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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

Dancing between Hope and Despair

Trauma, Attachment and the Therapeutic Relationship

ISBN 9781137441232
Publication Date July 2016
Formats Paperback 
Publisher Palgrave

Why is hope so fundamental to our existence? Hope is increasingly being acknowledged as an important factor both for people’s resilience and for positive therapeutic outcomes. In considering this and many other questions, this evocative textbook introduces the reader to the repeated shifting, or 'dance', between hope and despair that is so often encountered by practitioners working with profoundly traumatised individuals.

This book brings a sharp focus to the ways in which therapeutic relationships can draw individuals out of the constant oscillation between light and dark. It provides an insightful and thoughtful discussion not just about despair itself, but about how to be with despair. Informed by the author's own years of experience in the field of psychotherapy, this engaging and stimulating book provides practical guidance on how students, trainees and practitioners can inspire fresh hope in deeply troubled clients.

Sue Wright is an Integrative Psychotherapist who specialises in working with people who have experienced complex trauma. She has worked with both adults and young people in a variety of settings in the public and voluntary sectors, and now works privately as a therapist, supervisor and trainer.

1. Introducing the Dance.- 2. Desperately Seeking the 'Happy Ever After': Some Theoretical Perspectives on Hope.- 3. Hoping, Imagining and Dreaming: An Evolutionary Perspective.- 4. Our Need for Hope and its Roots in Childhood.- 5. The Impact of Trauma as a Hope Destroyer Across the Life-cycle.- 6. When Hoping Keeps People Alive: Non Mentalised States and the Need for Illusions.- 7. The Internal Dance of Hope and Despair: Dissociation and Shifting Self States.- 8. Systemic Perspectives: Our Responses to Getting Stuck in Cycles of Hope and Despair.- 9. Working with Hopelessness from a Relational Perspective.- 10. Finding New Perspectives.- 11. Moving into Hope: New Meanings and New Experiences.


Psychotherapists tend to think of themselves as harbingers of hope for clients, much like birds in the spring, but in Dancing between Hope and Despair Sue Wright poignantly captures how complex each of these issues is for traumatised clients. She describes how easily hope is confused with 'happily ever after,' how familiar it can be to slip into despair and how frightening hope can be for those whose survival has depended upon surrender. Along with this attuned understanding of hope and despair, Sue also offers practical strategies that can awaken the potential for hope that lies in each of us, even the most despairing.' – Dr Janina Fisher, Assistant Educational Director, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Institute, USA; Director of Psychological Services, Khiron Clinics, UK
'This unique book wrestles with a difficult but easily recognisable struggle that therapists experience in working with traumatised clients. It depicts a very real journey through the delights and challenges of this work, with an honesty and integrity that is very refreshing.' – Dr Nikki Kiyimba, Programme Leader MSc Therapeutic Practice for Psychological Trauma, University of Chester, UK
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