I mentioned to a client that I couldn’t meet him at a particular time because I would be teaching. “What are you teaching?” he quipped. “A class about Humor and the Therapist?” “No,” I answered. “But that’s an excellent idea.” This client is a twenty-something I’ve seen on and off for about ten years. He battles addiction, manages Bipolar Disorder, and is launching from a complicated family system. During one stretch of treatment, his depression was so thick that he couldn’t speak in session. In those weeks we would play chess for fifty minutes. I don’t know how to play chess, so my client won every game. When we first met I was subletting an office at a suite with a rather flaky name like “Magic Downtown Denver Special Healing Space.” My client found this slightly ridiculous, so he would close every session with a smirk and deadpan “Thanks for the healing.” That’s still how we end sessions. Playfulness and levity are essential parts of my bond with this client. I’m interested in a salon reflecting with other social workers about the use of humor. It’s good for rapport because we have a chance to connect with clients in a deeply authentic way. It’s good for insight and growth because when we are creative we can help people overcome barriers and gain perspective. It’s good for our profession because it keeps us refreshed and awake as we face our own obstacles of discouragement or exhaustion.
- Participants will utilize the use of humor as a tool for rapport building in session.
- Participants will utilize the use of story and metaphor to generate insight & change with clients.
- Participants will describe the value of levity and playfulness as a means of self care & burnout prevention.
Michael Lopez-Jensen’s practice is divided between psychotherapy, teaching and supervision. He has been associated with Denver Family Institute for more than twenty years, first as an MSW intern and now as a teaching consultant and member of the core faculty. Michael has been an adjunct faculty member at DU Graduate School of Social Work since 2007. He facilitates a monthly Dads’ Group in the Highlands at The Mama’hood. Michael’s awards and honors include GSSW Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (2012); Colorado Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Educator of the Year (2014); and Denver Family Institute Alumnus of the Year (2018).
(NBCC, APA, and AASECT CEs are available in collaboration with Advanced Mental Health Training Institute.)