The primary goal of this research study was to qualitatively analyze perceptions of forgiveness and its meaning and application in counseling and therapy. The subgoals were to analyze psychological work with forgiveness in Slovak psychology practice, analyze the factors behind and consequences of forgiveness for clients and psychologists’ perceptions of their ability to forgive. The research sample consisted of 82 psychologists (71 women and 11 men) who had at least six months experience of working with adult clients. Participant age ranged from 24 to 67 years (M = 39.0 years; SD = 12.0) and number of years of psychological practice ranged from six months to 42 years (M = 13.2 years; SD = 12.2). Data were collected through questionnaires containing open-ended questions. We used Modified Consensual Qualitative Research (Spangler et al., 2012) to analyze the data obtained. Ten domains were created in the data analysis. Psychologists perceived forgiveness to be an intrapersonal process and an important part of counseling and therapy. Participants mainly stressed the cognitive qualities of forgiving, such as accepting and understanding the other person and the situation. The results show that working with forgiveness is widely applicable to relational and personal problems. The role of the psychologist in this process is to accompany, help, and support the client on their forgiveness journey, which ultimately leads to positive consequences, including improved mental and physical health, better relationships, relief, higher self-esteem, and self-acceptance.


forgiveness, psychologists, Consensual Qualitative Research-Modified Method, counseling, forgiveness therapy

Author Bio(s)

Miriam Masaryková has completed graduate school at the Department of Psychology, University in Trnava. Her research focuses on the psychology of forgiveness and bereavement. Please direct correspondence to miriam.masarykova1@gmail.com.

Lucia Záhorcová (https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9252-8608) is a teaching assistant at the Department of Psychology, University in Trnava, and a researcher at the Institute of Experimental Psychology, Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences SAS, v.v.i. She also provides psychological counseling, often using forgiveness intervention. Her research interests focus on the psychology of forgiveness, grief and bereavement, and positive psychology. Please direct correspondence to zahorcova.lucia@gmail.com.

Žofia Dršťáková is a graduate student in the Department of Psychology, University in Trnava. Her research focuses on the psychology of forgiveness. Please direct correspondence to zofia.de41@gmail.com.


This study was supported by VEGA grant agency under contract number 1/0518/20.

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