Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hope Therapy and Resistance

Over at one of my favorite blogs, PsychCentral, is a fascinating post about the growing trend of Hope Therapy

Dr. Jennifer Cheavens tells us that “Hope therapy seeks to build on strengths people have, or teach them how to develop those strengths. We focus not on what is wrong, but on ways to help people live up to their potential.”

Cheavens said hope differs from optimism and can be taught. "If you feel you know how to get what you want out of life, and you have that desire to make that happen, then you have hope."

I'd just like to add something. And I think it is an important footnote. Should you find yourself aware of what you need to do, have the skills to do it and still cannot make changes, you need to look at Resistance .

Resistance is a fascinating psychoanalytic phenomenon. It should not be viewed as negative or undermining, but rather as road block. Analyzing the reasons for resistance can illuminate, educate and inform. And answers are good things.

So if you find yourself stuck, ambivalent or unable to change, don't think that you don't have hope. Don't think that you don't have the skills to get you where you want to go. Think resistance - and dive on in and look at the reasons.


Barbara K. said...

This makes me curious. Have you used hope therapy, or aspects of it, in the treatment you do with people who have a trauma history or have a bio-chemical component to their emotional or mental illness? Do you think hope therapy can stand alone? Isn't it already a part of all good therapy

You have, once again, given me something to think about. Thank you.

Deb said...

IMO, I don't think Hope Therapy can stand alone for most individuals. I've used many techniques outlined in HT, so this stuff is not really NEW. But, HT puts a positive outlook on problem solving and the aspect of learning such techniques. I do think trauma, genetics, neurobiology, experience, culture etc all need to be uniquely studied and considered for each person. I think a multidimensional approach is important in therapy. And I do believe that looking at resistance is a very important and helpful intervention. What are your thoughts?

Mel Avila Alarilla said...

Hi Dr. Deb,
The antidote to resistance is persistence and patience. Hope is indeed a magic word that conjures success at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for the informative post. God bless.

Tracy said...

Wow love this post. I think i needed to hear it just about now! Thanks for sharing Deb.

Hope you have a blessed weekend.

Palmtreechick said...

I think resistance could be my middle name!

Anonymous said...

I like the attitude behind the idea of hope therapy though I don't know how far you could go with it alone. But anyway, it sounds better than what I almost invariably got from my doctors - don't get your hopes up too high. Can they get too high when you're Depressed?

I always loved that logic - don't hope this will go away but don't lose hope either *rolls eyes*

Merelyme said...

this is a very *hopeful* post. it is a good point you make that there is a difference between hope and optimism. i would much rather be taught to feel some hope than to have the positive thinking pushers try to force me to be a polly anna.

in my opinion, resistance is always part of change. we cling onto what we know even when it is not good for us.

Anonymous said...

very interesting information. As Queen of resistance, I wonder if you have ever used countertransference with patients? While reading Freud's theories on resistance, it has my mind wandering in many directions. I also agree with you that multidemensional approach's are important for many different people in therapy. I know that I am at a definite road block in my therapy and have gotten to this point before and gave up. I wonder if it is my own resistance (but why do I resist?) that does not allow me to go further and conquer or do I not have the skills to do so? I know fear has me frozen most times.Much to be read in that link for resistance. So many questions too...

Health Psych said...

I like the idea of hope. More realistic than optimism.

I do have a problem with some of the positive psychology, particularly happiness, that's being pushed so loudly now. When they start discounting people's traumatic experiences and talking about victimolgy, I find it a little offensive. Some people have been such awful things that they can't simply think themselves happy. It takes so much more.

jenji said...'s futile.


Mary said...

What a good article, I too would rather have hope, it sounds so much better. If I can get there, its just so hard..take care Mary

Tiptoe said...

I think it's good to have hope to a point. I agree with you that it isn't necessarily a good stand alone therapy.

As for resistance, I think much of it is rooted in various forms of fears. The fear hold us back.

