What goes on in a H.O.P.E. Group?
Healing of Persons Exceptional!
A H.O.P.E. Group is not so much a “treatment” group that focuses on a particular disease (for instance a “cancer support group” ); rather, it is a “hope support group,” which is an intentional, “attitudinal healing” small group that comes together to find the wellness which comes with the discovery of peace of mind. This, in turn, is the result of understanding and letting go of guilt and fear. In this way, one comes to live in the present moment where s-he can choose to focus on the whole of life rather than its fragments. S-he seeks the power that makes this choice possible, recognizing that it is the inner power of compassionate love, which, in turn, makes possible the promise of hope “that things can make sense regardless of how they work out (Vaclav Havel)”…. In short:
H.O.P.E. Groups are healing circles of kindness, compassion, and forgiveness helping each other get through these challenging times… using a loving, gentle, non–judgmental approach to achieve unity instead of division.
H.O.P.E. Groups came into existence in the practice of a general surgeon who wanted to help his patients “get on with their lives” in the face of serious health challenges. 12 years of disciplined study, counseling, and application of solid principles of human development led to the first H.O.P.E. Group meeting on February 12, 1987. The 6000+ H.O.P.E. Group meetings that followed are the source of this detailed description of the work. We offer it to humans everywhere looking to help each other get through the challenges that life can throw at us.
A H.O.P.E. Group is a safe place in which we come together to find wellness by sharing our story and listening with open heart and mind to the other stories in the room. Our stories come in with us as once–told–tales in the annals of the universe. No two stories are ever the same; each comprises a collection of lessons learned about creativity, relationships, and – yes – evolution… we do live in an evolving universe, on an evolving planet. The whole thing is continuously surpassing itself: not by a struggle for survival, but by meeting the challenge to create and thrive.
In our H.O.P.E. Groups we learn the practice of compassion and the release of suffering – the engine of forgiving. We help each other learn that fear, anger, shame, blame, and guilt are all illusions of the ego, which does not know that its owner is a human whose soul transcends time and space, seeking the happiness that comes with inner peace. To help us in the process, we begin each meeting by reading aloud H.O.P.E’s Goldbook, a folded, laminated leaflet that comprises the H.O.P.E. Group Opening, the twelve Principles of Attitudinal Healing (from Jerry Jampolsky,MD), and ten H.O.P.E. Group Guidelines. We see this practice as creating a crucible to hold the content of the present meeting, which always differs from meeting(s) in the past.
The process self–directs to the success that comes from suspending judgment and living a dream – a personal “worthy ideal” (from Earl Nightingale)—the spiritual reason the soul has come into this body, this family, and the circumstances that challenge a person to the core of their being. By coming together in these confidential H.O.P.E. “small groups”, we create a compassionate synergy that nurtures a personal evolution, and how forgiving our attachments frees us to participate in that evolution. We teach mindfulness, positive thinking, and visualization practices not only through the group interaction, but through the use of guided imagination – most commonly at the end of the meeting – that helps bring the whole experience together. We help people with their therapies, their plans, their hopes – their lives. People in H.O.P.E. Groups simply feel better. They find friends and support in their groups and help each other from day to day… benefiting each other… helping each other get on with their lives.
The challenge of this era is for human beings to learn to focus on possibility and meaning in life rather than on life’s problems and their causes. When we can focus on our innate ability to meet and move beyond challenges, we focus on what is possible; not what is wrong. H.O.P.E. Groups help people face challenges in their lives by focusing on what they want to have happen – what they would like to see come of things – their intention. We encourage the participant to “go for it”, and patiently wait for the results without any interfering “shoulds”.
We humans are devoted “fixers,” “advisers,” “judges,” and “criticizers,” which means we are devoted to knowing better than others. This way of thinking and acting is intrusive and unkind. Instead, we have the Quaker way of looking at questions: “If you can ask the question, you already have the answer;” so the most important thing we can do for you is to listen with open hearts and soft eyes as you find those answers that lie within by asking open questions, sharing experience when asked, and affirming talents and strengths that we see in you.
(A word of caution here… ideally, everyone “should” be welcome in any H.O.P.E. group. Realistically, however, some souls carry deep wounds that get stored in the deep subconscious. This can lead to harmful controlling behavior that shifts the focus of the meeting from hope, kindness, and compassion to illness, guilt, fear, and loss of peace. We have encountered this behavior in only a few of our 6000+ meetings. We have found that the most wise and safe behavior is to advise that human to leave and get deep psychological help from a trained professional. Should that person not comply, then that H.O.P.E. Group is best advised to shut its doors and change, if so desired, to another day and time.)
For individuals who would want to convene their own small, private, invitational H.O.P.E. Groups we share experience that make this possible. We insist that the convener of such a group be nothing more than the convener. Shared reading of the Goldbook at the beginning of each meeting creates a shared, self-governing environment. This makes it possible for the group to be responsible for maintaining its safety and health focus. H.O.P.E’s unique method of context–building makes this self–help process possible. If you are interested in convening such a H.O.P.E. Group, contact us. When you do, we will put you in our database as a convener; so, should you ever have reason to contact us to help find solutions, we know you and can guide you further, providing you with additional helpful resources.
