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Psychotherapy, Humor in

  • By: W. Larry Ventis
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Although humor and laughter typically occur together, humor, a complex cognitive stimulus, and laughter, a fairly stereotypical physiological response, can have differing potential consequences in psychotherapy. The ability for a psychotherapy client to experience humor in a context that has previously been highly troublesome and associated with intense negative emotion can, in itself, constitute a significant beneficial shift in cognitive perspective. Humor can also implicitly model that there is more than one way to construe one’s experience. Mutually enjoyed laughter, at a minimum, conveys feelings of positive connection between therapist and client in psychotherapy. Arguably, laughter may physiologically relieve excessive negative emotional arousal and can enable clients to feel more at ease in discomforting situations in therapy, but empirical support for this latter claim is ...

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