by Stars Training Academy   1 Comment

HOPE is the indispensable instigator for change, progress, and recovery – the sacred spark that prods us to get out of bed and show up, and to persist when things get difficult and scary. Hope is the catalyst that launches civil rights movements and social revolutions. And without hope, disadvantaged youth will not seek out, let alone stay in services that try to help them address their many challenges. Hope is foundational to our work.

We hope that our youthful clients are hopeful – but what can practitioners do that actually instills and nurtures hope? Below is my Top 10 list for ways to build and sustain hope in ourselves and in youth. (Hope you find it helpful!)

Practice Hopeful Skills for Yourself

Hopeless providers cannot share what they don’t have and cannot authentically teach what they don’t practice. Acknowledging that we are all susceptible to hopelessness and cynicism when repeatedly confronted with painful situations and seemingly intractable problems is important. Identifying our own wellsprings of hope and mindfully and routinely tapping into them is essential. Take the long‐view — we often wish to see some immediate results and hear some warm, fuzzy feedback from the youth we are trying to help. This seldom happens in the 6-month treatment plan we may be allotted.

Listen, Listen and Then…Listen a Little More

How well you can be present with an open heart and open mind is one of the most precious gifts you can offer. Remember, listening is not the same as waiting for other people to shut up, so you can talk.

Look for Strengths and Past Successes

Our culture tends to be very problem-oriented and so much clinical training is focused on uncovering, describing and documenting what’s wrong.

Ensure Access to Peer Supports

Sometimes described as “living embodiments of hope,” peer supporters and people with lived experiences of recovery offer powerful medicine.

Share Stories of Hope

Cultivate and collect examples from your own life, family and friends, and from people that you have helped that illustrate how people have overcome adversity in their lives. Check out YouTube or the Mental Health Channel as other potential sources of youth telling their own stories of struggle and eventual success. Watch them with your youth.

Identify Small Steps

Often the journey of a thousand miles seems so overwhelming. Breaking it down to smaller, day-by-day action items can build confidence and increase hope.

Help Youth Envision a Positive Future

Research indicates that the more people use their pre-frontal cortex, the easier it is for them to begin to drive present-day actions, plans, and choices. They would use the frontal cortex to visualize where they most want to be, what they most want to be doing and who they want to be with.

Facilitate Connection with the Community

Ultimately, youth cannot rely on mental health clinics and social service agencies to sustain a sense of hope and meaningful roles. Practitioners need to create and support exposures and opportunities for youth to link with schools, training programs, and cultural and spiritual institutions.

Rehearse Hopeful, Compassionate Self-talk

The more youth can be guided to give themselves some credit and encouragement, the better. These are often the little sayings that Grandmothers repeat to us: “You’re doing the best you can,” “You can make it if you set your mind to it,” and “I believe in you.”

Assist Youth in Connecting with Nature

Revitalizing youth by accompanying them to a park, or on a nature walk can inspire hope by seeing the resiliency and wonder in the world around them.

How do you keep hope alive?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Paul Barry January 11, 2018 at 8:21 pm

Can an excellent “Top Ten List” include an eleventh? One of the most hope generating activities for individuals of any age, but especially TAY clients, is to be given the opportunity to teach rather than be taught – to give rather than to be given. It provides a meaningful role that usually challenges the current view of self. Whether it be as a speaker sharing an experience, an employee, a mentor, a tutor or a volunteer the impact can be profoundly empowering.


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