You know how you sometimes stumble across stuff you can’t even imagine exists? I recently discovered a wealth of excellent free resources mental health resources at Everett Worthington‘s website at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Worthington is an emeritus professor of psychology whose specialty is in the universe called “positive psychology.” That is to say: his research focuses on how we live at our best, not the range of difficulties we sometimes encounter.
A lot of “positive psychology” rubs me the wrong way. I generally find myself nodding along with Barbara Ehrenreich, who describes enforced optimism as an addictive drug whose highs drive us to dangerous and unwise choices, both as individuals and as a culture.
So imagine my surprise when I found a set of resources that were born in the “positive psychology” universe and were actually helpful. In the course of researching my own upcoming book on how churches can best support people with mental health diagnoses, I discovered Worthington’s helpful, evidence-based mental health resources developed for churches and Christian organizations. And they’re distributed free.
Worthington’s own research, over his long professional career, has included studying how people succeed in forgiving others and in cultivating such virtues as humility and patience. He’s written more than 20 books published on conservative Christian houses such as Intervarsity Press and Baker Books and by the highly regarded Templeton Foundation for religion research. The most recent of these, The Science of Forgiveness (April 2020) is a 58-page review of academic research studies on forgiveness designed to assist news reporters.
Worthington is committed to free distribution of his ideas, in the old academic tradition. Once he’s established, through adequate peer-reviewed research, that an approach works, he offers the workbooks as shareables for DIY counseling or peer-led groups.
I’ve been working through one of the books, and really appreciate it. Part of what surprises me is that the self-directed approach seems mostly more effective for me than in-person counseling — maybe because I can stop processing a difficult experience when it overwhelms and then return later, with no need to think about fully utilizing my 50-minute appointment.
I’m also appreciative that I can recognize in this workbook some strategies used by Christians worldwide to successfully overcome anger and unforgiveness. So, for instance, one exercise that Worthington prescribes for releasing unforgiveness is also described in Liberian war refugee Marcus Doe’s memoir Catching Ricebirds. That is to say: it is part of a forgiveness “toolkit” that is well-established in long-standing, global Christian practice.
Learn more at Everett Worthington’s website, and download some of his FREE evidence-based tools now to cultivate forgiveness, patience, and humility in your life.
PS: Don’t be fooled! Not by the lack of marketing. Or the fact that he gives them away for free. Or even the covers that look more like your church bulletin than a serious mental health tool. These are the real deal. Go to his website and download one to try today!