Dr. Martha Straus, Professor in the PsyD in Clinical Psychology program in New England, and Kevin McKenzie, a doctoral candidate in the Clinical Psychology program, co-authored the article “You’ve Got to Be Kidding The Power of Humor in Therapy” for the Psychotherapy Networker Magazine. Using de-identified case material, they wrote about the many advantages (and some of the challenges) of using humor as a vital—if unteachable and unplannable—element of successful psychotherapy.
“Kevin and I have collaborated on writing projects a couple times before and we have a lot of fun working together,” said Dr. Straus. “I supervised him at the PSC in his second year in the program and we evidently share a slanted kind of humor. Our expansive and serious conversations about the suffering of his clients included room for laughter at points during our weekly supervision; this emotional range has a parallel process in the way we both approach therapy.”
When the editor at Psychotherapy Networker Magazine contacted Straus about writing the lead story for an issue on play, she immediately thought of engaging Kevin in the project. Even though they both laugh with clients quite a bit, this wasn’t something they had really ever talked about as a technique or intervention—and humor was a topic he had seldom encountered through four years of graduate school.
“It was a fun collaboration exploring the power of humor in therapy, reflecting on our own experiences with it and the ways it can move therapy forward,” said Kevin McKenzie. “It was especially meaningful to consider humor’s place in therapy as our work often deals with serious issues and profound suffering. Exploring the ways humor can foster connection, growth, and healing was a valuable project that I hope to continue considering and developing moving forward.”