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Humour and Psychotherapy

Humour and Psychotherapy

This may seem an unusual combination of ideas. This especially because of the stereotypical image of the dusty old psychotherapist stroking his beard and saying “hmmm” a lot. In truth, yes there are psychotherapists who meet this stereotype, but there are far more who do not. Indeed, psychotherapists are just like you as people all shapes, sizes, colours and creeds.

One of the things that make humans human is an appreciation of humour. We all have some kind of a sense of humour whatever it may be. As this is something we all have in common, why would we not use it in psychotherapy? Well some of us do. Now, let me be clear, humour is not used to mock or belittle the client or his or her issues. However, the use of humour can displace a negative emotional state long enough to help open a person’s mind to change.

As I often tell my students, humour should be used like salt. A bit of salt enhances flavour of food, too much makes food inedible. If a psychotherapist is to use humour, it is essential that this humour is used in appropriate ways for appropriate situations. Metaphors are a very good way to deliver humour in psychotherapy in a respectful and clinically useful way.

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