Humor as a Therapeutic Technique Joseph Farese LADC, TEAP Specialist Suzanne Martin PsyD, Regional MHS
Psychological Benefits of Humor • Stimulates alertness and memory • Enhances learning and creativity • Promotes relaxation • Promotes shift from negative to positive • Outlet for expressing feelings • Effective mode of communication Saper, Bernard (1990). The therapeutic use of humor for psychiatric disturbances in adolescents and adults, Psychiatric Quarterly, 61(4): 261-272.
What we Know aboutLaughter • Increases pain tolerance – laughter releases endorphins in the brain that fight pain • Improves respiration and breathing • Improves mental function • Exercises facial, abdominal, and chest muscles • Relaxes muscles/decreases muscle tension Source: Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, 2004.
Other Health Benefits of Laughter • Lowers blood pressure • Decreases stress hormones • Protects the heart • Gives our muscles a workout • Improves brain function Saper, Bernard (1990). The therapeutic use of humor for psychiatric disturbances in adolescents and adults. Psychiatric Quarterly, 61(4): 261-272.
Humor as a Therapeutic Intervention • Have humor in your repertoire • Be willing to risk using the humor • Have assessed the client's level of humor • Be prepared to respond to the student’s reaction to humor • Be capable of taking yourself lightly and your seriously • Use humor which is genuine and congruent with who you are as a person
Assessment for Humor First Consider: • The target of humor (humor aimed at self, situations, and/or others) • The environmental conditions in which humor is presented (with whom, at what time, and in what setting) • The specific individual's receptivity to humor
Assessing a Student’s Humor Potential • Observing their current uses of humor • Soliciting the role of humor in the student's life • Observing the student's ability to laugh at him/herself • Observing the student's response to the humor of others
Types of Humor • Playful • Slapstick • Self-deprecating • Sarcastic • Gallows
Self-Deprecating Humor Self-deprecating humor relies on the observation of something negative about the person delivering the commentary.
Even Freud Recognized the Therapeutic Value of Jokes Once a person can separate from their problems, the problems become more manageable.
The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor (AATH) is an international community of professionals who incorporate humor into their daily lives. AATH is the leader in providing evidence-based information about current research and practical applications of humor. www.aath.org
Help Students Find Humor • Role model • Help them deal with stress • Dress less seriously • Keep a toy on your desk • Laugh at yourself
Handle Humor with Care • Use humor at the expense of yourself or a group you are part of, rather than at the expense of someone else. • Don’t use humor when someone else is in so much pain that humor will not make them feel better. • Use humor that anyone can enjoy.
HUMOR THERAPY http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=IBl9HixeWf4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=IBl9HixeWf4
Creative Good Communicators Team players Stress Relievers 96% of Executives Choose Employees With Sense of Humor Source: The Creative Group, A Robert Half International Company, 2004
“A good sense of humor is one aspect of self actualization.”- Abraham Maslow
Resilience and Humor Humor not only helps relieve distress and fights environmental toxins when they occur, it also regenerates our psychological "antibodies" so that the impact of the toxins is minimal. This regeneration helps sustain resilience.
Laughter helps protect the therapist from burnout and compassion fatigue. Prevent Burnout
Therapeutic Humor Web Sites • American Association of Therapeutic Humor (AATH) www.aath.org • Humor Matters www.humormatters.com • Jest for the Health of It. www.jesthealth.com • Humor Research www.humorrearch.org (includes links to the International Society for Humor Studies and the International Journal of Humor Studies)