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Monday, 05 December 2016 08:15

Hope Expanded

Written by  Dr. D. Kim Hamblin
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In this season of hope our attention is drawn to the celebration of the hope given us by the birth of Jesus Christ. In my practice, I have always considered hope an important component in therapy as well as in spirituality. For this reason, the word hope has been visible in my office in letters that have stood on my bookcase for several years. In thinking about the topic of hope in writing this article, I found several quotes and Bible verses that further stimulated my thinking.

I recently added a second word – trust - displayed in letters on my bookcase. In life and in psychotherapy, it is often hard to separate hope and trust, but my primary focus here is on hope.

 

Paul wrote often about the importance of the hope that is found in Jesus Christ.

 

“This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.”

(1 Timothy 4:10, NLT)

 

“Three things will last forever-faith, hope, and love-and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NLT)

 

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”

(Hebrews 10:23, NLT)

The importance of hope is confirmed throughout the Bible, most often in the New Testament. There is a thread that runs throughout Matthew, particularly in chapters 8, 9, and 10 that connects hope and belief. There are several examples of healing by Jesus that are stimulated by the hope for healing and the belief that by merely approaching Jesus and expressing their belief, they are healed. Their hope was fueled by their trust and belief.

 

The disruptive power of negative thinking, which can be construed as lack of hope, is an important component of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The tendency to focus solely on negative thoughts is often a contributor to depression. While it is important in therapy to address this pattern of negative thinking, I believe it is equally or more important to offer hope.

 

Louis Zamperini says it well in a book he wrote and co-authored with David Rensin. The story of his experience after his aircraft was downed in the Pacific and the subsequent 48 days spent adrift before his capture by the Japanese, and subsequent horrendous time as a prisoner of war, was told in Laura Hillenbrand’s best seller Unbroken. Her book reveals his teenage years as an “incorrigible delinquent” and the terrible times marked by alcoholism, resentment, and irresponsibility after he was freed.

 

His wife convinced him to attend services held in a tent in Los Angeles. These meetings were an early crusade by a young Billy Graham and led to his conversion and a marked change in his life. Hillenbrand’s book was complemented by the book co-authored by Zamperini. The title of the book is Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In: Lessons From an Extraordinary Life. At the end of one of the very short chapters he wrote the following:

 

“You must have hope. It rejuvenates your whole being. You can’t allow negative thinking, even if you know your chances are slim. I’m not saying that it’s easy to do, but the ability to envision the road to successful completion is what keeps you alive. Hope provides the power of the soul to endure.”

 

It is important to address a client’s spirituality in psychotherapy; it is part of who they are. One’s spirituality is an opening to offering hope as a component of their healing and growth. How does one find hope?

 

1) As suggested above, the Bible is a good source for developing hope.

 

2) Involvement in a church family, particularly in a Sunday school class, will strengthen your faith, which is a source of hope.

 

3) There are numerous books, too many to mention here, written by people who have overcome major obstacles in their lives that provide inspiration. Hope Heals by Catherine and Jason Wolf immediately comes to mind.

 

4) Reflecting on your strengths and positive traits is one way to see hope. If you have trouble recognizing your strengths, a loved one or a friend often sees things in you that you fail to see in yourself.

 

 

 

Dr. D. Kim Hamblin is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of Alabama. He received a B.A. in Psychology from Mississippi State University and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. He maintains a fulltime private practice which specializes in adult individual therapy.  Special interests include depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorders and ADD/ADHD.

 

 

 

Last modified on Monday, 05 December 2016 08:23
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