Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Forgiveness in Couple and Family Therapy

  • Frank D. FinchamEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_531


Close relationships meet our deepest affiliative needs but also give rise to our deepest hurts. It is therefore not unusual for a clinician to encounter a client who feels “wronged,” “let down,” “betrayed,” or “hurt” by a spouse or family member. Such clients typically are experiencing negativity (involving resentment-based motivation, cognition, and emotion) toward the transgressor and are motivated to avoid and/or to retaliate or seek revenge against him or her. In such circumstances, the clinician may face the task of helping the client to repair the relationship where it is prudent and safe to do so. One option that can facilitate relationship repair is forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a particularly attractive therapeutic option given that lack of forgiveness operates like any other stressor exacting well-documented mental health and physiological and relationship costs. Unforgiveness is associated with cardiac risk and even predicts mortality. In contrast, forgiveness has...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Sean Davis
    • 1
  1. 1.California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International UniversitySacramentoUSA