What is Forgiveness Counseling?
It’s not uncommon to run into situations or to deal with people who you feel have wronged you in the past, or are continuing to do wrong in the present. When wronged, the victims typically find themselves harboring feelings of betrayal, anger, or the need to seek vengeance in order to return to a sense of normalcy.
Forgiveness is defined as: “the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven” and many find that the process itself can be quite difficult after having been wronged by another. Taking the religious context out of the equation, forgiveness is all about knowing that you have been slighted, but allowing yourself to continue on your day to day life, and to accept the situation so that it doesn’t become a burden to yourself, your family, your career, or your personal relationships. This is often much easier said than done.
I suppose it’s important to ask the question of why forgiveness matters. For most, you can go about your business knowing that you were the victim of something that seems unforgivable, and for the most part go on living a healthy and happy life. For others, these acts show the victim seeking solace in substances such as drugs and alcohol, or unhealthy behaviors such as self-mutilation or harm, risky sexual behavior, or depression, stress and anxiety. The mental and health benefits of forgiveness are well established in the therapy community and as such it’s often important for those who feel slighted to learn to forgive and to move on in order to preserve their own mental well-being. In addition, it’s not uncommon for these perceived wrongs from others to become so ingrained in our daily lives that when therapists are seeking to treat other mental health issues – for example, depression – this is typically where the therapy begins. It’s important to let go of these feelings of resentment or anger through forgiveness so that we don’t allow past wrongs to dictate our future outlook.
Methods Used in Forgiveness Therapy
Ryan Howes once outlined his experiences with those that suffer with an inability to forgive others for perceived wrongs. In his research, he outlined four common elements that allow people to forgive, and to heal.
- Express the emotion
- Understand why
- Rebuild safety
- Let go
While therapy methods are going to differ from hard to quantify conditions such as an inability to forgive, the treatment – for the most part – is typically going to be centered on these four pillars. Now, the actual therapy is going to vary wildly – from psychotherapy and behavioral therapy to prescription drugs, hypnosis, or even alternative medicine such as yoga and acupuncture.
Why Hire a Therapist?
Many of us are ill equipped to handle personal problems of this nature on our own. We often need help from a neutral party that helps us to recognize harmful patterns, areas that require change, and to help us navigate our own minds in order to find the root cause of our mental conditions.
Hiring a therapist allows you to get your feelings out in the open, and to listen as they help you formulate a plan to regain your mental health and happiness. The therapist has to be seen as an extension of yourself, and as such you’ll need to place your trust in them to help you forgive and heal after being wronged. In essence, its your job to be as honest and open as you can, and a good therapist will be able to listen, remain neutral, and plot a course to help you overcome your struggles on your own terms.
What to Look for in a Therapist
Finding a therapist is quite easy, but some struggle with finding a therapist that they perceive to be right for their particular situation. Ultimately, the therapist you choose is going to depend on a mixture of reviews, price, referrals, and connection. Most therapists are going to be able to help you with forgiveness therapy, but the right therapist is always going to be the one you feel most comfortable with sharing often-intimate details with. Being able to form a tight bond and feel connected to your therapist allows you to trust their advice, and know that they have your best interest in mind.