How Therapists Can Help Couples Navigate Relationship Breakdowns Through the Art of Forgiveness

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Hanson, Brynn
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Controversial opinions exist regarding relationships for many reasons. The vast beliefs surrounding the development of relationships from birth to death provide an enormous amount of research for the field of counselling psychology (Bowbly, 1988; Jones et al., 2018; Kowal et al., 2015; Malik et al., 2015). This paper looks at relationships specifically in the context of relationship breakdowns. The categories used when discussing relationship breakdowns are: cultural differences; sexual injury; and family of origin. Following an analysis of why some relationships break down, the paper explores the intervention known as forgiveness, and how forgiveness impacts the breakdown of a relationship. Many researchers agree that forgiveness plays, or can play, a crucial role in either moving through or moving on from hurt in relationships (Enright, 1996; Gismero-Gonzales, 2020; Maltby et al., 2001; Pelucchi et al., 2015 Peterson et al., 2017). However, there are also perspectives contrary to this belief. Forgiveness, when done prematurely or within a relationship that is non–deserving, can lead to repeated actions (McNulty, 2019; Strelan et al., 2017; Tardif-Williams et al., 2017). Forgiveness is subjective to each relationship, and the way a therapist chooses to use forgiveness in their practice will be unique to them. There are many reasons why relationships may begin to break down. Forgiveness is one of many different therapeutic interventions shown to be a promising route when working with couples struggling to overcome a challenge within their relationship.
relationship breakdowns , forgiveness