We Are the Other

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We Are the Other Understanding Self-Forgiveness among Female Ex-Offenders
Baggs, Adrienne Sarise
Place of Publication:
[Gainesville, Fla.]
University of Florida
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1 online resource (128 p.)

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Doctorate ( Ph.D.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Mental Health Counseling
Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education
Committee Chair:
Echevarria-Doan, Silvia C
Committee Members:
Puig, Ana
Koro-Ljungberg, Mirka E
Cohen, Jonathan
Graduation Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Addiction ( jstor )
Criminal punishment ( jstor )
Female offenders ( jstor )
Forgiveness ( jstor )
Guilt ( jstor )
Mental health ( jstor )
Prisons ( jstor )
Psychological counseling ( jstor )
Shame ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
female -- forgiveness -- offender -- phenomenology -- self
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
born-digital ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Mental Health Counseling thesis, Ph.D.


Based in a relational-cultural theoretical framework, the purpose of this study was to understand the experience of self-forgiveness among females recently released from incarceration in the southeastern United States. Using transcendental phenomenological data analysis, an essence statement of the self-forgiveness experience among the women was created. The essence of the self-forgiveness experience entailed four shared horizons, including, (1) self-forgiveness as self-acceptance, (2) self-forgiveness as growth and change, (3) self-forgiveness as an ongoing process, and (4) self-forgiveness and significant others. Implications for research, training, practice, and society are discussed. ( en )
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In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
Includes bibliographical references.
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Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
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This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2012.
Adviser: Echevarria-Doan, Silvia C.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Adrienne Sarise Baggs.

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Copyright Baggs, Adrienne Sarise. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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LD1780 2012 ( lcc )


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2 2012 Adrienne Sarise Baggs


3 To the women in this study who fearlessly shared their stories with a stranger


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I certainly did not complete this r esearch and my course of study alone I thank Silvia Echevarria Doan for being a loyal mentor who taught me to focus on strengths, not only among clients and supervisees but also for myself. I have unending gratitude for Ana Puig, my first connection to th e c ounselor education program and hopefully a lifelong mentor. I thank Mirka K oro Lungberg for walking me through a rigorous qualitat ive research process and not being afraid to laugh out loud with her students I thank Jonathan Cohen for stepping in as an enthusiastic, open minded member of my committee. I thank KC for teaching me about commitment and acceptance as well as making this study possible. I thank the women in the study for teaching me about hope and determination. I thank Herb Steier for being someone I thank my fierce and tender hearted gir lfriends, Amy, Emi, Isabel, Kacy Mandy, and Meredith, for loving me anyway. I thank Gavin for teaching me about fun, forgiveness and change. I thank Philip for being a patient, loving s upport throughout the entire dissertation process. I thank Marlene for being a li ght hearted, creative inspiration in my life. I thank Dena for being eans for me and Dennis for reminding me the importance of hard work I thank Mason and Maddox for adding so much laughter to our family. I thank Memere and Pepere for teaching our family about the importance of education and the persistence it takes to achieve it. I thank Piggy for reminding me to b reathe and A nd above all, I thank my mom and dad who have provided me with unending, unconditional love and support S imply put, a daughter could not ask for anything more.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 8 CHAPTER 1 BACKGROUND ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 9 Overvie w ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 9 Purpose of Study ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 11 The Research Question ................................ ................................ .......................... 11 Significance of Study ................................ ................................ .............................. 11 Relational cultural Theory ................................ ................................ ....................... 12 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ................................ ................................ ............ 15 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 15 Religious and Philosophical Background of Forgiveness ................................ 15 Definitions of Forgiveness ................................ ................................ ................ 18 Forgiveness and Health ................................ ................................ ................... 19 Self forgiveness ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 21 Definitions of Self forgiveness ................................ ................................ .......... 22 Current Research on Self forgiveness ................................ ............................. 23 Shame, Guilt, and Self forgiveness ................................ ................................ .. 26 Female Offenders ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 28 The Portrait of a Female Offender ................................ ................................ .... 29 Shame, Guilt, Self forgiveness and Female Offenders ................................ .... 31 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 33 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 34 Chapter Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 34 Theoretical Perspective ................................ ................................ .......................... 34 ....................... 35 Epoch ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 35 Intentionality ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 36 Noema and Noesis ................................ ................................ ........................... 36 Subjectiv ity Statement ................................ ................................ ............................ 37 Participants and Sampling Criteria ................................ ................................ .......... 40 Data Collection Methods ................................ ................................ ......................... 41 Confidentiality ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 44 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 45 Phenomenological Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ..... 45 Imaginative Variation ................................ ................................ ........................ 46


6 Synthesis of Meaning and Essences ................................ ................................ 47 Validity ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 47 4 FINDINGS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 50 Individual Textural and Individual Structural Descriptions ................................ ....... 52 Overview of Magent a ................................ ................................ ....................... 52 ................................ ................. 52 ................................ ............... 56 ................................ ................................ .... 61 ................................ ................... 61 Struc ................................ ................. 65 ................................ ................................ ...... 68 ................................ ..................... 69 ................................ ................... 72 ................................ ................................ ... 74 ................................ .................. 74 ................................ ................ 77 Composite Textural Descriptions ................................ ................................ ............ 80 Self forgiveness as Self acceptance ................................ ................................ 80 Self forgiveness as Growth and Change ................................ .......................... 80 Self forgiveness as an Ongoing Process ................................ .......................... 81 Self forgiveness and Significant Others ................................ ........................... 81 Co mposite Structural Descriptions ................................ ................................ .......... 82 Self forgiveness as Self acceptance ................................ ................................ 82 Self forgiveness as Growth and Change ................................ .......................... 84 Self forgiveness as an Ongoing Process ................................ .......................... 85 Self forgiveness and the Significant Others ................................ ...................... 85 The Essence of the Experience ................................ ................................ .............. 86 5 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 87 Introduction ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 88 Self forgiveness as Self acceptance ................................ ................................ ....... 89 Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 89 Links to Literature ................................ ................................ ............................. 89 Self forgiveness as Growth and Change ................................ ................................ 90 Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 90 Links to Literature ................................ ................................ ............................. 91 Self forgiveness as an Ongoing Process ................................ ................................ 92 Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 92 Links to Literature ................................ ................................ ............................. 93 Self forgiveness and Significant Others ................................ ................................ .. 94 Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 94 Links to Literature ................................ ................................ ............................. 94 Implications for Training and Practice ................................ ................................ ..... 95 Implications for Society ................................ ................................ ........................... 97


7 Suggestions for Future Research ................................ ................................ ........... 98 Benefits and Risks of Self forgiveness ................................ ............................. 98 An Evolving Concept ................................ ................................ ........................ 99 Transgression Severity ................................ ................................ ..................... 99 Mind body Stress Reduction ................................ ................................ .......... 100 Limitations of the Study ................................ ................................ ......................... 101 Conclusions ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 103 APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT ................................ ................................ ........................ 104 B INTERVIEW GUIDE ................................ ................................ .............................. 106 C LIST OF HORIZONS ................................ ................................ ............................ 108 D ........................... 109 REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 118 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 128


8 A bstract of D issertation P resented to the G raduate S chool of the University of Florida in P artial F ulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy WE ARE THE OTHER: UNDERSTANDING SELF FORGIVENESS AMONG FEMALE EX OFFENDERS By Adrienne Sarise Baggs August 2012 Chair: Silvia Echevarria Doan Major: Mental Health Couns eling Based in a relational cultural theoretical framework, the purpose of this study was to understand the experience of self forgiveness among females recently released from incarceration in the southeastern United States. Using transcendental phenomeno logical data analysis, an essence statement of the self forgiveness experience among the women was created The essence of the self forgiveness experience entailed four shared horizo ns that included (1) self forgiveness as self acceptance, (2) self forgiv eness as growth and change, (3) self forgiveness as an ongoing process, and (4) self forgiveness and significant others. Implications for research, training, practice, and society are discussed.


9 CHAPTER 1 BACKGROUND Overview Some of the most mistreated misunderstood females in our society are those housed in our correctional facilities. Although the majority of the United States (U.S.) incarcerated population is composed of males, female incarceration rates are rapidly rising at almost twice the rate o f males (Harrison & Beck, 2006). In addition, female state prisoners are reportedly more likely than male state prisoners to have mental health problems (Mumola, 2000) and suffer physical or sexual abuse before being admitted to prison (Messina, Burdon, Ha gopian, & Prendergast, 2006). In the month before their arrest, mothers in both state and federal prison were more likely than fathers to report an income less than $1,000 (Mumola, 2000). Approximately 58.8% of females in federal prison are mothers of a mi nor child, three quarters of mothers in federal prison were convicted for a drug related offense, and one in three mothers in state prison committed their crime to obtain drugs or money for drugs (Mumola, 2000). In essence, incarcerated women have likely e ncountered severe trauma and addiction in addition to adversities such as sexual abuse, domestic violence, and poverty that make them particularly vulnerable based on their gender (Covington, 2007). Given the potential struggles related to family responsib ility, financial strain, substance abuse, trauma, and mental illness among female offenders, the fact that over one third of females released from state prison are rearrested within six years (McNeil, 2010) is not surprising. In order to understand crimin ality and rehabilitation the role s of guilt and shame have been studied among incarcerated populations ( Hosser, Windzio, & Greve, 2008;


10 Robinson, Roberts, Strayer, & Koopman, 2007; Wright & Gudjonsson, 2007; Xuereb, Ireland, & Davies, 2009 ). In fact, a re cent study found th at shame prone inmates had more substance related problems and more psychological symptoms than their peers who were not prone to shame. However, guilt prone inmates were found to be more empathic and less likely to externalize blame and hostility compared to their peers who were less guilt prone (Tangney, Stuewig, Mashek, & Hastings, 2011), thus providing the case that guilt may serve an adaptive function and shame a more destructive one. In response to the potentially destructive nature of shame, many authors have discussed the intersection of shame, guilt, and self forgiveness in order to better understand how to promote the well being of certain populations (Dillon 2001; Tangney, Boone, & Dearing, 2005; Tangney & Dearing, 2004 ). In fa ct, shame and guilt have been found to be correlated with a lack of self forgiveness (Biron, 2007), and shame proneness has been found to be involved in inhibiting the self forgiveness process (Rangganadhan & Todorov, 2010). Although the role of shame and guilt in the self forgiveness process is not clearly understood, research has shown positive effects among people who engage in self forgiveness. For example, some research findings have shown a positive relationship between self forgiveness and physical health, mental health (Avery, 2008), a positive relationship between unforgiveness of self and depression and anxiety (Mauger et al., 1992), a negative relationship between self forgiveness and alcohol and drug abuse (Ianni, Hart, Hibbard, & Carroll, 2010) and a positive relationship with reparative behaviors such as making apologies or amends (Fisher, 2010).


11 Despite the potential benefits of self forgiveness, the topic remains understudied and not fully understood, particularly among offender populations Given the potential negative impacts of shame proneness and likely need for addictions and/or trauma recovery, exploring the experience of self forgiveness among female offenders may be one important window into understanding their struggles and successe s related to rehabilitation Purpose of Study The purpose of this study was to explore the experience of self forgiveness among female ex offenders. In addition, the researcher sought to understand how the experience of self forgiveness was situated in the exploring systemic and relational topics as they arose, such as sexuality, gender, culture, addictions recovery, trauma and abuse, and family dynamics. The Research Question The following research question guided th is dissertation study: What is the experience of self forgiveness among female ex offenders? Significance of Study The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy promotes that are of families and individuals respect the rights of those persons seeking their assistance, and make reasonable efforts to ensure that their t growth and development in ways that foster the interest and welfare of clients and promote strive to prepare future counselors and counselor educators to uphold these standards


12 of healthy relational development. T he relational nature of forgiveness has been addressed i n the academic literature (Fincham, Beach, & Davila, 2004; Gordon & Baucom, 2003; Karremans & Van Lange, 2004 ; Rusbult, Hannon, Stocker, & Finkel, 2005 ). However, the topic of self forgiveness has been largely neglected by psychology research (Hall & Fincham, 2008) and few definitions of self forgiveness even exist (Hall & Fincham, 2005). Hall and Fincham (2005) report a dearth of literature on the topic o f self forgiveness and hypothesize that this is not due to lack of interest or importance but rather oversight and lack of understanding about what self forgiveness is. In addition, d cognitive process es as it relates to forgiveness as well as the situational factors which make it beneficial for a victim to forgive. Although a victim focused lens may be important in certain contexts, it may also be important to understand of how trans gressors experience forgiveness, particularly the process of self forgiveness. The present study focused on understanding the self forgiveness process among female ex o ffenders. The findings of this study provide counselors and counselor educators a bette r understanding of the experience of self forgiveness among female ex offenders and an enhanced perspective on how improved understanding of self forgiveness might potentially contribute to treatment options for this population. The researcher also discuss es the findings of the study as they relate and contribute to counselor practice, training and supervision. Relational cultural Theory and race, we become caught in the gri p of shame where historical hurts can override cultural


13 theory (RCT) originated out of the work conducted by Jean Baker Miller and colleagues and promotes understanding human devel opment using a relational, contextual lens (Miller, 1976). Duffey and Somody (2011) state that members of society are increasingly diverse with respect to variables such as gender, sexual orientation, religion, and race. They posit that RCT can support cli ent growth by taking into consideration these various relational and sociopolitical factors. They summarize the eight basic tenets of RCT: fostering relationships, mutual empathy, authenticity, strategies of disconnection, the central relational pa radox, relational images, relational resilience, competent, RCT posits that we move through disconnections and connections, and learn to distinguish the difference betwee n growth enhancing and toxic relationships. In addition, RCT is seen as a particularly relevant approach in cross cultural work since it is based in cultural pluralism and attends to the various interactions between macro issues and micro (Adams 2004 p. 151 ). Given the history of abuse, marginalization, and violating, disconnecting relationships many female offenders have experienced, a relational cultural perspective may allow us to better understand the contextual and relational aspects of th eir lives, including issues related to race, class, gender and sexuality. Rather than assigning them individual pathology based on their legal offenses, RCT can help us conceptualize the women in a broader context, without shame, inadequacies, and isolati on. Since common pathways to criminality for female offenders often include abuse and addic tions using


14 RCT as a conceptual framework, we move away from diagnostic labels and toward authentic connections with others (Walker, 2004). In addition to understanding the participants through a RCT lens, the researcher will also employ strategies congruent with RCT principles aiming to establish an authentic relationship with participants based in mutuality, empathy, equity, and empowerment.


