Humour in the Therapist Room

I was recently asked by CounsellingBlog to write a review for the Human Triangle written by Andrew Lansdown. The book was sent to me by the publisher. It is selling for £5 which I feel is expensive for a 70 page book.

Here is my review….

Humour in a therapist’s room has traditionally been a taboo subject; something that detracts from the counselling relationship. Lansdown’s book The Humour Triangle shows us that maybe humour does have its uses if the conditions are right.

The book has been written as a story. It introduces two characters: Prof. Hawthorn (an academic Psychotherapist) and Berkeley (a comedian), who both use humour in their work. It continues by describing how the theory was introduced to counsellors, and the mixed responses it generated. It concludes with a lecture to illustrate how humour can be used.

Lansdown draws parallels with the craft of a comedian. The Humour triangle identifies that for humour to exist in the therapy room that you need identification, clarification and timing. Humour will only work if the opportunity arises. He illustrates that humour can often be ‘an elephant in the room’ but not talked about openly. Acknowledging that humour can be used within a therapeutic relationship can help a client see their problem from another perspective.

Towards the end, Lansdown presents his findings to students, in the form of a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis.  Out of all the students listening to the talk, none thought humour should be avoided; however, knowing how to use it safely was the question. Remembering the Humour Triangle – Identify the subject of humour, clarify the right type of joke and use it when only appropriate, is Lansdowns ultimate proposition for success.

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