Abstract

The purposes of this article are (a) to examine cognitive, emotional, and spiritual aspects of hope as reflected in the literature; (b) to describe three clinical approaches that have been used in occupational therapy to engage clients in development of hopes for the future; and (c) to consider practical issues that have been raised by therapists seeking to incorporate development of hopes in their practice. Literature from health care and the social sciences indicates that cognitive, emotional, and spiritual aspects of hope are interwoven in a complex process that evolves over time after major loss. Three alternative clinical strategies for collaborating with clients in developing hopes are reviewed, including a goal-setting and goal-attainment approach, an occupational change approach, and a life history approach. These clinical strategies are illustrated by the stories of an elderly mental health client, an adult rehabilitation client, and an adolescent orthopedic client, which are drawn from research in which the authors have been involved. Discussion of issues involved in incorporating hope work into daily practice is based on the experiences of practicing therapists who participated in a workshop. These include pragmatic issues of documentation and reimbursement of this aspect of practice as well as clinical issues of how to develop hopes among clients who appear hopeless.

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