15 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERA TURE Introduct ion Chapter 2 summarizes the current literature on forgiveness, self forgiveness, and the current female offender population as it relates to the purpose of this study. Potential implications for the field of counselor education and supervision are discuss ed. Religious and Philosophical Background of Forgiveness The roots of forgiveness are found in the teachings of most major world religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. These perspectives often view forgiv eness as transf involving reduced resentment and increased compassion and moral love (Enright & Fitzgibbons, 2000, p. 258). Anh Huong (2008), a Buddhist teacher and author, discusses forgiveness as it relates to Buddhism and the concept of dualism and suggests a transformative approach by stating: us find a breakthrough in our habit of dualistic thinking: oneself vs. the others, good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. A more help ful question would be, ( p. 2 ). In addition, Ajahn Pasanno, a well respected monk and Dharma teacher identity around ou Amaro, 2000, p. 37). In Christianity, there are countless references to forgiveness. Bible verses include arlet,


16 Many Christians man be soiled with the sins of a l ifetime, let him but love me, rightly resolved in utter 31). The Vedas, Hindu sacred texts, also recommend reducing resentment and increasing compassion and inst the man who loves us, have wronged a brother, a dear friend, or a comrade, the neighbor of long standing or a stranger, remove from us o discussed. 7:199). In another verse, Allah (the Arabic word for God) commands compassion and moral love. They should rather pardon and overlook. Would you not love Al lah to forgive you? Allah is Ever In addition, it is Despair not the mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins ( Srah al Zumar : 53). In Judaism, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are holidays during which many Jewish people set aside a tim e to self come face to face with the Jewish concept of forgiveness, a psychologically demanding, spiritually fulfilling obligatio part of Judaism, and the transformative practice involves promoting healing, trying to


17 overcome anger, letting go of self righteousness related to being wronged by another, an d working toward restoring meaningful relationships (Graubart, 2008). In addition to religion, the concept of forgiveness is also based in philosophical roots with modern philosophers leading the way in examining the meaning of forgiveness from about 1970 2000 (Enright & Fitzgibbons, 2000). For example, Enright interpersonal forgiveness that include the following: Holmgren (1993) suggests the transformative power of reducin g resentment and increasing compassion by stating, North (1987) states: If we are to forgive, our resentment is to be overcome not by denying our selves the right to that resentment, but by endeavoring to view the wrongdoer with compassion, benevolence, and love while recognizing that he has willfu lly abandoned his right to them (p. 502). Yandell (1998) discusses the relational dynamic of forgivene ss by stating that Although the concept of forgiveness has been extensively discussed in religious and philosophical contexts, actual research studies on forgiveness only s tarted appearing in the academic literature after the book Deserve (Smedes, 1984) was published (Worthington, 2006). By 1997, the John Templeton Foundation paired with the John Fetzer Institute to provide seve ral million dollars to scientifically research forgiveness (Worthington, 2006). Despite the initial he future of this


18 research may be partially determined by researchers continuing to understand the process of forgiveness as it impacts physical and mental health. Definitions of Forgiveness Forgiveness can be looked at through a variety of lenses, thus pr oviding us with many definitions. Enright and Fitzgibbons (2000) describe forgiveness as a complex process in which one undergoes a cognitive, emotional, and behavioral change in how s/he sees the transgressor. Diblasio (2011) describes forgiveness as a de cision based absence of unforgiveness. Forgiveness is defined as the overwhel ming experience of positive emotions as one recalls the transgressor or transgression (Worthington, 2001; Worthington et al. 2001). Although some of the current literature posits that scholars disagree on the definition of forgiveness, Worthington (2005b) states that the reason for the variability in forgiveness definitions is the valid existence of these several definitions rather than actual disagreement among scholars. He reports that the current literature provides us with two predominant definitions o ne describing forgiveness as an individual (p. 557). Also important to note is the consensus that current forgiveness scholars have reached regarding what forgiveness is 2005 hat forgiveness is t to address three misconceptions about forgiveness.


19 First, the authors state philosophical distinctions, distinguishing forgiveness from related concepts such as justification, pardoning, or reco nciliation. Second, the authors try to people cope with difficult life circumstances and experiences, they can sometimes lead to confusion about what forgiveness is. The concept of unforgiveness is also discussed in the forgiveness lite ratu re Worthington and Wade (1999) present a model of unforgiveness that describes an initial response of anger and fear in people who have experienced a transgression and feel hurt. The anger and fear are not unfo rgiveness (Worthington, 2001). Although some responses related to unforgiveness (e.g., anger, revenge) may allow people to feel empowered, people generally try to reduce unforgiveness and hostile feelings and actions (Worthington, 2006). The concept of unf and potential responses from the self or th 2001, p. 108). Efforts to reduce unforgiveness inc lude a continuum of responses ranging from denying the unforgiveness to accepting the transgression to engaging in prosocial behavior that can include forgiving (Worthington et al., 2001). Forgiveness and Health Worthington Berry and Parrott (2001) discus s unforgiveness as similar to a stress reaction to which the body has to adjust. If these conditions become chronic, unforgiveness may have the potential to cause the same health consequences as


20 chronic stress. In fact, forgiveness and unforgiveness have b een linked to blood pressure (Lawler et al., 2003) and cortisol reactivity (Berry & Worthington, 2001) and preliminary research reports that self forgiveness, in particular, may have a strong connection to physical health ( Wilson, Milosevic, Carroll, Hart, & Hibbard, 2008 ). In terms of mental health, the topic of forgi veness often arises in therapy ( Konstam et al., 2002) and authors have discussed the impact of forgiveness on depression, substance abuse, anxiety, relational problems, eating disorders, bipo lar disorders, and personality disorders (Enright & Fitzgibbons, 2000). Specific to a counseling context, forgiveness interventions have been studied among a variety of populations including adolescents (Al Mabuk, Enright, & Cardis, 1995), the elderly (Heb l & Enright, 1993), post abortion men (Coyle & Enright, 1997), undergraduate college students (McCullough & Worthington, 1995; McCullough, Worthington, & Rachal, 1997), and incest survivors (Freedman & Enright, 1996). Toussaint and Webb (2005) summarize t he existing correlational forgiveness studies and report that, among the limited research in this area, there appears to be a relationship between mental health and forgiveness. However, correlations range from .20 .70 or higher, which leaves the question of what accounts for the variability. In a quantitative meta analysis, researchers found that forgiveness interventions in counseling could be categorized into three separate groups The first group was labeled b s that used a decision based model and included single session or partial interventions. The second group was labeled g luded six to eight sessions that were presented in s i


21 individual counseling sessions based on a process model of therapy. Results indicate that for forgiveness and other emotional health outcomes (e.g., self esteem, anxiety, i ndividual p roc ess g owed significant effects, b analysis provide a case that forgiveness counseling (particularly more process oriented therapies) may be an important intervention related to certain clinical issues and/or populations (Baskin & Enright, 2004). Wade, Worthington, and Meyer (2005) conducted a meta analysis on forgiveness interventions and sought to understan d the ingredients of the interventions and if the interventions were effective at actually promoting forgiveness. Findings indicate that interventions will impact lo nger term mental and emotional health, how they will be helpful beyond other therapeutic modalities, and whether or not they will be an asset in real life clinical contexts. In addition to these questions in the forgiveness literature, the topic of self fo rgiveness is an area that researchers have yet to thoroughly explore and understand. Self forgiveness The topic of self forgiveness has been neglected by psychology research (Hall & Fincham, 2008) and there are few definitions of self forgiveness (Hall & F incham, 2005). Hall and Fincham (2005) report a dearth of literature on the topic of self forgiven ess and hypothesize that this may because there is a lack of understanding about what self forgiveness is. In addition, the majority of literature concentrate s on the perspective of


22 the victim, which may also contribute to the lack of understanding of how transgressors experience the process of self forgiveness. Definitions of Self forgiveness Bauer et al. (1992) is arguably the first article that exists on the topic of self forgiveness. They discussed the important role self forgiveness plays in human growth and development. Authors also discussed self forgiveness as the contextualization of the transgression, the realization that one is human, and described the p rocess as: a difficult and circuitous journey of return to the human community. The journey is a passage from being stuck in the past, holding onto illusions about who one is, to coming to terms with oneself as a fellow human being, like others, imperfect but no longer alone (p. 160). Snow (1993) defines self Group called attention to the importance of self forgiveness, presenting the forgiveness concept triad (i.e., forgiving others, receiving forgiveness from others, and self forgiveness), and reporting that the concept of self forgiven ess is the least studied and resentment in acknowledged objective wrong, while fostering compassion, generosity, and love toward Baker (2008) defined self resentment, loathing, and negative reproach toward t he self by compassionately choosing to regard the self as a fallible but remorseful human being, capable of change, over the definition of forgiveness, scholars may fin d that it is most helpful to understand the various definitions of self forgiveness rather than come to an agreement on one


23 single definition. Certainly, better understanding the actual experience of self forgiveness would be an important factor in advanci ng this dialogue. Current Research on Self forgiveness Although there is a paucity of research on self forgiveness, some studies have examined the physical and mental health implications of self forgiveness. Findings from a recent study indicate preliminar y evidence that self forgiveness, even more so than other forgiveness, is correlated with perceived physical health (Wilson et al., 2008) Similarly, Avery (2008) studied the relationship between the following variables: forgiveness of others, forgiveness of the self, mental and physical health, empathy, and religiosity. Findings indicated that self forgiveness and physical and mental health were positively correlated and that self forgiveness was the most powerful independent variable accounting for the ma jority of variance in general health, mental health, and social func tioning. In addition Toussaint, Williams, Musick, and Everson (2001) found a positive association with life satisfaction and a negative association to psychological distress among people wh o were able to forgive themselves Furthermore, unforgiveness of self has been found to have a positive association with depression and anxiety (Mauger et al. 1 992) The role of self forgiveness in substance abuse has also been studied. In a recent qualit ative study, Baker (2008) asked women in recovery from substance abuse to reflect on the role self forgiveness played in their treatment experience and recovery process. Overall, findings suggest that self forgiveness was an important way to promote recove ry and prevent relapse among women recovering from substance addictions. Also related to substance use, Ianni et al. (2010) surveyed 567 college students in an effort to examine pathologic drinking, shame, and self forgiveness.


24 Findings suggest that among students who experience high levels of shame, engaging in the process of self forgiveness may actually reduce alcohol and drug abuse. The interpersonal impacts of self forgiveness have also been studied. Hall and Fincham (2008) found that self forgiveness increased as scores on conciliatory behavior toward the victim and perceived forgiveness from the victim increased. Exline, Root, Yadavalli, Martin, and Fisher (2011) found that reparative behaviors, such as apologies and amends, predicted increases in se lf forgiveness, especially when the interpersonal relationship was close, the repair to the relationship had already started, and the offense occurred more recently. Riek (2010) studied 48 undergraduate students at a Christian college in an attempt to unde rstand more about the forgiveness process from the perspective of the offender. Findings indicated that the offender is more likely to seek forgiveness when the offender is relationally close to the victim, sees his or her transgression as severe, accepts responsibility for the offense, and/or has ruminated about the offense. Some research has also explored the actual process of self forgiveness. Bowman (2005) studied the experience of self forgiveness as part of the therapeutic process a mong six clients w ho had terminated therapy. Some major findings included that self forgiveness and interpersonal forgiveness were related concepts; self acceptance was necessary to experience self forgiveness; self forgiveness allowed the clients to construct a new identit y and potentially served as a catalyst for positive change; and illumination, self


25 In addition Beiter (2007) conducted a qualitative study on self forgiveness and found that the process of self forgiveness is multifaceted, includes loss and mourning, involves a spi ritual connection or relationship with another person as a turning point in the process. In addition, he found an interconnection between self forgiveness and interpersonal forgiveness, contributing to the belief that the process of forgiving another inclu des forgiving oneself first. Ingersoll Dayton and Krause (2005) qualitatively studied the process of self forgiveness among older adults. Findings suggest that the self forgiveness process includes cognitive, behavioral, and emotional components, and certa in types of people (e.g., people who are extremely self critical or who committed very destructive offenses) seemed to have greater difficulty forgiving themselves. Kirshenbaum (2009) qualitatively studied self forgiveness in psychotherapy and found that, although the process of self there was not a single self forgiveness process that participants shared. Although the process of self forgiveness was examined in these studies, more research is needed to understand this process more fully. Self forgiveness has also been used as a framework to guide certain clinical practices. Lyons, Deane, and Kelly (2010) discuss forgiveness as a spiritual mechanism for those recovering from substance abuse. The authors d iscuss the relationship among spirituality, purpose in life, forgiveness, and recovery and present a theoretical model. In addition, Turnage, Jacinto, and Kirven (2003) use self forgiveness as a framework for practitioners working with domestic violence su rvivors struggling to forgive themselves for the pain experienced in abusive relationships.


26 Some research has focused on implementing self forgiveness as an intervention. In a recent study, researchers conducted a laboratory based intervention to facilitat e participants engaging in reparative behaviors and found that making apologies and amends predicted an increase in self forgiveness (Exline et al. 2011). Fisher (2010) tested a web based self forgiveness intervention and found that the intervention helpe d participants decrease defensiveness and increase reparative behaviors (such as making apologies and amends). For participants who had negative and increasing self forgive Although the previously discussed literature begins to explore the potential effects and predictors of self forgiveness, the actual process and experience of self forgiveness remains to be clearly understood Baur and colleagues (1992) is one of the few studies that have examined self forgiveness as a phenomenon, and that was almost twenty years ago. In an effort to better understand self forgiveness, related moral emotions such as shame and guilt have been e xamined in the context of self forgiveness. Shame, Guilt, and Self forgiveness Several authors have examined the intersection of shame, guilt and self forgiveness in an effort to further promote psychological well being (Dillon, 2001; Tangney & Dearing, 20 04; Tangney et al. 2005). The current literature does not always distinguish between shame and guilt. However, guilt has been described as being related to only specific aspects of s elf, unstable incidents (Hosser et al., 2008) and has been shown to promo te prosocial behaviors (Tangney & Dearing, 2002). Shame, h (Hosser et al., 2008, p. 139) and has been shown to promote anger and hostility


27 ( Tangney, Wagner, Hill Barlow, Mars chall, & Gramzow, 1996 ). Similarly, Fisher and Exline (2006) found that research participants who experienced some negative emotions (e.g., remorse) regarding a transgression they committed actually reported engaging in more prosocial responses. Ho wever, t hey still found that shame proneness was associated with self self forgiveness origi nates However, Ta n gney et al. (2005) discuss how sham e is often associated with anger, irrationality, denying responsibility, and externalizing blame. Although there still disagreement over the benefits and risks of shame and guilt, the current literature views guilt as a potentially adaptive response to com mitting a transgression and shame is viewed as inhibiting potential wellness. In addition, e mpirical data provides some conflicting evidence about the role of guilt and shame in the self forgiveness process For example, some research has discussed the po tential negative impacts of self forgiveness with findings that indicate a positive association between self forgiveness and narcissism and actually describe the psychological por trait of the self self centered, insensitive, narcisstic show n gney et al., 2005, p. 150). Although there is some research showing a negative association between guilt and self forgiveness, Hall and Fincham (2005) posit that the association is study, researchers identified and examined four types of remorse which included guilt, shame, sorrow, and brokenness. Findings indicated that following a transgression, feeling s of guilt, sorrow, and brokenness were more constructive emotions that


28 produced more positive outcomes than feelings of shame (Bassett et al., 2011). When examining predictors of self forgiveness, Terzino (2011) found that shame, guilt, and rumination wer e all predictors in the self forgiveness process with guilt being the strongest predictor of all. Fisher and Exline (2010) explain that, ideally, the process of self forgiveness would entail the offender accepting responsibility for the hurt caused to othe rs, engaging in reparative behaviors, and then letting go of feelings of guilt that may be inhibiting optimal functioning. More commonly, however, problematic behaviors may occur. People may avoid feelings of guilt, bypass taking responsibility and repairi ng relationships, and get stuck in the shame and regret about the offense perpetrated against others (Fisher & Exline, 2010). Therefore, Tangney et al. Al though the previously discussed literature begins to explore the potential effects, predictors, and related moral emotions of self forgiveness, the actual phenomenon or experience of self forgiveness remains to be clearly understood and is even less existe nt or non existent with certain populations. Specifically, Tangney et al. (2005) have addressed the topic of self forgiveness applied to a criminal offender population. From a restorative justice perspective, the process of self forgiveness may be especial ly relevant among criminal offenders in an effort to reduce debilitating feelings of shame and emphasize a healing relationship between offender and victim. Female Offenders Although a disproportionately large percentage of males comprise the U.S. prison p opulation, the incarceration rate among females has increased exponentially over the past 20 years. In fact, the rate of females being incarcerated is almost two times faster than the rate of males being incarcerated (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006).


