10/02/2014 03:45 pm ET Updated Dec 02, 2014

To Hope Again

My job is to listen. The steady stream of situations that entangle, grieve, and dampen a person's spirit are entrusted to me. Each begs for interpretation and relief. Though words are presented, I am trained to listen to what is behind the words -- the tender voice of a human soul that has been pushed, twisted, and pressed to make it through a day, a week, a year, a lifetime. The soul cries to have its core needs met. Past emotions, cognition's, and behaviors are trapped in isolation. Speaking to a person with a listening ear can provide initial relief, but the true remedy occurs when insight heals wounds, and the value and purpose of an individual's life is restored.

I have worked as a professional counselor with people of all ages from various walks of life. In my work, I have noticed that regardless of what theory of human growth is applied, the most essential features of effective treatment regard a person's ability to visualize possibilities, and actualize potential, in other words, to find hope and create meaning for oneself and others in that hope. Each stage of life seems to call upon opportunity to visualize possibility outside of what is directly presented. This can inspire a push forward to reach for that possibility, and maximize personal potential, thus moving towards the next stage. A vision outside of circumstances that looks to the next stage of growth invites the individual to actively participate in a process of engagement. This process of seeing possibility and engaging with potential appears to be cumulative, in that it builds and progresses. It moves us forward.

Though a person may desire to grow, the most important piece of that process is a right understanding of where their growth has been impeded or where the view of themselves, others, and the world has been darkened. Theories show structure and strategy for change, but I believe that, until a person is able to visualize their own possibility, there will be limited active engagement. This may lead to the experience of people who note the need for change, or desire wellness, but do not seem to be able to move past the circumstance in front of them or the patterns that keep them stuck.

I have devoted the past several months to extensive observation, and have developed eight key areas of actualization across the lifespan that seem to invite one to be actively engaged in the possibility that is set before them in their own unique set of circumstances. These areas align with Erik Erikson's theory of human development, which exposes eight conflicts that require resolution . They are, chronologically, the ability to create a bond, create a voice, create boundaries between self and other, create a craft, create a purpose, create a connection, create a context, and create closure. I will outline each individually in the next set of writings in order to provide insight and applicable ways to inspire the growth process. A person should be able to track the place where they may have lost the ability to see possibility, or stopped actualizing their potential. I will suggest ways to re-engage and start building again.

I believe this insight will provide benefits for individuals, as well as those in the helping professions, and researchers. The places where hope is lost inform where the rebuilding needs to occur. If it can be understood where a person needs to be reengaged, then the right vision of their possibility can be encouraged. I invite you to open up your own process of visualizing possibility, and imagine what it would be like if others believed again that their life was a unique design intended to create trust, a voice, right relationship, craft, purpose, connection, context, and closure. If you can see that possibility, then join me on the road to discovering how to actualize that potential and hope again.