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Golan, G. Rosenhein, E. Jaffe, Y. (1988). Humour in Psychotherapy. Brit. J. Psychother., 4(4):393-400.

(1988). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 4(4):393-400

Humour in Psychotherapy

Gabriel Golan, M.A., Eliyahu Rosenhein and Yoram Jaffe

Utilisation of humour by psychotherapists attracts increased interest. While the constructive and untoward potential of the use of humour in therapy has been discussed in the clinical literature, the issue has hardly been investigated empirically. The present study explored the reactions of patients to therapist interventions which employed humorous as compared to nonhumorous control reactions. The sample consisted of 60 female patients, of three personality types: obsessive, hysterical and depressive. They were asked to rate on 8-point scales twelve simulated, tape-recorded therapist interventions of three functional categories: anxiety reduction, perspective building and emotional confrontation. The results indicated a persistent preference for the nonhumorous over the humorous intervention. Statistical analysis revealed no main effects of either personality type or kind of humour, but these two variables were shown to interact significantly in determining the extent of preference for the nonhumorous over the humorous communications. Analysis of open-ended responses indicated more ambivalent attitudes toward the use of humour by patients. The implications of the findings for therapeutic theory and practice are discussed.

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