Forgiveness in the Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder: A Quasi-Experimental Study

Steven J. Sandage, Beverly Long, Richelle Moen, Peter J. Jankowski, Everett L. Worthington, Nathaniel G. Wade, Mark S. Rye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective: This pilot study evaluated a manualized group forgiveness module within dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Method: The study utilized a quasi-experimental double pretest design with adults (N = 40; 88.1% female, 11.9% male) diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in outpatient DBT. Measures of forgiveness, attachment, and psychiatric symptoms were completed at 4 time points. Results: Participants showed increases in all measures of forgiveness and decreases in attachment insecurity and psychiatric symptoms during the forgiveness module and maintained to the 6-week follow-up. These effects were not observed during the prior distress tolerance module. Latent change score modeling showed reductions in anxious attachment mediated the effect of changes in benevolent motivations to forgive and trait forgiveness scores on reductions in psychiatric symptoms. Conclusions: Effect sizes were similar to meta-analytic findings on (a) forgiveness interventions and (b) reductions in psychiatric symptoms in DBT. Participant feedback suggested elements for further development. A randomized controlled trial is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-640
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of clinical psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


  • Attachment
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Forgiveness
  • Justice


Dive into the research topics of 'Forgiveness in the Treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder: A Quasi-Experimental Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this