tutu

2  Helping Clients Forgive  Introduction  The Myths of Forgiveness  Defining Forgiveness  Readiness and Resistance  The Place of Forgiveness in Counselling  The Themes on the Path of Forgiveness  Helping Clients Forgive

3  Introduction  Forgiveness in Counselling Literature  International Attention to Forgiveness  Some Benefits of Forgiveness Counselling “Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory, Forgiving what we cannot forget Creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past Into our hope for the future.” Lewis Smedes

4  Introduction  Forgiveness in Counselling Literature ▪ History is brief – beginning about ▪ Not found in the writings of Adler, Rogers, Maslow or Freud. ▪ Perhaps forgiveness was seen a religious notion – not amenable to scientific enquiry. ▪ Perhaps the scientific community believed there were other effective ways of dealing with injustices, offenses and wounds. ▪ Perhaps the psychological dimensions of forgiving, such as the affective, cognitive and behavioral, were not acknowledged. ▪ Today there is much more readiness, among wellness practitioners, to accept notions which are more spiritual in nature and more open to other forms of research and less amenable to rigid scientific investigation.

5  Introduction ▪ International Attention on Forgiveness ▪ Jacques Derrida – Philosopher ▪ Founder of Deconstructionism ▪ Comments on correspondence between Japan and Korea regarding the forgiveness of war crimes in WWII “Forgiving forgives only the unforgiveable” Jacques Derrida in On Forgiveness

6  Introduction  Some Benefits of Forgiveness Counselling ▪ Reduced Anger ▪ Diminished Anxiety ▪ Reduced Depression ▪ Improved Self-Esteem ▪ Increased Optimism and Hope ▪ Less Preoccupation with Offenses “Unless we learn to release them, offenses have a way of defining and confining us.” dk

7  The Myths of Forgiveness Forgiving is …  An Event: It is a process and an attitude  Forgetting: It must be remembered  Reconciling: It may not be safe  Absolution: We don’t have the authority  Denying: It must be seen for what it is “When we forgive an injustice We do not excuse it We do not tolerate it We do not smother it We look the evil full in the face Call it what it is Let it’s horror, shock, stun and enrage us And only then do we forgive it.” Lewis Smedes

8  The Myths of Forgiveness Forgiving is …  Excusing: There can be no excuse  Condoning: It can’t be justified  Settling: We are not “settling” for an inferior position  Feel Fair: It must be fair but may not feel fair  Ignoring Justice: It must be just or it would not be effective  Amnesty: Forgiveness does not merely “overlook” the wrong “It takes one person to forgive, Two to reconcile.” dk

9  The Definition of Forgiveness  The injured one is able to recognize an actual injustice.  The injured one chooses to abandon resentment (to which they are entitled) toward the offender, rather than respond with justifiable retribution (which the offender has rightfully earned).  The injured one cancels the debt which the offender owes, acknowledging that justice has been served. “Forgiveness does not change the past, It enlarges the future.” Paul Boese

10  Readiness to Forgive ▪ Great Individual differences ▪ Some families practise forgiving generously ▪ Some cultures discourage the practice of forgiveness “Vengeance is the lazy man’s justice” The Interpreter DVD

11  Resistance to Forgiving  The need to listen  Begin where they are  Not to forgive is an option  Acceptance is not agreement  Resistance is the door to forgiveness “How much more grievous Are the consequences of anger Than the causes of it.” Marcus Aurelius

12  The Need for Forgiveness  We are social beings … interpersonal relationships is a primary need  We offend each another with injustices … these offenses place the relationship at risk  The negative effects of injustices may be repaired through the process of forgiveness “Forgiveness is the oil of relationships” Josh McDowell

13  Themes on the Path of Forgiveness  Deal with Justice  Grieve the Loss  Cancel the Debt “To forgive Is to set A prisoner free and discover the prisoner is me.” Corrie Ten Boom

14  The Themes of Forgiveness  Do not follow in a linear pattern  Do not follow in a chronological style  The pattern might be called “spiral”  In a spiral pattern the themes keep on being visited over and over with every cycle  No one leaves a theme in the same way in which they came to it  Changes come in small increments “The foolish neither forgive or forget, The naïve forgive and forget, The wise forgive but do not forget.” Thomas Szasz

15  Dealing With Justice  Criminal and Civil Justice ▪ The Trespass: Every trespass of a law or boundary incurs a debt ▪ The Debt: The courts of the justice systems describe debts in payable terms (dollars or time served) so that debts can be defined and paid ▪ The Payment of the Debt: When the state is satisfied that the payment of the debt meets the criteria described by the court, the state will then, and only then, cancel the debt which the offender owes ▪ The Debt Cancelled: With the cancellation of the debt the courts acknowledge that justice has been served

16  The Themes of Forgiving Dealing with Justice  In Interpersonal Offenses ▪ The Debt: Every trespass of a boundary or broken promise or unfulfilled expectation incurs a debt ▪ The Debt Cannot be Paid: In trespasses like infidelity, the debt cannot be described in payable terms (like time owed or a fine), because there is nothing the offender can do, be or produce that will make it right and the wrong cannot be undone. ▪ The Debt Remains Outstanding: The debt cannot be paid by the offender (even when they want to) … it remains outstanding unless the injured one makes some creative choices.