29 S pecifically, the growing population of female offenders in Florida is similarly alarming with the most recent reports (conducted over 10 years ago) stating that since 1978, rates of incarcerated women rose 442% (Florida Department of Corrections Status Rep ort on Female Offenders, 1999). Of this growing population, Black women account for 52.1%, White women account for 43.7%, and the remaining 3% are placed in the 25 39, 24% between the ages of 40 50, 13% are 24 or younger and 2% are 55 or older. The percentages of primary offenses committed by female offenders include 17.3% for property theft/fraud/damage, 15.1% for violent personal, 14.8% for m urder/manslaughter, 9.2% f or burglary, 7.9% for robbery, 3.8% for other offenses, 1.7% for sexual offenses, 1.2% for weapons related offenses, and the largest percentage being 29.1% for drug related crimes. Lastly, only 32.9% of these women are considered literate and more than 75% of them have one or more children under the age of 18 (Florida Department of Corrections Annual Report, 1998). The Portrait of a Female Offender To address the cause of th e growing female offender population it is important to better understand the portr ait of these women Although male and female offenders share some socio demographic characteristics, there are differences between male and female offenders that need to be accounted for when considering gender appropriate interventions and treatment. For example, Rossegger and colleagues (2009) found that compared to male offenders, female offenders were more likely to have been the victim of adverse childhood experiences and were less educated. Furthermore, Messina et al. women were sig nificantly more likely than men to have more severe substance abuse histories, sexual and physical abuse histories, and co occurring


30 psychiatric disorders prior to incarceration study with 283 incarcerated w omen indicated that 75% of women met criteria for a primary diagnosis of Post traumatic Stress Disorder and all participants met diagn ostic criteria for at least two disorders on Axis 1 (Salina, Lesondak, Razzano, & Weilbeacher, 2007). Lastly, almost 80% o f incarcerated women are suffering from substance abuse problems and convicted of crimes in which drugs and alcohol played a role (van Wormer & Bartolla, 2010). For many incarcerated females, the issues of children and family play a significant role with m ore than half of incarcerated women in federal prison being mothers of children u nder the age of 18 (Mumola, 2000 ). Certainly for many mothers involved in the criminal justice system, being incarcerated during their the potential loss of parental rights may play a significant role in their wellbeing and rehabilitation. Given the typically stressful and traumatic prison conditions, release from prison may seem like a desirable event for a woman; however, it comes wit h many economical, psychological, and emotional challenges. Therefore, it is no surprise that over one third of women in state prison were rearrested after six years of being released from incarceration (McNeil, 2010). When asked about the reasons for reci divism, one mother says: Many women that fall back into prison have the problem that their children what wil nothing? (Coll, Surrey, Buccio Notaro, & Molla, 1998, p. 226). al Institute of Corrections funded a pilot program using the Women Offender Case Management Model


31 (WOCMM) designed to provide strengths based, collaborative, community involved, gender responsive case management services to not only reduce recidivism but p romote the well being of women who are reentering society. Preliminary findings suggest that WOCMM participants had lower recidivism rates than similar women who were not exposed to the model (National Institute of Corrections, 2009). In addition, a recent a trauma and substance treatment integrated, gender responsive curriculum for women. Over half of the women in the study had criminal histories. For women who successfully completed the WIT prog ram, findings indicated a reduced incidence of substance abuse, depression and trauma related symptoms (Covington, Burke, Keaton, & Norcott, 2008). Shame, Guilt, Self forgiveness and Female Offenders A few studies have examined the role of guilt and shame specifically among incarcerated populations. Hosser et al. of humans are not only controlled by rationality but are also in 138). In a recent longitudinal study with 1,243 young male offenders, findings revealed that feelings of guilt were associated with lower recidivism and shame was correlated with higher recidivism (Hosser et al., 2008). Robinson et al. (2007) only found marginally significant group differences related to shame an d guilt between incarcerated youthful male offenders and a community comparison group but their findings do support the notion that guilt is associated with more adaptive characteristics (e.g., empathy, perspective taking) and shame is associated with dist rustful attitudes towards others. On the contrary, Xuereb, Ireland, and Davies (2009) were unable to provide support that shame and guilt are distinct factors among incarcerated males (although


32 knowledgeable about the distinctions between shame and guilt). Although these studies begin to provide a foundation to understand guilt and shame among incarcerated males, on and far more research needs to be conducted to determine the role of guilt and shame among female offenders. Kubiak and Arfken (2006) discuss that particularly among women and children, association with the criminal justice system could lead to feelings of shame and discrimination. Given the potential benefits of self forgiveness (e.g., better physical and mental health, less psychological distress, reduced substance abuse, and increased reparative behaviors, etc.), it may be important to explore the exp erience of self forgiveness among female offenders for whom these benefits might be particularly relevant. In a not her research study with incarcerated males, researchers conducted a preliminary investigation and found relationships between lack of self f orgiveness, guilt and shame (Biron, 2007). Baker (2008) discusses the role of guilt and shame in the relapse process. Some women shared that until they were able to forgive themselves, they continued to relapse. Some participants also shared the difficulty of forgiving themselves, even if other important people in their lives were able to do so. Given the prevalence of substance abuse issues among incarcerated women, it may be important to more fully understand the process of self forgiveness. In addition, research has completing forgiveness processes. Because of the potential relationships bet ween


33 shame guilt, and self forgiveness, the self forgiveness process may be a mechanism for healing and change especially among women who have been incarcerated. Summary Based on the current professional literature examining self forgiveness, related mora l emotions such as shame and guilt, and the portrait of a female offender, there is very little evidence addressing the intersection of these related issues. This is problematic given the increasing female offender population, the current male dominated c riminal justice system, and the need to provide gender appropriate intervention and treatment for females. Given the preventative and transformative nature of counseling, counselor educators and counselors are well situated to understand how they can promo te growth and healing among this population and advocate for gender and clinically appropriate treatment for females in the criminal justice system. Understanding the experience of self forgiveness as it relates to this purpose will be further examined in this study.


34 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Chapter Overview Chapter 3 describes the philosophy, general assumptions, and epistemology of transcendental phenomenology. The proposed inclusion criteria for participants, methods of data collection and the process of d ata analysis are explained. Theoretical Perspective In general, phenomenology is concerned with understanding lived human experiences and t here are several approaches to phenomenology which include existential, and hermeneutic, and transcendental. Exist en tial phenomenology is an inductive process based on reductionistic, non p. 1) philosophy In hermeneutic phenomenology research is focused on the language and the person using the language. Broadly, hermeneutic phen omenology is the study of texts, what people write down, how they language about and engage in symbolic activities (Cohen, Kahn, & Steeves 2000) Because the purpose of this research is to uncover the essence of self forgiveness as experienced by female e x offenders the researcher chose a transcendental phenomenology inquiry study as far as possible free of perceptions, beliefs, and knowledge of the phenomenon from prior experience and professional studies (Moustakas, 1994, p. 2 2). Generally recognized as the founder of the phenomenol ogical movement, Edmund Husserl has been described as philosophic system rooted in subjective openness, a radical approach to science He states that a gene ral goal of phenomenological research is to use what appears in the data to


35 emerging various possibilities of meanings (Moustakas, 1994). Historically, the Greek experience in order to obtain comprehensive descriptions that provide the basis for a reflectiv 1994, p. 13). In order to uncover the essence, the researcher usually gathers data, such as interviews, to capture the complexity, subtleties, and/or scope of the phenomenon (W ertz, 2005). After the experience is described in totality, the researcher reflects on all experience. Epoch Epoc 1994, p. 85) and in the context of phenomenology, requires the researcher to acquire a straightforwardly toward the world, whose exi with the physical sciences and does not account for the subjectivity or meaning of our experiences. Epoch is the process of becoming aware of prior assumptions, theories, and hy an d people to enter anew into consciousness, and to look and see them again, as if for


36 process can allow us to begin a releasing our previously ingrained schemas, view ph enomena with fresh eyes, and be open to endless possibilities. Intentionality As human beings, we are affected by what happens in our environment; how we are affected is ine xtricably tied to our conscious mental state about what is happening in our environment which commonly includes perceptions, anxieties, hopes, values, and so on. In the process of intentionality, the participant becomes conscious of the experience of and/o r how the participant interacts with the phenomenon. Moustakas (1994) states in the world, that we recognize that self and world are inseparable components of (p. 28). In this study, participants will not only become conscious of their experience of self forgiveness itself but also how they interact with and their reactions to (e.g., resistant, fearful, inspired, etc.) the phenomenon of self forgiveness. Noema and Noesis Husserl used the concepts of noema and noesis to uncover intentionality. Simply put, noema is essentially the object being studied and noesis is the how, or the process that people are undergoing as they experience the phenomenon (Moustakas, 199 4). In this study, the noema (i.e., the what) is self forgiveness as described by the participants which includes the content of what participants say in their description (e.g., the components of the self forgiveness process, the context around the when o r where the experience occurred, the advantages or disadvantages of self forgiveness, etc.). However, the noesis ( i.e., the how) is the mode that the participants experience the process of self forgiveness which may include their opinions, feelings, concer ns and


37 other subjective responses. The noema and the noesis together allow each person to experience a phenomenon in a unique way. Subjectivity Statement I am a White woman. I grew up in a middle class home, and the only legal only resulted in a few speeding and parking citations. course of my adolescence and young adulthood. In fact, I can name several instances where an articulate, high pitch cence plea got me a get out of jail free card. And I was definitely guilty, by the way. In no way am I denying that my privilege has served me well on many occasions related to legal matters. In my work as a therapist and in my personal life, it is my experience that people make mistakes. easier for me to focus on (and I have noticed this in clients too) the pain that others have caused me to experience. This is surely not to minimize t he experience of a victim, an important perspective to honor and recognize. However, what I f ind more difficult for myself ( and what seems to be a less talked about process) is to recognize when the transgressor is oneself. We make mistakes, hurt people un intentionally and intentionally, and struggle to allow ourselves to become whole a gain. I have caused others pain, and what seems most difficult is honestly acknowledging the pain I caused beginning the process of fully accepting responsibility for inflic ting that pain and then mustering enough compassion and love for myself to let go of the guilt and shame and move forward. commonly allow the holes to remain in our hearts and souls, try to hide them from ourselves and others (through work, addictions, and destructive relationships to name a


38 few), and never seek out interpersonal (and intrapersonal) healing because it would mean we would have to address the shame surrounding the pain. And bringing the shame to light can sometimes feel scarier and be perceived as even more painful than the familiar pain that we are already experiencing. In my clinical training, I have always been triggered by people, t As soon as we slip into this mindset, a lovely client plops in the chair, vomits her life her story is yours. W ith the exception of a di fference in DNA and some narrative content, you are the client. Just a s we look at another to judge her struggle, problems, life choices, or actions Plop! I f we are honest with ourselves, it does not take long to acted that leave us feeling less than whole and more human than ever. Therefore, t I have mage and stop starving herself? nd get the A s top and realize that even after years of body awareness training and acute consciousness of the impact of media on women, I still pick up magazines and long for the size two waist and six pack abs. The fear and shame associated with abusive relationships is often overwhelming, stifling to the body and


39 substances to disconnect from pain can wash over us so strongly that our sense of normality is diminis hed to nothing. Change is scary and difficult. But empathy is a powerful force. With this in mind, I dove into the forgiveness literature and realized that the perspective of the victim dominates. Understandably so. How can one argue with the desire to hel p those who have been wronged? This makes complete sense. However, my desire to empathize with the non existent voice of the transgressor was strong. We At a minimum, we must loo k at the offender life story how she has created healing for herself (or has been unable to), and understand how others have been affected by her process. The first clinical experience I had working with male offenders was conducting substance abuse group counseling. Before meeting the clients I had to read their files which sometimes included a lengthy description of their offenses, many of which included sexual and physical violence. The first time I conducted group, I sat among a group of mi ddle to o lder aged African American men sta I imagined that she going to do for me? What does she know about my life? How can she possibly understand where I struggled to form connections with them, assigning them substance abuse activities which proved to be irrelevant to and un engaging to them. But one day, I made my goal to just better unders tand them. Group finally began. I learned that men were sons,


40 fathers, brothers, husbands and ex husbands. I learned about their aspirations as well as their feelings of hopelessness about the future. I learned about what led them to committing these viole nt crimes. While some were angry about their charges, some expressed apathy. And some expressed immeasurable feelings of shame, guilt, and remorse. After beginning the summer afraid of these men, I ended the summer asking them to keep an eye out as I walke d to my car after dark The key to this transformation il legal offenses. What separate d us most was our traumatic (or lack thereof) life events, access to resources and education, and societal oppression and privilege. Participants and Sampling Criteria Some authors provide specific numbers of participants to use in qualitative inquiry that range from 1 25 (Creswell, 2005; Polkinghorne, 20 05). However, Patton (2002) s ample size depends on what you want to know, the purpose of the inquiry, in depth nature of the interviews, the sample for this study included four research participants. Since over 30% of females released from state prison recidivate within six years (McNeil, 2010), all females in this study were released from incarceration w ithin the past si x years. The inclusion criterion (i.e., females over the age of 18 released from incarceration within the past six years) were rev iewed with the participants to e nsure a homogenous sample. participants included the following fo ur women: Magenta, Sabelle, Vivian, and Candice. An alias was created to protect the confidentiality of the women. In Chapter 4, details


41 about each woman will be provided followed by a description of their individual experience of self forgiveness. Data Co llection Methods Participants were sought through three primary avenues: advertisements in a primary, local mental health agency where the targeted population was receiving follow up treatment after being released from incarceration; advertisements to the university counselor education listserv to which many counseling practitioners and counselor trainees subscribe; and a director of a local transitional facility for female offenders. Ultimately, all four participants who were interested in being in the stu dy came from the This facility serves as a local meditation center, transitional hou sing facility for females released from incarceration, and also provides an outreach, volunteer run mind body s tress r eduction program t o incarcerated women Although the researcher did not previously know the women who participated in this study, she d id volunteer at several of the mind body s tress r eduction program retreats with other incarcerated women. Further information abo ut the nature of and potential implications of the mind body stress reduction p rogram is provided in Chapter 5. Participants were informed verbally and through informed consent (See Appendix A) that they would be interviewed about the process of self forgi veness within the context of their roles as women, mothers, and other roles they identified as significant (See Appendix B). Interviews in qualitative research have been partially described as a descriptive, fe world, their meaning creation of a particular phenomenon, and an interpersonal interaction between researcher and respondent (Kvale, 1983). Since these qualities are consistent with a phenomenological


42 design, the researcher used interviews as the means to collect data for this study. Semi structured interviews were used in an effort to maintain focus on the phenomenon of self forgiveness but also allow participants the freedom to contextualize and elaborate as it related to their self forgiveness process Two interviews were conducted in order to obtain in depth information about the phenomenon and follow up with participants to further clarify and/or ask them to elaborate on their responses. The researcher originally planned to conduct three interviews with each of the women, and the women agreed to three interviews at the time they signed the informed consent. Self forgiveness was initially assumed to be a topic that would require extensive rapport building with participants to acquire meaningful, in de pth interview data. However, the three local participants were almost immediately candid about their experiences, and all three interview guides were covered in two, 1.5 hour interviews. Participants and the researcher collaboratively discussed that the in terview guides were covered after two interviews and a third interview would not be necessary. One participant was interviewed in her home for both of her interviews. Two participants were interviewed in their home for their first interview and then at a c ommunity center for their second interview. The third participant was interviewed over video conferencing since she did not live locally and insisted the resources (e.g., gas, travel time) be used for another participant. The entire interview guide with th is participant was covered over one 2.5 hour interview. All interviews were conducted from January 2012 May 2012, and all participants were compensated with a gift card to a grocery store of their choice After interviews, final member checking was complet ed f or each participant. T he researcher shared the final individual descriptions and made any changes desired by


43 the participants in order to make the description more accurately reflect their experience of self forgiveness. For the purpose of this study a nd consistent with a phenomenological research design, an interview guide (See Appendix B) was developed. The researcher used semi structured, open ended interviews to collect data from the study participants. The purpose of the interviews was to obtain de scriptions (including the cognitions, feelings, forgiveness. The purpose of the first interview was to establish rapport with the participant. In Seidman, 1991), the researcher discussed with the process. In addition, the first interview was used to collect any background information that is relevant to the study and answer any questions the participant may have about the study or the research process. Lastly, in the first interview, participants were asked incarceration/conviction ha s affected these roles and how they cope or struggle in fulfilling these roles. The second interview (for three participants) took place approximately one week after the first interview to allow the researcher the time to transcribe and broadly review the first interview. The purpose of the second interview was to elaborate on themes or specified points of interest found in the first interview. In addition, the purpose of the second interview allowed participants to begin discussing the meaning of self forg iveness, how the participant describes their own self forgiveness process, and aspects related to their self forgiveness process. Also in the second interview, the