For medical practices and hospital services that wish to incorporate H.O.P.E. Group practices into clinical visit meetings with their patients, we offer certified training and support at levels appropriate to the needs of the practice or service. We complement medical science and practice by introducing our rich experience with active listening, open questioning, simple reflecting, and gentle affirming. We certify and support professional H.O.P.E. Guide trainees (RN, NP, PA, DO, MD) to help guide their patients in the life– and health–context that comprise the essence of H.O.P.E’s twenty-seven years’ experience with over 6000 H.O.P.E. Group meetings. As Dr. Hamilton used these principles in his surgical practice, according to his medical and surgical ethics, it is only appropriate for us to put all of this work in the ethical context and practice of that particular service.
…more about H.O.P.E. Groups
H.O.P.E’s healing work focuses on helping us answer four questions: Who am I? Why am I here? How am I going to get what I came for? What am I going to do with it when I have it? We understand that those answers can be directed in a helping, healing way or a harmful destructive way; so we have the twelve Principles of Attitudinal Healing that Jerry Jampolsky, MD, and others extracted from the spiritual text, A Course in Miracles, which focus on “let(ting) go of fear and conflict and seeing life in a peaceful and loving way.” The group guidelines are commonplace, here comprising ten points of verbal agreement that are a verbal agreement as to how we are going to get along for the time we share today. Finally, we close by standing in a circle and repeating the four phrases of The Prayer for Serenity.
H.O.P.E. Groups are coached groups – guided groups – not “facilitated” groups. (To facilitate means to make something easy, and the work of a H.O.P.E. Group can be difficult and challenging. However, our experience is that there is usually a lot of humor flying around that does make the work easier. The H.O.P.E. Guide is not a trained humorist, either, so we always encourage our trainees to nurture their sense of humor!) The function of a H.O.P.E. Group is to help people get in touch with their inner resources that make a success of the process of pursuing the “worthy ideal” of one’s life (from Earl Nightingale).
So, a H.O.P.E. Group is not a “treatment” group; it is:
- a closed, invitational, on–going, and confidential “small group” of people dealing with personal issues that have to do with their physical and/or mental health and well-being who come together to tell their stories and work out meaningful solutions to their problems in a safe, nurturing context.
- (if “convened”) such a H.O.P.E. Group meets at the desire of a person who convenes the group for support while s-he works on a challenging situation of virtually any kind. It uses the H.O.P.E. Manual text; (in downloadable 20–page summary form), or by purchase (in 40–page complete form) for guidance and the (downloadable) Goldbook; for context. It is responsible – as a group – for its own safety. It is encouraged to bring problems to us at H.O.P.E. where we offer the support that comes from our experience with over 6,000 H.O.P.E. Group meetings. Contact us.
- (if “guided”) such a H.O.P.E. Group meets under the guidance of a certified H.O.P.E–trained person who knows how to maintain the safety and integrity of the group implied in reading the Goldbook; and who has studied and is familiar with the story behind H.O.P.E. Groups and the principles of compassion and forgiveness as covered in The H.O.P.E. Manual
- and where you find out who you really are.
…creating possibilities with intention and affirmation:
The challenge of this era is for humans to learn to focus on possibility and meaning in life rather than on life’s problems and their causes. When we can focus on our innate ability to meet and move beyond challenges, we focus on what is possible; not what is wrong. H.O.P.E. Groups help people face challenges in their lives by focusing on what they want to have happen—what they would like to see come of things—their intention. We encourage the participant to “go for it”, and patiently wait for the results without any interfering “shoulds.”
For individuals who would want to convene their own private, invitational H.O.P.E. groups for 4–8 participants and who may not have a local H.O.P.E. Group, we offer experience and support that make this possible. H.O.P.E’s unique method of context–building makes this self–help group possible. If you are interested in convening such a H.O.P.E. Group, email us at hopeheals ( at ) hopehealing.org.
For medical practices and hospital services that wish to incorporate H.O.P.E. practices into clinical visit meetings with their patients, we offer training and support at levels appropriate to the needs of the practice or service, ranging from introducing the principles of H.O.P.E. listening, questioning, reflecting and affirming, to certified, supported H.O.P.E. Guide trainings of professionals (RN, NP, PA, DO, MD) to guide these meetings in the life – and health – context that are the essence of H.O.P.E’s thirty years’ experience with over 6000 H.O.P.E. Group meetings. For more info, email us
…some more ways in which H.O.P.E. supportive Groups may differ from other support groups:
Focus on what you’re all about, not your disease. (A “cancer support group” focuses on cancer… it can’t not!) H.O.P.E. Groups focus on making sense of your life by confronting your challenges… it’s a life that gets done but once in the annals of the Universe. Don’t die with your dream inside of you… share it in your H.O.P.E. Group.
