Headline for Featured Item #1 University Professor Creates Tool to Help Victims Forgive Even When They Can’t Forget - Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
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University Professor Creates Tool to Help Victims Forgive Even When They Can’t Forget

November 15, 2013


CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – If you caught your spouse cheating, would you be able to forgive and forget? Helping you answer that question could help a counselor decide the best way to treat you and your relationship. Dr. Richard Balkin, Assistant Dean for the College of Education at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, has developed a method for counselors to assist clients in working through conflict issues and identifying feelings related to forgiving.

“I often worked with people who struggle with forgiveness and do not know what to do,” said Balkin. “This tool frees you of the burden of reconciliation.”

Counselors start with the Forgiveness-Reconciliation Model. This process consists of four stages: collaborative exploration, role of reconciliation, the extent to which change and remorse are evident from the one who caused harm, and renegotiation of the relationship. Counselors use these stages to explore and identify areas of conflict. Once the area of conflict is known, counselors can use the Forgiveness Reconciliation Inventory (FRI). This assessment is used to help clients visualize their feelings and pinpoint where they are in the forgiveness process.

“My interest was spurred in the subject of forgiveness while I was treating a 16-year-old girl who was sexually abused by her father,” said Balkin. “The girl’s mother thought, as a Christian, the teen should forgive her dad.”

Balkin says it made him realize that being able to forgive and being able to reconcile are two different things. 

With the FRI clients are given a list of opposing words and must rate where they are between the two words, during all four stages. For example, the counselor might ask you to rate whether you were closer to being nurtured or abused.

“We see a lot of examples where the perpetrator is not sorry, especially in cases of abuse, and this tool can help the harmed person decide if they want to keep the relationship,” said Balkin. “With this tool, the clients see and hear their issues so they have to deal with them.”

For an example, a wife and husband who have an affair can use the FRI to decide if they want to forgive each other and whether they want to continue with the relationship. If the answers indicate victim’s likeliness to forgive, and perpetrator’s regret, they may find that the relationship is more beneficial and can move forward together. But if the relationship is deemed more harmful, they can learn to forgive, but move on without the relationship.

“The FRI is a process tool, designed to provide the client and the counselor with information, which enables the client to make choices influencing their health and well-being,” said Balkin.

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