44 researcher reviewed the overall themes from the first interview and asked the participant to make changes or revisions as they saw necessary. Member checking was also conducted after the final individual textural and individual structural descriptions were created. Participants were read the descriptions and invited to make changes that would all ow the descriptions to more accurately represent their experience. Confidentiality In order to protect the rights and welfare of the participants, t he U Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved, maintained and review protocol. In addition, the IRB reviewed and approved the informed consent, interview guide and all recruitment advertisements. In order to collect data for transcription, i nterviews were audio recorded. To secure confidentiality, all audio recordings from the intervie ws were kept in locked cabinets in the Counselor Education program office. O nly the principal investigator faculty advisor, and transcription service sp ecialists had access to the audio recordings If the participant offered identifying information during the interview, the researcher deleted this information from the transcription (since transcription services are confidential) once the transcr iption was completed. Audio recordings were destroyed after transcriptions were made, and all other data sources (i.e., transcriptions, informed consents, researcher process notes, data analysis documentation) will be destroyed one year after the study ends (September 1, 2013). In addition, there was no identifying information on the audio recording, the transcriptio ns, researcher process notes, and data analysis documentation linking the data to the participant. In order to track the multiple interviews and link them to the corresponding participant, participants were asked to generate for themselves and the research er an easy to remember letter, number, or word (e.g., Bluebird, 4250, etc.). This code was


45 used in place of identifying information and used to label transcribed audio recordings researcher process notes, and data analysis documentation. Informed consents (with identifying signatures) were kept separately from the data. In case of an audit, one key (linking identifying names with codes) was created and kept in a locked file cabinet in the Counselor Education program office separate from all other existing data. Because of the potential for participants to disclose illegal information related to their experience, participants were informed that any legal matter related to child abuse and/or suicide or homicide are means for the researcher to break confident iality and report to legal authorities. Because of the potentially emotional nature of the discussion, participants exhibiting signs of distress would be provided with mental health community referral resources. Data Analysis Phenomenological Data Analysis In phenomenological reduction, the researcher has the task of describing the textural qualities of the data. The steps of phenomenological reduction first include bracketing in which everything other than the research is set aside. Bracketing allows the researcher to concentrate completely on the topic and research question at hand. Starks and Trinidad (2007) discuss bracketing and state that the researcher : must be honest and vigilant about her own perspective, pre existing thoughts and beliefs, and dev eloping hypotheses engage in the self bracketing whereby they recognize and set aside (but do not abandon) their a priori knowledge and assumptions, with the pen m ind (p. 1376). The next step in the data analysis process is horizonalizing. At first, all statements


46 to the research question and topic are included (Moustakas, 1994 ). After horizons are qualities are recognized and described; every perception is granted equal value, (Moustakas, 1994, p. 96). In this study, the previously described data analysis procedure was employed. Bracketing occurred by the researcher creat ing the subjectivity statement before the study began, revisiting the subjectivity statement throughout data collection, data analysis, and the final writing process. Bracketing also occurred as the researcher took process notes throughout the entire resea rch process. Once the interviews were transcribed, the researcher employed horizonalizing by combing through the transcripts and identifying and extracting all statements that pertained to the research topic. Then, the researcher grouped horizons into ind ividual themes. Once individual themes were established, the researcher compared themes among participants to determine which themes would remain individual themes and which themes would be composite horizons horizons shared among all four participants. Fr om these individual and composite horizons, individual textural, individual structural, textural composite and structural composite descriptions were developed. Audit trails were created to track the decision making process through journaling and voice mem os Imaginative Variation After phenomenological reduction, the researcher must engage in the process of imaginative variation with the purpose of exploring all the potential meanings of the data


47 in an effort to better understand the essence of the phenom enon (Moustakas, 1994). Moustakas (1994) outlines the step by step process of imaginative variation. These are: 1) Systematic varying of the possible structural meanings that underlie the textural meanings; 2) Recognizing the underlying themes or contexts that account for the emergence of the phenomenon; 3) Considering the universal structures that precipitate feelings and thoughts with reference to the phenomenon, such as the structure of time, space, bodily concerns, materiality, causality, relation to se lf, or relation to others; 4) Searching for exemplifications that vividly illustrate the invariant structural themes and facilitate the development of the structural description of the phenomenon. To complete the process of imaginative variation, the resea rcher writes a structural description for each participant. By completing imaginative variation, the researcher has the opportunity to recognize that there are many roads to understanding a particular phenomenon, all of which are likely connected to the ce ntral essence of the experience (p. 99). Synthesis of Meaning and Essences Developing a synthesis of meaning and essence is the last step in transcendental phenomenological analysis. According to Moustakas (1994), this step entails the researcher creating a statement that describes the essence of the experience. Thus, by integrating the textural and structural describing, a final essence statement is developed by the researcher. It is important to note, however, that the essence statement is only a reflecti on of the experience of the phenomenon at that time, viewed through the lens of Validity Perhaps validity is one of the most importan t and frequently debated topics in qualitative research. something is. However, among postmodernist scholars, there may be some discomfo rt that we can have direct (Schwandt, 2001, p. 267). In qualitative research, creating standards of validity are


48 challenging as qualitative researchers try to incorporate rigor, subjectivity, and creativity in the scientific process. Thus, in ord er to assure validity in qualitative research, specific research criteria are developed, threats to validity are identified, strategies are employed to address these threats, and any claims to knowledge are made overt and explicit (Whittemore, Chase, & Man dle, 2001). Thomas and Magilvy (2011) summarize Lincoln and Guba (1985) m odel of trustworthiness related to qualitative research. Briefly, this model includes four criteria for trustworthiness that include: 1) credibility how reflective descriptions or i nterpretations are of the h uman experience being studied, 2) transferability the extent to which findings or methods transfer from one group to another, 3) dependability the extent to which a researcher can understand and explain the decisions employed by the researcher, and 4) confirmabilty the extent to which an awareness and transparency has been established throughout the various stages of the research process. W hen addressing issues of validity in phenomenological research, Patton (2002) discusses th Therefore, rather than reaching for truth or certainty to increase the validity of phenomenological research, the researcher instead employs strategies designed to increase the transpare ncy of the research process and ensure the credibility of the data In order to secure the trustworthiness of this study, I incorporated the following validation strategies: 1. M ember checking Member checking is a process in which the researcher shares the da ta with the participants in an effort to clarify uncertainties about meaning and ensure the results accurately reflect the experiences of the participants. Since only two interviews were conducted, member checking took place between the first and second in terview. In addition, member checking also took place in the final stages of the research as final individual textu r al and structural descriptions were shared


49 were finalized. 2. Au dit Trails Audit trails were created and included all data (including the raw data and analyzed data throughout the various stages of data analysis) as well as process and self reflection notes that fully disclose the decisions made throughout the research process. 3. Peer debriefing Peer debriefing included meeting with peers in the qualitative support group to review the methodological process, receive feedback, and attend to other issues related to the validity and trustworthiness of the study. 4. Subjectivit y statement A subjectivity statement is included to promote self awareness and reflection for the researcher and promote a thorough bracketing process. 5. Create rich thick descriptions Chapter 4 includes rich, detailed descriptions with the intent to allow readers to understand the participants experience of self forgiveness as accurately as possible.


50 CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS Chapter 4 delineates the findings of this study. Phenomenological analysis, as previ ously described in Chapter 3 was used to analyze the individual interview data. Chapter 4 is composed of the following three sections: (a) textural and structural descriptions for each participant, (b) composite (or combined) textural and structural descriptions of the four participants, and (c) the essence statement of the phenomenon. experience, in this case the experience of self forgiveness. This combined experience will be evident in the results presented, which include both c omposite textural and structural descriptions and the essence statement of the phenomenon. However, in structural descriptions of each participant are also presented Each individual textural and individual structural description starts with a brief description of the participant. Based on and RCT framework, p articipants were asked what they would like to include in their individual opening description which could inc lude aspects of their identity such as ethnicity, religious/spiritual affiliation and/ or beliefs, sexual orientation, and family roles (e.g., being a mother, daughter, partner, etc.) Although the women did not choose to include all of these aspects of the ir identity in their description (which could have provided important context related to their background), the researcher felt it critical to empower the women to represent themselves in the way that they decided. S ome women chose to include the nature of their charges in t heir description, and one of them preferred that her criminal charges not be included in her opening description One participant was unable to be contacted to confirm her description, so the researcher


51 created a brief description (compr ised of similar information to that of the other participants ) based on the information discussed during the interviews. The researcher wrote wanted to include in the descripti ons (with the exception of the one participant who could not be contacted) In addition, the individual textural descriptions depict a erstanding of how the participant experienced the phenomenon. In order to organize the textural and structural descriptions, the researcher developed meaning units self defining, self delimiting statements that express a distinct characteristic of an indiv textural and structural descriptions to follow, actual statements spoken by participants are designated with quotation marks. Following the individual textural and individual structural descriptions for each part icipant, composite textural and composite structural descriptions are offered. These forgiveness as it is experienced by the participants. Co mposites are organized using horizons study were th e following: 1) self forgiveness as self acceptance, 2) self forgiveness as growth and change, 3) self forgiveness as an ongoing process, and 4) self forgiveness and the significant others (See Appendix C). Finally, using the shared horizons that


52 arose fro final essence statement of the examined phenomenon. Individual Textural and Individual Structural Descriptions Overview of Magenta Magenta was released from incarceration approxima tely five years ago. Magenta was involved in various educational programs while incarcerated and engaged in the mind body stress reduction transitional program. She currently attends weekly therapy sessions, works part time for a growing technology company and is developing a business plan designed to provide female ex offenders holistic treatment services upon release from incarceration. Magenta and I conducted one three hour interview via video conferencing Ma genta described the meaning of self forgiveness is struggl (e.g. through substance abuse) as she did in her past, and she expressed the that m Magenta expressed a deep desire to connect with others and be loved, she expressed


53 the possibility of never achieving this connection. Magenta hopes that she can love and accept herself anyway. Magenta talked at length about the challenges she faces as an ex offender related to the legal system and society (e.g., lack of employment options secure housing, overall misunderstanding and judgment from others, etc.). When expressing her frustration with these challenges, she discussed the difficult but inevitable role that bitter pill to swallow but it goes down every day because I have no other choice than to accept it, to accept the challenges she faces. Even in her most frustrati ng and painful moments, of her life that include friends who support her unconditionally, opportunities she has been given for employment, and the hope she has to ful fill her dreams and be of service to other female offenders. Magenta first expressed the need for acceptance but then stated the next step in the se lf Magenta discussed the coun today is 75 million times b aspirations, respective ly. At first, Magenta was unable to ever see the possibility of forgiving herself; however, she was able to reflect at length on the positive changes she has made in her life, including working with female ex offenders upon her release, engaging in daily a cts of kindness that help others, and cultivating her vision to provide


54 better treatment for female ex offenders. After reflecting on these changes during the interview, Magenta considered the possibility of achieving her own sense of self forgiveness. She referred to her inability to ever self even explicitl y express hope in ever being able to do so. However, by the end of the interview, Magenta considered self forgiveness one day. In addition to self acceptance and growth and change being important aspects of self forgiveness, Magenta also discussed self forgiveness as a process. Although at moments, Magenta described self forgiveness as a finite, achievable moment in time, her des cription of self forgiveness also implied that it was an ongoing process. Magenta expressed her finite understanding of self forgiveness forgiveness is something that I forgiveness as something that one is able to acquire at a particular point in time and she clearly expressed her inability to yet acquire it. However, Magenta also described the self f orgiveness process as ongoing as she was able to articulate aspects of self forgiveness (i.e., self acceptance, growth and change, giving back to others, a sense of


55 struggle, and gratitude) that are also ongoing. Although she was able to endorse engaging in some of these ongoing aspects of self forgiveness, she denied the ability to forgive herself on a more holistic level. In addition, Magenta implied the ongoing nature of the self forgiveness process as she shared her hypothetical response to other femal e offenders like herself who expressed an inability to self forgive. Magenta stated that she Although Magenta never expressed her ability to self forgive, she could not discuss self forgiveness without articulating the countless ways in which she has tried to and the work I did Magenta even discussed the importance of the legal work she conducted on her own esire to female ex a life they never oriented life, she ironically finds the most difficult struggle to self forgive related to an difficult to self


56 that is totall She expressed the conditional nature of her self forgiveness forgiveness could only happen if things were different in to self and glaze right over ta Although Magenta expressed struggle with the self forgiveness process, part of her experience inclu gratitude for her relationships, employment, housing and freedom cultivates her acceptance process, whic description of self forgiveness Magenta discussed the difficulty in remembering close friends who are still the opportunity to make gratitude allows h er to cultivate acceptance, and this acceptance may allow her to self forgive one day. It was evident that for Magenta, self acceptance was the essence of and first step to the process of self forgiveness. Whe n Magenta discussed her humanness, the mistakes she will inevitably make, and the role of self acceptance as a means to self forgive, she was speaking in hypothetical terms because very soon after, she clearly


57 ds, Magenta was able to articulate the role of self acceptance as a part of the self forgiveness process but has yet to fully experience it. Magenta intellectually knows that she is allowed to be human and make mistakes but is unable to let go of her deepe r levels of self hatred. When Magenta reflects back on the time of her release five years ago, she thought that by now she would have been a lot more self sustaining, fulfilled in her career, and connected with others. Magenta continues to feel frustration with an unforgiving society in which she often feels isolated, judged and unable to receive equal opportunity for housing and employment. These challenges are certainly difficult to accept. However, despite the challenges she faces, Magenta no longer want s to escape from difficult emotions such as anger, fear, and shame. She seeks to accept and acknowledge these emotions and find gratitude in the loving relationships she does have in her life and her current employment and housing situation. After Magenta described the central role of self acceptance as a means to self forgive oneself, she articulated that another major component in self forgiveness is related to growth and change. Magenta described this growth and change by being able to acknowledge past mistakes but put them to the side and move forward. Magenta described how she has moved forward since her release by working approximately 80 hours a week serving other female offenders, drastically reducing her substance intake, and creating a business pl an that provides holistic services to female ex offenders. Although Magenta expressed that growth and change was a necessary aspect of the self forgiveness process, she still did not endorse her ability to self forgive (in spite of all the changes she has made). However after sharing all the positive changes she has


58 made in her life, Magenta was able to recognize that maybe this growth and change that she recognizes in herself might give her the permission to self forgive. One aspect potential to self forgive may feel promising in that she is able to identify positive growth and change. However, it might also mean that Magenta perceives that she is not already worthy of self forgiveness and only until she is able to achieve some obscu re self forgiveness criteria will she be worthy enough to fully accept herself. forgiveness has not reac hed that point in time and is unsure if she ever will. Throughout the interview, Magenta discussed the conditional nature of her ability to self forgive such as needing to see changes in society. However, Magenta was beginning to consider how her ability t o self forgive might change her perceptions of society and others and vice versa. When the researcher asked Magenta what she would say to a client of hers who was unable to self forgive, she stated that she would thank the client for her honesty and then s in time that self forgiveness is achieved, this comment as well as her exploration of her potential to self ne orientation of self forgiveness that Magenta also endorsed. Since Magenta recogniz es that self forgiveness means something to her, is able to identify the elements of what the process might look like for her and is beginning to accept herself fully and unconditionally one perspective might be that Magenta has already started the process of self forgiveness Magenta articulated the self forgiveness


59 process and identif ied with so many aspects of the self forgiveness process also d escribed by the other women. Since she never explicitly endorsed self forgiveness as a whole there could be underlying meanings about what the concept self forgiveness means for her. ed the self forgiveness process I change her identity, her relationships, and h ow ot hers perceive her Magenta may feel unworthy of self forgiveness (based on her expression of self hatred) and therefore deprives herself self forgiveness and acceptance as a way to continue punishing herself for her perceived unachieved potential Magenta expressed a strong identity around not only having compassion and work to helpin g other female ex offenders. Magenta discussed her struggle to self forgive in relation to what she has been unable to give back. In essence, Magenta has experienced a sense of incongruence between her helping potential and how much she currently is able t do more, be more for others, and for that unachieved potential that she perceives, she is unable to forgive herself. When Magenta discussed her work with other female offenders, she e xpressed a sense unconditional acceptance and support to help them not only obtain employment but enhance their overall wellness. Magenta seemed unable to provide herself that same unconditional acceptance and appeared to hold herself to a different set of standards for acceptance than that of others. Although Magenta can intellectually understand these differential standards, it remains difficult for her to digest the possibility that she deserves the kind of love and acceptance for herself that she so fre ely has provided others.


