Enhancing Forgiveness: A Group Intervention for the Elderly
Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 52 (1): 2-16
Berit Ingersoll-Dayton, Ruth Campbell and Jung-Hwa Ha
According to the authors, social workers are often involved with older people who reminisce about their past experiences. These recollections, especially of events that focus on pain infliction, bring about powerful feelings of anger, sadness or betrayal. These situations can often be traumatizing that it may undermine their ability to function or even lead to mental problems. One of the ways in which social workers help older adults deal with these painful reactions is through the process of forgiveness. In this article, Dayton and colleagues (2009) describe a group approach to forgiveness using Enright’s (2001) therapeutic model of forgiveness to examine how effective this approach would be for older adults.
Dayton and colleagues (2009) cites Enright (2001) as he explains that forgiveness occurs when an individual who has been hurt is able to overcome feelings of resentment and offer compassion to the aggressor. His model focuses on changing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors towards the people who have been hurtful. The model suggests that forgiveness is a process that involves gradual changes in reactions towards the offending person. Enright’s (2001) model is divided into four stages. In the (1) uncovering phase, the individual confronts his feelings of anger towards the person who has hurt him. This phase involves uncovering and expressing their bitterness, anger or resentment. The second phase is the (2) decision phase wherein individuals make a choice to change his behavior towards the offender by making a commitment to begin the forgiveness process. In the (3) work phase, individuals begin working on forgiveness by trying to understand the person who has hurt them and learn to develop compassion for them. In the final stage...
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