From Learned Helplessness to Hope: A Case Study
In the internet era of 2010, videos were certainly replacing the traditional letters and have even more empowering effect. In the first “It Gets Better” Youtube video directed to the LGBTQ+ teens, Savage and Miller described the experiences each of them had been bullied in school, and the many opportunities that opened up for them after high school, offering not just hope, but for advice and insight from adults who had been in their situation.
For the LGBTQ+ adolescents of late 2010, those videos were a way to start taking a critical position of their own narrative and oppose it. It is from respecting the place in which a person stands in the moment of therapeutic encounter and at the same time it counter-balances the problem-saturated story. In terms of clinical work, Savage’s YouTube letter-video was surely an ‘intervention’.
In the clinic, the narrative therapist promotes a process of separating the individual from ‘fixed’ and deficit conclusions/descriptions about their identity. The main idea in narrative therapy is that identity is fluid, dynamic, and contextual (Madigan, 2011). In Savage’s words:
“By giving ourselves permission to speak directly to LGBT youth, Terry and I gave permission to all LGBT adults everywhere to speak to LGBT youth. It forced straight people — politicians, teachers, preachers, and parents — to decide whose side they were on. Were they going to come to the defense of bullied LGBT teenagers? Or were they going to remain silent and, by so doing, give aid and comfort to the young anti-gay bullies who attack LGBT children in schools and the adult anti-gay bullies at conservative “family” organizations who attack LGBT people for a living?”
In this paper, I looked into the It Gets Better movement and its instilling of hope among LGBTQ+ youth in 2010. Hope and despair co-exist in our space. However, in dealing with adversity, hope is a hard task to invoke from within ourselves; In doing hope we want to be aware of similar cases where helplessness and aversive stimuli are visible, look at it as intergenerational trauma, and intervene in a more holistic view addressing both the individual and the community.