The Use of Humor in Therapy : Research-Based Training Recommendations


April Davis

Date of Award


Degree Name



Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Lavita Nadkarni

First Committee Member

Erik Sween

Second Committee Member

Jon Richard


Humor in psychotherapy; Research and clinical practice; Therapeutic humor


Despite its essential and universal nature, humor has historically received limited attention from the behavioral sciences, particularly as compared to other affective experiences like anger and sadness. Some authors (e.g., Bell & Malhi, 2009; Provine, 2000a; Roeckelein, 2002) suggest that this is because researchers have traditionally failed to "take humor seriously" and, according to O'Connell (cited in Roeckelein, 2002), have too often pursued its study in a piecemeal manner lacking scientific rigor, resulting in "no comprehensive network of facts about the development and purposes of humor in human existence" (p. 1). Roeckelein (2002) found not a single mention of humor, laughter, wit, comedy, or theories relating to these topics in introductory psychology textbooks published between 1930 and 1996.While research interest in the area has grown, especially over the last decade, it remains an elusive and nebulous topic, more likely to be examined in specialty psychology texts (e.g., social psychology and child development) than general ones (Martin, 2007; Roeckelein, 2002). Organizations (e.g., The International Society for Humor Studies; The Association for the Advancement of Therapeutic Humor), journals (e.g., Humor: International Journal of Humor Research) and internet phenomena such as "The Humor Project" (www.humorproiect.com) have made great strides in integrating information about humor from discreet fields such as the arts and humanities, biological and social sciences, education, and business management. Still, the therapeutic potential of humor remains a relatively young subject of serious scientific inquiry (Marci, Moran, & Orr, 2004; Sala, Krupat, & Roter, 2002). While humor does make appearances in self-help books and publications addressing clinical applications, these sources are much ...


Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


62 pages

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