By Dalea Alawar, Post-Doc at Practical Recovery
As I’ve gotten more comfortable in my therapeutic style, I’ve found myself increasingly using humor in my group and individual therapy sessions. Considering that this had not always been a part of my style, I decided to do some research regarding the costs and benefits of using humor in therapy. The costs seemed rather obvious- if used at the wrong time and place, it can be viewed as inappropriate, insensitive, and demeaning.
The benefits were quite surprising, however. Aside from the general physical health benefits of laughter, there are several advantages of using humor in therapeutic settings in terms of mental health. Not only can it reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, even if only in the moment, but using humor in therapy sessions can also allow one to share more freely, which in turn increases the likelihood of having a productive session. Using humor can also allow a client to gain a different perspective on their current stressor, which can lead to identifying new ways of coping with it. Moreover, whether the therapist or client cracks a joke, laughing together improves the therapeutic bond and can even increase trust between one another.
So, the next time you’re in a therapy session, don’t hold back on making a joke!