Forgiveness For Recovery: Tools and Teachings to Empower Recovery

We are seeking institutional partners to collaborate with our team to determine the efficacy of forgiveness for supporting people in recovery from substance misuse. The Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book declares that resentments are the #1 reason people are not successful in recovery: “Resentment is the number one offender…A person mired in resentment has scant chances of recovering from addiction.” The #1 strategy for processing and releasing resentments? Forgiveness.


In 2015, Lyndon Harris, a long-time collaborator with Dr. Fred Luskin (Professor and Director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project at Stanford University), developed a forgiveness curriculum to support people in recovery based on Fred’s pioneering research on forgiveness. The Stanford Forgiveness Project methodology is evidence-based and has proven successful in a wide variety of interventions (some listed in bio below).


Several Forgiveness for Recovery teaching trials have been completed at this point, with the two most prominent being for the Carolina Behavioral Hospital in Greenville, SC, and Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR), also in Greenville, SC. The results of the trials were overwhelmingly positive, but more trials are needed to further validate the model’s efficacy. The measurement surveys have been created and are analyzed by our colleague, Dr. Loren Toussaint, professor of psychology and Director of the Laboratory for the Investigation of Mind, Body, and Spirit at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.


Lyndon Harris and Fred Luskin are co-authoring a Forgiveness For Recovery Workbook, that will be published by New Harbinger Press in March 2025.


The Specifics: A Call for Participants

We would like to present/engage for 3.5 hours with your clients who are in recovery. Ideally, there will be at least 8 persons in the class, but no more than 16. We will offer didactic teachings and meditative and participatory exercises covering the topic of self-forgiveness. These teaching trials are offered in collaboration with the Stanford Forgiveness Projects. The session will begin by completing a 15-minute survey and will conclude with the same survey. This enables us to test for the curriculum’s effectiveness. The findings will help us determine how best to present this material in forthcoming workshops. This will be great support for us as we seek to become better at providing healing processes for the wider recovery community, and we will share with you the results of our analysis.


Team Bios:

Lyndon Harris, M.Div. is a former Episcopal priest, whose journey toward forgiveness began in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Following 9/11, Lyndon initiated and lead a service mission at the former World Trade Center for first responders for 8.5 months, as they endured the hardship of searching for survivors and, ultimately, the remains of the dead. His work has been covered widely: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CBS News, NBC News, and a host of others. But after the work was completed, like many first responders, Lyndon’s life fell apart. Forgiveness became the essential tool for reclaiming his life. He is currently working on a book detailing his journey to forgiveness following the tragedy of 9/11.


Harris teaches forgiveness internationally, offering keynotes and workshops around the world. For the past five years, Lyndon has been working with Frederic Luskin and other researchers to develop and measure teaching trials on the effectiveness of secular methods of forgiveness for promoting long-term positive resilience in recovery. Lyndon is a graduate of The School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, and is a fellow of the Episcopal Church Foundation. Lyndon is currently Director of Forgiving Communities Collaborative, a nonprofit aimed at education, coaching and training in forgiveness.


Frederic Luskin, PhD, founded and currently serves as director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Projects. Luskin created and taught the “happiness class” based on positive psychology, as well as cofounded the Life Works and Wellness Education programs at the Stanford School of Medicine. He is on faculty for the Stanford School of Business Executive Education program, where he teaches an eight-hour series on mindfulness and happiness to business executives from all over the world.


Luskin’s forgiveness work has been applied in veteran’s hospitals, churches, in resolving legal disputes, and with cancer patients. He has helped people recover from the murder of their family members as a result of political violence in Northern Ireland, as an aftermath of the attacks on 9/11, in Sierra Leone and Columbia after their civil war, and in arctic Canada where native populations deal with the loss of their ancestral lands. Luskin teaches stress management, emotional intelligence, and happiness skills to corporate clients throughout the US. His work focuses on the research-proven triad of a healthy and happy life: Enhancing interpersonal relationships, creating a positive purpose in life, and guided practice in appreciation and other positive emotions.