Date of Award

8-12-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Dr. Jeff Ashby

Second Advisor

Dr. Don Davis

Third Advisor

Dr. Ken Rice

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Kevin Fortner

Abstract

Despite the many documented benefits of self-forgiveness, relatively few self-forgiveness intervention studies exist. This study measured the effectiveness of a workbook intervention designed to promote self-forgiveness. The intervention consisted of three components based on previous theoretical and empirical guidelines about the self-forgiveness process. The three components included: encouragement of pro-social behaviors and responsibility, addressing barriers to self-forgiveness, and promoting healthy thinking and behaviors. Outcome measures included state and trait self-forgiveness (Heartland Forgiveness Scale, Thompson et al., 2005; State Self-Forgiveness Scale, Wohl et al., 2008), responsibility acceptance (Fisher & Exline, 2006), attitudes towards future reparative behaviors (Fisher, 2010), shame and guilt (The Personal Feelings Questionnaire-2; Harder & Zalma, 1990) and self-esteem (Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale; Rosenberg, 1965). It was hypothesized that the intervention condition would increase all outcome variables. After being randomly assigned to either the treatment or control group, participants received the survey immediately pre- and post-intervention, and after two weeks to measure longitudinal change. Participants included 125 undergraduate students in the College of Education of an urban university in the Southeastern U.S who committed an interpersonal offense (such as insulting another person) within the past six weeks that caused significant distress. A series of repeated measures Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) tests were conducted to determine the effectiveness of the intervention as compared to the control group. The treatment group had significantly higher levels of state and trait self-forgiveness compared to the control group at the immediate post-test, as hypothesized. There were no other significant changes. This study had a high attrition rate for the two week follow-up survey which limited the longitudinal data analysis. The study has the potential to inform the literature on the utility of a workbook intervention as a self-help resource and a possible adjunct to therapy for individuals who struggle with self-forgiveness.

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