60 forgiveness includes a struggle to even see how self forgiveness will ever be part of her healing process. Magenta discussed that certain components of her struggle include an unforgiving societ y in which she finds it difficult to sustain full time employment, secure housing, and overall acceptance from people who harbor fear or judgment about her past criminal charges and incarceration. forgive is also connected to the hatred she has toward herself which is partially related to her unfulfilled potential (e.g., starting her holistic treatment center for female ex forgiveness may be connected to her desire for external validation from this unforgiving society. Magenta explored the possibility of how her ability to self forgive might actually change the way she perceives the unforgiving society. For example, Magenta discussed the notion of projection and how her self hatred could be related to her perception that society also has harsh judgments towards her. Magenta considered how treating herself with more acceptance and compassion could change the way society perceives and treats her as well. Magenta consid ered how using self forgiveness as a lens could help her cultivate more compassion for herself, view society differently and facilitate her self forgiveness process. Although Magenta expressed frustration and exasperation with a largely harsh society, sh e displayed a far more tender side of herself when discussing the areas in her life for which she is grateful. Even though Magenta never fully endorsed being able to self forgive, the experience of gratitude was very present for her throughout the intervie w and was related to her acceptance process which she described as an integral part of self


61 forgiveness, resistance from society, and challenge to be self sustaining, the emotion that su rrounded her deep sense of gratitude for those who have provided her the unconditional support and acceptance (e.g., close friends with whom she was incarcerated; people who have helped her with employment, housing and friendship upon release form incarcer ation) could not be denied. Sabelle was released from incarceration approximately two years ago and has maintained her sobriety since her release. She was involved in the mind body stress reduction program while incarcerate d. Sabelle currently works full time in the service industry, attends college full time, and has career aspirations to be an engineer. She is the mother of two children and a dog. Sabelle and I conducted both interviews in her home. Textural Description of When Sabelle described what self forgiveness meant to her, she expressed, guess self forgiveness for me means ow do I look at the guilt and shame Forgiving In Sa responded to feelings of shame and guilt suppress and forget those Now, when the guilt and those feelings Sa belle stated T his acceptance process began during a mind body stress reduction program in which she engaged while incarcerated. When Sabelle descri bed her meditation process, she expressed, li T


62 thoughts was the first step in applying accept ance to other parts of her lif e and most importantly, herself. This acceptance has led her to begin the process of self forgiveness. In addition to self acceptance, Sabelle expressed that growth and change have been a major part of her self forgiveness process. Based on some of the m ore challenging aspects of vulnerability to substance addictions, lack of education, etc.) and current stressors (e.g., financial strain, lack of custody of her children), the more familiar path would be for Sabelle to remain active in her addictions and pattern of destructive relationships. However, Sabelle was clear that her self acceptance and self forgiveness processes were not a means to excuse or justify her past decisions. In fact, Sabelle my faul t. I did it. I put myself there. Sabelle discussed the power her addiction had over her and that she made unfathomable choices while under the influence choice s she would have otherwise never made with a clean and sober mind and body Sabelle from her responsibilities and how guilt and shame overwhelmed her so much that she was left feeling stuck and unable to move forward and make changes in her life. Sabelle ex pressed that self defini tely helps keep [her] forgiveness pro overwhelming her, something that, in the past, only le d her to her addicti if I let the guilt and shame overwhelm me, then I know where I It was important for Sabelle to let people know,


63 forgiveness that included self acceptance and growth and change, Sabelle also talked about the process of self forgiveness as ongoing Sabelle stated, be done for me, has to be done over and over and over again entioned that there might forgiveness process was also lected the potentially changing nature of her state of self forgiveness. Like other processes in her life (e.g., addictions recovery), Sabelle values taking self forgiveness, she discussed how other significant people in her life play a role in this process as well. Sabelle stated how other people and where they are. reflected on why she desires to be more empathic towards others, I guess self forgiveness process not only facilitates forgiveness towards others but actions of service such as reaching out to friends who have struggled with addictions as well (i.e., Sabelle discussed self forgiveness as having a relational component as she expressed th e interconnectedness she sees between others and herself ( e.g., important way Sabelle forgiveness process is relationally connected is how she


64 when she has the opportuni ty to spend time with her children. She employs a nurturing and honest parenting style. As the relationships freedom to be open and honest with their mom who is now vie wed as a stabilizing force in their lives. Thus, Sabelle discussed a primary motivation for her growth and change is addiction and incarcerations have had forgiveness includes a struggle (i.e., feeling s associated with h aving to cope with that reality (i.e., b eing put on top of me ). the big picture forgiveness within the context of an unforgiving society as she expressed an example of ght back, you know in the holes. Although Sabelle strives to continue the ongoing processes of self acceptance and growth related to self forgiveness, she does not minimize the difficulty in persisting through the deep feelings of shame, challenges to attend work a nd school full time, and judgment and oppression she faces from society. Despite struggle with self forgiveness, she has acquired a sense of gratitude as she discussed having moments of


65 opportunity to continue building relationships with her children. She even expressed gratitude for the experience of being incarcerated as she really good frie Although her transition from incarceration substance abuse recovery and self forgiveness process up in it again Sabelle uses gratitude to as a way to gain perspective, humility, and motivation for her continued success. By tapping into feelings of gratitude, Sabelle can access a sense of self acceptance which facilitates her process of self forgiveness. Structur worked very hard to become aware of, f ully experience, and accept uncomfortable emotions that she used to suppress. In the past, Sabelle was able to numb em otions, such as shame and anger, through her substance addiction. However, Sabelle has bravely ventured into a different process completely that entails unconditional acceptance, such as accepting others, accepting her emotions, acceptin g the choices she has made in her life, and accepting herself. T hroughout the interview, Sabelle was emotional when discussing the shame surrounding the impact her addictions and incarceration has had on her children. However, if Sabelle stays in that plac e of shame too long, she is vulnerable to relapsing in an effort to numb the pain. Sabelle seeks self acceptance, so that she can continue to move forward (e.g., go to class and work work on obtaining custody of her children again ) in the ways that help h er to live a healthier life. Through the process of self acceptance as a means to self forgive, she can ease the feelings of guilt and shame without turning to substances for relief, continue to work on her sobriety, and build a future for herself and her children.


6 6 Because that related to her children, she seemed to be especially vulnerable to experiencing debilitating feelings of shame and guilt as compared to the other women in the study Sabelle was clear in the need to articulate the responsibility she took for her past actions and the desire to learn and experience a different lifestyle than she was exposed to as a child. In her s obriety, Sabelle has sought healthier ways to cope with the shame and guilt, one being s elf forgiveness. For Sabelle, growth and change is part of the self forgiveness process as she continues to take responsibility for her actions and make different choices in her life. However, she also discussed how self forgiveness continues to serve as a motivator for growth and way to maintain the many changes she has made so far (e.g. enrolling in school, building healthy relationships with her children, maintaining her sobriety). Rather than self acceptance (as part of the self forgiveness process) be ing an aspect actually is a primary force that promotes her growth and change. Contrarily, if she is not able to acquire a sense of self acceptance and acceptance o f others, feelings of anger and shame surface and her vulnerability to use substances and resort to her previous lifestyle increases. As Sabelle discussed the actual process of self forgiveness, she seemed uncertain that her own self forgiveness process w as valid, as she discussed how others may have a more finite self forgiveness process (e.g., they learn to forgive themselves forgiveness process is repetitive and ongoing. Even wavering process of self forgiveness was demonstrated as she explored whether or not


67 she had really forgiven herself, particularly related to the impact her addiction had on her children. In one mo ment, she seem ed to feel confide nt about her ability to unconditionally forgive herself (even if only for today). However, when we would discuss her children, she hesitated to endorse her ability to ever fully forgive herself until she is able to regain custody of her c hildren, demonstrating the sometimes conditional nature of her self forgiveness process. Thus, Sabelle expressed that she is continuing to work on a self forgiveness process that is without conditions (e.g., getting back her children), further demonstratin g the vaci llating, unfolding nature of forgiveness. This process was reflective of her addictions recovery where she recognizes the importance of focusing on the present moment and remaining ever aware of her vulnerability to r elapse. Related to Sabelle forgiveness process, she described the circular, relational nature of self forgiveness in that it has served as a means to forgive others and through forgiving others, she better understands herself. Sabelle desc ribed struggles with self forgiveness are relational in nature in that she struggles most with what she is unable to provide for her children, especially as she continues to wrest le with the guilt and shame associated with how her addiction and incarceration lives. Nonetheless, as Sabelle came to see interconnectedness between herself and others, she expressed value in helping others in whatever way she can, so long as it does not compromise her own sobriety and life goals. Although Sabelle expressed a desire to unconditionally forgive herself, part of her self forgiveness process is still conditional in nature. Sabelle sometimes feels unable to


68 forgive hers elf until she can retain custody of her children. Sabelle, now sober, working, and attending school, deeply desires to raise her children in the healthier living environment that she has worked so hard to create. However, part of her struggle also includes having to constantly overcome the challenges she faces being labeled an ex offender (e.g., obtaining safer, nicer housing and legal custody of her ch ildren). Now, it seems like one of the most difficult part a mother who has achieved the clarity to raise her children in a healthy environment but no longer has the legal custody to do so based on her past criminal charges. Because of this sometimes paralyzing state, Sabelle struggles to self forgive but fights to continue makin g positive changes in her life based on the faith that whether or not her children are in her custody, her recovery will have a positive impact on them. Lastly, Sabelle discussed gratitude within the context of her self forgiveness process. Self forgivenes s (and life in general) is not easy for Sabelle. In these moments of frustration and despair, however, Sabelle has the ability to find gratitude in even the difficult experience of being incarcerated as she was able to experience sobriety and develop meani ngful relationships with other women. Since the process of self forgiveness is ongoing and vacillating for Sabelle, discovering gratitude is also a way to cope with the oscillations that are sometimes difficult to experience and a way to enhance her curren t well being. Vivian was released from incarceration on drug related charges approximately two years ago. She has been sober for 7.5 years, is an active member and volunteer in the Twelve Steps program and is attending scho ol full time with a double major in sociology and psychology. She hopes to obtain her Master in Social Work with a


69 specialization in addictions among youthful offenders. Vivian was an active member in the mind body stress reduction program while incarcerat ed and also participated in a meditation one year re entry program. Vivian and I conducted the first interview in her home and the second interview at her local Twelve Steps community clubhouse. When Vivian descr ibed her self forgiveness process, she said it started with her Despite the many mistakes Vivian discussed making in her life and the many voices telling Vivian along the way th at she was not good enough, she had to come to the realization that in fact, she was actually fully worthy and deserving of love. Vivian grew up in a family culture that was achievement oriented and had high expectations to in sports, dance, careers, and retain a high level of social status. Thus, Vivian discussed the negative relationship between her perfectionism and self acceptance and how the constant need to achieve and be perceived as perfect facilitated her criminal be havior and addiction. Vivian strives for self forgiveness everyday in her ongoing process as she constantly has to remind herself to let go of her perfectionism and accept herself unconditionally She acknowledged the high standards she still However, Vivian then immediately forgiv eness as it related to self acceptance Once Vivian was able take the first step towards self forgiveness through the process of self acceptance she expressed a major implication for doing so,


70 could forgive myself, all those little puzzles started falling together. I could make Vivian further explained that once she realized that she was not inherently Those choices used to define her; however, Vivian now she sees herself as a worthy and deserving person. Vivian was clear when she explained that self like all sins forgiven described that an actual part of her self forgiveness process entailed making significant forgiveness has b een Not only is growth and change a forgiveness process but it also serves to keep her moving in a positive directio n toward her life goals of maintaining her sobriety and becoming a youth offender addictions specialist. When Vivian described the actual process of self forgiveness, she biggest thing for me to be able to do, was to start the self forgive ness process. For Vivian, starting self forgiveness meant beginning to accept herself fully and unconditionally and coming to understand the choices that she made. This process was facilitated by various avenues that are still part of her recovery process today, including meditation and Twelve Steps In reference to the time the process has taken Vivian, she


71 first event for which she was able to forgive herself as she stat ed She also described her self of recognizing the potential changing state of both processes (i years before I got out, and it forgiveness process that Vivian described, she expressed uncer tainty with the idea of a finite self Vivian described her self forgiveness process in relation to forgiven ess of other how her own self forgiveness process affected her forgiveness proc that children, she expressed renewable resource We c related to a service By helping other addicts and alcoholics begin and maintain their sobriety, Vivia n finds that it also keeps her accountable for her own sobriety and strengthens her connections to a community invested in her well being and sobriety. Vivian also s eeks to give back the forgiveness that she ha to give back wh


72 Vivian recalled that from a very young age perfectionism played a central role in her need to be the best at everything she did. perfectionism enabled her to obtain many achievements However, even when she was able to receive recognition for her achievements, the constant need for external validation left her feeling empty. Vivian has learned to practice self acceptance as means to self forgive but also as a means to mai ntain her sobriety, build healthy relationships with her family and friends, and pursue a career in social work. In working toward self acceptance, Vivian has In an effort to accept herself and others unconditionally, s he currently strives to become aware of how her judgments only make her vulnerable to relapse and harsh criticism of herself and others. For Vivian, self acceptance is part of the spiritual foundation that facili tates her self forgiveness and addictions recovery processes. forgiveness process entails self acceptance, she also believes that self forgiveness comes with the responsibility to make changes in her life which she has pursued through various experiences such as engaging in Step Four of her Twelve Steps program (i.e., Step Four: Making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves ) By making a list of her actions that have hurt others and herself Vivian had the opportunity to be honest with herself about the actions she has taken in her life. However, after creating a moral inventory, Vivian was asked by her sponsor to create an asset for every item on the moral inventory. Vivian discussed that i dentifying her assets was more difficult than listing her mistakes but implied that this is when the real growth and change started to take place. Vivian made a lot of references to her past and the difficulty of making a change, specifically


73 related to he r addiction. However, through her work in multiple therapeutic avenues (e.g., Twelve Steps meditation), Vivian has been able to create and maintain change like she was not able to before. The self forgiveness process required Vivian to make changes in her life but forgiveness also serves as a motivator for Vivian to continue making the changes that are in line with the vision she has for her life today. When Vivian described self forgiveness, she used her similar journey through addictions recovery as a w ay to describe the process. After Vivian came to the realization that she could live a life in which she was not defined by her criminal charges and active addiction, she started the self forgiveness process by learning to fully accept herself and make dif beginning and engaging in these processes. In other words, self forgiveness and recovery did not just happen for Vivian. It took (and continues to take) time, working the Twelve Steps and dealing with difficult emotions as they arise through meditation. Also, it seemed important for Vivian to understand the normalcy surrounding the fact that people ve forgiveness. In fact, the ongoing nature of self forgiveness is just part of the process. Recognizing this ongoing self forgiveness. Knowing that the process never ends, allows her to build her skills of focusing on the present moment the very strategy that is the foundation of her sobriety forgiveness pro cess started with an inward journey to self acceptance, she recognizes the systemic and relational impacts of self forgiveness. The


