“I shyly laugh, inwardly praying she won’t be one of those shrinks who would rid me of my favorite coping mechanism. Sure humor’s a defense – so what?” Daryl Stone, a therapist in therapy, in my novel Minding Therapy
If laughter‘s so good for us, doesn’t it belong in therapy—on either side of the process? (Naturally, I’m referring only to the healthy, not-hurtful kind.) Some quotes by well-known folks who’ve appreciated laughter:
Mark Twain: When you laugh, your mind, body, and spirit change.
Madeleine L’Engle: A good laugh heals a lot of hurts.
Lord Byron: Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine.
Bob Hope: I have seen what a laugh can do. It can transform almost unbearable tears into something bearable, even hopeful.
Victor Borge: Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.
Bob Newhart: Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.
Ethel Barrymore: You grow up on the day you have your first real laugh at yourself.
William James: We don’t laugh because we’re happy – we’re happy because we laugh.
LET’S BACK THIS UP WITH SOME RESEARCH
For further details about any of the following snippets, click on the corresponding resource link.
Melanie Winderlich, Discovery, reports scientific reasons why laughter is healthy: it decreases stress, helps coping skills, and boosts your social skills, among other things.
Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project: “Laughter is more than just a pleasurable activity…When people laugh together, they tend to talk and touch more and to make eye contact more frequently.”
Psychologist Ofer Zur, The Zur Institute, asserts that laughter in therapy is cathartic.
Abigail Mellier, Newsfix: “Laughing during therapy is a sign of emotional intensity and good rapport with the therapist….”
Helpguide.org: “Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hopes, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert.”
Robert M. Gordon, Ph.D, “To Wit or Not to Wit: The Use of Humor in Psychotherapy”: “A humorless therapist robs the therapeutic relationship of playfulness, desensitization and mastery. Albert Ellis (1977) was one of the earliest advocates for humor in psychotherapy. He stated that Rational Emotive Therapy puts the locus of psychopathology at taking one’s self and life too seriously. He believed that humor could be a powerful therapeutic force.”