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Psychother Res. 2012;22(5):604-20. doi: 10.1080/10503307.2012.692954. Epub 2012 Jun 12.

Comparison of forgiveness and anger-reduction group treatments: a randomized controlled trial.

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Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA.


Interventions to promote forgiveness are effective. However, in what ways and in comparison to what other treatments is still unresolved. College students (n=112) who had been hurt in the past and struggled to overcome their negative experiences of it participated in this study. They were randomly assigned to one of two treatments, one focused on promoting forgiveness and one focused on reducing anger for past hurts, or a waiting list control. Treatment consisted of six 90-minute sessions held in small groups led by one facilitator over the course of 3 weeks. Results of three-level (time within participants within groups) hierarchical linear modeling indicated that the forgiveness treatment (n=41) resulted in greater reductions in hostility and psychological symptoms and more empathy for the offender than the alternative treatment (n=39) and the waitlist (n=32). Participants in both treatment conditions reported greater reductions in desires for revenge than those in the waitlist condition. All participants reported a significant reduction in rumination about the offense. Clinical significance testing mirrored these results. These findings support forgiveness-promoting treatments as effective for reducing psychological symptoms and achieving forgiveness, and suggest that they may be more effective than other types of treatments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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