Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Carolyn Ellis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Arthur Bochner, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kenneth Cissna, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eric Eisenberg, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Friedman, Ph.D.


Systems theory, Dialectical tensions, Dialogue, Wraparound, Mental health communication


This research examines the social construction of hope in a community mental health system of care. Groopman (2004) defines hope as the elevating feeling we experience when we see a path to a better future. A year-long ethnographic study of a children's mental health system of care team found that members of the mental health care team construct hope for themselves and for the family they're helping by cycling through the dialectical tensions of hegemony and equality, marginalization and normalization, relating and othering, empowerment and disempowerment, and control and emotionality. They reconcile these tensions in dialogic moments of empathy toward the family and other team members, engagement of all team members in the process, creation of a human connection within the team, vulnerability to each other, creation of possibilities for themselves and for each other, social support, and blended voices. This dialogical reconciliation constructs hope for the family and for themselves when the team successfully negotiates these dialectical tensions by taking a dialogic view of them that focuses on exploration and collaboration around the tensions and finds an alternative position that allows both poles of the tensions to co-exist, rather than struggling between competing positions. Constructing hope leads the family and team toward healing and motivating, transcends the family's problems, and moves the family and the team forward.