Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill Therapist Sara Cole.
They laughed, they cried, they did everything in between...
I don't feel the need to be serious all the time in order to take my work seriously. When a client and I can laugh or cry together in session, it suggests to me that we have really reached that point where there is trust and a solid connection. I think that some therapists avoid humor in their work for a number of reasons. There is a fear that if someone laughs or says something funny, that they may come across as uncaring or cold. There are obviously times when a joke is not appropriate, as we all know. But sometimes a funny comment or observation is exactly what is needed to break the tension or give a new perspective.
Is it possible to do great work and have fun doing it?
I think that sometimes people make the assumption that you must be very serious to be an expert in something. I also disagree with this idea. Einstein was not a serious person and it's clear that he was a genius. I am an expert at what I do and I love it. I know that I can do great work with my clients and that we can both even enjoy it sometimes. For me, the therapeutic relationship makes room for the whole range of emotions. Because, after all therapy is all about all the feels.
Humor Can Change How We Think About Events
For a very long time I have strongly believed that humor and laughter play an important part in therapy and healing. We have seen that laughter improves physical health. An example is the story of the Doctor Patch Adams, in which Robin Williams plays the main character of the movie Patch Adams. But, Humor, laughing, smiling can also improve a person's mental health. Researcher and Psychologist Steven Sultanoff PhD writes that "humor helps us change the way in which we perceive events. One way humor helps change thoughts is by providing perspective on a situation. Consider the Ziggy cartoon where Ziggy is lying on the psychiatrist's couch and the psychiatrist says "The whole world isn't against you...there are billions of people who don't care one way or the other.""
Sultanoff also writes that some of the benefits of humor go beyond, the humor itself. He explains that "benefits of humor are not in laughter, but in the cognitive and emotional management that humorous experiences provide. The experience of humor relieves emotional distress and assists in changing negative thinking patterns.”.
How Smiling Affects Your Brain
Laughing feels good. I think we were meant to laugh and smile and experience joy everyday. Everytime you smile, you throw a little feel-good party in your brain. The actual act of smiling alone triggers neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness. In the article from Psychology Today, titled There's Magic In Your Smile: How Smiling Affects Your Brain , Ronald E. Riggio PhD writes the following explanation:re going to eventually discover that the most dramatic health
For starters, smiling activates the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress (3). Neuropeptides are tiny molecules that allow neurons to communicate. They facilitate messaging to the whole body when we are happy, sad, angry, depressed, or excited. The feel-good neurotransmitters — dopamine, endorphins and serotonin — are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well (4). This not only relaxes your body, but it can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
Smiling Not Only Changes You, But Those Around You As Well!
Wow! Try it right now. Put on a great big smile.
Can you feel it? I can. I can feel that little shift in how I feel and how I think.
Now try smiling and look at yourself in the mirror. You'll feel it even more.
It might seem a little extreme, but think about this. You can change the world around you by smiling or making someone smile.
Smiles really are contagious. I always try to smile when I greet my clients in the waiting room and I swear it puts us on a good track for the session. I smile and they smile back. We have connected and now we can get to work.
To learn more about therapy or how you can start feeling better, check out Sara Cole MFT and her practice. She provides therapy in Scripps Ranch and Banker's Hill. For more information please visit www.saracolemft.com
4. R.D. (2000). Neural correlates of conscious emotional experience. In R.D. Lane & L. Nadel (Eds.), Cognitive neuroscience of emotion (pp. 345–370). New York: Oxford University Press.
5. Karren KJ, et al. Mind/Body Health: The Effect of Attitudes, Emotions and Relationships. New York, N.Y.: Benjamin Cummings, 2010:461.
Sara Cole has been providing mental health services in San Diego for 15 years. Sara specializes in working with women and teen girls to overcome trauma and major life changes, including postpartum depression and anxiety. She is also passionate about providing treatment to those whose lives are affected by the addiction of a loved one.