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Home    >    Hope Matters
Hope Matters
The Power of Social Work
Elizabeth J. Clark and Elizabeth F. Hoffler, Editors
ISBN: 978-0-87101-454-2. 2014. Item #4542. 272 pages.
Book Type:
Expectation. Optimism. Belief. Promise.

When looking for a change or a solution to a problem, we turn to these manifestations of hope, both as individuals and on a societal level.

The capacity to hope for change enables social workers to serve people who have experienced torture, trauma, drug addiction, domestic violence, or child abuse. The challenges facing clients are multilayered and complex, and require a sensitive, informed approach.

Hope Matters: The Power of Social Work can inspire hope in each one of us, no matter our personal and professional challenges. The editors explore the stories of professional social workers in all fields of practice as they promote the clinical and community uses of hope to inspire their clients and help them solve seemingly intractable problems. The contributors to this collection highlight the role of resilience in making progress toward overcoming obstacles and reaching a positive outcome. Hope Matters is filled with uplifting examples of the power and importance of social work.

Hope Matters: The Power of Social Work is a companion to the recently published Social Work Matters: The Power of Linking Policy and Practice, which has demonstrated social work's central role in working toward achieving healthy functioning in society.


Note: eBooks may be purchased online in single quantities only. To purchase multiple eBook copies, please contact naswpress@brightkey.net.
About the Editors
About the Contributors

Introduction: Holders of Hope
Elizabeth J. Clark and Elizabeth F. Hoffler

Part One. Personal Hope


Chapter 1: The Changing Mosaic of Hope
Elizabeth J. Clark

Chapter 2: Persistence of Hope and Dreams
Freddie L. Avant

Chapter 3: One Small Lady and One Big Hope: A Holocaust Survivor’s Narrative
Raymond M. Berger

Chapter 4: Finding Hope after Surviving Gun Violence
Noam Ostrander and Katie Augustyn

Part Two. Professional Hope


Chapter 5: Choosing the Profession of Hope
Elizabeth F. Hoffler

Chapter 6: Restoring the Hope of Social Work Students through an International Service Learning Program to Cape Town, South Africa
Lucinda A. Acquaye

Chapter 7: Hope in the Midst of Reality: How Regulatory Law Helped Claudia Find a New Direction
Mary Jo Monahan and Dorinda Noble

Chapter 8: Hope and Leadership
Stella V. Pappas

Chapter 9: Instilling Hope through Social Work Mentoring
Benjamin R. Sher
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Chapter 10: Borrowing Hope
W. Patrick Sullivan

Part Three. Fostering a Community of Hope


Chapter 11: The Power of Presence: Finding Hope in an Oncology Group Setting
Julie Berrett-Abebe and Mary Susan Convery

Chapter 12: Hope for a School
Dante de Tablan

Chapter 13: The Power of Hope, Resilience, and Collective Efficacy: The Rainmakers’ Story
Tania Alameda-Lawson and Katherine Briar Lawson

Chapter 14: Restoring Hope through Shared Medical Appointments
George A. Godlewski

Chapter 15: It Gets Better with Age: Vibrant Older Adults Redefine Aging
Wendy A. Wilson

Part Four. Using Hope Clinically


Chapter 16: Hope for an Afghanistan Veteran
Julie Barbour Mellman

Chapter 17: Hope beyond Oneself
Nancy F. Cincotta

Chapter 18: My Body, My Biography: The Use of Narratives of Self-Injury as a Path for Hope
Susan A. Conte

Chapter 19: Symbols of Hope: Healing through the Creative Arts
Holly C. Matto

Chapter 20: Writing and Self-Reflection Nurture Hope
Marie Schaffner

Chapter 21: Human-Animal Bond: Trauma Victims Help Each Other Heal
Clarissa Uttley and Gary Cournoyer

Part Five. Hope and Transformation


Chapter 22: Hope for Homeless Clients
Ellen Bartley

Chapter 23: Hope and Resiliency: Reframing Living Well with Chronic Illness
Gauri Bhattacharya

Chapter 24: Preserving Hope for Oncology Patients
Lacy Fetting and Corey Shdaimah with Judith Fruchter Minkove

Chapter 25: The Tapestry of Hope
Rosa M. Hamilton

Chapter 26: Employment Hope: A Path to Empowering Disconnected Workers
Philip Young P. Hong

Chapter 27: Healing after Adversity: The Power of Hope
Sheridan Quarless Kingsberry, Natalie M. Fountain, Judith C. Quarless, and Leah Gilliam

Chapter 28: Social Skills Contribute to Resilience
Michael D. Luginbill

Chapter 29: Against All Odds: The Power of Hope and Resilience
Frederic G. Reamer

Part Six. Hope and Culture
Chapter 30: A Glimmer of Hope Is Enough
Tricia Bent-Goodley

Chapter 31: Building Hope in Survivors of a Traumatic Boat Escape: Community Reintegration of Alleged Perpetrators of Violence on the High Seas
S. Megan Berthold

