Humour and Exaggeration: Can therapy be fun?
Steve Wells well known for his work using Provocative Energy Therapy has kindly written this blog about the use of humour in therapy. Do we really have to be serious to create powerful change? I’ll let Steve answer that.
Exaggeration for Fun and Profit
Here’s an interesting question for you: If this (our work) is about Emotional Freedom, why is everybody so darn GRIM? Everywhere I look I see EFT practitioners who are so very serious about their work. Not just the subject of their work, but the way they go about it. Now I agree we’re doing serious work, but come on people! Where is the lightness? Where’s the humour? Where’s the fun?
Milton Erickson said clients have enough serious problems, the last thing they need is serious therapy! But fun has been outlawed by most professions and is not seen as part of good practice. In fact, they believe if you or the client are having fun, then you are doing it wrong! (We, on the other hand, believe if you are NOT having fun, you must be doing something wrong!).
Dr. Lawrence Kubie, a highly respected psychoanalyst, condemned all use of humour in psychotherapy as inevitably destructive. He argued that, among other things, humour could lead to doubts about the therapist’s seriousness, act as a defense against the client’s anxieties, and blunt the vigilance of self-observing mechanisms. Now wouldn’t that be horrible? Contrary to Kubie’s beliefs, those who have studied humour (and virtually everyone who experiences it) find it helps. Robin Haig, in his studies on humour, found 96% of clients felt better if they saw a humorous side to their problem, whilst 94% found humour helped if they were “feeling down”.
So are we having fun yet?
Now we know you, Tania, use humour, because it comes through in your articles and descriptions of work with clients. Techniques like metaphor and reframing help people to gain new perspectives and add to the artistry of what you can achieve with EFT.
We do the same with our own Provocative Energy Techniques (PET) where we humorously encourage people to keep their problems whilst having them tap on the emotional consequences of that! Surprisingly, this bypasses their internal resistance against change, gets right to the emotional heart of the problem, creates perspective, puts them in touch with their personal power, and gives them an injection of humour and light. It’s enjoyable for both client and practitioner. And here’s the key: It validates them! Once you’ve had your problem validated in all its awfulness and terribleness, this promotes a powerful force for positive change. We also tend to exaggerate problems quite a bit, because we know that – as a famous cartoonist once said – only by exaggeration can people SEE the truth!
Exaggeration is something you can do for your own problems, some of them anyway. In fact, here’s a test: If you can’t exaggerate the problem, it is probably too big for self-help. Go directly to therapy, do not pass go (except to collect £200 on the way so you can PAY the therapist!). Now, with that disclaimer, start here: Think of a problem and exaggerate it as you tap. Pretend that it is 10x worse than it really is and imagine that the consequences will be 10x worse. Really get into it as you keep on tapping. Tell yourself how terrible you are for having this problem. Tap on, “I’m a terrible person for having this problem and I’ll NEVER accept myself!” Have fun with this, but also ensure you are exaggerating the actual energy of the problem itself.
If you are not getting relief, blow the problem out more and keep tapping until you do. If no relief comes forthwith, you have lost your sense of humour. NOTHING is worth that. Seek a therapist who can handle your serious stuff without losing their light energy and stick with them until you get your humour mojo back. Or come to our workshop, where we’ll teach you how to turn tears into laughter and lighten up your life – and the lives of those you choose to help.
Steve Wells and David Lake will be running the, LIGHTEN UP YOUR LIFE: Treating Everyday Trauma with Provocative Energy Techniques on the 18-20th of April in London 2008