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Humor in Coaching, Counseling & Therapy
Create Opportunities to Laugh! Martyn Carruthers

Online Humor Coaching & Soulwork Training

Humor is a Contact Sport!

Funny Stories for Coaching, Counseling and Therapy

Humor Coaching

A sense of humor is an asset of happy people, yet humor is more than making people laugh. Humor can help you welcome and bond to people, put problems into perspective, improve performance, promote creativity and energize communications.
Humor can also achieve the opposite of all of these.

"Didn't we meet in ?"

Does humor seem easy? Being funny is a delicate balancing act. Humor can both attract and alienate people. How many times have you heard people say, "But I was only joking!"

My humor lost me my job. I made fun of our working situation
but none of my co-workers thought it was funny, and
they told my boss who was definitely not amused.
Joking can be hazardous to your wealth!

Most (certainly not all) people believe that a sense of humor is an asset, but they may forget a key word ... appropriate. Only appropriate humor allows you to interact and bond with people, to address sensitive ideas or topics without causing offense and to encourage people to express themselves.

Martyn, your humor made the difference. You helped me laugh at my problems,
and you never laughed at me. You helped me kick myself out of my depression.

Humor can take many forms. I don't remember many jokes but I enjoy telling funny observations, puns (people groan, not laugh) and metaphors. An awareness of humor helps me recognize and enjoy Freudian slips (multi-level unconscious communication) during coaching and counseling sessions.

The trouble with having an open mind is that people try to put things in it.
Terry Pratchett

People seem more inclined to express humor in an atmosphere of trust and familiarity. Humor and laughter can be a social glue with friends, and help build trust and familiarity with clients and students.

Origins of Humor

Studies of humor date back to Plato and Aristotle, who subscribed to a theory of superiority. Charles Darwin wrote about humor in The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872). Freud wrote that humor is relief and some philosophers say that humor is a leftover of childish play.

The discussion of humor by biologists, psychologists and psychiatrists has not seen humor explained. Although theories about humor are abundant, real research into humor seems to be complicated by a conflict with serious scientific investigation.

I have coached professional comedians as well as particularly funny adults, and explored the origins of their humor. These people often seemed to have developed being funny as a way to cope with home or school problems as a child, often as a way to gain popularity.

I would prefer a free bottle in front of me than a pre-frontal lobotomy.

Are men funnier than women; or is humor more important to men.
"Who can tell the best joke / make more people laugh?"
Many funny people seem to drink excessive alcohol.
What's the connection?

Who MUST be Funny?

Occasionally, someone asks for coaching or therapy and then tries to entertain us. Maybe they don't know how to stop being funny, or perhaps humor is the only way they can communicate. Or maybe they perceive our provocative-humorous philosophy as a challenge.

> Your humor article is almost funny :) I should warn you, that if you coach all people
> around you to be healthy, wealthy and happy, you might get bored to death ... You
> might be more mature, but I believe that I am a funnier writer. Email

Such people can be hilarious, with clever responses for every question, although they also seem to have abstract, complex goals with many conflicts. My attempts to manage this type of humor by ignoring or rejecting it always fails - such people are usually funnier, faster and more flexible than me.

I tend to enjoy their wit and guess out loud some consequences of their inappropriate humor. I may mention that I enjoy people who are mature enough to choose the right time and place for humor.

My therapy style often helps people access, mature and integrate split-off parts. Yet with increased emotional maturity, these funny people often lose the compulsion to be funny. They can still cause me and others to laugh out loud, but they become better at choosing the right times and places for fun.

Humor for Coaches, Therapists & Trainers

In spite of many compelling reasons for using humor, few helping professionals seem to integrate it into their work. Some tell me that they are professionals, that they do not want to be perceived as funny, or that they lack confidence in their ability to make people laugh. Yet these same people probably create and regularly share humor with family members, friends and colleagues.

Years ago I attended a training with Dr Patch Adams (the real one, not Robin Williams). Perhaps Patch Adams' gave me permission to be funny with clients.

Patch Adams: If you treat a disease, you win or you lose.
If you treat a person, I guarantee that you'll win, no matter the outcome.

You can get some comedy audios and videos and learn some patterns, and how to set up humor for a good effect. Once I had a rental car for a month, and a Robin Williams' cassette "Live at the Met", and I played it endlessly. On return home I entertained my friends; and later one said, "Last night I watched a Robin Williams show on TV ... he stole your jokes but you told them better!"

