I often wonder what makes a client more likely to have a positive and enthused perspective on life. I have come to find, through 10 years of consistent exposure and work with communities that are low-income and immigrate due to violence and unstable environments, that these are the clients that actually tend to have these characteristics. Reading their stories on paper, it would seem that they have all the reason in the world to think negatively based on past life experiences, yet they tend to have more loving relationships, appreciation for the little material possessions they have, and consistently come to their therapy sessions able to more easily access joy in their lives than others.
It has been a source of inspiration in my work to listen to these individuals able to have gratitude for the good in their lives. Many have experienced the death of loved ones because of war in their country, an inability to find jobs that can support a standard United States lifestyle, or have had severe childhood trauma such as physical and sexual abuse, yet they still possess an ability to see the positive in their circumstances. Those who suffer the most severe trauma often, in my professional experience, have the most positive perspectives on life. One of the most rewarding parts of working with these individuals is that they come to be aware of the resources they possess to overcome trauma and then are able to achieve their treatment goals with greater velocity.
People don’t choose trauma but they can choose how to react to trauma. Individuals that seek out therapy are looking to improve their lives and not be victims of their traumas. When these individuals are given the tools to overcome their traumas and their positive perspectives are used as their greatest resource, they are likely to create a healthy realization of themselves and feel the freedom that they are seeking. They then have access to create further healing for their communities.