The ability to share gallows humor… to listen without judging or being judged, and to laugh without judgment but with happiness and joy.
This is said to be “soul work” If this is soul work, how do we know it is soul work? Because the Persian poet, Hafiz, wrote a poem called “The God Who Only Knows Four Words:”
“Every child has known God, not the God of names, not the God of don’ts, but the God who only knows four words and keeps repeating them, saying, ‘Come dance with me.’ Come, dance.”
It is the soul that dances the divine dance, inviting the ego to join it… always.
There are no taboo subjects. Anyone can talk about whatever they want to talk about… even God or not-god.
It’s different and it works.
We have published a “White Paper” that points out the difference between H.O.P.E. Group work and licensed, regulated therapeutic practices on the one hand and certified coaching practices on the other. It also points out important differences between H.O.P.E. Groups and conventional support groups. We invite your comments about this work, so please feel free to email us.
We help people with their therapies, their plans, their hopes-their lives. People in H.O.P.E. groups simply feel better. They find friends and support in their groups and help each other from day to day.
We encourage and teach people to focus on what they would like to have happen in their lives, rather than what is wrong with them. If a person wants to be rid of their cancer, we ask them what they would be doing in that event, and encourage them to start doing that – now.
We know that denial is more fragile than acceptance and confrontation—and we honor both ways of looking at our suffering. We are less interested in what caused any problem as in those attitudes and behaviors that help get past it. We introduce people to those attitudes that have helped other humans throughout the ages. In this way the problems themselves become the keys to their solutions. When H.O.P.E’rs do this work, they get clear on the meaning in their lives. They feel better and become healthier.
Whether someone is facing the hellfire of cancer or AIDS, or the black hole of depression or chronic pain, they benefit from the salutary effect of a H.O.P.E. Group. In its twenty–seven year existence, H.O.P.E. has grown from one group of people challenged by cancer to a network of groups of people experiencing a wide range of challenges:
- Cancer and other tumors
- Grief and loss
- Trauma and PTSD
- Chronic Fatigue syndrome (CFIDS)
- Autoimmune diseases
- Depression, with or without bipolar
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Loss of self-esteem
- “Worried and well”
- Recovery from alcoholism and other drug abuse
- Chronic hepatitis, especially Hepatitis C
- Anxiety/panic attacks
- Abuse issues
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSDS)
…some more about H.O.P.E. Supportive Groups :
We find a richness of spirit arising when these diverse groups come together to work on their individual challenges, each arising out of the human condition. It’s as if we all are moving together to find the meaning of life here on Earth… and perhaps the whole Universe.
H.O.P.E. groups nurture hope—the key to the discovery of meaning, value and purpose in life. Hope promises possibility thereby displacing fear and opening the door to compassionate love—agape, caritas, loving kindness. This attitudinal shift comes out of Earl Nightingale’s historical study of human success and Dr. Gerald Jampolsky’s study of the contemporary spiritual work called A Course in Miracles. It includes the powerful work of many others including Bernie Siegel, MD, Dennis Waitley, Ph.D., Wayne Dyer, Ph.D., Larry LeShan, Ph.D., and Joan Borysenko, Ph.D.
H.O.P.E. Guides are caring people who are conscious of their own healing work, and who have taken the time to study H.O.P.E. Guiding under the guidance of another H.O.P.E. Guide, using The H.O.P.E. Manual. H.O.P.E. Guides are not expected to “fix” or “treat” others; so, if they happen to have a therapy license, they are asked to leave the concepts of “treating” (meaning “therapy”) at the door, (and at all times maintaining the ethical standards of their license). They then enter to provide a safe place that allows for open listening to the humans there without need to judge, criticize or advise… but to be present to each other’s experiences in the context of the Goldbook. If a person in their group needs “therapy”, the guide encourages that person to seek professional help. H.O.P.E. Guides are not coaches, either, for they help people find the resources from their past to build a meaningful present, upon which they can see into a meaningful future. The focus is on the present, how people got to it, what gives it meaning, and how they can create a more meaningful future.
We have not published any fees for guiding H.O.P.E. Groups. With this freedom, H.O.P.E. Guides are free to set an appropriate fee schedule that fits the means and circumstances of the people they are working with… as well as their own. H.O.P.E. is a volunteer, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, and it accepts tax-deductible contributions to help with its outreach and growth as individual circumstances allow. We believe that people like to make contributions acknowledging the value of what they have received. Each group is responsible for all meeting space costs and any compensation to its guide for time and mileage. In this way each group acknowledges its right to support its guide and the meeting place with its contributions.
The H.O.P.E. Center and its founder, Dr. Ken Hamilton, are open to the comments and suggestions of our group participants, their families, and to all members of the Circle of Friends of H.O.P.E.—our supporters.
…to summarize H.O.P.E. Group qualities:
We value… We are…