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Hope: the misunderstood big word

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

Hope is one of the active ingredients of therapy across every therapeutic approach, but little is understood about it. Beginning with its concept, hope is often misunderstood as expectation, motivation, faith, or goal. However, hope is one concept itself that signals whether treatment will succeed. I conducted a study (soon to be published) where I asked professionals of the addiction field how they conceptualize hope. The common theme identified in all the interviews was that hope is an energy to act that is interactional, dynamic, dependent on opportunities, and dictated by one’s sociocultural environment. Therefore, hope goes beyond just believing that something is possible. Hope implies valuable goals, exploration of love and belonging, existence of real opportunities, self-agency, and energy. More importantly, hope is contingent on someone’s socio-cultural environment which influences how a person develops their sense of self and how they see the world. Therefore, the socio-cultural environment in which a person is immersed dictates the presence of absence of their energy to fight. Next time that you look at hope, pay attention to how what is around you is shaping your hope.

Written by Reylla Santos, PhD, LCPC

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