74 forgiveness live a life that entails empathy for others and a sense of deep interrelatedness. This oneness and relational interconnectedness has allowed Vivian to engage in a process of self forgiveness that is linked to forgiv eness of others and a service oriented lifestyle. forg iveness process becomes circular in nature and as she self forgives, she gives back, and this service helps continue to fuel her self forgiveness and recovery processes. Candice has two children and is the primary caregiver to her newborn grandchild. Candice is a six time convicted felon and participated in the mind body stress reduction program cycle numerous times while incarcerated Candice was last released from incarceration approximately one year ago Candice has been sober for three years, works part time, and attends school full time. She is purs u ing a career in social work. Candice and I conducted the first interview in her home and the second at the community clubhouse where her Twelve Steps meetings take place. Tex Candice explained that the first step in her self forgiveness process was to begin to acquire a sense of self acceptance. Candice stated, accept it She discussed self acceptance as a means to self forgive by discussing how trauma cause d to accept what had been done to me o th e importance of being transparent and honest about her life experiences ( six time convicted no


75 Candice shar ed that this honesty can sometimes come with the risk of being rejected by others ( However, Candice shared t reflection and recovery work, finally Candice can say, Candice discussed the many changes she has made in her life thus far which member and volunteer in the Twelve Steps program, and working and going to school. In reference to bec to make that change was a big move, finally coming to a oday es, she expressed, in her past mistakes. Candice expressed, point where that vicious it was her addiction that was driving her to engage in a lot of her past behaviors. forgiveness excuse her past actions. In fact, it appeared that for Candice, self forgiveness without change was not


76 self it tomorrow As Candice discussed self with you. Candice discussed the intrapersonal nature of her self forgiveness process as she stated, forgiveness process entailed reminding herself that she has forgiven herself as opposed to actually re engaging in the self forgiveness process itself. T f self forgiveness a descriptor forgiveness process However, she also described it as an actual benefit C andice described her self forgiveness process in relation to forgiveness of her her own self Candice expressed, forgive then all of the sudden, [she was ] [her family]. Candice also discussed the relational benefits that she experienced as a result of her self at er life experiences, as well as working through her self forgiveness and recovery processes are a major reason she pursues a service


77 e out there, sic ] that Similar to her self her substance recovery program her gratitude as being gratef difficult times, Candic I was homeless or whatever and I was sober and working a program, I would still have I hesitatio asked later about why she opened with a description of her criminal history, Candice forgiveness pr ocess was learning to accept herself. In the process of learning to self accept, Candice practiced (and continues to practice) being transparent and honest. This practice seemed to validate and continue to strengthen her ability to self accept. She also de scribed that she used to experience shame associated with certain aspects of


78 her life (e.g., her sexuality) but that she no longer has to feel ashamed about who she is. Even before Candice was able to surrender to a higher power through her addictions reco very program, she expressed the necessary step of having to look inward, be honest with herself about the dire state of her life, and acquire a sense of self acceptance. After Candice was able to begin the self acceptance process, she discussed that chang a common word used in the Twelve Steps life when the pain of the addiction supersedes the pain of not using. Instead of alcoholism b eing her motivation, she is now motivated to maintain the positive changes she has made in her life and work to further develop them. Candice extensively discussed that creating a life for herself not only takes desire but very hard work and that she conti nues to fight for her sobriety daily For Candice to self forgive, it was important to acknowledge not only the destructive nature of dwelling on her past growth and ch ange was a requireme nt for Candice to self forgive. For Candice, self forgiveness without growth and change was only rationalization or justification. ven surrendering to a higher power was not her first step (as it is for many people who are active in the Twelve Steps program). Candice highlighted forgiveness process started with her reflecting, examining her past errors, and forgiving herself. Candice also articulated her unique process of self forgiveness as being ongoing. This


79 never ending nature appeared to serve as a means to remain humble in her process If Candice started to believe that any process was complete (e.g., addictions recovery, self forgiveness, self acceptance), then she might loose the motivation to continue engaging in her meditation practice, attending Twelve Steps meeting, or othe r attending to aspects of her life that maintain her health and wellness. forgiveness process is reflected on many levels that include forgiveness of others, living a service oriented life, making amends, and buildin g relationships with significant people in her life. Candice expressed the systemic, universal nature of the concept of forgiveness as she believed that it is forgiveness process is inextricably r elated to others in many ways. Thus, Candice shared that her education paired with her life experiences, will make her especially proficient at being able to help others who have been through similar struggles. Throughout the interviews, Candice used her process of recovery f ro m alcoholism to describe how her self forgiveness and sense of gratitude is related in that through her recovery and ability to experience compassion and forgiveness for h erself, she is able to identify gratitude for her sobriety, supportive relationships, time with her children, and opportunity to attend school and attain her career goals. Candice also finds gratitude in her difficult past experiences as it has provided he r with the perspective necessary to recognize all she finds gratitude in today.


80 Composite Textural Descriptions The composite textural description provides an overall description of all four as a guide to provide a combined look at the experience of self forgiveness. The shared horizons include the following: 1) self forgiveness as self acceptance, 2) self forgiveness as growth and change, 3) self forgiveness as a ongoing process, and 4) self forgiveness and significant others. Self forgiveness as Self acceptance All of the women described self acceptance as part of the self forgiveness feelings about their past traumas and/or the lifestyles in which they were engaged. When it came to acceptance and oth themselves even if they were unable to receive a cceptance from others. For the women who expressed being able to start the self acceptance process, the results were that they were able to release the heavy burden of guilt and shame (that Self forgiveness as Growth and Change All participants described growth and change as an important aspect in the self forgiveness process. Part of their self forgiveness process actually entailed acknowledging the aspects of their l ife that they wanted to change (e.g., substance


81 perceive self forgivenes fact, an authentic self Self forgiveness as an Ongoing Process The women described self process that has to be important for the women to recognize their ability to self acknowledge the changing state of the process. In addition, that there was no time limit intellectualize or skip the process to get to the outcome of self forgiveness. Rather, the women have to work the process of noticing emotions as they arise, use self forgiveness as one way to address those emotions, and recognize the importance of living Self forgiveness and Significant Others The participants discussed self forgiveness as an internal process with systemic, relational impacts on their families, friends, and communities. The women described how self


82 I had to learn to forgive my mom) and acts of service with the bel some point reached out to family or friends who needed help with the realization that Women who struggled with the self forgiveness process found the most difficulty dealing with what they were not able to give others (e .g., children, community) in the past and/or current awareness of what they could be providing to others (e.g., children, community) if they were not dealing with the challenges mostly related to the financial and legal repercussions of their addictions an d criminal charges. Composite Structural Descriptions forgiveness process as a combined experienced. There are four shared horizons which again include: 1) self f orgiveness as self acceptance,2) self forgiveness as growth and change, 3) self forgiveness as a ongoing process, and 4) self forgiveness and significant others. Self forgiveness as Self acceptance The life contexts and backgrounds of the women included di fficult challenges at a minimum and often severe trauma. Certainly, these life circumstances helped create the breeding ground for substance abuse and addictions, abusive relationships, and associated illegal behavior that inevitably led to their incarcera tion/s. In order to self


83 fully experience and accept) mainly through substance addictions. Upon incarceration, the women were often coping with deep pain and difficult emotions (some of which included enormous amounts of shame, guilt, and anger) and had not received adequate treatment that allowed them to process those feelings. as gaining a sense of clarity. Although the women often experienced forced detox through incarceration, it was through making the choice to engage in therapeutic modalities, such as a mind body stress reduction program, Twelve Steps and education that their recover y process was actually facilitated. Through this process, they began acknowledging and accepting their past trauma and understanding how it led to them to addiction, illegal behavior and/or affiliations, and destructive relationships. In addition, rather t han suppressing the difficult emotions such as anger, shame, and guilt, they learned to accept and experience these emotions and validate them for the first time. Although self forgiveness has several facets (as further described), the women had to first accept themselves before they could begin making the changes they wanted to see related to their sobriety, rebuilding relationships with children and family, and pursuing their career goals. For the one participant who was clear that she has not been able to self forgive, she expressed that self forgiveness is about self acceptance, even though she has yet to achieve that for herself. In order to self forgive, the women had to acknowledge that they had endured severe pain and trauma, understand how that im pacted them, accept that they were doing the very best they could


84 and become comfortable with who they are now Only after the process of self acceptance had started, could they begin the self for giveness process. Self forgiveness as Growth and Change For the women, part of their past struggles with addiction and illegal activity (and/or association with) was that they felt stuck and unable to make changes in their life. Some even described dire mo ments of feeling desperate to change but not knowing how to live any differently. One hypothesis is that self forgiveness might elicit rationalizations or justifications that might prevent positive changes. However, the women in this study experienced quit e the opposite. In fact, the lack of opportunity and/or inability at the time to process through these overwhelmingly difficult emotions (e.g., shame, guilt, anger, etc.) was what was keeping them tied up in the legal system and stuck in addictions and des tructive relationships. Taking responsibility to make changes in their lives was a central aspect to their self forgiveness processes, and some even described it as a requirement. Thus, for these women, self forgiveness was not self forgiveness until it e ntailed the difficult work required to make different choices in their lives. Progression and growth seemed to be an important aspect that gave credence to their self forgiveness process. Not only was growth and change an important aspect (and even require ment) in their self forgiveness process but the participants who were able to say they had started the self forgiveness process actually described it as a motivating factor for them to continue making choices that strengthened their sobriety, relationships with their children, and the drive to attain their career goals.


85 Self forgiveness as an Ongoing Process Some of the women had difficulty articulating what the process of self forgiveness ot to describe self general and recovery programs as they include an enormous amount of self reflection, experiential work, and trust in a sometimes ambiguous outcome. Some of the women used their addictions recovery process as a way to describe their self forgiveness process. In Twelve Steps programs, addictions recovery is viewed as a lifetime process. This view is not intended to never release addicts and alcoholics from the ir past substance dependency but rather to help them remain aware of their vulnerability to their addiction and promote sobriety only one day at a time. For these women, acknowledging the ongoing, never ending nature of self forgiveness was essential in re alizing that revisiting self Self forgiveness and the Significant Others The women discussed the relational impacts of their self forgiveness process. For some, their self forgiveness process was directly linked to their forgiveness of other significant people in their life. It seemed that by accepting self (as part of the self forgiveness process), the women created space to be able to understand and fo rgive others. The actions associated with this insight included pursuing careers specifically in fields helping female ex offenders, being a stabilizing force for their children, and being a source of emotional support for friends struggling with the same issues that they faced in the past or continue to face today. For the women who struggled with the self forgiveness process, they found the most difficulty dealing with what they were not able


86 to give others (e.g., children, community) in the past and/or c urrent awareness of what they could be providing to others (e.g., children, community) if they were not dealing with the repercussions mostly related their addictions and criminal charges. The Essence of the Experience fo rgiveness is predominately an internal experience that has systemic and relational impacts related to forgiveness of others and acts of service. The process involves a combination of self acceptance and taking both responsibility and action to make changes forgiveness as an ongoing and lifelong process.


87 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION This research studied the experience of self forgiveness among four women released from prison within the past six years. Although it seems rea sonable to consider that many definitions of self forgiveness exist, one author has defined self forgiveness the self by compassionately choosing to regard self as a f allible but remorseful human (Baker, 2008, p. 63). Although some benefits of self forgiveness have been reported, such as, better physical and mental health (Avery, 2008) an d reduced alcohol and drug use (Ianni et al. 2010), the topic remains understudied, particularly among certain populations who might especially benefit from self forgiveness. Female criminal behavior has historically been view ed as a less serious proble m tha n male criminal behavior and the number of incarcerated women still remains a relatively small number compared to men. However, female rates of incarceration are quickly rising at nearly twice the rate of men (Harrison & Beck, 2006), and over 30% of w omen in released from state prison were rearrested within six years (McNeil, 2010). Research has also shown that women suffer a disproportionate amount of mental illness (Mumola, 2000) and physical and sexual abuse (Messina et al. 2006). Given the life co ntext and potential risk factors of female offenders, understanding their self forgiveness process may be way to understand the forces that promote or inhibit their rehabilitation. As previou sly mentioned, this research studied the experience of self forg iveness among four women who were released from prison within the past six years. The


88 phenomenon. Introduction Throughout the interviews on self forgiveness, the women sh ared stories that included trauma, abusive relationships, familial addictions cycles, and little or no support raising their children. The women were clear that acknowledging these factors is not an excuse for their illegal behaviors (and/or associations w ith illegal activities) and clearly they did not want to be perceived as victims. However, acknowledging these contextual rehabilitation and general wellbeing after their r elease from incarceration. This section discusses how the findings of the current literature link to the current study. Part of this discussion includes literature that examines self forgiveness in ver, it seems short sighted for context of their lives. For example, consider a child raised in an abusive environment where both parents were suffering from an addicti grow up to be an adult who also suffers from addiction and finds herself in destructive, abusive relationships? Or is her alcoholism possibly symptom of the larger family disease and way to numb the pain associated with previous trauma? Therefore, this discussion seeks to examine the results of the study by further victimize them but rather attempts to situate their process in a large r life context. This section presents implications that are organized according to the following shared horizons: 1) self forgiveness as self acceptance, 2) self forgiveness as growth and


89 change, 3) self forgiveness as an ongoing process, and 4) self forgi veness and significant others. Implications for training, practice and society are discussed and suggestions for future research are presented. Self forgiveness as Self acceptance Overview Learning to accept themselves as fallible humans, imperfect and lik ely to make mistakes was an integral, and perhaps first step, in beginning the self forgiveness process for the women in this study. Fully validating and accepting the difficult emotions themselves even without acceptance from others were ways the women further articulated their self acceptance process as it related to self forgiveness. Self acceptance is often discussed as a critical aspect of mental health (Erikson, 1964) yet it can be difficult to achieve when individuals are dealing with feelings of guilt and shame associated with past transgressions. Links to Literature Some current literature discusses self acceptance in relation to self forgiveness. According to Dillon (2001), transformative self forgiveness occurs when an offender is able to overcome the negative stances they have toward themselves, and can also manage to repair damaged self respect. However, Meade (2002) discusses the potential for self forgiven ess to be a roadblock to self forgiveness only adds to the burden of self condemnation as it attempts to force an entirely Vitz and Meade (2011 ) actually reject the terminology of self forgiveness and propose that the reported benefits of self forgiveness are actually the result of self acceptance.


