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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Humor within the Therapeutic Relationship: Mental Health Therapists' Experiences and Understandings
by Wolf-Wasylowich, Rhonda, M.A., Prescott College, 2011, 84; 1492623
Abstract (Summary)

Humor is a common phenomenon in social interactions and interpersonal relationships. Although humor research has grown extensively in the last 30 years, there is still minimal research studying humor within the therapeutic relationship. This study explored mental health therapists' experience of humor within the therapeutic relationship and their understandings of this experience. In order to explore these experiences and understandings, I conducted in-depth interviews with mental health therapists. Phenomenological research methods were used to analyze the data in order to obtain common themes and descriptions. Themes discovered from the data were humor use, humor within the therapeutic relationship, humor as a sign of mental health, communicating with humor, humor provides balance, genuineness, and therapeutic risks. The findings indicated that humor is present in the therapeutic relationship and is used in a number of ways by therapist and client. Therapist humor generally occurred naturally, yet mindfully. Humor created connection and balanced the emotional heaviness of therapy. Client use of humor could signify healing or a healthy aspect of their being. Therapists also expressed a number of potential risks when using humor. Strengths and limitation of this research project are included, as are suggestions for future research.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Maliszewski, Stan
Commitee: Grady, Sharon, Smith, Paul
School: Prescott College
Department: Counseling Psychology / Equine-Assisted Mental Health
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 49/05M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Mental health, Counseling Psychology
Keywords: Humor, Mental health, Therapeutic relationship, Therapy
Publication Number: 1492623
ISBN: 978-1-124-64911-5
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