What Techniques Facilitate Forgiveness in Family Therapy After Betrayal?


    What Techniques Facilitate Forgiveness in Family Therapy After Betrayal?

    Navigating the delicate process of fostering forgiveness within a family after betrayal can be complex, so we've gathered insights from top professionals in the field. From the perspective of a Relationship & Family Therapist to the advice of a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, here are four key techniques these experts recommend for healing familial wounds.

    • Convey Genuine Remorse
    • Employ Cognitive Restructuring
    • Reconnect Despite Betrayal
    • Redefine the Concept of Forgiveness

    Convey Genuine Remorse

    The key ingredient in healing from betrayal is whether the person who caused the hurt is able to convey remorse. Remorse is to acknowledge wrongdoing by taking responsibility and to recognize the impact it has had on the other. When you can do so without a hint of evasion, obfuscation, or excuse-making, it forms the start of forgiveness.

    Ronald Hoang
    Ronald HoangRelationship & Family Therapist, Ronald Hoang Marriage Counselling & Family Therapy Sydney

    Employ Cognitive Restructuring

    One technique I often employ to facilitate forgiveness between family members after a betrayal is cognitive restructuring. This involves helping individuals challenge and reframe their negative thoughts and beliefs about the betrayal, leading to a shift in perspective and emotional response. In family therapy, I utilize communication skills training to improve dialogue and understanding between family members, fostering empathy and validation of each other's experiences. Encouraging the practice of empathy and perspective-taking allows family members to gain insight into the underlying motives and emotions of the individual who betrayed them, fostering compassion and forgiveness.

    Moreover, promoting forgiveness as a process rather than an event emphasizes the importance of patience and perseverance in rebuilding trust and repairing relationships. It is important to note that I always emphasize the importance of setting boundaries and expectations moving forward to prevent future betrayals and promote healthy communication and conflict resolution within the family dynamic.

    Jolene Hegarty
    Jolene HegartyLicensed Professional Counselor, Wellness Therapy Services, LLC

    Reconnect Despite Betrayal

    When betrayal is experienced inside a family, or even in a work team, the intensity of disconnection can be immense. Healing from betrayal requires the parties involved to do something that feels counterintuitive: to find a way to connect again. While there is usually resistance to doing this, it can be incredibly therapeutic. Whether parties can connect around what they like least about the process or the experience, or what they are most passionate about (or anything in between), finding even a small area of shared interest can improve connection and open the door for healing.

    Sage Breslin
    Sage BreslinBreakthrough Psychologist & Coach, Sage Wisdom Institute

    Redefine the Concept of Forgiveness

    The most important technique I use to facilitate forgiveness is redefining what the concept even means. In our culture, we have phrases like “forgive and forget.” We mistakenly believe that forgiveness means we must open ourselves back up to be hurt again, and that we must completely reconcile all of our feelings in order to grant it. This makes forgiveness something that is out of reach for people who are significantly wounded and hurt.

    However, if forgiveness is seen more simply as a decision to no longer keep score, and that is all, it becomes achievable. If it’s a decision where we can set boundaries if needed, along with being given the freedom to continue working through our feelings as we do forgive, we find that forgiveness is actually a process we can successfully engage in.

    Chris Davis
    Chris DavisLicensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Mindive