Something kind of interesting, and I'm not sure if you are familiar with her is Pema Chodron. She is a Buddhist nun. In her book, When Things Fall Apart, she actually talks about letting go of hope. Here's one of her quotes from the book, "If we're willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the
groundlessness of our situation...Giving up hope is encouragement to stick with yourself, to make friends with yourself, to not run away from yourself, to return to the bare bones, no matter what's going on."

I think it is quite an interesting way of looking at things, and I can see both sides of this--being hopeful but also being hopeless as well. There is something to be said about returning as she calls to your "bare bones." (figuratively not literally here). However, I can also imagine it being very difficult for people to get to this point as well. And it all ties into the theme of resistance and fear as well. At least this is how I see it.

phd in yogurtry said...

Hope therapy. Need to explore that. Although it sounds very cognitive, replace a fear with a positive, optimistic thought.

alan said...

Once again you seem to be "reading my mind"...your "Resistance" link looks like exactly where I need to go next in my life!

I owe you so many hugs...for all the links and all the times!


Ian Lidster said...

With addicts the prevalent form of resistance is, of course, denial (not just a river in Egypt, as the cliche goes) and I have seen denial that is so powerful that the person will die rather than admit their reality. My own alcoholic mother sadly did that.

jumpinginpuddles said...

never heard of it but we are doing things that can be called this hope therapy, but we think thats because we are changing and growing and hope is in our life is that the same thing probably not.

Wanda's Wings said...

Sounds interesting.

Jade said...

Ahhh I love this post. I find myself challenging my own resistance all the time. I have a tendency of being scared of change. I'm very resistant when it comes to new and unpredictable and often find myself jumping into the situation so I do not have time to think about it too much. Its good to know that I'm not the only one!

princessdominique said...

Interesting. I never looked at it like that. I have a friend that I'm certain is resistant but looking at it as a roadblock is a better way to process it.

Tracy said...

Hope is huge in my life. I believe with out hope then depression would set in big time. Great article Deb!
ty for sharing.

Rose said...

Everyone is jumping on this hope and faith band wagon. But truthfully I have always had it. You are right this treatment is not new, maybe the terminology and the process. Great post and very interesting.

kim said...

Very celeb blog :)

Deb said...

Dear Mel,
I agree

So much is involved in making change happen. If it were just about learning skills we'd all make changes quickly.

Jump in an analyze the resistance. It is grist for the mill, so to speak.

Some professionals don't understand the complex science and art of change and healing. You are right about that!

It is also important to understand why things may not be changing or healing in the way we want...and to look at resistances or reasons why that happens.

Road blocks need to be sifted through and welcomed. Not shut away or hidden. So many think that it is a negative occurrence when actually it is the most important issue to look at. Keep plugging along and you will get there :)

Health Psych,
You are right - so much needs to be considered in the process of healing and wellness.

I hope not!

It can be hard, but the hope is that with time, skills and insight we can get there more readily and with less difficulty.

I want others to understand that change may be easy for some while not for others. And the reasons why can be sorted through. Gonna check out that book. Thanks.

It's been around in different forms, but also needed in the intervention is the aspect of defenses against change. My 2 cents.

Resistance is a good thing. It enables us to really look at ourselves and what holds us back. Without it, we would feel just hopeless and lost. Hugs back atcha!

Defenses are really wonderful things. Amazing psychological phenoms. They key, as you know, is to embrace our adaptive defenses like humor, sublimation, etc. - and analyze and modify our maladaptive ones. To me, that is the crux of insight therapy.

Dear JIP,
You are doing SO much these days!

Is is interesting...

Jade said...
Challenging your resistance is fantastic! I do as well. If change were easy, wouldn't we ALL be where we want to be in nanoseconds ;)

Hey Princess,
Resistance, a road block, stuck, whatever one calls it, can be a bad thing if not explored. IMO, these wedges are what need to be looked at and validated. The mind is so amazing to me!

Hope is big for me too as I struggle with depression too. Looking at what keeps me stuck or afraid or hesitant or ambivalent, etc gives me the needed knowledge to move through things.

Everything old is new again, right? If this "new" trend offers people skills and insight, it's okay by me! Sounds like you feel the same way too. And I love your new photo.

Hey Kim,
Thanks for stopping by.