The Effects of Forgiveness Therapy on Depression, Anxiety and Posttraumatic Stress for Women after Spousal Emotional Abuse Critical Essay

April 15, 2022 by Essay Writer


‘The Effects of Forgiveness Therapy on Depression, Anxiety and Posttraumatic Stress for Women after Spousal Emotional Abuse’ is a research study conducted by Reed and Enright in 2006.

The article evaluates the effectiveness of forgiveness therapy administered to emotionally abused women and compares it to alternative treatments like anger validation and interpersonal skill building.

The research identifies that despite having been various treatments for emotionally abused women, there was scarce emphasis on the treatments’ effectiveness. Using random sampling, the authors selected 20 emotionally abused women, already separated from their spouses for over duration of 2 years (Reed & Enright, 2006).

The selected samples met with clinicians for an average period of 7.95 months within which, ten participants received forgiveness therapy while the remaining ten received alternative treatment (Reed & Enright, 2006).

When the test period was over, forgiveness therapy demonstrated higher efficacy compared to alternative treatment, since most women were found to have gained positive responses towards the abuse.

Unlike in the alternative treatments, forgiveness therapy promoted compassion and provided a better way of evaluating the abuse without resentment. The alternative treatments were slightly effective, but they were less effective in preventing resentment and negative responses.

Enright forgiveness model applied in the study proved effective since it systematically addressed the forgiveness process identified the negative attributes caused by the abuse, and prepared the women for positive responses.

Forgiveness therapy demonstrated high efficacy in promoting self-esteem, eliminating depression and promoting environmental mastery (Reed & Enright, 2006).

The process was very effective in helping women understand and examine the injustice of the abuse, without interpreting the process as pardon and forgetting (Reed & Enright, 2006).

The research therefore demonstrates that forgiveness therapy is an effective method of helping psychologically abused women to recover, without promoting negative responses to the abuse.


I find the article very interesting and informative, especially after understanding the difference in approach between forgiveness as contained in the dictionary, and forgiveness therapy. Firstly, the authors make extensive research in order to form a strong theoretical foundation for conducting the research study.

The authors first generate a generalized discussion, which they later narrow down according to evidence from past research. The research method is viable since it subjects the participants to ample time for recovery from psychological abuse, while still providing the authors with enough time to monitor the progress of the women.

The time allocated to the research is efficient, since it allows the authors to eliminate any assumption. By deciding on the timeframe, the authors eliminate possibilities of errors.

In the research design, the authors ensure that tests are carried out before and after treatment in order to generate credible and significant differences caused by the treatment options.

The decision is therefore relevant in comparing the women’s psychological wellbeing before and after treatment and in identifying the most effective treatment options. The interveners selected are all qualified to avoid errors caused by unprofessionalism, meaning that the test results collected are of high quality.

The reason for being interested in the article is influenced by the presence of a case study within the test results, as it presents an opportunity to participate in the research.

The case of Marianne brings a reader into the actual research, since it provides an opportunity for understanding the type of participants selected, their conditions, and the changes realized after treatment. The inclusion and exclusion criteria for the participants eliminate inconsistencies in the data collected.


In a practical setting dealing with spousal infidelity, one of the possible challenges is eliminating helplessness from the victim. In most cases, victims often blame themselves for having not pleased their spouses enough, to avoid infidelity.

In such situations, women would try to justify the act based on the self-assumption that they failed to play their marital role in the correct manner, leading to the husband’s infidelity. To eliminate this perception, one of the best strategies would be to apply Enright’s forgiveness model (Reed & Enright, 2006).

One of the first step would be to explain to the victim what forgiveness is, and differentiate it from common perceptions of pardon and forgiveness. The victim must understand that whatever the husband did had nothing to do with her marital responsibility.

The situation therefore calls for psychological defenses and justifications, and understanding the effect of the infidelity towards her anger. Anger management is very vital in promoting forgiveness.

The other step would be to reframe the infidel partner, by re-examining the effect of the act in relation to his personal history and inherent worth (Reed & Enright, 2006). This process makes it possible for the victim to understand her husband better and identify the attributes, which have hitherto not been clear to her all along.

By understanding the partner and after eliminating self-blame, resentment and anger, the victim is ready to develop empathy and compassion (Reed & Enright, 2006). This treatment option is gradual since it requires thorough understanding of the partner and finding meaning amidst the injustice.

Once the victim is ready to develop positive responses to the injustice, she can be encouraged to help others in similar situations in order to find meaning in life, live positively and engage in constructive relationships with others.


Reed, G. L., & Enright, R. D. (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.

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