Chapter 32: Hope and Resiliency in a Mexican Refugee
Mark Lusk

Chapter 33: Race and Resiliency
Kristen Marie (Kryss) Shane

Part Seven. Families and Hope


Chapter 34: A "Hopeless" Case
James J. Kelly

Chapter 35: Kaleidoscope: The Treatment of Severe Obesity in Adolescence
Barry Panzer and Sarita Dhuper

Chapter 36: Resiliency and Reclaiming Family
Jennifer L. Taussig

Part Eight. Researching the Concept of Hope


Chapter 37: Restoring Hope through Coparenting for Mothers Involved with the Criminal Justice System
Christina Tomacic (with Faith Johnson Bonecutter and James Gleeson)

Chapter 38: From One to Many: Hope and the Lessons of Perspective
Michael Stein, Dana Klar, and Jeanie Thies

Part Nine. Hope and Human Rights


Chapter 39: Hope through Partnership in Human Rights Advocacy
Mary Bricker-Jenkins, Rosemary A. Barbera, and Rebecca S. Myers

Chapter 40: Hope for a Socially Just Economy
Rory Truell and Rene Schegg
Hope is an important concept, not only for individuals, but for society. We all use and rely on hope, but we may not understand it fully. Hope is an essential experience of the human condition. It is a psychological asset; a guard against despair; a way of coping; and a quality-of-life enhancer. Hope is not simple optimism, nor is it wishing. Hope does not equate with denial, and by definition, hope can never be false. Hope is a way of thinking, feeling, and acting (Clark, 2012b). Hope is flexible, evolving as situations and realities change. It is not static but has a time aspect and a consideration of the future.

Vaclav Havel, the human rights activist, playwright, and president of the Czech Republic, who spent many years in prison because of his efforts against Communist oppression, frequently used the concept of hope in his activism and in his work. He said, "Hope is a dimension of the soul, and it’s not essentially dependent on some particular observation of the world, or estimate of the situation. It is a state of mind" (Havel, 1990, p. 120).

In his book The Anatomy of Hope (2005), physician and researcher Jerome Groopman emphasized that there is an authentic biology of hope and that belief and expectation are key elements of hope. Although there are common elements, hope is not a uniform variable. There is a tendency to think that everyone hopes in a similar fashion, but as a coping characteristic, hope is individualistic, and persons have various capacities for hoping and different approaches to maintaining hope (Clark, 2012b). Personal hope is embedded in a broad social context, and a person’s hope develops within a particular family culture and within a historical framework and set of experiences. In addition, there are different types of hope. There is generalized hope, and there is hope for achieving a particular goal. Professionals, perhaps too often, may narrow their view to think in terms of therapeutic hope – hope based almost solely on the outcome of therapy (Nuland, 1995).

In contrast, there is transcendent hope – hope that transcends reality – according to which the seemingly unreachable may sometimes become reachable. Also, we now know that hope may have larger-scale applications in reducing risks, inoculating segments of society from despair, and fostering resiliency.

Greene (2012) defined resiliency as a balance between stress and the ability to cope with repeated stress. A presidential commission on mental health reported that "resilience means the personal and community qualities that enable us to rebound from adversity, trauma, threats, or other stresses – and to go on with life with a sense of mastery, competence, and hope" (New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, 2003).

There are high-hope individuals and low-hope individuals (Snyder, Cheavens, & Scott, 2005). People’s level of hope can be strengthened by caring social networks or diminished by neglect, abuse, and traumatic events. Some people – those who experience significant trauma – may become hope-lost.

An acute loss of hope – what some refer to as the "death of hope" – is very serious because a hopeless person becomes a helpless person. Hopelessness is a condition of inaction that affects psychological, social, physical, and spiritual health and overall quality of life. It is easier to prevent a person from becoming hopeless than to help a hope-lost person find hope again (Farran, Herth, & Popovich, 1995). Preventing hopelessness and helping low-hope and hope-lost individuals reframe and regain hope is the goal of the therapies and efforts of social workers.

In the face of even the direst situations, social workers remain hopeful. We understand how difficult it is for people to change and maintain, how hard it is to overcome suffering, setbacks, disappointments, loss, and just plain bad luck. Even knowing this, social workers do not give up when trying to help those in poverty, those with severe dysfunctions, those who are addicted, or those on parole. We believe that families can be functional, workplaces can be healthy, and communities can be safe. Despite threats of terrorism and world unrest, we believe that peace is always preferable to war and that we have a global obligation regarding world resources and all other peoples.

This singular capacity – to be hopeful about future change – allows social workers to practice in prisons, in drug rehabilitation clinics, in domestic violence shelters, in suicide prevention centers, in child protective services, and on the battlefield. It is hope that prevents the school social worker from giving up on the difficult teenager or the probation officer from giving up on a repeat offender. It is hope that encourages social workers to practice in populations struggling with great challenges and areas struggling with unrelenting poverty, such as Appalachia, American Indian reservations, and inner cities. Because of hope, social workers choose to work in health and mental health settings despite the prevalence of incurable diseases or chronic conditions.

As social workers, we do not live or work by denying the reality of the world today. Instead, we recognize that our collective hope transcends reality and that our combined efforts will continue to improve the world in which we live. Social workers have a passion for social justice, for fairness, for making this world a better place. It is this purpose that forms the bedrock of our careers, but it is possibility and hope that keep us moving forward.

