Hope-Infused Conversations: Part II – The Counsellor’s Role

Posted by: Debbie Grove on October 13, 2011 12:18 pm

In Part I of my discussion about hope’s role in the healing journey, a comment by one CCPA reader, inspired Part II. Here’s the comment from reader, Paul, and the ideas that continue this conversation about hope:

“Hope is so often overlooked when working with clients. I know that I have the tendency to try and “figure out what’s wrong” so it can be fixed. But, if the client doesn’t actually believe that they can be better—if they’re lacking hope—then no amount of fixing will take root. I’ve wrestled with how to convey hope to my clients…”

The counsellor’s role in hope is an important one. Special considerations include respectful use of motivation for change during an appropriate time in therapy. What might hope from a counsellor sound like during a counselling session? What discourse helps convey a brighter future is possible – that possibilities are present. As I reflect on my work as a therapist, I find there is an interplay of hope-infused words, statements, metaphors along side clients’ desires for some aspect of life to be different, times in their lives when the problem was not present and/or not as impactful. I am not certain I can imagine a counselling session without some element of hope intertwined in our conversation, problem-solving, brainstorming, goal-setting, and processing.

As Depression Screening Day gears up in North America, as the fall season is upon us, as various holidays unfold, these can be challenging times for individuals, couples, and families. Across the life course, we experience loss, grief, sadness, disappointment, and missed opportunities. In the same breath though —  Darkness brings light. One step necessitates we follow through with our next step. Tears often turn to laughter. Therapeutic conversations infuse light – a step forward.

Hope-Infused Counsellor Dialogue:

Some examples of hope-infused counsellor statements that come to mind for me include these:

In our last session, you talked about that time when you were travelling and not experiencing depression. What made the difference for you?

This sounds like a difficult time for you, things will get better. I hear you, though, that it feels pretty overwhelming right now.

That was a great metaphor you used to describe how the future could look like for you! What meaning do you associate with the tree you just described?

If we were to take ourselves out of the present moment and envision being down the road a bit, what might life be like down the road?

What tends to give people hope about managing depression are the many resources available and strategies to self-manage depression. How about we start to explore some of these possibilities?

You are not alone, anxiety for most people feels overwhelming and hard to control. In fact, all people experience anxiety. There are, however, some effective ways to take charge of anxiety.

Image courtesy of Dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In closing, hope within the context of counselling and psychotherapy takes many shapes and forms. These include use of hope-infused language, incorporating counselling efficacy statements, gestures and body language, and inviting clients to consider the possibilities of life in the future. At the same time, it is key to honour, acknowledge, and incorporate presently held beliefs/view points, feelings, life experiences, and environmental factors. In other words, these are not overshadowed by an unrealistic illusory perspective that hope fixes all and ignores the present. Rather, purposeful, genuine use of hope in counselling has the potential to help clients experience a slightly different perspective, a nudge in a new direction, a sense of relief, and motivation that counselling can be helpful. I am sure you can think of even more benefits of hope!

The views expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the views of the CCPA. Dr. Debbie Grove is a therapist working in Edmonton, Alberta. To learn more about her, visit her web site at www.learningtolive.ca




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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