Therapeutic Laughter Care
A little known fact about me…I am an actual Certified Laughter Leader having taken the necessary training to facilitate therapeutic laughter programs for caregivers, disease support groups, and audiences seeking stress relief edu-tainment and self-care coping strategies for well-being.
While working as a hospital chaplain on the Gulf Coast during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I began to notice that patients who suddenly found a reason to laugh, also took a turn in their healing process.
This experience with our Hurricane Katrina patients led me on a research mission to understand the value and effect of laughter as a therapeutic tool. You’ll read more about that below and how I have taken the message of laughter care to caregivers, support groups, and various audiences who aim to laugh more and stress less.
Value of Laughter…
One day while working with Hurricane Katrina victims, as a hospital chaplain, I was struck by the quick turn-around one patient took, when he suddenly found something to laugh about.
On a follow-up spiritual care visit, he began to tell me about how he was thinking about something a comedian once talked about. As I was listening to him tell the story, I wanted to jump in and finish for him – because he was reciting an old George Carlin comedy bit, called “Stuff.” The bit was one of my favorites, but I was quietly listening trying to learn where he was going with this.
He then shared how he realized that all he lost, was just stuff. He said he got to thinking that he really is thankful that none of his loved-ones were lost. I was simple nodding my head, trying not to interrupt. Then he started to recite the comedy bit again, and this time he stopped and said, “Rev, you’re smiling…You don’t know who George Carlin is do you?”
I said, “George Carlin? Of course I do. Before I was ‘Rev’ is was ‘Irev’ – I grew-up in the 70′s near Toledo, Ohio – I know George Carlin.”
He then said, “Well, then you would remember the bit he did on ‘Stuff.’ We both rushed to recount that comedy bit and laughed in his hospital room as we took turns reciting the lines to that comedy bit!
I was amazed by the emotional and physical healing that took place for him after that unscheduled session of comedy, humor, and laughter. In previous visits with this patient, he exuded such depression over the total loss of his home, his 5-day old new truck, and physical damage he sustained.
At one point after this visit of laughter, his nurse stopped me and said, “Chaplain I don’t know what kind of prayer you had with him, but he has finally come around.” Of course, I thought to myself, that prayer was in the laughter.
That encounter set me off on a serious two year study of the dynamics of humor and laughter and its place in our emotional, physical, and spiritual well being.
In that process, I became a Certified Laughter Leader with an organization in Columbus, Ohio and discovered therapeutic practices of laughter that goes beyond entertainment with practical self-care strategies.
Therapeutic laughter programs are tailored according to the people and purpose but are simple presentations that are built around participatory exercises, along with education and a bit of entertainment as well.
Some of the groups that can benefit from therapeutic laughter programs include: caregiver staff like nurses or healthcare, disease support groups like diabetes or cancer, or any profession or audience seeking stress relief or self-care help.
A therapeutic laughter program can be as short as a 15-minute Laughter Break for busy caregivers or to as long as a 50-minute Laughter Seminar for a support group or to an extended 90-minute Laughter Workshop for a professional training conference.
If you have any questions on therapeutic laughter programs or are considering the value for your organization or event, please contact me.