When unthinkable events happen, your work as a practitioner becomes so much more crucial.
And lately, it feels like we have been witnessing one unthinkable tragedy after another.
As we grieve and process these events ourselves, we are simultaneously helping clients navigate the grief, disillusionment, and even hopelessness they may feel in the wake of tragedies. For some clients, these events may retrigger unresolved trauma.
In the video below, Usha Tummala-Narra, PhD shares how she works with clients who are feeling disillusioned to help them move toward hope.
Have a look.
So for example, feeling disillusioned with someone in your family or a friend can be very painful, but it can also allow you to see some imperfections which may be a part of moving towards a more real or authentic understanding of a relationship with that person. So that sometimes if we stay sort of mystified and we don’t know more fully what’s happening for a person or what a person is like, then we sort of remain in the dark, so to speak, around the authentic part of a relationship. So I try to make that distinction around disillusionment and hopelessness with my clients.
One of the things that I have found really interesting about disillusionment in our recent times is how sometimes there’s our hopefulness about the world around us can lead us to also deny certain realities about the world. There’s a way, for example, when I think about the Me Too movement, there was a large collective denial of violence against women and girls and sexual violence more broadly. And what Me Too did was it shook all of that up, it broke the denial. And in some ways we can say, well, that was disillusioning to think that we haven’t made as much progress in this area as we thought. And yet, breaking through that denial allows us to kind of see that there is work to be done, but in the process of being disillusioned, we’re also connecting with other people. And through that collective movement, there can be positive change and hope for the future.
And the fact that people are courageous enough to speak out allows me to potentially speak out as well or allows me to connect with both the pain of it, the pain of violence, but also it allows me to see that there could be change that comes by being a part of this greater movement or a part of speaking out and facing that reality. So there’s a way in which disillusionment, I think, can certainly involve pain and despair, but it can certainly lead to an awakening of a sort to do something differently, to engage in action, to engage in behaviors that lead us to a better place ultimately. So there’s the short term despair and a long term goal of moving towards a better place, moving towards safety, a sense of belonging and affirmation of oneself.
I appreciated the distinction Usha made between disillusionment and hopelessness, and how the former can help clients begin to see themselves and the world in new ways.
But now I’d like to hear from you. What how do you work with clients who feel overwhelmed or disillusioned by world events? Let us know in the comments below.