The potential benefits of using humor include:

• Gaining perspective—with humor one can gain a bit of distance from what is happening, relaxing defensiveness.

• Reducing overall anxiety—at times the tension in any group can become stifling rather than therapeutic.

• Enhancing the group cohesion—the group that laughs together feels together in those moments.

• Enhancing pleasure and joy in being alive—feelings which help members stay with the group in the moment. When the therapist initiates humor, it can have the additional benefits of making us appear more human and personally engaged, hence safer to directly engage.

With more highly functional groups, as long as we maintain a therapeutic perspective, humor can be highly effective in furthering the processes of the group and the growth of its members. It draws members into the present moment. They experience that even in the midst of facing difficult and painful truths, they can find also find playful and even joyful connections with others. When the therapist actively engages with the group through humor, we become more available for members to engage us and work out any transference. Finally, it makes the group process itself more pleasurable for all.

Using Humor to Advance Group Work

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