I wanted to write this blog on hope, because I think the idea of holding hope for another person is one of the reasons why I became a therapist. But I was struggling to describe what ‘hope’ meant to me. So I asked google for help and it came up with 3 definitions. The first one was ‘a feeling of expectation or desire for a particular thing to happen’. Hmm… I don’t have expectations for my clients to do anything that they don’t discover ultimately for themselves, although I would like to think they will find counselling beneficial. The next definition is ‘a feeling of trust’, well this is a little closer..I do trust that counselling, within a strong therapeutic relationship can be so healing. But it was still not quite there. Or how about this definition ‘to want something to happen or be the case’, hmmm..not quite.. what I want is irrelevant in my counselling, it is about the agenda the client puts forward as their goals/dreams/inspirations. Although, I guess I would like the client to feel that they were listened to, heard and understood in a way that was helpful to them.
So I was no closer to my sense of what it means to hold hope for my clients, other than I think it is fundamental to my work. Then it dawned on me that I could get closer to its meaning for me when I look at its opposite meaning, hopelessness. The sense of hopelessness is a feeling that I have certainly had expressed to me in my work. That somehow someone’s situation was meant to be, that it was pre determined that a person would struggle and that they would not be able to escape whatever was going on for them. So a sense that they are trapped in their pain. So when I hold hope for my clients, for me it means that there are other possibilities and nothing is set in stone. I offer my clients a space where things are not pre determined, where possibilities and opportunities can be explored, where our early conditioning and expectation from others can be suspended for 50 minutes. And then other, new ways of being can be safety explored with curiosity without judgement or resistance.
I also hold hope that my clients will find the courage to seek the right way for them and that they will find meaning in their lives whatever that may look like for them.
So what does hope mean to you, do you have hope for yourself and for others? Perhaps for me it is ultimately about being open and curious to possibility. To be able to be aware and accepting of our feelings and be able to deeply feel them, yet know that they will pass. To be excited for our future, utilise our choices, maybe take some risks, take some tiny steps outside of our comfort zone without knowing what the outcome will be, but having hope that it will be okay.