Teaching Youth to Make Apologies Using Restorative Justice Principles
Making effective apologies is a necessary skill. Yet few of us know how to do it and most of us fail to teach our children how to do it. Many of us think we can simply say, “I’m sorry,” or “Please forgive me,” and that is a sufficient apology. But often we need to do more. Restorative justice principles provide ideal questions to ask others and ourselves when we need to make an apology.
Ben Furman is a psychiatrist, author, and trainer from Finland who has developed a wonderful free tool to make effective apologies that applies basic restorative justice principles. http://www.oplossingsgerichtveranderen.nl/interview_benfurman.htm
The Sorry program was developed for youth, but I think adults too can use it. Sorry is an “amazing apology-letter writing tool” that is available from the Helsinki Brief Therapy Institute’s website and is accessible in five languages. http://www.kidsskills.org/sorry/index.html
Sorry is a simple program where one can take responsibility for hurting someone and suggest ways to repair the harm. After responding to a handful of simple questions posed by the program, a personalized apology letter can be printed out.
Furman and his colleague Tapani Ahola are also authors of one of an excellent book Solution Talk: Hosting Therapeutic Conversations http://www.amazon.com/Solution-Talk-Furman-Ben/dp/0393705811/ref=sr_1_1?.... The book is a collection of stories about applying solution focused brief therapy and is full of wisdom like this:
Our history is an integral part of ourselves. As long as we think of the past as the source of our problems, we set up, in a sense, an adversarial relationship within ourselves. The past, very humanly, responds negatively to criticism and blaming but favorably to respect and stroking. The past prefers to be seen as a resource, a store of memories, good and bad, and a source of wisdom emanating from life experience.