The Healing Power of Humor in Therapy
posted: Sep. 22, 2023.
While psychotherapy often focuses on addressing serious issues like anxiety, depression, and trauma, many therapists have discovered the value of incorporating humor into their practice. Using laughter and levity in appropriate ways can actually help clients make progress faster and feel better. Humor is an essential component of my practice. I use it to help my clients open up about issues, especially very sensitive ones, and show them the therapeutic process is not a scary or intimidating experience. Most therapists agree the right amount of humor at the right time can enhance the therapeutic process immensely.
Here are some ways humor benefits the therapeutic process:
- It builds rapport and trust. Sharing a laugh with your therapist helps form an emotional connection early on. Clients feel more at ease opening up when they see the therapist has a lighter side.
- It reduces anxiety and tension. Humor and laughter trigger the release of “feel-good” chemicals in the brain like endorphins and dopamine. This can relieve stress and ease anxious feelings that often arise in therapy sessions.
- It provides perspective. Seeing the absurdity or irony in a situation through humor can help clients gain a new perspective on their problems. This shift in perspective often loosens the emotional grip pf painful thoughts and feelings.
- It strengthens resilience. The ability to laugh at life’s difficulties is a sign of emotional strength and resilience. Therapists can help clients develop this coping skill through using humor together in sessions.
- It signals progress. As clients make progress in therapy, they often become able to joke and find humor in things that previously upset them. This shows they are gaining some distance from their problems.
- It strengthens the relationship. Sharing laughs together helps build trust, closeness, and a sense of fun between the therapist and client. This does not mean they are making light of their problems or not taking them seriously. It’s the exact opposite; it creates an alliance that is critical for making real progress.