The Use of Humor in Therapy – New Online CE Course

By Louis R. Franzini, PhD

The Use of Humor in TherapyThe Use of Humor in Therapy is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that reviews the risks and benefits of using humor in therapy and the relevant historical controversies of this proposal.

Therapeutic humor includes both the intentional and spontaneous use of humor techniques by therapists and other health care professionals, which can lead to improvements in the self-understanding and behavior of clients or patients. To be most helpful, the humorous point should have a detectable relevance to the client’s own conflict situation or personal characteristics.

The form of the humor could include a formal structured joke or riddle (although that would be relatively rare), a pointing out of absurdities, an unintended pun or spoonerism, overtly behavioral or verbal parapraxes, examples of illogical reasoning, exaggerations to the extreme, statements of therapist self-deprecation, repeating an amusing punch line, illustrations of universal human frailties, or comical observations of current social and environmental events. In some cases, the therapist’s comments are illustrated with comic props or cartoons that make a therapeutic point individualized for that client. Typically, the result is a positive emotional experience shared by the therapist and the client, which could range anywhere from quiet empathic amusement to overt loud laughter.

Should therapists and counselors use humor as a therapeutic technique? If so, should they be formally trained in those procedures before their implementation? The Use of Humor in Therapy will review the risks and benefits of using humor in therapy and the relevant historical controversies of this proposal. The paucity of rigorous empirical research on the effectiveness of this form of clinical intervention is exceeded only by the absence of any training for those practitioners interested in applying humor techniques. In this course a representative sample of its many advocates’ recommendations to incorporate humor in the practice of psychological therapies is reviewed. Therapeutic humor is defined, the role of therapists’ personal qualities is discussed, and possible reasons for the profession’s past resistance to promoting humor in therapy are described. Research perspectives for the evaluation of humor training are presented with illustrative examples of important empirical questions still needing to be answered. Course #21-02 | 2015 | 24 pages | 15 posttest questions

This online course provides instant access to the course materials (PDF download) and CE test. Successful completion of the online CE test (80% required to pass, 3 chances to take) and course evaluation are required to earn a certificate of completion. You can print the test (download test from My Courses tab of your account after purchasing) and mark your answers on while reading the course document. Then submit online when ready to receive credit.


Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (#PCE1625); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).


Louis R. Franzini, PhD, received his B.S. degree in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, his M.A. degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of Toledo, and his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. He then completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Behavior Modification at the State University of New York at Stony Brook (now Stony Brook University). Following the postdoctoral program Dr. Franzini joined the Psychology Department at San Diego State University, where he spent his entire academic career. He retired as Emeritus Professor of Psychology. His international academic experience included appointments as Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the Universite Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-le-Neuve, Belgium and Senior Fellow in the School of Accountancy and Business, Human Resource and Quality Management Division at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Dr. Franzini is licensed as a psychologist in Florida and in California.