Tremblay LM, Lanctôt N, Couvrette A. (2020). The hopelessness effect: Counselors’ perceptions of their female clients involved in sex work in Canada. Health & Social Care in the Community. 00: 1-8.
This qualitative study explored how counsellors who work with women currently or formerly involved in sex work perceive these women’s future. From May to July 2016, we conducted semi‐structured interviews with 21 counsellors providing psychosocial services in Canadian agencies with recognized mandates to support such women. The interview protocol was based on the Possible Selves Mapping Interview, adapted to explore the counsellors’ hopes and fears for these clients. We subjected the interview transcripts to an interpretive descriptive analysis. Our findings centred on three themes: the counsellors’ hopes for their clients’ future, in light of their personal and social resources; the counsellors’ fears about the cumulative devastating effects that their clients’ work environment might have on them; and the counsellors’ fears that these women would lose hope for the future. This study clearly demonstrates the importance of addressing the safety and well‐being of women involved in sex work and of recognizing the impacts of social inequalities and structural barriers on these women’s life paths. The implications of these findings for policies and practices are discussed at the end of this paper.