Interpersonal Forgiveness in Emotion-Focused Couples' Therapy: Relating Process to Outcome



The objective of this study was to relate the in-session processes involved in interpersonal forgiveness to outcome. The sample consisted of 33 couples who received 10–12 sessions of Emotion-focused couple therapy with the aim of resolving various forms of emotional injuries (i.e., transgression that violates the expectations of a close relationship, which leaves one partner feeling hurt and angry). The results of the present study were based on the analyses of 205 video-taped segments from 33 couples' therapies. Hypotheses relating the role of three in-session components of resolution, the injurer's “expression of shame”; the injured partner's “accepting response” to the shame, and the injured partner's “in-session expression of forgiveness”, to outcome were tested using hierarchical linear regression analyses. Outcome measures included the Enright Forgiveness Inventory (The Enright Forgiveness Inventory user's manual. Madison: The International Forgiveness Institute, 2000), the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (Journal of Marriage and Family, 1976; 13: 723) and the The Interpersonal Trust Scale (Trust; Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1985; 49: 95).