ABSTRACT

Hope is a concept central to all therapy, as it is to all life, and hope is an action verb. As Paolo Freire (1994) made so clear, hope requires action to grow and transform our lives. Working with our clients around issues of hope is part of our clinical work every day. At the same time it is not something we can give to our clients. So what is it we can do in relation to hope? At some level, the effort to connect clients with wellsprings of hope is like Zen practice. It is not something that can be taught directly. Hope is at its core a spiritual belief in belonging to something larger than ourselves, a belief that whatever trauma we experience at present or carry forward from the past can be transformed into possibilities for the future. Somehow our clinical job in relation to hope is to help clients connect with their own spiritual resources, their own sources of hope. That is, we help them access their own belief in resources that can keep them going when they feel despair. But how do we do this? We do this by reminding our clients that they are a part of something larger than themselves and helping them to see themselves in context. Indeed, people belong in many contexts: time, space, the life cycle, family, community and social forces, nature and spiritual forces, gender, culture, class, racial hierarchies and constructs. So, let us first put ourselves and our perspective in some context.