Forgiveness…Is it a necessary ingredient in healing from PTSD?

PTSD and Forgiveness

Trauma arises after someone has been hurt or threatened in some way, often at the hands of another person. What role does forgiveness have in healing from trauma?

Is it necessary to forgive to heal from trauma? This is such an important question and it deserves careful consideration for those wanting to move forward after they have been hurt, harmed or wronged in some way.

Research suggests that forgiveness is beneficial for the physical and mental health of individuals. The question of whether forgiveness decreases symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in people with PTSD after man-made traumatic events, is a complex one. It seems to depend upon many things including, gender, race, age, the relationship between the transgressor and survivor of the trauma, and the type and severity of trauma. Overall, studies suggest that forgiveness can reduce the symptoms of PTSD but it isn’t a one size fits all and there are a lot of factors to take into account.

However, for survivors of childhood abuse, it may be relieving to know that results indicate that forgiveness of oneself and the situation is more important than forgiving the perpetrator when it comes to PTSD symptoms. In childhood abuse, forgiveness of the other may be understandably difficult because the perpetrator has broken a profound and fundamental trust.


Cerci, D., & Colucci, E. (2017, September 11). Forgiveness in PTSD After Man-Made Traumatic Events: A Systematic Review. Traumatology. Advance online publication.

Snyder, C. R., & Heinze, L. S. (2005). Forgiveness as a mediator of the relationship between PTSD and hostility in survivors of childhood abuse. Cognition and Emotion, 19, 413–431. 02699930441000175

Toussaint, L. L., Worthington, E. L., Jr., & Williams, D. R. (Eds.). (2015). Forgiveness and health: Scientific evidence and theories relating forgiveness to better health. Springer Science + Business Media.