Intervention Studies on Forgiveness: A Meta-Analysis


The journal, Intervention Studies on Forgiveness was written by Baskin, Thomas W. and Enright, Robert D. in 2004. In this article, Baskin and Enright (2004) examine the effectiveness of various forgiveness interventions within counseling by anayzing findings of nine empirical studies with a quantitative measure of forgiveness. In the first section of the article, Baskin and Enright (2004), identify scientific investigation of forgiveness interventions as a promising area of counseling research that emerged more than 20 years ago. The two authors use clinical case studies to help the reader understand the significance of forgiveness in the lives of individuals who have faced deep emotional pain as a result of unjust treatment (Baskin and Enright, 2004, p. 79).

In order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the issue examined in the article, Baskin and Enright (2004) begin by defining forgiveness. Forgiveness is defined as “the willful giving up of resentment in the face of another’s considerable injustice and responding with beneficence to the offender even though that offender has no right to the forgiver’s moral goodness (Baskin and Enright, 2004, p. 80)”. The two authors emphasize that the forgiver must have the free will of forgiving others. Since forgiveness interventions are normally used within counseling, the article examines three types of counseling models and the way they relate with forgiveness concept. The first counseling model involves 20 processes that take place in four phases namely Uncovering, Decision, Work, and Deepening (Baskin and Enright, 2004, p. 80). The second counseling model as described in the article has nine components are fosters both affective and cognitive empathy. The third model of counseling involves expressing feelings to the offender in form of a letter to make him or her consider a decision to forgive.

Based on the contents of nine empirical articles, the authors have decided to group the studies into three categories namely decision-based, process-based group, and process-based individual interventions (Baskin and Enright, 2004, p. 84). From these interventions, the authors have developed three research questions that have effectively been addressed in the article. First, the study seeks to find out whether there is any evidence for grouping the studies into three categories versus considering all of them in one group. Second, the authors are interested in finding out whether interventions based on one theoretical foundation gives stronger results than those based on the other. Third, the authors intend to find out whether different counseling interventions are effective in increasing forgiveness (Baskin and Enright, 2004, p. 84).

In order to answer the three research questions, the authors have begun by establishing the nine studies followed by testing for homogeneity using chi-square test. The next task involves computation of effect size before finding the correlation among dependent measures. From their study, Baskin and Enright (2004) have revealed that the process models of forgiveness are very effective in increasing forgiveness among adults and older adolescents due to the large effect size obtained. In addition, the article states that the counselors need to work extra hard in order to assist his or her client to successfully forgive their offenders for a deep injustice, if they decide to use process-based group interventions in counseling. Furthermore, decision-based interventions have low effect size scores as compared to process-based interventions. Counselors are therefore advised to continue using process-based individual interventions due to their large effect size. This article largely supports that counseling greatly affects forgiveness and the nature of result obtained depends on the counseling model applied by professional counselors. Findings of this article call for additional research on effectiveness of process-based forgiveness counseling in increasing forgiveness.


This meta-analytic study has effectively examined the effectiveness of different forgiveness interventions that have been documented by various researchers. The authors have done a good job in introducing the reader to the concept of forgiveness as well as on research involving forgiveness interventions. Additionally, the article effectively informs the reader on different counseling models and how they help to increase forgiveness. By reading this article, a person is able to understand how extensive the concept of forgiveness interventions is researched. In addition, the reader manages to understand the relationship among findings obtained by different researchers as they continue to study forgiveness interventions. Most importantly, from the results documented in this article, the reader will be able to select process-based individual interventions as the best method of forgiveness intervention to apply in a clinical setting.

The study design used in this article has been very effective in assisting the researchers to answer the research question. Baskin and Enright (2004) have applied their knowledge in research to categorize the studies into three groups: decision-based, process-based group, and process-based individual interventions. This form of grouping has enabled the researchers to come up with three relevant research questions that have effectively been addressed. With the three groupings in mind, the researchers have managed to come up with a good meta-analytic plan that they have used to examine various forgiveness interventions. Furthermore, the methodology used in the article is clear and easy to duplicate, a clear indication that the researchers are highly experienced in conducting similar studies.

Anyone who reads this article will be able to gain three major insights. First, one will be able to learn that process-based individual forgiveness interventions are highly effective in enhancing forgiveness in a clinical setting as compared to decision-based and process-based group interventions. Second, by reading this article, a professional counselor will understand the limitations of using process-based group interventions in counseling. Third, any person who reads this article gets to understand the factors that he or she should put into consideration when endorsing any form of forgiveness intervention. For instance, this article teaches a professional counselor not to categorize forgiveness as a mental problem when handling a client. In addition, the article documents that some forgiveness interventions take longer than others, and the counselor needs to know the best intervention to apply based on the nature of the disorder a client is suffering from (Baskin and Enright, 2004). This article is of great interest because it highlights the major reasons why forgiveness interventions are very effective in clinical and other settings. In addition, it gives room for further research on forgiveness interventions, especially on process-based individual interventions.


As a professional counselor, I can effectively use information obtained from this article to assist a female client facing infidelity problems by applying process-based individual intervention to the situation. The goal of the intervention is to assist the client forgive her unfaithful husband in order to reduce risk of harm associated with negative feelings. Ideally, the client will receive the greatest degree of harm reduction if she is able to forgive her husband. I will begin the intervention session by introducing the issue at hand to assist the client understand the main reason for the intervention. In this step, I will seek to build rapport with the client by defining the purpose of the session and stressing on confidentiality in order to gain permission from the client to proceed.

This will be followed by screening, evaluating, and assessing the client in order to gain information on the targeted problem. In this step, I will ask the client both structured and unstructured questions as a way of obtaining detailed information concerning the issue at hand. The next step will involve providing feedback to the client based on information gathered during screening stage. From the screening stage, I will have identified certain aspects of the client’s problem that may require response. In this step, I will engage the client in an interactive dialogue as we discuss the assessment findings. I will take care to give feedback in small amounts, while accompanying each and every response with an example to enable her understand.

It is at this stage when I will start talking about forgiveness and setting goals. I will talk about the possibility of replacing feelings of resentment that resulted from her husband’s infidelity. I will make the client understand the significance of forgiveness in this situation. In the final step, I will review the agreed upon changes and determine any form of barriers that may hinder positive progress. Suppose the client is willing to consider forgiving her husband, I will thank her and encourage her to do so. However, if she is unwilling to forgive her husband, I will ask her to consider forgiving him and to come back for assistance at any time.

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