A GoodTherapy.org News Summary
In many situations involving medical news and prognoses that aren’t especially favorable, physicians and other health professionals may feel inclined to find some measure of hope to give their clients, in an effort to soften the blow or to provide some comfort. Clients themselves may also suspect that taking on a hopeful perspective can yield a more positive result for mental health and overall well-being; after all, people are reminded to have faith and preserve their hope throughout their lives, and may learn many valuable lessons by doing so. Yet in some instances, especially those involving difficult news or events, a state of hopelessness may be more beneficial than a focus on the potential of the issue to improve. In support of this idea, a study recently carried out at the University of Michigan has examined colostomy clients to determine whether hope-–or hopelessness—is better for well-being.
The study examined two groups of those who had recently undergone colostomies, having their colons removed and required to have bowel movements in pouches laying outside of the body. Some of the participants were candidates for a reversal surgery following a period of recovery, and were told that there was a chance of returning to normal bowel function. Other clients, however, were unable to have reversal surgery for any number of reasons, and so had no hope of ever returning to their previous state. The researchers found that those who had no hope for reversal reported being far happier and experienced greater well-being than those focused on the possibility of reversal at a later point.
The results point to the benefits of closure, suggest the researchers, and may help dictate how clients, whether facing physical or psychological issues, are treated by health professionals.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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