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This qualitative study is a venture into the realm of how people of various ages and life circumstances make meaning of confession. Specifically, how do people who confess perceive it to affect their psychological well-being? Because this is an exploratory study in an area with little prior research, a qualitative methodology was employed. The participants in this study were 91 adults with a mean age of 48.8, ranging from 18 to 81 years. Participants completed an online demographic study and then two follow-up emails, consisting of a total of 6 descriptive questions. Results showed a variety of methods for confessing guilt, motivations for confession, and emotional and cognitive changes. The majority reponed confession to be psychologically beneficial and an agent of imerpersonal and intrapersonal growth. Emotionally, most of the respondents reported feeling a great sense of relief and thankfulness which lasted. Others reported that time to process the guilt, receiving forgiveness from God and the person(s) wronged, changing their behavior and attitudes, and understanding both strengths and weaknesses with in themselves aided in overcoming feelings of guilt.


Originally published in the Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 31, 354-365.

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