Managing Hurt and Disappointment: Improving Communication of Reproach and Apology

Miller, Andrea J.; Worthington Jr., Everett L.; Hook, Joshua N.; Davis, Don E.; Gartner, Aubrey L.; Frohne, Nicole A.
April 2013
Journal of Mental Health Counseling;Apr2013, Vol. 35 Issue 2, p108
Academic Journal
The resolution of transgressions is close relationships often depends on how victims reproach offenders and how offenders explain. A research-based framework for teaching clients how to communicate when they are upset (reproach) and how to respond when someone is upset with them (apology) was evaluated using a between-groups (control, treatment) randomized psychoeducational intervention. We tested whether a 2.5-hour workshop that taught skills for communicating reproach and apology changed participants' videotaped ratings of role-played reproaches and apologies. Participants were 111 undergraduate students. Video-recorded behavioral data were collected pre-test, post-test, and at 2-4-week follow-up. Workshop participants exhibited higher levels of constructive emotional reactions than control participants, though the differences were not maintained at follow-up. This brief workshop provides a basis for interventions to improve communication while managing transgressions in many settings (e.g., an adjunct to counseling, supplementing marital workshops, and enhancing general relationship skills in college students, dating couples, or families).


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