Contraindica Tions

As in any intervention, using humor has its potential risks and benefits (Bloch, 1987). Some general ways that humor can be unskillful in therapy groups include:

• A masked expression of hostility.

• A distracting frivolousness which draws away from the therapeutic work.

• Avoidance of whatever specific issue is emerging in the group. In addition, when the therapist initiates the humor, there is the risk that rather than serve the therapeutic process, it can simply be a form of personal self-aggrandizement.

Although humor can be useful in most situations, using it with clients who show paranoia, and those with other more rigid personalities require special care. Of course that is true with such personalities in any case. With such a population, when humor does arise—and it will—it becomes even more important to "check in" with them when others laugh.


Bloch, S. (1987). Humor In Group Therapy. In W. Fry & W. A. Salameh (Eds.). Advances in the Clinical Uses of Humor (pp. 171-192). Florida: Professional Resource Exchange.

Fehr, S. (1999). Introduction to Group Therapy: A Practical Guide. Binghamton,

NY: The Haworth Press. Fehr, S. (2003). Introduction to Group Therapy: A Practical Guide (Second edition). Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press. Klein, A. (1987). The Heeding Power of Humor: Techniques for Getting through Loss, Setbacks, Upsets, Disappointments, Difficulties, Trials, Tribulations, and All That Not-So-Funny Stuff. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam.

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