Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 253–275 | Cite as

All That Glitters Is Not Gold: Bad Forgiveness in Counseling and Preaching

  • John M. Berecz


A 3 R's of Forgiveness model is presented in which forgiveness is seen as a complex therapeutic process involving both situational and personal variables. Forgivers are seen to utilize the cognitive processes of dialectical reasoning and reframing, modulated by the emotional experiences of empathy, guilt, and shame. Personality style and self-esteem significantly influence the process as well. Distinctions are maintained among various kinds of forgiveness. Divine forgiveness, seen as a partial component of a spiritual encounter with one's God, may be a valid experience for people of faith, but is not something that psychologists are equipped to experimentally analyze. Interpersonal and intrapsychic varieties of forgiveness are more accessible to therapists and deserve empirical investigation. Important differences are highlighted between conjunctive forgiveness (where the third “R” in the forgiveness sequence is reconciliation) and disjunctive forgiveness )where the third “R” is release). Pastors are reminded that, depending on the circumstances, “forgiveness” can be either good or bad.

forgiveness healing empathy counseling reframing 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • John M. Berecz
    • 1
  1. 1.Buchanan

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