If you give presentations or trainings, perhaps chat with some members of the audience before you start. This can help build a sense of familiarity and ease with them, with a bonus that the conversations may give you some ideas that you can safely share with the audience later.

We can coach you to discover, build and express your sense of humor.

People who Laugh Together Stay Together

Even if you can tell jokes well, there may be some stories and types of humor that you may be wise to avoid. Used well, your humor can distract people from stress and offer solutions for problems. Humor is valuable in relationships ... couples and families who are happy together usually stay together.

Even if you think that you have no sense of humor, you can still develop it. If you want to improve your joy of life - get our coaching! We can help you find your funny side and feel more comfortable letting it show. We can coach you to exercise your humor muscles and strengthen your funny bones.

Perhaps you can already amuse your friends and relatives ... why not ask them for feedback?  And maybe you can benefit from some improvement. You can:

  1. Get our humor coaching
  2. Expand your repertoire of stories
  3. Lighten up and notice life's funny moments
  4. Collect personal stories for future presentations
  5. Be willing to laugh at yourself and at your mistakes
  6. Ask funny friends for tips and tricks on how they improved their humor
  7. Talk to more people. Compliments are a good way to start conversations.
  8. Use gestures or facial expressions that express the opposite of your words
  9. Watch comedies and read funny articles. Note how professionals tell stories.
  10. If you smile and laugh more often, you may see humor that you didn't see before

If people like you - they will usually laugh with you!

During a job interview, I was asked by the panel what I thought was my best asset.
I replied "No matter how bad things get, I can usually see the funny side".
The panel seemed to like that. Later they asked what I thought was my greatest liability,
and I gave the same answer. There was general hilarity ... and I got the job.

Which Type of Humor to Use?

Your clients or audience decide what is funny - not you! As you build a repertoire of funny stories, perhaps build a repertoire of funny styles. If you learn to use different styles of humor ... you will create more funny stories ... and have more fun. Develop your flexibility! Here are some ways to be funny:

Dark humor (black comedy) is about violent, gross or depressing topics. (Emergency workers often have great dark humor. If a victim is the source of the laughter it may be called gallows humor.)

Dry humor is deadpan, e.g. not-very-funny stories that customs inspectors may tell.

Jokes are short stories ending with funny twists (punch lines).

Misunderstandings are often about relationships and may involve mistaken identities, sex, etc.

Parodies (spoofs) mock original works, e.g. movies, TV shows, scientific theories etc.

Physical humor is all about body movements and non-verbal communication. (E.g. Saying "YES! DEFINITELY!" with a deep tonality while shaking your head slowly and hugely from side to side).

Puns are word plays which exploit multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for humorous effects. (E.g. We are a non-prophet organization!)

Sarcasm isn't a style of humor, it is usually condescending covert criticism. Avoid it.

Satire ridicules human follies and shortcomings with irony or parody. Satire may be funny, but usually its primary aim is to judge behavior or motivate improvement.

Being funny appropriately is not as easy as it might seem. Appropriate humor requires sensitivity, effort and practice. You don't need to be a stand-up comedian - and you do need to connect with your audiences or clients. We can help you relax with your creativity and enjoy improving your sense of humor.

Sometimes only non-sense makes sense!
See our Funny Page

Online Humor Coaching & Soulwork Training

I thought you were just another therapist - but you were not just. Not even. Not only.

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 2008-2018
All rights reserved.

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Have You Suffered Enough?

 Where are you now? Understand your emotions, fixations and enmeshments
What do you hope for? Know your goals and stop sabotaging yourself
Do you feel resourceful? Learn to develop your inner resources
Do emotions block you? Relationship problems and mentor damage
Do your beliefs limit you? Change limiting beliefs and end dependence
Do you feel connected? Resolve identity issues to recover lost resources
Is your partner happy? Build healthy partnership (or separate peacefully)
Are your children healthy? Happy parents better manage family problems
Do you want team success? Team leaders and their teams develop together
Do you have complex goals? Specialty coaching, counseling & therapy

Plagiarism is theft. Copyright Martyn Carruthers 1996-2018  All rights reserved. Soulwork Systemic Coaching was primarily developed by Martyn Carruthers to help people solve emotional problems and relationship conflicts to achieve their goals. These concepts and strategies are for general knowledge only. Consult a physician about medical conditions and before changing medical treatment. Don't steal intellectual property ... get permission to post, publish or teach Martyn's work - email