Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Mark McMinn, PhD.

Second Advisor

Rodger Bufford, PhD.

Third Advisor

Rebecca Ankeny, PhD.


Genuine self-forgiveness entails accepting responsibility for wrongdoing while experiencing a continued sense of self-worth (Enright & Human Development Study Group, 1996; Fisher & Exline, 2006; Hall & Fincham, 2005; Martin, 2008; Szablowinski, 2012; Vitz & Meade, 2011; Wenzel, Woodyatt, & Hedrick, 2012; Woodyatt & Wenzel, 2013a; Woodyatt & Wenzel, 2013b). Previous research has demonstrated that a benevolent concept of God and a personal sense of God’s forgiveness facilitate self-forgiveness (Exline, Yali, & Lobel,1999; Hall & Fincham, 2008; Martin, 2008; McConnell & Dixon, 2012), suggesting that those who accept responsibility for the offense and believe God can forgive that offense will not become stuck in self-condemnation. The theological concept of grace is closely related to self-forgiveness; people must acknowledge that they have sinned while accepting God’s unmerited favor (McMinn, Ruiz, Marx, Wright, & Gilbert, 2006; Sells, Bechenbach, & Patrick, 2009). This study examined the effects of a grace intervention on self-forgiveness within two Friends (Quaker) churches. The grace intervention was developed in collaboration with church leaders and psychological researchers and included a 9-week sermon series, group Bible studies, and weekly grace practices. All church attendees were asked to complete a trait self-forgiveness scale, while a smaller portion of each church completed a more extensive battery of questionnaires, which were completed before and after each church experienced the grace intervention they developed. The study utilized a quasi-experimental crossover design for statistical analyses. Both congregations were assessed again at the conclusion of the second congregation’s grace intervention. Significant changes over time and an interaction effect were found in trait self-forgiveness, intrinsic religiosity, and daily spiritual experiences. Changes over time without interaction effects were found with spiritual wellbeing, grace to self, selfforgiveness feelings and actions, and self-forgiveness beliefs. Group differences were found with daily spiritual experiences, authoritarian God concept, grace to others, and genuine selfforgiveness. This study suggests that an intervention focused on the theological concept of grace may increase people’s ability to forgive themselves for offenses they have committed against other people. Future research should look at the implications this could have for those experiencing psychological distress.