When we talk about counteracting the outcomes of childhood trauma, most of us have heard of resilience. Resilience is something that is determined both by the child, based on aptitudes and personality, and by the environment and relationships. Something you may not have heard of yet is the science of hope. When I think of hope, I personally think of spiritual connotations. But in Hope Rising, How The Science Of Hope Can Change Your Life by Casey Gwinn, J.D. and Chan Hellman, Ph.D., I learned about the relatively new science of hope. Did you know that hope can be measured? At the Hope Research Center at the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa, Dr. Hellman leads a team of researchers who have developed a screening tool to measure hope in both children and adults. The Hope Score is then predictive of outcomes in the short term and long term. And not just the current score is important, but whether or not a person’s score rises over time. Once we understand the science of hope and how to build it in others, we can then use it to develop activities or conversations in our circle of influence to help ourselves and others increase in hope. Rising hope is desirable to all of us but it is especially something needed by those who have been affected by childhood trauma. Hope can counteract feelings like shame and apathy that often accompany childhood trauma. If you are interested in helping yourself or others in pretty much any area of life, Hope Rising will be an interesting and helpful read. There is a lot of information packed into this book, but it is helpfully broken down into very short chapters with anecdotal stories to illustrate the concepts at the beginning of each chapter. Many of these stories relate to the authors, making it read like a memoir at times. For me this brings in the human element and makes the science more captivating. I read a lot of both fiction and nonfiction and I usually read straight through a book. For this book, I found myself wanting to read a chapter or two a day and then think about it before going on. I also want to say that my favorite chapters came at the end, those on spirituality, the workplace, and leaving a legacy of hope. So, I encourage you to finish the book, as the end is worth it. There is something in Hope Rising for everyone, whether you have experienced grief, cancer, abuse, domestic violence, workplace harassment, or spiritual crisis, or you work with those who have, you will find helpful information that can be applied in conversations or activities with others. As someone interested in helping communities and families counteract the generational effects of childhood trauma, this book is one of the staples for understanding how to help. The concepts can be applied in one-on-one relationships, as well as in large organizations. Currently in Oklahoma, the State Department for Human Services is rolling out training for their staff, using Hope Rising, to help staff relate to our citizens in ways that raise hope. Speaking of hope, that is something that raises my hope for future generations in our state!
by Laura Shamblin, MD