Dr. Joan Samuels-Dennis is a forgiveness therapist from Brampton, Ontario. Forgiveness is a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or a group of people. “In my sessions, I help clients release wrongs done to them, that have rooted itself in their belief system.”
Dr. Joan’s book 490: Forgive and Live Fearlessly is a reflection of her own forgiveness journey, and a guide to forgiveness.
Equipped with a degree in nursing, a master’s in community health and a doctorate in Philosophy, Dr. Joan thinks of herself as a healer. The long-standing question of what causes illnesses and what can prevent diseases is what drew her to studying and practicing forgiveness.
“I consider my work to be the bridge of understanding between science and spirituality, and in my book, I connect the dots of how it can lead to emotional and physical well-being.”
At the age of three on the island of Jamaica, Dr. Joan says she experienced her first wound in what she calls the “room.” Dr. Joan’s mother, like many Caribbean parents, left her with her grandmother to pursue a better life in Canada. It was the first time Dr. Joan says she felt afraid or unloved. “To move forward in my purpose, I had to heal my initial wound of abandonment through the process of forgiveness.”
Using the practice of cognitive behavioural therapy as well as visualization therapy in her sessions with clients, Dr. Joan says she can heal individuals from depression and anxiety in just as little as two sessions. “All illnesses begin at a spiritual level, symptoms are the physical manifestation of an emotional wound, unforgiveness toxifies the mind and the body,” says Dr. Joan.
Dr. Joan talks a lot about the physical and emotional expressions of unforgiveness. Her book features a chart with a list of organs of the body correlating with negative emotions and their symptoms or effects. For example, someone suffering with stomach pain may be having deep-rooted feelings of disappointment, disgust, bitterness, greed, emptiness, deprivation. Through her personal story and her studies, Dr. Joan shares how individuals can release themselves from cycles of negative patterns and begin what Dr. Joan likes to call “the forgiveness marathon.”
Dr. Joan’s marathon of forgiveness is a lifestyle requiring daily practice. “There is a capacity for forgiveness in every human being on the planet, so the forgiveness process will work for everyone. Forgiveness is an active process; we must pray and also go through a conscious progression to break the patterns of the past.”
Dr. Joan has created a seven-step forgiveness method that she uses with her clients that consists of questions, declarations, and affirmations.
One of the questions in the forgiveness process is “What did you want from the person that inflicted the first wound, that you didn’t get?"
Once the first wound is healed, Dr. Joan guides her clients through the same process to forgive individual people in their life.
At the end of the forgiveness practice Dr. Joan has her clients repeat, “I am ready to move on with my life, I am ready to walk in my purpose, I release everything that holds me back or tries to trap me from walking in my purpose.”
“Forgiveness as a practice will transform a person spiritually to inner peace that can then go out to the world and change the world and bring forth world peace. The Black nation needs to heal. If all black people, scattered all over the world healed, it would shift the world; because we are creatives, leaders, and peacemakers,” says Dr. Joan.
Dr. Joan leads women empowerment groups where she encourages women to live fearlessly through the freedom of forgiveness. The groups are free to attend, and meet monthly in Brampton; you can register for the group or a private session on her website.
Kezia Royer Burkett is a creative freelance writer with a degree in communications and multimedia from McMaster University. When she is not writing she is finding inspiration living life, raising her son and spending time with friends and family.
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