90 Therefore, authors propose replacing the term self forgiveness with self acceptance. Yet, Rempel (2 003) discusses self acceptance and self forgiveness as different constructs, one being related to creating a better self concept and the other being related to the goal of bettering oneself for the sake of others, respectively. In terms of empirical resear ch examining the relationship between self acceptance and self forgiveness, one qualitative study (Ingersoll Dayton & Krause, 2005) reported forgiveness may play an important role in diminishing guilt and enhancing self accepta acceptance is a critical aspect, and perhaps a first step, to beginning the self forgiveness process. Women in this study described the self acceptance process as acknowledging and accepting their own feelings of guilt and shame, then coming to the realization that they acceptance was important in acquiring the emotional stability (e.g., reducing debilitating guilt a nd shame) to move forward with other aspects of the self forgiveness process, such as creating a moral inventory and making amends. Self acceptance was a critical aspect, but not to the extent of the self forgiveness process for participants in this study. Self forgiveness as Growth and Change Overview The women in this study described that in the past vicious cycles of addiction and overwhelming feelings, such as, guilt and shame served as barriers to growth and change in their life. Not only has self forg iveness been about making significant life changes that entail addictions recovery, going back to school, and reconnecting with family, but self forgiveness also served as a motivator for sustaining these changes. One participant who described her inabilit y to forgive herself, considered self


91 forgiveness a possibility only after reflecting on all the growth and change she was able to identify throughout the interview. Links to Literature Hall and Fincham (2005) propose distinguishing the difference between let go of guilt and act kindly toward themselves. However, the authors discuss that even xtensive self examination, and potential feelings of discomfort, one may benefit more fully from the Ta n gney et al. (2005) discuss how shame is often associated with anger, irrationality, denying responsibility, and externalizing blame. Tangney et al. (2005) discuss the role of shame and guilt for lt serve as a moral barometer, healthy f 143). In addition, Holgrem (2002) describes the potential dangers of self forgiving prematurely and advocates that clients take responsibility, are genuinely remorseful, and seek to make amends to those hurt by their wrongdoings. Similarly, Hall and Fincham (2005) forgiveness as motivational change rests on the assumption that the offender both acknowledges Some empirical studies have examined reparative behaviors (such as making apologies and am ends) as part of the self forgiveness process. Exline and colleagues ( 2011) found that reparative behaviors predicted an increase in self forgiveness, and


92 Fisher (2010) reported findings that demonstrated an increase of reparative behaviors for participant s who engaged in a self forgiveness intervention. Ianni et al. (2010) also found that among individuals experiencing high levels of shame, a negative relationship between levels of self forgiveness and substance abuse existed. Based on the results of thi s study, the women characterized their past as a some women, part of growth and change did entail taking responsibility by creating a moral inventory (as described in the Twelve Steps program) and then making amends to the people whom they hurt. For some women, growth and change was a requirement in the process of self forgiveness and without these changes, it was only a way to justify or rationalize their past tran sgressions. However, growth and change was not limited to they hurt. It also encompassed changing their entire lifestyle through maintaining their sobriety, receiving thei r education, working towards their careers, and being a stabilizing, healthy influence on their families and the community. In addition, the women in this study described self forgiveness as a motivator for continued change which may be a result of their v iew of self forgiveness as a lifelong process. By recognizing the process is never over, they acknowledged the struggle in that but also the encouragement it provides to maintain the aspects of their life that continue to promote positive growth and change Self forgiveness as an Ongoing Process Overview Women in the study who believed they had started the self forgiveness process, believed it to be a lifelong process. Much like their addictions recovery, they self forgive


93 e dynamic nature of their emotions and perspective on their past transgressions, they described self forgiveness itself as ongoing and just part of the process. Links to Literature How the self forgiveness process unfolds over time has been addressed by ma ny authors. Although Enright and The Human Development Study Group (1991) acknowledge the unfolding nature and potential time involved in a forgiveness process, forgiveness was granted in a da forgiveness, Hall and Fincham (2005) present a self forgiveness model and include the cognitive, affective and behavioral processes related to self forgiveness. They also describe forgiveness as having a final outcom that constitutes self forgive ness with clients. Instead, they promote a process wherein the offender n gney et al. 2005, p.155). Although Bauer (1992) qualitatively explor ed the process of self forgiveness and empirical research deconstructing the process of self forgiveness. Hall and Fincham (2008) report being the first to examine ho w the self forgiveness process unfolds over university undergraduates. Findings from Hall and Fincham (2008) provided preliminary nceptual model of self forgiveness and


94 indicated that self forgiveness was a linear process that increased over time. However, for the women in this study, the process of self (1992) description of one of the self for giveness themes Movement towards Healing : this study, self forgiveness was not viewed as a decision based moment in time but rather a process that has to be experienced (rather than intellectualized about) and ng; however, by acknowledging the dynamic viewed the ongoing nature of self forgiveness as part of the process and emphasized the importance of remaining in the present momen t. Self forgiveness and Significant Others Overview For the women in this study, self forgiveness was an internal process that had relational and systemic impacts related to forgiveness of others and acts of service. Some women expressed struggling with th e process of self forgiveness and this struggle was closely related to the acknowledgement that they regret not having been able to give to others and/or what they wished they could give, but are currently unable to do so due to their legal and financial s ituation. Links to Literature Some literature has discussed the relationship between other forgiveness and self forgiveness. A growing body of literature has empirically validated the distinction between self forgiveness and other forgiveness as separate c onstructs. In a review of


95 the literature, Mullet, Neto, and Rivire (2005) found that although the personality characteristics of self forgiveness and other forgiveness are similar, they are distinct enough to conceptualize them as separate constructs. Fla nigan (1996) views self forgiveness as relational in nature, and Rempel (2003) discussed how the goal of self forgiveness is to better oneself for others. Based on the results of this study, forgiving others and acts of service were ways that the women de monstrated the relational and systemic impacts of their self forgiveness process. However, unlike Rempel (2003) who discussed the goal of self engaged in the process of s elf forgiveness for themselves; forgiveness of others either served as a precursor to the self forgiveness process or a result of, and acts of service were a part of the healing process that resulted from self forgiveness (in the context of other healing o r therapeutic modalities such as Twelve Steps individual counseling, etc.). Implications for Training and Practice Given the preventative and transformative nature of counseling, counselor educators and counselors are well situated to understand how they can promote growth and healing among the female offender population in an overarching systemic effort t o not only reduce crime but facilitate a positive social impact on women involved in the criminal justice s ystem. Gilligan (2000) stated: We can prevent violence if, and only if, we replace the moral and legal approach to it, which is based on moral condemnation, shaming, and punishment with that of public health and preventative medicine. This is a matter of vital importance to the future of humanity, in which medical professionals can serve an invaluabl e role as educators and leaders ( p. 1803).


96 Thus, using a relational cultural framework, counselors have the opportunity to examine relational competencies over the lifespan and understand how var ious contextual and sociocultural challenges may i mpede a w enhancing relationships In addition, the therapeutic process focuses on ameliorating the harmful effects of social injustice and marginalization and helping clients develop connections in which they feel more able to act in the world, a greater sense of vitality and worth, a desire to develop more connections, and clearer picture of themselves and others (Comstock et al. 2008). In addition, as previously discussed, there has been some debate in the research as to whether or not self forgiveness is more harmful than beneficial. However, while more research is conducted to further explain the process, risks, and benefits of self forgiveness, clinicians are still likel y to encounter clients (particularly those dealing with forgiveness as beneficial or harmful in a therap eutic context, clinicians would benefit from proficiency in ways to explore what self forgiveness means for clients, the potential role it plays in their lives, and how it contributes to well being. In addition, this study provides so me perspective into a therapeutic process of self forgiveness that takes into account the integral steps of self acceptance and growth and change. F or clinicians exploring this process with clients, it may be important to understand and explore how their s elf forgiveness process is situated within a relational context For example, how does self forgiveness impact their relationships with others and how do their current relationships impact their process of self forgiveness ? Lastly, it


97 may be critical for c ounselors to educate clients on about the potentially ongoing nature of the self forgiveness process and explore ways they can learn to cope with difficult emotions that may a rise during times of struggle Implications for Society Based on the results of the study, the women struggled with self forgiveness for many reasons. Although not all women struggled with self forgiveness in relation to a perceived unforgiving society, the struggle with an unforgiving society was a theme that emerged among all parti cipants. An important question arises from this finding. How forgiving are we as a society? The women were taking major steps to attend school, grow personally through their addictions recovery, be a stable presence for their friends and families, and cont ribute to society through volunteer positions and careers in the helping professions. However, their criminal records often prevented them from obtaining secure housing and employment, and perhaps more importantly, receiving acceptance, compassi on and supp ort from a society to which they were trying to reintegrate. In a largely punitive criminal justice system, female offenders are given the message that criminal charges and incarceration are ways to hold people accountable for their actions. Perhaps soci and access to housing, secure employment, and mental health services only gives female offenders what they have not earned or deserve to receive. However, based on the results of this study, the wome being and recovery today. As we continue to understand a growing female offender population, it


98 will be crucial to exami ne how socie tal oppression contributes to female incarceration and recidivism rates. Suggestions for Future Research While this research provided insight into the phenomenon of self forgiveness among women recently released from prison, the study also raised many ques tions that merit further investigation. Because most of the self forgiveness literature is theoretical rather than empirical, more research is needed that examines the risks and benefits of self forgiveness, how the process unfolds over time, and how trans gression severity and different therapeutic and mind/body interventions impacts the self forgiveness process. Finally, the relevance of a mind body stress reduction program in this study will be addressed as it pertains to future research. Benefits and Ris ks of Self forgiveness Self forgiveness can bring with it a heated debate, potentially due to the somewhat unfamiliar idea of promoting compassion and transformation among transgressors people generally seen as needing to take responsibility and be punishe d for their wrongdoings. Some research discusses the potential negative effects of self forgiveness. For example, researchers have found a positive association between self forgiveness and narcissism and actually describe the psychological por trait of the self self n gney et al., 2005, p. 150). Even though there is conflicting literature regarding the potential risks and benefits of self fo rgiveness, the women in this study discussed the self forgiveness process as largely beneficial and contributing to their overall wellness. However, rather than coming to an agreement about whether or not self ould be


99 conducted to understand how contextual and identity related factors (e.g., past history of abuse and trauma; personality characteristics; spiritual and religious orientation) shape what self forgiveness means for a client or cultural group and how it p lays a role in their wellness. An Evolving Concept forgiveness can be described as one from estrangement to feeling at home, from darkness to light, from deception and denial to honesty and acknowled gment. This movement is not smooth or linear; it involves a great deal of struggle and vacillation between acceptance and harsh 155). Bauer (1992) also supported the concept of self nature of the process of self forgiveness. In other words, as the self forgiveness when do these fluctuations take place and for whom? In addition, if self forgiveness is a lifelong process for some, it might be particularl y important to know how people struggle but maintain wellness through the o scillating process. Transgression Severity Some participants in this study discussed the nature of their crime and how it impacted their self forgiveness process. For example, one participant struggled with the self forgiveness process as it related to the impact her incarceration and addiction had on the lives of her children. For this participant, self forgiveness and the nature of the transgression were very much related. However, this research was foundational in nature and did not seek to understand ho w transgression severity impacted the self

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100 forgiveness process for participants. Strelan and Sutton (2010) examined the role of transgression severity in the forgiveness process. They found that although just world beliefs for the self (BJW self) may be he lpful for someone coping with minor stressors self may take a victim only so forgiveness process are related. Future stu dies designed to understand how the nature fo rgiveness process are warranted. Lastly, it may be important to understand if the self forgiveness process among female offenders has unique and/or similar characteristics as compared to other populations, such as survivors of violence (who have not engaged in criminal behavior), males offenders, and youthful male and female offenders. Mind body Stress Reduction In 1979, Jon Kabat Zinn f ounded the Mindfulness based Stress Reduction Program in which participants learn mindfulness meditation in an effort to respond more effectively to common experiences of illness, pain, and stress (Kabat Zinn, 2003) M reness, 2) of present experience, 3) with depression (Morgan, 2005), anxiety (Germer, 2005b), and psychophysiological disorders (Siegel, 2005). Although not initially intended by the researcher, all of the participants in this study were recruited through a southeast prison mind body stress reduction and mindfulness program. Although the mind body stress reduction program implemented in the prison was not Jon Kabat ulness based Stress Reduction Program (Kabat Zinn, 2003) similar principles based mindfulness meditation

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101 were used to develop the program for incarcerated women. The prison program combines mindfulness meditation and yoga in an eight week course followed by a five experience of the mind body stress reduction program; however, it is critical to address that t he participants discussed their involvement with the program as one major path that had a significant impact on their ability to cultivate acceptance and be in the present moment all major components to not only their self forgiveness process but their sobriety and overall quality of life. Thus, it may be important to explore the potential differences and similarities of the self forgiveness experience among female ex offenders who have not engaged in a mind body stress reduction program as compared to the participants in this study Future research is warranted to furt her explore the impact of mindfulness meditation and yoga on women who are incarcerated or re entering into society in general or specifically related to self forgiveness Limitations of the Study The purpose of this study was to describe the lived experi ences of self forgiveness among women released from prison within the past six years. Although rich, thick descriptions are used to demonstrate the potential for various meanings and essences, what was necessary about this experience for these participant s, at this point in time, in this location ma y or may not be necessary about the same experience wi th a different group of people, at a different point in time, in a different location Thus, generalizability is not the goal of this research, although it m ay be sought after by some readers. Although my attempts to separate prior knowledge, personal biases and opinions out of the interview, data analysis process, and essence formation process, it was difficult. I underestimated the presence of substance add iction recovery as such a

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102 salient topic among participants, and this topic happens to be a one that affects me personally on many levels. Through bracketing and intentional, extensive audit trails, sincere efforts were made to separate my prior knowledge f rom the interview and analysis process, so the participant experiences were the primary force in creating the essence statement. In an effort to conserve time and financial resources for the study, one participant ( who was not living locally ) insisted th at we conduct the interview via video conferencing and only one interview was conducted. Although this was the only participant whose entire interview process was conducted in one sitting via video conferencing the participant was engaged throughout the w hole process and appeared to be as authentic and forthcoming as the participants who were interviewed in person. The participant identified local counseling services that were available to her on a weekly basis, in case she needed to further process any em otions that surfaced during the interview. Even over video conferencing, the researcher found there to be strong rapport with the interviewee and the interviewee was comfortable with the technology necessary to complete the interview. However, f or research ers conducting interviews via video conferencing, it may be important for the intervi ewer and interviewee to discuss their comfort with video conferencing how it may impact the rapport between interviewer and interviewee and how it may impact t he level o f interviewee disclosure. Lastly, for interviews conducted via video conferencing, it is important to guarantee the privacy of the interview from in person third parties and ensure a secure SSL encrypted connection.

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103 Conclusions Although a growing body of literature is examining the topic of self forgiveness, it has been largely overlooked within the forgiveness literature, particularly among incarcerated or recently released populations. The present study was intended to serve as a foundational exploration of the phenomenon of self forgiveness among women recently released from prison. The results of the study fill a gap in the research about the experience of self forgiveness for women confronting the challenges of reintegrating into society after incarcer ation. This study offers beneficial information examining the ways women value and practice self forgiveness after incarceration, the opportunities for exploring the journey to self forgiveness, and the need for continued research on the process of self fo rgiveness in general and specifically among female ex offenders. Our capacity to make peace with another person and with the world depends very much on our capacity to make peace with ourselves. Thch Christ

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104 APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT University of Florida Counselor Education Program 1212 Norman Hall Gainesville, FL 32611 Dear Participant, I am a doctoral student in the Counselor Education Program at the University of Florida. I am conducting resea rch on the process of self forgiveness among female offenders. I am hoping that what I learn will help give female offenders a voice and be overall better understood. In addition, I hope this study will contribute to the knowledge of counselors and those w orking in the criminal justice system, so female offenders can receive appropriate and supportive treatment and resources. If you choose to participate, you will be interviewed three times, for about 1 hours each time. We will do the interviews in a qui et place that is convenient for you and will maintain your privacy (e.g., a reserved room at the public library). I will audiotape the interviews because the interviews will be later transcribed by a confidential transcription service. Any identifying info rmation on the audiotape will be later removed from the transcription, and the audiotape will be destroyed once the transcription is created. In order to link the audiotapes with the transcription and other data analysis documents, you will generate a code word or number (rather than using any personal identifying information to link the data). The only way to link your code to your name is through a master key that will be kept in a locked cabinet separate from all other study information. Audiotapes will be destroyed after transcriptions are made, and all other data sources (i.e., transcriptions, informed consents, researcher process notes, data analysis documentation) will be destroyed one year after the study ends (September 1, 2013). Although the inter views are confidential, if you disclose any information related to the abuse of a child and/or homicide or suicide, I am legally bound to break confidentiality and report this information to legal authorities. These interviews are not mental health therapy Although I am a counselor, I will not be conducting therapy with you. I will only be learning from you about your process of self forgiveness. If during the interviews, you are experiencing emotional distress, I have community mental health resources tha t I can help you access for longer term mental health counseling. The information I gather will be used to help counselors and those working in the criminal justice system better understand the process of self forgiveness among female offenders. You will not be identified by name nor will any information that could be used to identify you will be shared. Your confidence will be protected as provided for under the law. I will use your answers when writing my dissertation and in possible journal articles/boo ks but will not use your name or other identifying information.

