School of Education News

Monitor on Psychology puts spotlight on Enright’s study of forgiveness

January 11, 2017

The work of UW-Madison’s Robert Enright is highlighted in a recent magazine article from the American Psychological Association that’s headlined, “Forgiveness can improve mental and physical health: Research shows how to get there.”

The article appears in the January 2017 issue of the APA’s Monitor on Psychology.

Robert Enright
Enright, who has pioneered the study of forgiveness in locations across the globe for three decades, is a professor with the School of Education’s No. 1-ranked Department of Educational Psychology. He also is a co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute.

As author Kirsten Weir reports: “Whether you've suffered a minor slight or a major grievance, learning to forgive those who hurt you can significantly improve both psychological well-being and physical health.”

Enright explains that forgiveness is more than letting go. Weir writes: “True forgiveness goes a step further, (Enright) says, offering something positive — empathy, compassion, understanding — toward the person who hurt you. That element makes forgiveness both a virtue and a powerful construct in positive psychology.”

The article explains how forgiving someone isn’t a sign of weakness, nor does it mean letting off the hook the person who hurt you.

Weir goes on to write how “Enright's forgiveness therapy process model uses a 20-step system to move people through four phases: uncovering one's negative feelings about the offense, deciding to forgive, working toward understanding the offending person, and discovering empathy and compassion for him or her. Enright has shown this model is effective in various one-one-one interventions, including a study that showed it alleviated depression, anxiety and PTSD in women who have experienced spousal emotional abuse (Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2006).”

To learn many more details about the important but nuanced topic of forgiveness, check out the entire report for free on this Monitor on Psychology web page.

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