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Acta Theologica

versão On-line ISSN 2309-9089
versão impressa ISSN 1015-8758

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DENTON, R.A.. Utilising forgiveness to help sexually abused adolescents break free from guilt and shame: A pastoral Gestalt theory. Acta theol. [online]. 2014, vol.34, n.2, pp.5-28. ISSN 2309-9089.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/ACTAT.V34I2.1.

Guilt and shame can be traumatic, self-conscious experiences which have an impact on sexually abused adolescents' physical, psychological, social, emotional, moral and religious development. It can determine the adolescents' behaviour, their views of themselves and their interpersonal relationships. Guilt and shame arouse feelings of helplessness, anger, blame, bitterness and the need for retaliation, while forgiveness can relieve these impulses effectively and be utilised as a source for a recovering experience. Through the use of forgiveness as a coping mechanism, abused adolescents can be guided to handle unresolved emotional experiences (unfinished business) and break free from guilt and shame. A pastoral Gestalt theory can assist abused adolescents with the necessary awareness to focus on their foreground in order to reach self-regulation of their emotional experience.

Palavras-chave : Pastoral counselling; Gestalt theory; Abuse; Adolescence.

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