Hope Therapy For Dark Moments

We all need something to hold onto when the waves of life hit and wash over us. Therapeutic models based on hope seek to give us tools to better navigate through these difficult moments.
Hope Therapy For Dark Moments
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 22 March, 2023

The psychiatrist and neurologist, Viktor Frankl, said that life, ultimately, is nothing more than taking responsibility for finding the right answers to every problem that comes our way. This is true but, as we well know, it isn’t easy to figure out what are the best strategies in the face of the challenges that our destinies offer us.

This is when psychological therapy often comes into play. The purpose of the different psychotherapeutic models is to guide the individual. This means they can make the best decisions on their own and based on their own values and needs. Some of these approaches are both enriching and essential and well worth learning about.

Hope therapy is an inspiring therapy that seeks to offer tools to patients so they can better deal with difficult moments. After all, we all go through circumstances when suddenly, we find the present is extremely difficult and the future seems completely blurred. It’s in these kinds of scenarios that we appreciate anchoring ourselves to something in the face of waves that, often without us really noticing, lead us adrift.

We’re going to explore this therapy that’s nourished by positive psychology.

When hope returns to mind, thoughts become more flexible and goal-focused. Our behavior is also oriented towards more positive and beneficial patterns for us.

Patient in Hope Therapy
Hope therapy makes us see that we can replace debilitating thoughts with a more hopeful perspective.

Hope therapy

To live without hope means remaining confined in a distressing mental corner where it becomes really easy to fall captive to depression. In fact, as human beings, we can’t live without the internal light that, like a lighthouse, guides our goals and encouragement to get up every day. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that there’s a psychotherapeutic model based on this dimension.

Hope therapy is a form of brief and semi-structured treatment that guides the patient toward the achievement of their goals. It has its roots in the cognitive theory of hope formulated by Charles Snyder.

Snyder published an article in 2002 in which he defined the bases and purposes of this therapy. He defined hopeful thought as the mental mechanism that urges the individual toward the achievement of objectives and, also, to overcome difficulties. We all need this motivational component to imagine new routes for change. It means we can face what hurts us and can shape the lives we want.

This therapy is based on positive psychology. It also integrates cognitive-behavioral interventions, narrative tools, and concepts of solution-focused therapy.

Improving hope consists of having more positive thoughts directed toward new paths that lead us to well-being.

The strategies of hope therapy

One of the most prominent figures in the field of hope therapy was Shane J. Lopez. In addition to being a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), he was the author of books such as Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others (2013).

In one of his research papers, López defined this approach as helping the individual to build an internal house of hope. He referred to a space from which to improve the deepest self-perceptions and establish the bases of objective-focused thoughts. Here are the strategies that defined his interesting model.

1. Improve the individual’s self-referential beliefs

One of the purposes of this therapy is to make internal dialogue more hopeful and less debilitating. As a rule, many people undertake therapy because they possess negative and highly biased ideas and self-perceptions. The first step of this therapy is to work on the cognitive, open up new perspectives, and facilitate behavioral change.

2. Instill a goal-oriented sense of hope

Hopeful thoughts are those that make us dream of new paths to well-being. The strategy of hope therapy is to think of new goals and new objectives. The latter are like bridges that help us escape dark moments toward the futures we deserve.

3. Cognitive restructuring to facilitate change

As we mentioned earlier, hope therapy has its roots in cognitive-behavioral therapy. One of its pillars is cognitive restructuring. Thanks to this, the individual can model their reasoning and dysfunctional beliefs, make them more flexible, change them, and adopt a healthy and positive internal look.

4. Therapeutic alliance to facilitate the participation of the individual

The professional hope therapist knows that change won’t be possible if they don’t achieve a meaningful alliance with their patient. Therefore, they must create a safe, nurturing, and trust-based therapeutic environment from which the patient’s strengths are awakened.

In addition, the patient must be aware that they have an active role to play in their growth and healing process. As the sessions progress, they become aware that they can be an active agent for the change they need, and can employ new tools to achieve well-being. The therapist is the facilitator who manages to bring out the best in the patient.

5. Improve their planning and problem-solving skills

Hope therapy doesn’t just involve awakening the thought that “everything will be alright.” In fact, it consists of instilling more positive and motivating thoughts aimed at new illusions and new purposes for the individual to work on. It aims to ensure that the patient develops a more resilient and confident perspective on life.

To reach this peak, it’s essential that the individual improves their planning, problem-solving, and emotional management skills. These pillars contribute to them building stronger self-esteem and better self-efficacy.

Hope therapy makes it possible to see ourselves from more favorable and empowered perspectives. This therapy is useful for clinical cases of depression, moments of crisis,or personal suffering.

Tree in front of the Milky Way symbolizing the effect of Hope Therapy
Hope moves the world. It’s like an internal lighthouse that motivates the individual toward new, more positive goals.

Final note

Instilling a sense of hope is highly beneficial to anyone battling depression. It’s also important for those who are grieving after a relationship breakup, or after having lost a loved one. Moreover, people who are in the midst of an existential crisis or facing changes will see this model as a great tool.

This therapeutic approach is endorsed by science and is based on other well-known therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Therefore, it’s a resource that’s both interesting and useful for alleviating anguish and empowering ourselves with tools that transform us into active agents of the change we need. The kind of change that’s fueled by hope.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.