Working with the community... for a healthier community.

A Sense of Trust


By Luke Dalfiume, PhD, LCP, Co-Owner, John R. Day & Associates, Christian Psychological Associates

Hope refers to a sense of trust that one’s goals and dreams will be fulfilled at some point in the future.  An essential ingredient of human emotional life, hope gives one the desire to live and to carry on life’s activities. It is galvanizing, the “wind in the sails” of life, providing direction and meaning. 

Hope is developed through quality interpersonal relationships. Beginning at birth, when we have consistent, positive, reliable interpersonal relationships, we are more likely to have positive expectations about the future.  

The Agency factor
Many psychotherapy clients feel at a loss because they have limited early positive interpersonal experiences, and have entered adolescence or adulthood without a basis for a hopeful approach to life. Hope can be nurtured in therapy by a client-therapist dynamic in which the therapist provides acceptance, clear communication, and a belief in the client’s ability to achieve goals; and the client trusts the therapist’s ability to help. Most clients will not immediately trust their therapist, which is why it is important for the therapist to prove trustworthy — communicating clearly, and providing unconditional positive regard. This interpersonal dynamic is an important part of what the researcher C. R. Snyder called the “Agency” component of hope: the belief in oneself as capable of achieving one’s goals.

The Pathways factor
Clients play an important role in their own hope development. They must set and begin to achieve goals. These goals do not need to be earthshaking. For the very depressed, hopeless person, goals may be as simple as getting out of bed and taking a shower. The goals should be just beyond where one is currently, and the bar should be raised as the person reaches goals. In psychotherapy, I frequently ask people to work backward from their goals, identifying for themselves and me how they will get from where they are to the achievement of their goals. This helps one to achieve a sense of “Pathways,” that one is not only capable of achieving goals, but is also able to develop plans for achieving these goals.

These two factors, Agency and Pathways, are the two primary components of hope, according to Snyder. Without a sense of Agency, one will not believe one is capable of having a more positive future. Without a sense of Pathways, one will not be able to develop a plan toward that more positive future. If either aspect of hope is poorly developed, then one will struggle to maintain a sense of hope. 

If you have taken the quiz at the beginning of this article, score it. Each component of hope (Agency and Pathways) consists of four items, with a maximum score of 32. The higher your totals for each component, the stronger your functioning in that area. The lower your score, the more you need to develop that aspect to strengthen your capacity for hope.

Looking to strengthen your capacity for hope? We can help. For more information, contact John R. Day & Associates, Christian
Psychological Associates, located at 3716 West Brighton Avenue, Peoria, or their locations in Normal, Canton, Pekin, Princeton, or Eureka. Call us at 309-692-7755 or visit us online:

Photo credit: XiXinXing/iStock

The Trait Hope Scale

Directions: Read each item carefully. Using the scale shown below, please select the number that best describes you, and put that number in the blank provided.
1.    = Definitely False
2.    = Mostly False
3.    = Somewhat False
4.    = Slightly False
5.    = Slightly True
6.    = Somewhat True
7.    = Mostly True
8.    = Definitely True

___  1. I can think of many ways to get out of a jam. ( P )
___  2. I energetically pursue my goals. ( A )
___  3. I feel tired most of the time.
___  4. There are lots of ways around any problem. ( P )
___  5. I am easily downed in an argument.
___  6. I can think of many ways to get the things in life that are important to me. ( P )
___  7. I worry about my health.
___  8. Even when others get discouraged, I know I can find a way to solve the problem. ( P )
___  9. My past experiences have prepared me well for my future. ( A )
___10. I’ve been pretty successful in life. ( A )
___11. I usually find myself worrying about something.
___12. I meet the goals that I set for myself. ( A )

Note: The Agency subscale score is derived by summing items 2, 9, 10, and 12; the Pathway subscale score is derived by adding items 1, 4, 6, and 8. The total Hope Scale score is derived by summing the four agency and the four pathway items.