Exploring the hope construct in psychotherapy
Talmadge, William Tracy
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While hope has been theorized to play an important role in psychotherapy (Fitzgerald, 1979; Frank, 1968; Frank & Frank, 1991; Stotland, 1969; Yalom, 1995), the respective body of literature offers little empirical evidence for this seemingly common belief among mental health professionals. It is the purpose of this paper to explore the role of hope in psychotherapy. A decade ago (1991a), Snyder and colleagues developed a goal based theory and measure of hope, which is use in this study. They define hope as the overall perception that goals can be met, and consider it an interaction of two factors agency (goaldirected energy) and pathways (planning to meet goals). This study primarily examines the question: Does the degree of hope significantly change from pretreatment to five sessions of psychotherapy? Ancillary investigations explore the relationship of hope at pretreatment with premature termination and Stages of Change Scale (SCS), a readiness for change measure (McConnaughy, DiClemente, Prochaska, & Velicer, 1989; McConnaughy, Prochaska, & Velicer, 1983). Findings support previous theories that hope, normally considered a stable trait, does increase during psychotherapy. However, in the present study no relationships are apparent between hope and premature termination or the readiness for change measure (SCS). Findings support previous theoretical statements in the literature regarding hope as an important part of the psychotherapy process. In addition, findings suggest the need for further inquiry to better understand the involvement of hope in the psychotherapeutic process.