Does this mean that social work can lay claim to the profession of hope? We believe they can (Clark, 2012a). Social workers are the holders of hope for clients, communities, and society – dispensing hope as a physician dispenses medicines or as a judge dispenses justice.

Social workers fully understand the power of hope. We recognize its utility, its essential function in solving both individual and community problems. Hope provides the framework and underlies most, if not all, of our social work interventions. We all came to the profession of social work to make a difference – to bring about positive social change – to better society (Clark, 2009). We could have chosen other professions, but we did not. We chose social work. If we ever doubt the importance of our work or the importance of the profession, we simply need to take only a moment and think what the world would be like without social workers.

If the profession of social work ended this decade, would it matter? Would it matter to those who are marginalized and devalued? Would it matter to those who live in extreme conditions and yet are invisible to the greater society? Would it matter to children who are being abused and mistreated or to the elderly who are trying to overcome obstacles to aging well? Would it matter to all of those who have lost hope and see no way forward?

As this book so aptly illustrates, those questions can be answered in the affirmative. It would matter, and matter greatly. The world would be a much less hospitable and less caring place without social work.

We recognize there are some days, weeks, and even months when our own professional hoping capacity seems low, when we are discouraged and feel ineffective. If this is your situation, we believe you will be inspired by your colleagues and their hopeful examples in the following chapters. The content will leave you energized, with your own level of professional hope restored.

The 58 authors in this text address the continuum of hope from the individual to the global. Some describe transformation through hope; others used hope as a catalyst for change. Still others write about restoring hope at the client, community, or organizational levels. Also included are descriptions of strategies for using hope clinically, for researching the concept of hope, and for exploring hope and human rights. Of particular significance for professional social workers are the chapters that describe how social workers maintain their own professional hope.

What is equally important and unique is that social workers intertwine hope at all levels and in all instances with advocacy and social justice. This linkage is what sets social work apart. We can only conclude that, as a profession, we have the potential – the social work potential – to make a great difference.
Elizabeth J. Clark, PhD, ACSW, MPH, is the former chief executive officer of the National Association of Social Workers, a position she held from 2001 to 2013. She also served as the president of the NASW Foundation and as director of Social Workers Across Nations. Her background is health care with a specialization in oncology. She has worked in direct clinical practice and has held academic positions, including an associate professorship in health professions at Montclair State University (NJ) and an associate professorship of medical oncology at Albany Medical College (NY). Dr. Clark has published articles about the social work and health care workforce, social policy, and public health, as well as clinical topics such as illness and loss, hope and survivorship. She is coeditor of Social Work Matters: The Power of Linking Policy and Practice. Dr. Clark serves as vice chair of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and is on the board of directors of C-Change, Collaborating to Conquer Cancer and the National Hospice Foundation. She is a member of the advisory council for the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education at the University of Minnesota and is the Social Work Advisor for the Case Management Society of America. She is the recipient of the Brudny Social Work Award in Mental Health and the Cecil and Ida Green Honors Professorship at Texas Christian University. Dr. Clark holds a bachelor's and master's degree in social work and a masterÕs of public health from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's degree and doctorate in medical sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also holds an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Wartburg College (IA).

Elizabeth F. Hoffler, MSW, ACSW, is currently director of Policy and Advocacy at the Prevent Cancer Foundation, a national nonprofit organization that seeks to save lives through cancer prevention and early detection. Ms. Hoffler engages lawmakers, policymakers, key opinion leaders, and grassroots advocates to stop cancer before it starts through the promotion of issues such as cancer research funding, patient access, and health care equity. Ms. Hoffler was previously Special Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer and Senior Policy Analyst at the National Association of Social Workers where she advised the CEO on key planning, strategic, and policy issues and managed special projects within the association. She also worked within the advocacy and social policy department, serving as a federal lobbyist, supervising the association's federal political action committee, and managing the Social Work Reinvestment Initiative, which sought to secure federal and state investments in professional social work to enhance societal well-being. Ms. Hoffler is coeditor of Social Work Matters: The Power of Linking Policy and Practice and served as coeditor for the special issue of Health & Social Work focused on social work with service members, veterans, and their families. She is currently a doctoral student at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, where she is focusing on public policy and political decision making. Ms. Hoffler has an MSW from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a BSW from the University of Kentucky. She is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers.
Hope is a critical, yet rarely mentioned, aspect of who we are and what we do as social workers. This book explores the complexity and power of hope and the intimate relationship between the role of helping and hope.

The 58 social workers share case studies in which they describe the many ways to instill and restore hope to individuals, families, communities, human rights advocates, and leaders during times of transitions, pain, confusion, and loss. Also, we are reminded of the importance of nurturing our own personal and professional hope as a barrier against compassion fatigue.

This collection of compassionate, healing, sad, and humorous stories reveals why social work is called the profession of hope. Reading this inspiring, compelling, energizing, and engaging book will transform our capacity as social workers to provide hope for others and ourselves.

Harriet L. Cohen, PhD, LCSW
Associate Professor, Department of Social Work
Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX