The Effects of Forgiveness Therapy on Depression for Women


An article on the effect of forgiveness therapy on anxiety and depression was written by Gayle L. Reed and Robert D. Enright in 2006. This study analyzes the impact of forgiveness therapy on the emotional state of women who have experienced emotional abuse. This study was conducted in 2006 to evaluate the effectiveness of forgiveness therapy and compare it with other treatments, such as anger management and communication skills development. The result of this study was that there were any methods of treating women who had been emotionally abused, but little attention had been paid to the effectiveness of these methods. The article’s authors used a random sample and selected 20 women who had suffered from emotional abuse, who had already been separated from their spouses for more than two years (Reed & Enright, 2006). The selected ten women met with doctors for eight months, receiving forgiveness therapy, and the remaining ten underwent alternative treatment.

At the end of the test period, it was found that forgiveness therapy showed more effective results compared to alternative treatment. Most of the women who underwent forgiveness therapy experienced more positive reactions and emotions even after emotional abuse. Forgiveness therapy promoted the development of compassion and mercy, which allowed victims of emotional abuse to cope with the oppressive feeling of resentment. Unfortunately, alternative methods of treatment have not shown similar results. They did not relieve the affected women from indignation and other adverse reactions, demonstrating their low effectiveness (Reed & Enright, 2006). Enright’s model of forgiveness therapy proved to be highly effective in the research process, as it systematically returned to the concept of forgiveness and revealed the negative consequences of abuse.

According to the study results, forgiveness therapy helped increase self-esteem and get rid of depression and anxiety. Many women were able to understand and analyze the injustice of the abuse they were subjected to, but at the same time, they were able to find the strength to forgive the offenders (Reed & Enright, 2006). Thus, forgiveness therapy is an effective method of overcoming the consequences of emotional violence, as it promotes recovery through the development of positive emotions.


This article is interesting and informative, especially if one considers the difference between forgiveness, which is contained in the dictionary, and forgiveness therapy. The authors conduct extensive and in-depth research so that the theoretical basis of their article is solid and reliable. First, the reader gets acquainted with the generalized discussion, which the authors later narrow following the data of past studies. The method chosen by the authors seems to be effective, as it provides the study participants with time to recover from emotional abuse. At the same time, the preferred method gives the authors of the study time to monitor women’s progress carefully.

The authors guarantee the reliability of the tests carried out on women before and after treatment. Thus, the audience has the opportunity to compare the psychological well-being of women before and after treatment and determine the most effective treatment methods. This study is essential and relevant because psychological violence is rarely discussed, and for the psyche of the victim, it is even more dangerous than physical. This article has given me the idea that emotional violence is destructive and bears the imprint of abuse of power by one person over another. Emotional abusers seek to humiliate the individual’s dignity, subordinate the will of another, and make a person controlled.

Emotional abuse can cause several health and socialization problems. Partner violence is the most significant risk factor for developing diseases, disability, and death among young women. The indirect consequences of emotional violence in the family can be depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other anxiety disorders. It is indispensable to develop effective counteractions to emotional violence since it causes a tendency to use alcohol, drugs, or strong medications. Women affected by emotional abuse are twice as likely to be depressed or alcoholism as the rest.

Experiencing strong feelings and emotions towards the abuser in therapy means going through something that a person does not want to remember. However, resentment and anger will suffocate a person from the inside, and a person will be flooded with these emotions and see themselves in the position of a victim. The task of forgiveness therapy is to help a person realize that by not forgiving the offender, they support this apparent moral superiority of the victim and even strengthen it. The results of this study are vital as they can open up a new direction of treatment for the consequences of abuse and reduce the risk of mental disorder. Women should be able to cope with the devastating effects of emotional abuse and prevent similar cases in the future. Forgiveness therapy is a psychologically clean and safe way to deal with emotional problems.


In real life, situations often arise related to adultery, which forces one of the spouses to take the position of a victim. Victims often blame themselves for being cheated on because they believe they weren’t good enough for their partner. Women who find themselves in such a situation usually try to justify this event by saying that they could not correctly play their marital role, which led to her husband’s infidelity. This perception is incorrect and can be eliminated by applying the forgiveness model (Reed & Enright, 2006). However, this is not a quick process that will require several steps.

Firstly, it is necessary to explain to the victim what forgiveness means and distinguish it from generally accepted ideas. The victim of infidelity must forgive herself and her husband and, significantly, realize that his actions have nothing to do with her marital responsibility. In such a situation, the victim needs psychological protection and an understanding of the reasons for infidelity. Moreover, anger management is a critical factor, interfering with the effective use of forgiveness therapy. Another step involves rethinking the unfaithful partner, analyzing his actions and possible consequences concerning his personal history (Reed & Enright, 2006). This process will help the victim understand his partner better and see new qualities that were previously unknown to her.

The victim develops empathy and compassion by gaining a deeper understanding of the partner and getting rid of guilt. The model of forgiveness therapy is not fast-acting but gradual since it requires experience and forgiveness of the partner and finding meaning in injustice. Thus, forgiveness therapy allows the victim to find the strength to react positively to injustice and cruelty and cope with difficulties without withdrawing into themselves. Forgiveness therapy helps women affected by emotional abuse to find a new meaning in life, live positively, and enter into constructive relationships with other people.


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 & Clinical Psychology, 74(5), 920-929. Web.