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Hope has emerged as one of the top factors leading to human flourishing across the life span. This course, designed for use by the State of Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services, will present the science of Hope as a psychological strength in our ability to cope with traumatic experiences.  In particular, research conducted at OU Tulsa’s Hope Research Center will be discussed that shows: (1) hope predicts adaptive outcomes; (2) hope buffers the effects of adversity; and (3) hope can be influenced and sustained.  This course will also present “hands-on” tools to assess hope and develop strategies to nurture hope.  The research discussed and applied in this course is included in the award-winning, bestselling book, Hope Rising: How the Science of HOPE Can Change Your Life, authored by Casey Gwinn, J.D. and Dr. Chan Hellman.


Course Objectives:

  1. Participants will learn the science of hope and its core components that lead to goal attainment.
  2. Participants will learn how hope can help survivors of violence overcome adversity on the path to well-being.
  3. Participants will discuss the theoretical foundations of hope and its application to personal and professional goals.
  4. Participants will learn how to assess hope in youth and adults.
  5. Participants will practice strategies to nurture hope in youth and adults.


Training Length:  4.5 hours


Course Directors:


Chan M. Hellman is a professor of social work at the University of Oklahoma and Director of The Hope Research Center.  He has written more than 150 scientific publications and has presented at numerous national and international conferences worldwide.  Chan has also presented his work on hope with TEDx in the Spring of 2020.  Chan’s research is focused on hope as a psychological strength helping children and adults overcome trauma and adversity.  This research informed the development of the “Hope Centered and Trauma Informed” training program. Chan is the co-author of the award-winning book “Hope Rising:  How the Science of Hope Can Change Your Life” with his co-author Casey Gwinn published by Morgan James.



Casey Gwinn is the President and Co-Founder of the Alliance. He is the visionary behind the Family Justice Center Movement, first proposing the concept of the Family Justice Center model in 1989. Casey founded Camp HOPE America in 2003. He is a national expert on domestic violence dynamics, including investigation and prosecution, the handling of non-fatal strangulation cases, and is one of the leading thinkers in the country on the science of hope. Prior to this position, Casey was the elected San Diego City Attorney.



Course Outline:


Section 1: Introduction to Hope


Lesson 1: Overview and Vision: Why The Science of Hope? (35 minutes)

Alliance President Casey Gwinn chats with Oklahoma Department of Human Services Director and Cabinet Secretary of Human Services and Early Childhood Initiatives Justin Brown, Chief of Innovation Jamie Ledoux, and Director of Behavioral Health Integration Brett Hayes on the importance of seeing hope in all our lives, and how knowing how to foster it makes all the difference.

Lesson 2: Introduction to the Science and Power of Hope  (40 minutes)

This is the introduction to hope as a science.  While the research shows that hope is positive for everyone, this introduction is specifically grounded in the power of hope in the context of trauma and adversity.  This introduction sets the foundation to implementing strategies to nurture and restore hope in children, adults, and families.

Lesson 3: Clarifying Conversation (35 minutes)

Following Lesson 1, this session takes a deeper dive in clarifying frequently asked questions and some of the guiding principles such as: Hope is a social gift and hope begets hope. This conversation also demonstrates the differences between hope and resilience.


Section 2: Strategies to Nurture Hope


Lesson 4: Surveying Hope


Topic 1:  Goal Setting Worksheet (30 minutes)

Lesson 1 & 2 are a prerequisite for this session. This lesson provides an organic (unscripted) guided conversation to completing the personal and professional goal setting worksheet.  This worksheet is grounded in the science of hope and includes the distinction between such things as avoidant and achievement goal.

Topic 2: Hope Worksheet (30 minutes)

Lesson 1, 2, and 3 are a prerequisite for this session. This lesson continues the organic (unscripted) guided conversation transitioning from the goal worksheet to the hope worksheet.  In this lesson, we see how hope becomes actionable as pathways thinking and willpower are nurtured around the desired goal.

Topic 3: Pathways Worksheet (20 minutes)

Lesson 1, 2, 3, and 4 are a prerequisite for this session. This lesson continues the organic (unscripted) guided conversation transitioning to a deeper dive discussion and strategic planning on selected pathways.  Participants will begin to identify potential barriers at each step and begin the problems solving process before they begin their pathway journey.  Finally, participants will identify their social support team who can help and encourage them each step along their way to hope.


Section 3: Measuring Hope


Lesson 5: Measuring Hope (20 minutes)

This lesson introduces the adult hope scale and the children’s hope scale as the metrics used when measuring hope. This session will describe how to administer and score both measures for their use in: individual assessment, group/organizational assessment, and community assessment.


Section 4: Implementing Hope


Lesson 6: Creating a Hope Centered Framework (45 minutes)

The science of hope demonstrates its importance for children, adults, and families. Hope is also important for staff and organizational well-being.  This lesson will focus on hope as a common language that can promote collective impact.