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105 Participation in the study is completely voluntary. It will not affect your current legal situation, and you will not be penalized for stopping participation in the study at any time. Howeve r, if you do become incarcerated while you are enrolled in the study, you will no longer be able to participate in the study. There are minimal known risks or immediate benefits known to participants. There is compensation for participation. After the firs t interview, you will receive a $15 gift card to a grocery store, for the second, $20, and the third $25. You may request group results of the study in December 2012, if you wish. You may withdraw consent at any time. If you have any question about the r esearch, you may contact me at (352) 340 1101 or my research chair, Dr. Silvia Echevarria Doan at (352) 273 4323. Questions about your rights as a research participant may be directed to the UFIRB Office, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611 or call (352) 392 0433. Warmly, Adrienne S. Baggs Agreement: I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure and I have received a copy of this description. Participant: ______________________________________Date: __________ _______ Principal Investigator: ______________________________Date: _________________

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106 APPENDIX B INTERVIEW GUIDE Interview 1 Thank you for coming here today. I would like to talk to you about your experience of self forgiveness and related experiences tha t may be relevant to you and your process of self forgiveness. Although my intention is to provide an interview experience that is supportive and non judgmental, some of these questions may be sensitive in nature and/or may cause you to experience emoti ons that may feel uncomfortable. Please remember that you can decline to answer any questions that you choose and you can choose to stop the interview at any time without penalty. I have an opening question to ask that will help guide our discussion and I want you to have the freedom to elaborate on what the most important aspects of the questions are for you. During the interview, I also might ask you probing questions (e.g., Can you tell me more about that? or Can you clarify what that means? ) to help me better understand what you are saying. I also might summarize what you are saying (e.g., that your relationship with your mom taught you a lot about how to raise your own daughter.) in an effort to make sure I am accurately understanding yo ur responses to the questions. As I ask you questions to further clarify and describe your experience, please remember again that you can decline to answer any questions that you choose and you can choose to stop the interview at any time without penalty. Interview 1 Topic: Identity and Life Background 1) Tell me about little bit about yourself. 2) Tell me about being a mom (if applicable). 3) Tell me about being a girlfriend/wife/partner (if applicable). 4) Tell me about what it was like growing up. 5) Tell me about significant relationships (e.g., family, significant other, etc.) that you have had/have in your life. What was it like to experience those relationships? Is there anything you would like to add? Do you have any questions or comments? Thank you so much again for participating. I will see you for the next interview! Interview 2 Thank you for coming here today. I would like to talk to you about your experience of self forgiveness and related experiences that may be relevant to you and your process of self forgiveness. Interview 2 Topic: Coping and Strengths 1) I would like to go over your first interview to have you elaborate on some themes that came out of Interview 1 (Present highlights of first interview to participant and ask for clarification/elaborati on when necessary.). 2) How have you managed to deal with some of the challenges in your life?

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107 3) What strengths have you called on and/or developed to help you move forward with you life? 4) Have you had any particularly supportive or healthy relationships that have helped you get through the tough times? If so, tell me more about those relationships and what really helped you. Thank you so much again for participating. I will see you for the next interview! Interview 3 Thank you for coming here today. I would l ike to talk to you about your experience of self forgiveness and related experiences that may be relevant to you and your process of self forgiveness. Interview 3 Topic: Self forgiveness 1) I would like to go over your second interview to have you elaborate on some themes that came out of Interview 2 (Present highlights of first interview to participant and ask for clarification/elaboration when necessary.). 2) What does self forgiveness mean to you? 3) Can you describe what a process of self forgiveness might lo ok like for someone? 4) Has self forgiveness played a role in your life at all up to this point? If so, how? 5) Have you had any struggle with self forgiveness? What was that like and how did it impact you? 6) What are your hopes about the future and how will self forgiveness play a role in that process (if at all)? 7) How has this interview process and discussing self forgiveness impacted you? Thank you so much again for participating!

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108 APPENDIX C LIST OF HORIZONS *=Shared Horizons Self forgiveness as Self Acceptanc e Self forgiveness as Growth and Change Self forgiveness as an Ongoing Process Self forgiveness and the Significant Others* Self forgiveness as a Struggle (Magenta, Sabelle) Self forgiveness and Gratitude (Magenta, Sabelle, Candice)

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109 APPENDIX D LIST IZONS AND MEANING UN ITS Self forgiveness as Self acceptance no other choice than to accept, you know going back into acceptance accept for what it is ackn owledging all of those factors identifying them this is who I am today nobody will accept you I'm not perfect I am fallible I am going to make mistakes Acknowledgement of all that Self forgiveness as Growth and Change I just got to the point wher I learned about myself I was very superficial it was such a norm for me God, I need to stop this now I know how to stop it when it starts separate myself from that person that I was I used that last year to really get my ducks in a row I just felt confident in what I learned I actually got my first professional job 19 days after I was released I could make it go for this life I know how hard I worked when I was given an opportunity you want to be self sustaining see things in a di fferent manner being able to compartmentalize that knowledge put it to the si de and move forward putting it on the shelf, and moving forward I can definitely see progression and growth and It's very different Ah, I did it on my own

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110 Going back to scho ol Self forgiveness as an Ongoing Process Now, do I have that? No. I definitely think that self forgiveness is someth ing that I probably will never know in this lifetime Self forgiveness, nonexistent I guess it just, you kno w, requires practice just stay in the moment and be able to know the moment for what it is Self forgiveness a nd Significant Others a lot of people benefited from the work that I did a lot of my jobs that I had while I was in prison were helping other s I used to work for classification a lot of ideas that I implemented I want a job helping other people like me I took my caseload very personally because it was personal for me practi ce compassion towards others that I definitely know what it feels like always think about what I can do to make it better for that one 20 extra steps out of my way make an effort to go back and check on another human being if so mething happens to me I can take comfort in knowing somebody will come and check on me. never even know help a lot of people in a good career putting a person in a position to be able to have a life they never thought possible I would love to be able to open up my company position to help a lot of people in a good care er So, you know, it has really nothing to do with them at all if I could learn to self forgive that maybe ot hers would be more forgiving of me Self forgiveness a s a Struggle it really is difficult to self And I really do believe that that anger towards self is never gonna go away to day basis I believe that for me se lf forgiveness could only happen if things were different in society hatred that I'll never be able to get back I have incredible talents that are just just just floating stagnantly in the miry pit of my life I guess that goes into probably suffering along the lines of Buddhism eality for me

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111 internal things that are going on I definitely thought that I was gonna have my shit much more together than what I do Self forgi veness a s Gratitude Even on my bad days I know I know how blessed I am I know that I have been, uh, afforded the opportunity to make it back out here down to a table knowing someone cooked something for you. Self forgiveness a s Self acceptance just really accepting everything I did I'm g oing to have a moment where it's just, like, okay I went through that It's okay, they're just thoughts, that's all it is I can't do anything to change that It's okay I just want you to say, okay I am not trying to mask everything They just, okay, ju st say okay I can accept Forgiving myself, you know, I don't have to numb it anymore it happened, you know, and forgive myself I accept it Self forgiveness a s Growth and Change It is my fault. I did it. I put myself there. I was so easily forgiven before by everyone else My norm is no longer my norm I learn to build my boundaries and state my boundaries not go into jealous rages and fits at I stopped smoking in prison my standards had changed this is enough I don't ever want to do again I'd rather keep moving forward, than to have to struggle through that again I remember that to keep moving forward, to not turn to those things so let's not do it again let's move on I still don't have control, except for my decisions that I'm making my perspective is completely different move even quicker forward get moving again. I gotta do this, I gotta do that, I gotta focus really made up my mind that I had wanted no part of that life anymore It's just, like, I have a slight ha ha ha, I made it out I guess I saw myself before, it was more like a p ity party And then I finally could get that perspective for myself, you know, I was that piece of shit when I finally was disgusted and I could say, you know, I'm disgusted with myself I hadn't had enough, and I was still in the, you know, everybody's a gainst me, and it's everyone else's fault This was different

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112 I had that moment of clarity I finally decided to be different. felt like I was physically turned around, and my eyes were open I was looking through a mirror through the other side. I f inally, just knew that everything was wrong just do it Because then, if I don't keep moving forward, then I make them right the guilt and shame kept me motivated to stay messed up before But then I shake it off and keep moving definitely helps keep me going And moving forward in that, right I want that to be it we do change There are cases where, you know, we change. Self forgiveness a s an Ongoing Process has to be done over and over and over again I haven't fully forgiven myself in some peop le's description forgive myself every time it comes up And a lot of forgiving myself, I feel like I have set aside until I actually get my children people in this world who, like, forgive themselves and it's over Right now, I forgive myself or an exc use to not fully forgive myself now I'm working on that as well Self forgiveness a nd Significant Others probably the luckiest dog in the world I rock him like a baby sometimes I can im plant those good seeds every time I communicate with them then be the lifeline I try to under, put myself in their shoes I learned from them it helps me understand myself And if t hey ever wanna talk Just hoping to be the example in the big picture for them "Mom can do it, I can do it" I try to understand people other people and where they are. And I guess that would be so that I can forgive them you can come here whenever you need to, no questions asked I still really don't see myself as a strong person until, you know, I reflect myself on someone else that's struggling You know, if you guys ever need help I can tell you where to you can go and point you to people that can help you I can point you in the right direction, but I won't be your crutch I can offer advice and tell them how I did it, and that's about it I'm them too Self forgiveness as a Str uggle just kind of like bricks being put on top of me I guess I keep having to relivethe result of my mistakes maybe that's why I haven't fully forgiven myself

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113 Having to work for things, and havi ng to, you know, prove myself over and over again to everybody I beat myself up a lot about you know, I got my kids back it's hard to see the big picture sometimes I have my kids, and then I went ten times worse than what I was before I do have ruts of, I get complacent they put you right back, you know, in the holes because you can't Keep shutting door in my face I do have times where I get really sad about the you know, I feel guilty Like before they weren't safe with me, and now they're not s afe without me every time I talk to them, weighs me down. And a lot of forgiving myself, I feel like I have set aside until I actually get my children Self forgiveness as Gratitude we're still sucking free air when I have a bad day, it does get wor se. didn't have all this stuff to worry about and I was still sober; and then I had some really good friends in there shook my hand, told me to have a nice day, and keep up the good work, and that felt good it's better than being all up in it again Vi Self forgiveness as Self acceptance is that I had to just be where I am and get through it I know today that those feelings are valid no matter what they are Unification of several p ersonalities Once I could say that this was okay, is that I had acceptance Once I got a I accepte wherever they are, I have to just let them be there and be okay with that it is okay for me today you're not bad, bad, bad, bad It is okay for me, and I can say that I had to move from the judgment part T You may not do it perfect. You may not do it right And I had to allow other people to do it, when they were doing it right or whether I have to allow them to do that It just is what it is. But I had to find that I was okay with, you know that I was gonna be okay its just okay; it just is Self forgiveness as Growth and Change I can do something di fferently with it today I had to just continue doing what I was doing to understand that choices that I made walk through that and let go of that all of that from the past. I

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114 to keep moving forward not where my energy is today always going to be consequences no matter what the action I choose to do it differently hose little puzzles started falling together. I make great effort to correct myself all the time. I could make choices I have more so ever than I ever have in my life taken responsibility for my actions change was inevitable for me I could do things doing something different it gave me different responsibilities through today you get what you put into it That came for me in step 4 it was the ability but I had to work for it Forg iveness is the motivation that drives me "raise your hand and change it" Self forgiveness as an Ongoing Process I tried to explain to you the dark world and the light world the yin and th e yang I have that relationship to be able to understand that and be able to process Today I can today I can do that I sta Just like my recovery it took me a long time al slow process this happened years before I got out, and it So these were the things that I had to learn. It was experiential. sometimes quickly, someti mes slowly part of everything that was the biggest thing for me to be able to do, was to start that self forgiveness process Self forgiveness and Significant Others I had to forgive my dad. I had to forgive those people to be able to forgive myself I have that empathy help someone else process or sometimes just listen Ninety percent, and I say this again, and honestly, broken women they knew no different just like I d They were just trying to survive today I know that she did as well as she could

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115 that helped me to be able to forgive my mother My mother did the best she could with what she had same as my fath of knowing like I told you my sister and I, we t alk on a daily basis. then I pass that rope on And you get what you give back it motivates me to help someone else to give back what was so freely given to me And we are one Ca Self forgiveness as Self acceptance time convicted felon, finally getting a life that is where, for me the forgiveness part started in; I had to accept what had been done to me or what I had done to someone I a person should accept you all the way around best for me to, you know, to go on and throw that out there will turn and run the o ther way. He knew I was in prison he knew I was an addict but you still have to be willing to say put it all out there if I can tell you, well, this is where I was and this is where I am today I feel that comfortable with who I am You have to accept you as you are Forgiving yourself and accepting you for who you are. It has to begin with you have to accept it I not only accept my part in it, but I accept her part in it too ocess and it and you have to recognize there is a problem Self forgiveness as Growth and Change ... to make that change was a big move, you know, because first of all, I had to be willing for the rest of my life or dead you reach your bottom is what they call it I finally reached that point, you know today things are different for me then I turn it around and say, well, this is where I rs

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116 I have to keep p you have to even have boundaries with family because I don that I can live happy, you know, instead of miserable you know, possible So for a long time, yeah, I thought, you know, I thought, I didn then at some point in time it really started affecting my mind Those are milestones to help you say, okay, well, I, I did that, I could probably do this We work at bettering ourselves, you know re and I want to see me get a little further at it. cut in years. you have got to find a point where that vicious cycle stops t with yourself you know, it like I can break this cycle that was doing that. That was the If you are willing to change the behavior, the ch the changes will slowly come. justi You have to be willing to get that life You've gotta want it and earn it there has to be a willingness within for anything to happen Self forgive ness as an Ongoing Process it's a process that it begins with it had to start with me, and I h ad to start the process t think I really have to revisit I think forgiveness is self forgiveness would be the same way, need to revisit

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117 Self forgiveness and Significant Others further in the steps you begin to make amends to these people I keep in touch with my grandchi ldren being sober I can be there for them now and who would have thunk that I would be able to help somebody else another reason why I am pursuing social work I took the time to learn how to do these things and I was able to help them I could probabl y help a lot of people out if I can just display the, the passion of the, of a person that identifies if I save one life out there, if you want to talk about it I'm here for you one to two days a week as a volunteer in the social work type are we go over there because you can also see that maybe they never had the opportuni ty that you had your family after I forgave me, I had to learn to forgive my mom I can see that she was sick too, you know, and she never got the chance to know that she was sick because we all have issues you have issues that was the biggest forgiveness issue for me, because of the things she done and the things she said impacted the ha my life Self forgiveness and Gratitude Thank, you kn ow, thank you, God, you know a lot of that comes from being involved in AA they teach you a lot about gratitude I have now is so much better than what I had then you have to be th ankful to a higher power of your choosing if I was homeless or whatever and I was sober and working a program I would still have gratitude I have a lot to be t hankful for It just comes with the appreciation for life being grateful to the God of my understanding I have a lot to be thankful for Thank God I just went home and I laid in the bed an and I had to find some gratitude in that. Okay, well, you do ha ve an arm to have a new life. Thank God I had this opportunity u have to climb over worth it

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128 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Adrienne Sarise Baggs received her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from the University of Florida in the summer of 2012. Adrienne conducts resear ch on wellness, spirituality, and multiculturalism and has a mindful, relational cultural therapeutic approach Adrienne has a passion for the study and practice of yoga. She is excited to begin refining her career aspirations to integrate counseling, yoga and mindfulness in training, practice, research, and supervision.