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Let's Talk About Hope

For years,  a full decade to be exact,  I taught the advanced direct practice course for students who were pursuing their Master of Social Work degree. In the course we focused on group psychotherapy and teaching students the importance of "being present" while leading their clients through group counseling.  Inevitably,  we'd come to the place in each class where we'd discuss the 11 therapeutic factors that greatly increase the likelihood that the group you are leading will be successful.  One factor especially stood out each time, "The Installation of Hope." 

Hope we can Believe in? (Defining hope)

During the 2008 US Presidential race, then candidate, Senator Barack Obama rode the wave of his a message of "hope" and "change" to get the support of the nation and be elected as the 44th President of the United States. Given some of the past, and unfortunately in some instances, present issues that revolve around race in America, the fact that President Obama became the nation's 1st black president was no small feat. In this case hope, apparently, was stronger than fear and allowed the country to try something new in "hopes" of changing the country for the better. Given the current political climate in America today, the pendulum has swung back the other way.  It now appears that in the decade following the historic election, hope and change have given way to pessimism, political gridlock in local, state, and national politics, and apathy.  Regardless of political affiliation a couple of things that I think we can all agree on is that;  1.) things can be better, and 2.) collectively, most of us are unsatisfied with the service we receive from elected officials who are expected to provide leadership.

What Happens Without Hope?

When helping my students understand why the installation of hope is so important to effective group therapy, I often stressed that the simple fact that the client is attempting to improve their life is a sign of hope. By understanding this, practitioners can help assist clients in embracing that truth as well. Without hope; people tend to drift toward the negative, the energy required to move forward is dampened, and the likelihood of depression increases. An example of this is the person struggling with hope saying, "It's not that I CAN'T do (insert behavior here), I just DON'T want to." With hope, on the other hand; people are less likely to be stuck on negative thoughts, consider positive outcomes, motivation drives belief, and the likelihood of depression and stagnation decrease. Have you wondered how we can all exist in the same same place at the same time yet have completely different perspectives on the reality of what we're experiencing? Most often,  differences in perspective is the unseen factor that dramatically influences whether we see a situation as hopeful or hopeless.  Turn on your cable news channel of choice and you will a rotating wheel of rankor, spin, unadulterated support, or dread for the Commander in Chief. The reality is, that if you are unsatisfied with the current "Make America Great Again" campaign of President Trump, things aren't as bad as they may seem to you in this moment. The sun will rise tomorrow. The next election cycle (or the one after that) he won't be in office anymore, and issues that are blood boiling today most likely will be less hot after a while. 

Closing Thought

One more point to remember is that those who are satisfied today were most likely unsatisfied during President Obama's eight year term. As frustrated as you feel today, all of the "hope" and "change" and policies of the Obama Administration most likely had those who were not his supporters having the same feelings that you do. As I said earlier, the sun will come up tomorrow. Coffee will still be served hot (and cold, and frothy). The sound of children laughing and playing will still bring joy to your heart. Love will still conquer hate. The latest Marvel superhero will still win in the end. One more, the SEC will still dominate college football (smile). Rest assured, things aren't as bad as they seem; be hopeful. #40for40 #Hope