Forgiveness: A Route to Healing Emotional Injuries and Building Resiliency

  • Catalina Woldarsky MenesesEmail author
  • Leslie S. Greenberg


Forgiveness is a powerful process that involves the transformation of negative emotional states to affiliative states characterized by compassion and empathy for the perpetrator (Malcolm, Warwar, & Greenberg, 2005). Over the past decade, the role of forgiveness in psychotherapy has received much attention. While several models capturing forgiveness as a process of change have been proposed they provide a limited understanding of how this process actually unfolds in therapy. The purpose of this chapter is to outline the process of forgiveness in Emotion-focused couple therapy (EFT-C) (Greenberg LS, Goldman R, Emotion-focused couples therapy: the dynamics of emotion, love and power. American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, 2008; Greenberg LS, Johnson SM, Emotionally focused therapy for couples. Guilford Press, New York, 1988; Johnson, 2004) based on empirical investigations that involved in-depth observations of the processes and patterns that seemed to distinguish couples who successfully resolved their betrayals via forgiveness versus those who did not. Our initial study culminated in the construction of the Couples Forgiveness Model (Woldarsky Meneses C, Greenberg LS, J Marital Fam Ther 37(4):491–502, 2011). Five components from this model were found to distinguish the two groups and are outlined in this chapter in light of existing forgiveness research. We argue that from an EFT-C perspective the injuring partner’s shame about the injury and the injured partner’s accepting response to the shame play a critical role in the process of couples’ forgiveness.


Forgiveness Couples Emotion-focused therapy Shame Psychotherapy process research 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catalina Woldarsky Meneses
    • 1
    Email author
  • Leslie S. Greenberg
    • 2
  1. 1.Private PracticeGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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