All young people need to believe in a promising future with real opportunities (Balk, 1995). Resilient individuals report that faith and hope played a key role in sustaining them through adversity. Masten (2009) refers to the classic Kauai Study, where Werner and Smith (1992) noted that the cohort of young people found to be resilient expressed optimism, hope for the future, and a deeply held conviction that life has meaning.
Hope and expectancy is borne out of feeling secure, valued and competent. Many clients of youth AOD services experience social exclusion and a poverty of developmentally conducive experiences. With no reason to believe that their circumstances will improve, it is natural for young people to feel pessimistic about their prospects for future.
This assertion is corroborated by Fisher, Florsheim and Sheetz (2005), who found that homeless adolescents tend to experience high rates of hopelessness and a diminished sense of self-efficacy. The conditions most likely to generate a sense of hope and positive expectation among these young people are also those that contribute to healthy development and resilient adaptation.
On a practical level, setting and pursuing goals, including those aimed at resolving issues of immediate concern (such as finding accommodation), engages young people in future-oriented action. Even very small gains and successes provide tangible reasons to envisage a positive future. Gradually, the accumulation and recognition of goals achieved, combined with the knowledge that useful and reliable assistance is available, can produce a greater sense of hope that change is possible and provide reasons to consider and work towards a better future.