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Utilizing Forgiveness Therapy to Heal the Wounds of Child Maltreatment within the Bedouin-Arab Family

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Background: Forgiveness therapy has been used in many settings and with various populations. Existing theoretical and empirical perspectives on forgiveness point to the potential utility of this innovative theoretical model. However, its use with those who have experienced child abuse and neglect is undocumented.

Method: This paper represents an initial exploration of the contribution of forgiveness therapy (FT) to heal the wounds of child maltreatment. A case study is presented that demonstrates the utilization of DiBlasio's family based conjoint approach to assist an adolescent victim of severe paternal maltreatment within the context of the Bedouin-Arab family.

Structured assessment instruments were used to measure change over time in a father and son.

Results: Positive child outcomes related to self-esteem, life satisfaction, and school attendance are reported. At the same time, decreased valuation of parenting skills and family functioning was also found, which may be related to the sober confrontation of interpersonal difficulties integral to FT.

Conclusions: The therapeutic process described points to the importance of engaging the maltreating father as additional victim. This necessitates a modification of existing forgiveness therapy models that focus exclusively on the pain and suffering of the primary and obvious victim. Therapist readiness to compromise on traditional considerations related to therapeutic setting may also be needed in order for forgiveness therapy to succeed within this understudied cultural context.
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Keywords: Bedouin-Arab family; Forgiveness; child maltreatment; forgiveness therapy

Document Type: Case Report

Publication date: July 1, 2017

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  • Adolescent Psychiatry publishes reports of original research, critical reviews of topics relevant to practitioners, clinical observations with analysis and discussion, analysis of philosophical, ethical or social aspects of the fields of psychiatry and mental health, case reports with discussions, letters, and position papers. Adolescent Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed journal, and the official journal of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, aims to provide mental health professionals who work with adolescents with current information relevant to the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders in adolescence.
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