The therapeutic use of humour
The therapeutic use of humour: The role of humour in human development and how it may inform counselling practice.
“When working with clients should I park my mischievous and humorous self or is there a serious role for humour in counselling?” (Val Wosket)
Humour is essentially social and a common dynamic in our everyday relationships. It ranges from a ‘sparkle in the eye,’ or light-hearted ‘social lubricant’ with colleagues, to a cathartic ‘belly laugh’ with friends at the end of a tough week.
The pervasiveness, complexity and universality of humour means we are likely to be using it within the counselling relationship but, as with any other intervention, if we use it (or indeed avoid it) without awareness we may be harming our clients.
Some therapists encourage the use of humour, sensing it’s potential, and others urge caution, warning of the dangers.
This deep dive aims to set some guidelines for the safe use of humour in therapeutic settings. It will start by examining the role humour plays in human development, exploring Erikson’s eight stage psychosocial model of lifelong development. It then extrapolates from this to inform counselling practice, the aim being to understand how to use humour confidently with therapeutic potency, whilst avoiding the pitfalls.
About Nicole Addis
Nicole Addis is a UKCP registered psychotherapist, supervisor and trainer. Nicole is Director of Peel Psychological Consultancy, a private counselling and training service aimed at delivering psychological intervention and research based CPD, to individuals, health professionals and organisations.