17  The Themes of Forgiving  Dealing with Justice ▪ Interpersonal Offenses ▪ The Injured has a decision to make: -- To Release the Debt or Not Release the Debt -- ▪ In choosing to abandon resentment (to which they are entitled) rather than respond with justifiable retribution (which the offender has rightfully earned) and cancelling the debt, the injured one acknowledges that justice is done. ▪ In choosing to remain resentful (to which they are entitled) and in choosing to respond with justifiable retribution (which the offender has rightfully earned) the injured ones refuse to release the debt and therefore cut themselves off from the full rewards that justice has to offer. “The Highest Level of Justice Is Justice Tempered With Mercy”

18 “When we refuse to cancel the debt We burn the bridge Over which we ourselves must cross In order to allow justice To do her work.” dk “He who refuses “ We want the outcomes to cancel the debt that justice has to offer, hampers the work but refuse to do what that justice would do.” dk she requires of us.” dk “You want justice done, But if you refuse to do your part, You cut yourself off from her part.”dk

19  The Themes of Forgiving  Dealing with Justice ▪ Anger over injustice ▪ Anger is the proper response to injustice ▪ Anger is the motivator to make the wrong right ▪ Name the injury ▪ When all names, dates, behaviors are taken away from the injury – what is left? Is it abandonment? or betrayal? Or … ? ▪ Blame the injurer ▪ There is a therapeutic way to blame ▪ If there is no one to blame there is no one to forgive “ I will never be held accountable For what has been done to me But will always be responsible For what I do in return.” Viktor Frankl

20  Dealing with Justice  Is Forgiving Fair? Does It Ever Feel Fair? ▪ Is not forgiving more fair? ▪ Is living with anger and resentment more fair? ▪ Does a life dedicated to revenge feel like a better life? ▪ These are the options – to forgive or remain unforgiving – Which is more fair? “How much more grievous Are the consequences of anger Than the causes of it.” Marcus Aurelius One of the reasons forgiveness feels so unfair is that the injured do all the work … however, they are the only ones with the authority to do it … no one can cancel the debt and forgive for them. dk

21  The Themes of Forgiving  Grieve the Loss ▪ Knowledge: know the loss – know what was taken from you ▪ Acknowledge: claim the loss as your own – you will never be the same again – you have lost a part of you … not he whole self ▪ Describe your new identity: You are now different – describe your new “you” – you are more than what you have lost … your loss is not the title of your story – allow it to be a footnote or appendix.  “So much has been given to me, I have no time to ponder that which has been denied.” Helen Keller

22  The Themes of Forgiving  Grieve the Loss ▪ Paganini ▪ In the final movement of the final piece in a concert in Paris, he lost three of his four violin strings. Upon realizing what he had lost he chose to complete the piece on the one and only remaining string. ▪ He chose to define himself by what he had left, rather than what he had lost. “We may be so angry about what has been lost, That we fail to see what is left.” dk

23  Themes of Forgiving  Cancel the Debt ▪ Every offense incurs a debt ▪ The debt cannot be described in payable terms ▪ The offender cannot pay what is owed … there is no payment that satisfies the weight of the debt ▪ Cancelling is a choice … we can choose not to cancel “Only the wounded have the authority to forgive.” The Interpreter

24  The Themes of Forgiving  Cancelling the debt does not mean: ▪ You are giving in or giving up ▪ That they are right and you are wrong ▪ That you are losing and they are winning “Revenge makes promises It cannot deliver.” dk

25  Themes of Forgiving  Cancel the Debt ▪ Possible challenges to cancelling the debt ▪ “He has not apologized.” ▪ “She has shown no contrition.” ▪ “She does not deserve it.” ▪ “He does not understand how much he has hurt me.” ▪ “If I forgive, she will just do it again.” ▪ “If I forgive, he will think it was OK.” ▪ “If I forgive him, I’m making myself too vulnerable.” “Most of us can forgive … We just don’t want our offender to forget that we have forgiven.” Ivern Ball

26  Themes of Forgiving  Cancelling the Debt ▪ Cancelling the debt means that the injurer has nothing to offer you that would further help to close the file. ▪ You do not require an apology, nor do you wish the injurer any harm; and you don’t owe the injurer anything either. ▪ “Forgiven” means the scales of justice are balanced and that the highest level of justice has been reached; justice tempered with mercy. “ … mercy seasons justice. ” The Merchant of Venice Act IV Scene I

27  Conclusion … Reclaiming Our Life  Forgiving is for the purpose of repairing relationships which have been put at risk through offenses and injustices  In most cases, as we forgive, we discover new and more comprehensive life principles  The new principles are based on new understandings with new boundaries, should harm come our way again “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it.” Samuel Clemens

28  Forgiveness Counselling  Listen to the Story  Identify the Offense  Separate What Happened … From What Needs to be Done  Accept/Support Resistance  Identify the Themes “I was angry with my friend, I told my wrath, My wrath did end. I was angry with my foe, I told it not, My wrath did grow.” William Blake


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