A Powerful Motivating Force That Every Clinician and Consumer Needs

a powerful force every clinician needs

Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away.

You may be so caught up in the chaotic reality that many of us face today–a climate of transformational, unpredictable happenings that you’ve neglected to think about your internal state

If we are to succeed in this tumultuous world, there’s one vital element we must retain. We must have hope.

And, most importantly, we must have authentic hope in order to convey hope to our children, patients, friends and family who are struggling.

Hope is a complex and dynamic force that locates itself in the space where we are motivated to move forward and yet we don’t know what will happen. In that spaciousness of uncertainty, there  is room to act.

When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter and who and what it may impact are not things we know with certainty or can predict.

Some psychologists describe hope as a soft “non cognitive” skill. Others say it is a feeling or belief. It could be all of these things and it’s a vital component for resilience and action in the face of the unpredictable nature of our world and society.

 Do You Have Authentic Hope?

When an individual, clinician or consumer-parent/teacher has  authentic feelings of hopefulness, it enables them to communicate this hope to their patients, youngsters and students, all who trust in their authenticity.

Hope and trust have a bond between them. Hope depends to a large extent upon trust in relationships that are authentic and helpful. Hope is also built upon trust in our social institutions, our systems of care and education.

Clinicians and consumers know that in a trusting relationship, being hopeful is more of a possibility than within a relationship that is controlling or abusive.

Trust is built slowly upon the authentic selves of individuals who show what their authentic values are through their behavior.

As a clinician being able to communicate your authentic self and feelings builds the bond of trust.

It is time for clinicians to honestly probe their own minds and reveal what lies beneath the surface.

Ask yourself the question: “Am I authentically hopeful?”

Conveying hopefulness depends a great deal upon your own authentic beliefs that are expressed not only verbally to the client but through gestures, tone of voice, etc.

Conveying hope when you are hopeless does not go far.  These are tough times for therapists and clients.

Transformational changes are happening in health care; tele-therapy, new managed care policies and new and alternative treatments.

Outside of this realm but connected to it are disheartening developments such as climate change, growing income inequality and the rise of Silicon Valley as a dehumanizing global superpower of automation.

Some of these are overwhelming and produce uncertainty, frustration and loss of trust in our society’s systems and institutions.

Becoming hopeless or ambivalent about how hopeful you are is often masked by those who are perceived as models for achievement, as authorities on the process of change. And yet, therapists need to dig down deep and appraise your own sense of self efficacy, your motivation, your ability to weather disruptions and changes and your overall sense of hopefulness.

It’s important to say what hope is not. It’s not the belief that everything was, is, or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and tremendous destruction. The hope I’m interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act.

It’s also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse narrative. You could call it an account of complexities and uncertainties, with openings.

Hope Can be Taught and Learned

Our brains are malleable and studies have shown that they have plasticity in response to environmental stimuli from birth through the aging process.

There are incredibly sensitive periods in terms of degrees of malleability; early childhood, the early adolescent years. But at any age or stage, the brain can form new connections and respond to internal and external forces.

Perceptions and attitudes can change with teaching, therapy, behavioral treatments etc.

Our perceptions of ourselves and our environment can be shaped as the brain responds and we appraise and interpret new information.

No longer is the adult brain considered a fixed entity, immune to the mundane activities of day-to-day life, and impervious to new learning or restructuring.

Cognitive Training programs explain, plasticity “the physical changes that are continually taking place in your brain as you experience and adapt to the world around you  Contrary to the common assumption that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, there is increasingly strong evidence that the adult human brain is remarkably malleable and capable of new feats even in the last decades of life, but it might need a little extra prodding to bring its plasticity into play.

Researchers report that new experiences can trigger major physical changes in the brain within just a few days, and that certain conditions can accelerate this physical, chemical and functional remodeling of the brain.

A Powerful Motivating Force That Every Clinician and Consumer Needs

Margaret Altman, LCSW, MSW

Margaret Altman is a crisis intervention specialist and has intervened in many explosive situations within jails, emergency rooms, suicide prevention centers and psychiatric units. She is a featured writer on the Mad in America website and has more more than 35 years of experience as an LCSW in psychiatry, corrections and private practice. Her book, "Developing Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence" is on Amazon. Margaret currently focuses on issues of minority and marginalized populations in order to give them a voice in the mental health domain.


APA Reference
Altman, M. (2016). A Powerful Motivating Force That Every Clinician and Consumer Needs. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 22 Sep 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Sep 2016
Published on All rights reserved.