Dr. Ellenhorn is a sociologist, psychotherapist, social worker, published author and so much more. It was an exciting opportunity for us to meet such a highly credentialed and esteemed professional who’s approach to client care was so aligned with our own.
Since meeting Dr. Ellenhorn, he has been generous in collaborating with the Help in the Home staff and community members. Most recently, Dr. Ellenhorn presented to our Help in the Home families on his concept called Fear of Hope, which he had presented to our staff last fall.
Fear of Hope
Fear of Hope is not fear of success, fear of failure, anxiety, depression or hopelessness. Dr. Ellenhorn pointed out in his presentation that many clients with complex mental health diagnoses are often labeled as non-compliant, in denial or difficult to engage. These labels often miss the fact that people with severe mental illness often want what their family members and the professionals who support them want for them but they are terrified.
In fact, Fear of Hope is rooted in another concept created by Dr. Ellenhorn, “The Ten Reasons Not to Change” – which captures how a person who has experienced considerable setbacks, might become afraid of the very thing that motivates most of us: hope.
In his blog on “ The Ten Reasons Not to Change”, Dr. Ellenhorn shows a powerful dynamic between changing and staying the same and how it is a tension between two forces that we all face in our lives.
We felt that his teachings on Fear of Hope was an important concept for our families to learn more about because people with severe mental illness can and often do have so much resistance towards change.
How Fear of Hope Aligns with the Help in the Home Approach
Learning about Fear of Hope helped validate our client-centered and team-guided approach. We believe in supporting our clients in taking small steps forward towards their goals. This is aligned with Dr. Ellenhorn’s approach which emphasizes faith building vs. skill building and helping clients build faith in themselves.
Dr. Ellenhorn’s concept may help some of our families to better understand why we celebrate what might seem like a “small step” forward or “slow progress” towards a goal. For our clients a small step can seem like enormous change. We also hope this concept will help our families get curious about their loved one’s Fear of Hope.
At the end of his talk Dr. Ellenhorn encouraged our families to not be afraid to have a conversation with their loved one about why they might fear hope and are afraid of change. Our favorite quote of the evening was when Dr. Ellenhorn said, “Growth and healing is unpredictable and comes in miraculous ways.” We know this to be true because we see these miracles happen every day and believe that they happen through support and community.
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