Some people seeking therapy are just feeling a little stuck, or looking for more direction and clarity in their lives, while others come in feeling discouraged, defeated, and hopeless. People in this second category want help but often fear that they are beyond help. Those lost in the black hole of depression sometimes feel there’s no way out of the dark void and individuals stumbling through the minefield of PTSD wonder if they’ll ever really feel safe again. Some of these folks believe therapy may provide some relief for them, perhaps helping them make a few changes in their lives, but have no hope that it can truly heal the old, ugly hurts that they’ve kept hidden away. In these cases it is the job of the therapist to hold the hope for the hopeless.
This isn’t some Polly Anna, rose-colored glasses hope where everyone floats around on marshmallow clouds with unicorns and bunnies and lives happily ever after. It’s a solid, grounded hope born of real experience. This hope comes from years of scaling jagged ridges and trudging through stagnant swamps with clients, sharing the journey and watching with joy as the client discovers healing and comes to find his or her own hope. It’s a hope that carries the awareness that there will always be periods of darkness scattered among the periods of light. I have witnessed people heal from wounds they initially couldn’t speak about out loud. I know that it is possible to move from despair into light, from both my own first-hand experience and from my experience with clients. It is neither easy nor fast, but it is possible. However, it isn’t possible without hope or belief in healing. Many of my clients rely on me to hold this hope and belief for them when they don’t. This is usually a fairly easy task and one I do with great pleasure. It’s a little like holding the flashlight for someone as they stumble along a trail. Every so often I point out a low hanging branch or grab their hand to help steady them. I remind them that I have seen many traverse this path and that they will make their way as well. I hold the hope and belief in healing, periodically handing it out to help sustain clients until they can believe in it too.