Psychology of Christianity awareness

Journal of Psychology and Christianity

2008, Vol. 27, No. 4, 347-357

Copyright 2008 Christian Association for Psychological Studies

ISSN 0733-4273


pay attention, as never before, to the spiritual lives of students and faculty.

The enhanced awareness of needed spiritual development among colleges and universities is complicated, however, by new research on the role of religion in student life and process. Clydesdale (2007) reported that, although college students are clearly interested in spirituality and faith commitments, they tend to compartmentalize- ize their religious and spiritual identities upon entering post-secondary education.

The study found the majority of entering college students wanted to give little focused attention to this area during college. Thus, at the same time as academic institutions are challenged to attend to a broader range of developmental issues, students appear to want to limit access to all these areas.

Astin (2004) affirmed this discovery by noting that this generation of students, although interested in the spiritual, is more focused on the material exterior aspects of their college experience. Clydesdale (2007) affirmed that attention to the interior life for students may actually

Forgiveness Interventions as Spiritual Development Strategies:

Comparing Forgiveness Workshop Training, Expressive Writing about Forgiveness,

and Retested Controls Stephen P. Stratton

Asbury Theological Seminary

Janet B. Dean Arthur J. Nonneman Rachel A. Bode Asbury College

Everett L. Worthington, Jr. Virginia Commonwealth University

North American college students find that their experience in higher education is more than simply “book learning.” These students experience an educational environment that is pressured to include their emotional and physical well-being along with more traditional academic and career pursuits (Kadison & DiGeronimo, 2004).

Higher education is confronted with research suggesting that emotional, social, and physical well-being are essential to goals of academic success and student learning (Astin, 1993; Kadison, 2004; Pritchard & Wilson, 2003).

Increasingly, these institutions hear calls for spiritual development alongside these other developmental areas (Higher Education Research Institute, 2004). Indeed, Astin (2004) suggested that higher education is primed to

The forgiveness activities at Asbury College and the participation of Everett L. Worthington, Jr. were supported by the Thomas F. Staley Foundation. Direct correspondence to Stephen P. Stratton (steve_strat-, Asbury Theological Seminary, 204 N. Lexington Ave., Wilmore, KY 40390.

Within a Christian university, it is important to ask what activities might engender forgiveness – a prominent spiritual activity related to Christian maturity. The present study evaluated the effectiveness of three forgiveness intervention strategies-relative to a retested control, a 5-6 hour psychoeducational workshop training (W), essay writing (E), or a combination of the two (WE).

Workshop training is psycho-educational training conducted in groups of more than 50 undergraduates to prepare them to facilitate small workshops to promote forgiveness.

Christian liberal arts college students (N=114) completed forgiveness measures on three occasions (weeks one, four, and ten) with 5-6 hour psychoeducational groups (week 2) and essays (week 3) following the initial assessment.

WE showed more change in positive, but not negative, responses to the offender than did W at the first post-test and more than did C and E at the follow-up. REACH workshop training and benefit-finding essays each produced some forgiveness responses toward the offender.