Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Don Davis, PhD

Second Advisor

Kenneth Rice, PhD

Third Advisor

Cirleen DeBlaere, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Catherine Perkins, PhD


Self-forgiveness is a relatively new construct in the positive psychology literature. Many researchers posit that self-forgiveness promotes well-being, psychologically and relationally, but others worry it might serve as a moral disengagement strategy that can harm individuals and relationships. In the present chapter, I conducted a qualitative review of 65 published empirical studies exploring associations of self-forgiveness with mental health and relational well-being. In order to address discrepancies in the literature, the review highlights more sophisticated studies and explores the differences that emerge when the construct of self-forgiveness is assessed as a state as opposed to a trait. In particular, measurement concerns are identified, specifically noting the lack of studies in the field that assess well-being while considering the two-part definition of self-forgiveness. Implications for future research and practice are discussed. The present study examined the effect of an adapted self-forgiveness intervention. Drawing on clinical considerations, I posit that existing interventions may be a poor fit for individuals, such as maladaptive perfectionists, who are prone to difficulties with self-evaluation and self- condemnation. I incorporated techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy to facilitate more realistic self-appraisal and tested the revised intervention. Utilizing an RCT framework, participants who completed the intervention showed significantly higher levels in a variety of self-forgiveness outcomes. Additionally, individuals high in maladaptive perfectionism showed worse baseline levels but a greater response to the intervention. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.


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