Everett Worthington, Ph.D., is Commonwealth Professor of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU; the largest state university in Virginia). In VCU’s history, he is the only Psychology Professor to obtain the rank of Commonwealth Professor. He is also a licensed Clinical Psychologist in Virginia. He has published 35 books and about 400 articles and scholarly chapters, mostly on forgiveness, marriage, and family topics. He frequently discusses forgiveness, marriage, and family in media. He is a Past-President of the American Psychological Association Division 36 (Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality), and a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and two divisions of the American Psychological Association (36 and 17 [Society for Counseling Psychologists]. In 2009, he won VCU’s Award for Excellence, an annual top award in recognition of teaching, research, and service at the university. He has won professional organizations’ top awards: American Association of Christian Counselors, Christian Association for Psychological Studies, Society for Counseling Psychology Health Psychology Award and Elder Recognition for Lifetime Contributions to Counseling Psychology, and Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. He also has been awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Pepperdine University in 2014. In 2015, he was awarded VCU’s top honor, appointment as Commonwealth Professor. In 2016, the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia recognized him as one of 13 Outstanding Professors in the Commonwealth.
He became interested in forgiveness through his practice in couple counseling, and he began conducting research on forgiveness in 1990 but writing about its clinical uses in the 1980s. He focused his early research on forgiveness and reconciliation in couples and families, and that interest continues to date. He also has developed and studied the effectiveness of psychoeducational groups in secular milieus to help people deal with unforgiveness across a variety of relationships within the same group.
In the last 15 years, he has studied forgiveness, justice, faith, and a variety of virtues under the general rubric of positive psychology. He became interested in their relationship after his mother’s murder. Ev forgave the murderer (see Forgiving and Reconciling: Bridges to Wholeness and Hope; InterVarsity Press [IVP]), as did his brother and sister. They each consider that forgiveness as a legacy that their mother passed to them. Get free resources on promoting forgiveness at www.EvWorthington-forgiveness.com . Still, the emotional fallout of dealing with a violent murder can be devastating, and Ev’s brother committed suicide as a result. Ev felt self-condemnation over his failings in his relationship with his brother, and he has studied this since then, writing about it in Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free from the Past (www.forgiveself.com; WaterBrook Multnomah) and having Handbook of Self-Forgiveness as an edited book under contract with Springer. His most recent books are with Jennifer Ripley, Couple Therapy: A New Hope-Focused Approach (IVP, 2014) and Forgiveness and Spirituality in Psychotherapy: A Relational Approach (American PsychologicalAssociation Publications, 2015). At the end of 2015, Forgiveness and Health (co-edited as Loren L. Toussaint, Everett L. Worthington, Jr., & David R. Williams, Springer) will be released. He is working on Handbook of Humility, which is co-edited by himself, Don Davis, and Joshua Hook, and Heroic Humility (co-authored with Scott Allison at the University of Richmond). From 1998 to 2005, he directed A Campaign for Forgiveness Research (www.forgiving.org), a non-profit organization that supports research into forgiving. He works to build a field of forgiveness scientifically. The Campaign is now under a new director focused on dissemination of the findings.
He has studied a variety of topics relevant to positive psychology, the branch of psychology dealing with virtue for self and other. These include forgiveness, altruism, love, humility, marriage enrichment, and religion and spirituality. Recently he has studied humility. (Yes, he studies other people!) He attributes his success to the many wonderful students and colleagues he has had the privilege of working with over the years.