Can therapy be fun?
That’s an interesting question, can therapy indeed be fun.
After all, therapy can be a tough place to be. You are sitting opposite someone you don’t know, and you are trusting him/her to understand you, be compassionate, be non-judgemental , be professional, and also to ask you the right questions. It’s a really hard place to be at times. (I’ll share a secret here, it can be hard for the therapist too, when someone breaks down and tells you an awful secret from their past, it is a very moving moment).
When I say ‘ask the right questions’, very few clients tell a therapist everything. They want to, but they hold back, it’s a simple need for self-preservation. But what they sometimes hope is that the therapist picks up on some of their answers and asks the right questions, because then they feel safer to tell all. By asking the right questions, the therapist reveals they are good at what they do.
So, back to the point about fun. Tears can be a sign that a client is letting go of bad feelings, so can laughter. Although we must be careful to watch for gallows humour-trying to cope with something awful by turning it into a joke.
Bearing all this in mind, yes, there is a place for fun. It shows that the therapist is human, they are not an emotionless robot, and a laugh in the right place can start to melt barriers. Now at this point you may ask what kind of humour is appropriate? And that is a hard judgement. Be led by the client, they may allow you the opportunity to inject some levity, perhaps use the location and situation as a way to raise a smile.
For example: ‘Did you bring plenty of change for the car park? After all, you are here for anger management support, nothing would waste a therapy session more than going back to the car and finding you’d got a parking ticket!’
Some clients quite clearly would not respond well to humour, and a trained therapist would spot them and behave accordingly. But any chance to break a few barriers and raise a smile in a client is worth using. Take it easy though, just gentle fun is enough, it can be very successful used at the right place and the right time.