Everett Worthington, Ph.D., is Commonwealth Professor of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU; the largest state university in Virginia). In VCU's history, he is the only Psychology Professor to obtain the rank of Commonwealth Professor. He is also a licensed Clinical Psychologist in Virginia. He has published over 35 books and about 400 articles and scholarly chapters, mostly on forgiveness, marriage, and family topics. He frequently discusses forgiveness, marriage, and family in media. He is a Past-President of the American Psychological Association Division 36 (Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality), and a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and two divisions of the American Psychological Association (36 and 17 [Society for Counseling Psychologists]. In 2009, he won VCU's Award for Excellence, an annual top award in recognition of teaching, research, and service at the university. He has won professional organizations' top awards: American Association of Christian Counselors, Christian Association for Psychological Studies, Society for Counseling Psychology Health Psychology Award and Elder Recognition for Lifetime Contributions to Counseling Psychology, and Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. He also has been awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Pepperdine University in 2014. In 2015, he was awarded VCU's top honor, appointment as Commonwealth Professor. In 2016, the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia recognized him as one of 13 Outstanding Professors in the Commonwealth.
He became interested in forgiveness through his practice in couple counseling in the 1980s, and he began conducting research on forgiveness in 1990. His early research on forgiveness and reconciliation was on couples and families, and that interest continues. He also has developed and studied the effectiveness of psychoeducational groups in secular milieus to help people deal with unforgiveness across a variety of relationships within the same group.
In the last 15 years, he has studied forgiveness, justice, faith, and a variety of virtues under the general rubric of positive psychology. He became interested in their relationship after his mother's murder. Ev forgave the murderer (see Forgiving and Reconciling: Bridges to Wholeness and Hope; InterVarsity Press [IVP]), as did his brother and sister. They each consider that forgiveness as a legacy that their mother passed to them. Get free resources on promoting forgiveness at www.EvWorthington-forgiveness.com . Still, the emotional fallout of dealing with a violent murder can be devastating, and Ev's brother committed suicide as a result. Ev felt self-condemnation over his failings in his relationship with his brother, and he has studied this since then, writing about it in Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free from the Past (www.forgiveself.com; WaterBrook Multnomah) and having Handbook of Self-Forgiveness as an edited book under contract with Springer. His most recent books are with Jennifer Ripley, Couple Therapy: A New Hope-Focused Approach (IVP, 2014) and Forgiveness and Spirituality in Psychotherapy: A Relational Approach (American Psychological Association Publications, 2015). At the end of 2015, Forgiveness and Health (co-edited as Loren L. Toussaint, Everett L. Worthington, Jr., & David R. Williams, Springer) was released, and in 2016, Handbook of Humility, which is co-edited by himself, Don Davis, and Joshua Hook. Heroic Humility (co-authored with Scott Allison at the University of Richmond) should be released in 2017. From 1998 to 2005, he directed A Campaign for Forgiveness Research (www.forgiving.org), a non-profit organization that supports research into forgiving (now under John Templeton Foundation direction). He works to build a field of forgiveness scientifically.
He has studied a variety of topics relevant to positive psychology, the branch of psychology dealing with virtue for self and other. These include forgiveness, altruism, love, humility, marriage enrichment, and religion and spirituality. Recently he has studied humility. (Yes, he studies other people!) He attributes his success to the many wonderful students and colleagues he has had the privilege of working with over the years.
Ev is personally a committed Christian and has talked extensively throughout the world in venues that were composed of Christians and those that were thoroughly secular. He has worked with several governments around the world, sharing about the promotion of forgiveness and reconciliation. Given his lifelong work in a secular state university and his Christian beliefs, he considers himself as attempting to be a bridge-builder between Christian and secular, academic and lay, research and practice communities. He considers his mission as "to do all he can to bring forgiveness into every willing heart, home, and homeland."
He has several recent Christian-oriented books, including Forgiving and Reconciling: Bridges to Wholeness and Hope (InterVarsity Press, 2003), which is built on over twenty years of research helping people to REACH forgiveness. It tells the story within its pages of the murder of his mother and how he forgave the murder. In addition, Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free from the Past (WaterBrook Multnomah, 2013) builds on practical help forgiving ourselves and on research, but it also continues his personal story by describing how he dealt with the self-condemnation following his brother's suicide.
For professionals, he has written Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Theory and Application (Brunner-Routledge, August, 2006), which explains his stress-and-coping theory of forgiveness, describes his psychoeducational programs to promote forgiveness and reconciliation, and discusses a model of psychotherapy to help people REACH forgiveness. Handbook of Forgiveness (Brunner Routledge, 2005), an edited collection of reviews of research from the top researchers in the world representing the state of the science, summarizes research on applied and basic understandings of forgiveness.
In 2005, he published a revised edition of Hope-focused Marriage Counseling (InterVarsity Press, 2005), which is aimed at couple counselors helping people to (1) communicate and resolve conflicts better and (2) forgive and reconcile. The Hope-Focused Marriage Enrichment has been adjudicated to be one of four empirically supported treatments for marriage enrichment. His most recent book is with Jennifer Ripley, Couple Therapy: A New Hope-Focused Approach (IVP, 2014). This is a practical applied counseling book for professionals (but is still useful by couples who wish to improve their marriage). It has over 100 new interventions not among the 200 or so interventions in his 2005 book, Hope-Focused Marriage Counseling.
Another recent book is Humility: The Quiet Virtue (Templeton Foundation Press, 2007; book and audio CD), which is a collection of quotes on humility built around a personal narrative of his heroes of humility and headed by the story of his mother-in-law who is dealing with progressive dementia.
Other recent and soon-to-be books are
Woodyatt, L., Worthington, E. L., Jr., Wenzel, M., & Griffin, B. J. (Eds.). (2018). Handbook of self-forgiveness. New York: Springer, under contract.
Worthington, E. L., Jr., & Allison, S. (2017). Heroic humility. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, under contract.
Worthington, E. L., Jr., Davis, D. E., & Hook, J. N. (Eds.). (2016). Handbook of humility. New York: Routledge, in press.
Toussaint, L. L., Worthington, E. L., Jr., & Williams, D. (Eds.). (2015). Forgiveness and health: Scientific evidence and theories relating forgiveness to better health. New York: Springer.
Worthington, E. L., Jr., & Sandage, S. J. (2015). Forgiveness and relational spirituality. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Worthington, E. L., Jr., Johnson, E. L., Hook, J. N. & Aten, J. D., (Eds.). (2013). Evidence-based practices for Christian counseling and psychotherapy. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press (a CAPS Book).
Aten, J., McMinn, M. R., & Worthington, E. L., Jr. (Eds.). (2011). Spiritually oriented interventions for counseling and psychotherapy. Washington, D. C.: American Psychological Association.
Worthington, E. L., Jr. (2010). Coming to peace with psychology: What Christians can learn from psychological science. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Would you join me in a prayer?
Dear Lord, in life, all of us are dropped and damaged by others. Sometimes, we simply disappoint ourselves and others, make bad decisions, and are not the people that we hope we could be. We would be lost if you were not a loving, merciful, and forgiving God. You forgive and you help us forgive. We cannot do it alone. Be with us as we think about your Word, that we will not just hear it, but that it will change us. Amen.Read full transcript...