How to Help Clients Experiencing Anger After Abortions
Excerpt from April 21, 2022 Abortion Healing Provider Webinar
During the March 16 Abortion Healing Provider webinar, hosted by Support After Abortion, Fr. Shawn Monahan, OMV, shared great insights on forgiveness in response to questions about how to help clients deal with anger after abortions – toward others and themselves. These ideas and steps can be applied to other anger situations or trauma, as well.
My Client is So Angry, What Can I Say?
Anger is a huge obstacle to healing. You can say, “You may be angry at someone else, God, the world, or even yourself. Working through your anger and pain – and forgiving those who caused it – is for you, not for them.
Forgiveness isn’t forgetting or saying what happened is okay, or letting someone off the hook, and it doesn’t have to be something you feel. It is a decision of the will to move away from punitive anger and focus on your own healing and loving yourself.”
What’s Holding My Client Back From Forgiving?
If you want to figure out what’s holding your client back from forgiving – why they are struggling to forgive – it can be helpful to ask, “What do you feel – or what do you fear – would happen if you were to let go of this anger and forgive this person?” Then ask, “Is that true?” For example, a client might say, “If I forgive my boyfriend, maybe that means what he did to me was okay.” You ask, “Is that true?”
Learn how to ask questions to effectively dialogue with clients from Chris McClusky, President of the Professional Christian Coaching Institute and member of the Board of Directors for a Pro-life Center with this Coaching Clients article and training video.
How Can I Coach a Client Through the Forgiving Process?
Fr. Shawn presented 15 Steps to Forgiving Someone. As you share these steps with a client, emphasize that it is a process and that they are not alone. Remind them that healing and forgiving take time and can feel overwhelming. You can say, “Just begin wherever you are. And, know that while it is your healing and your forgiveness, it isn’t a Do-It-Yourself project. You are not alone. Jesus is inviting you to walk with him and share your wounded heart with him. And, I am here for you.”
15 Steps to Forgiving Someone
- Ask the Holy Spirit to show you who you need to forgive. It could be a family member, friend, abuser, God, or yourself. Let that wound surface and take you where the Holy Spirit wants you to go.
- Picture that person in front of you. Just look at them and pay attention to what you feel. What do you notice as you look at them? Are you angry? Disgusted? Little? Powerless? Nothing?
- Make a full account of the debt they owe you. What did they take from you? How did they hurt you? Don’t gloss over or censure your thoughts or feelings. How has what they did to you affected you? It’s okay to feel angry.
- Imagine yourself telling them to their face what they did to hurt you and how it has affected you. Say it however you want to say it.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what you believe about yourself based on that incident – what you believe about yourself in this area of sorrow. This is called an “identity lie.”
- Renounce that identity lie. For example, “I renounce the lie that I am not loved or cared for.” “I renounce the lie that this is my fault.” “I renounce the lie that I am too little, or a failure, or ugly, or I will never be…” Then ask, “Holy Spirit, reveal to me now what the truth is.”
- Announce the truth. For example, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I announce the truth that I am seen, worth defending, protected, cared for, good, and whole. God is always with me.”
- Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the judgments you hold toward the person who hurt you.
- Renounce those judgments. (“I renounce the judgment that…” refer to Step #6)
- Picture yourself at the foot of the cross. Place yourself and that person who hurt you somewhere in the scene with both of you looking at the face of Christ. Think about what it’s like to see Jesus gaze upon you, to know that he knows your heart, your sorrow, and that He cares for you. Think about what it’s like to have Jesus look upon you with such love and understanding. Think also about what it’s like to see Jesus gaze upon the person who hurt you. He knows their story and why they did what they did. He loves them too and knows the pain in their heart that caused them to do what they did.
- Ask Jesus to forgive the person for they know not what they do (or did). Pray, “Please forgive them.”
- If you are willing and safe enough – bring that person close to you, to see their face, look them in the eye, and stand there with Jesus, and say, “Through the power of this cross, I forgive you. I choose to forgive you. I choose to release my desire to make you pay for what you have done. I surrender that desire to Christ and ask Him to make it right. I don’t seek revenge. I choose to bless you. I forgive you today and ask Jesus for healing.” Pray for every person who has hurt you, wherever they are, for healing and restoration for them.
- Pray a prayer of blessing over that person. Ask God to bless them in the opposite way that they hurt you.
- Ask Jesus to seal this forgiveness and heal the wounds.
- Thank God for his healing.
Encourage your client as they work this difficult process. You can say, “Through your healing and forgiving, you will experience a ripple effect, particularly in your relationships with others, with family members, with your community, with your church community, with God. While it involves and affects others, your healing journey is for you – for your wholeness, your restoration and your well-being.“
What Resources Can Help Me to Help My Client?
Support After Abortion offers multiple resources, provider training videos, client-facing videos, and webinars to equip and train Abortion Healing Providers to effectively and compassionately help clients find hope, healing, and restoration.
Connect with Support After Abortion at firstname.lastname@example.org.