Summary of the ArticleNearly 35% of women have reported emotional abuse. Psychological issues are a scar that is left far after a bad relationship has ended. The study ofis a new concept that is being compared to alternative treatments such as anger validation and interpersonal skill building. The efficiency of both theories were tested to show the participants improvement in depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress symptoms, self-esteem, forgiveness, and decision making.Additionally the long term recovery of the psychological issues of their emotional abuse was monitored.
There were seven categories that were associated with psychological abuse. They included: criticizing, ridiculing, jealous control, purposeful ignoring, threats of abandonment, harmful threats, and damage to one?s personal property, with ridicule associated most strongly with negative outcomes of psychological abuse (Reed, G., & Enright, R., 2006). Even years after the abuse, victims still felt an ongoing sense of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, helplessness, and resentment of the abuser.
Alternative treatments, such as anger validation and interpersonal skill building had been studied for the therapeutic use of emotional abuse victims; however it lacked evidence to show significant improvement. Forgiveness therapy had been established to create a method of forgiving the actions to alleviate anxiety and depression while improving one?s self-esteem. During the therapy, a major focus is to help victims to overcome the sense of self helplessness and to become more confident in their own decision making. The women also learned how to cope with their resentment toward their abuser and integrate their experience into a positive learning or helpful situation.The testing concluded that with forgiveness therapy, women had substantially improved long term results, while the alternative therapy did not address any of the issues with resentment or long term coping skill.
Interact with the Article
This article was very interesting especially when specializing in the field of Marriage and Family. All too often in this field we see cases of emotional abuse, but little progress has been made in the field of how to counsel spousal abuse victims. The majority of Christian based counseling advocates for trying to save a marriage, however when too much damage has been done and a partner is not willing to change it is essential to know how to successfully help emotional abuse victims.While counseling through the stages of grief, anger validation and behavior therapies have commonly been used; forgiveness therapy is a relatively new concept.
It is my opinion that forgiveness therapy would work very successfully. In order for a person to truly grow and become stronger from a situation it is vital for them to understand and accept their experience. Due to the time span of the therapy, it would appear that most of the general grieving from the relationship would have past leaving the victim with the memories and resentment. After two years it would make sense that the women would have made the conscience decision not return to the relationship.
The test group led to a few questions. The study was formed of 90 percent from women of European descent with one woman from Native American and Latino descent. There were no women of African American or Asian descent used in the case study. Additionally, over 80 percent of the women studied had some college education or higher. It is commonly known that domestic violence is slightly higher in families of lower socioeconomic status.The homogeneousness of the group raises many questions of the effectiveness of the therapy to a wider population.
Potential Counseling Setting
Forgiveness therapy could be very successful in a Christian counseling setting. I could see this being particularly useful in a situation where a woman had decided to make a change in her life, where it would be essential for her to learn to forgive. Examples of this situation would be the woman is in a new relationship and still hold the resentment of her past relationship. Most of the women in the study had not become involved in a serious relationship, so the woman might decide she is ready to begin dating again.
For the woman to get the most of forgiveness therapy it would be best that she attends her therapy sessions alone. I believe that for forgiveness therapy to work the most effectively, the woman must decide she needs to allow forgiveness into her heart. At that point, the woman will have to face the trauma that she experienced in order understand the hurt and anger that she still feels.While facing her pain, it would be particularly helpful for her to recognize her own strength and focus on the fact that after she acknowledges the pain the plagues her she will be that much stronger and able to share the goodness in her heart.
Forgiveness therapy seems that it would help to change a person?s outlook on life entirely. By lifting the weight of resentment from ones shoulders they would be released from their own prison. It may also bring a person who is questioning their faith closer to God by developing an understanding that their suffering had not been in vain and they could use their own experiences to help other. There would also be a newfound hope in them, that they are capable for making real change and could potentially become involved in a healthy relationship.
Reed, G., & Enright, R., (2006). The effects of forgiveness therapy on depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress for women after spousal emotional abuse. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(5), 920-929.