There are at least five ways to use comedy to be happier and hopefully healthier. We use them in our work in different ways:
- Comedy to feel better emotionally
- Comedy films as a teaching tool for improved attitudes and behaviors
- Comedy and a sense of humor to examine a situation from a comical perspective
- Storytelling to ourselves and others to reframe a memory.
- Comedy films to "unclot" upsetting feelings, lighten communication and reduce trauma and tension
Sometimes these combine together or form offshoots. They change and evolve. They are all positive uses of comedy and a sense of humor for improved well being. See below for how we have accomplished these in some of our programs:
Translating our Research at UCLA into Therapeutic Care:
Comedy to feel better emotionally:
After our Rx Laughter preliminary research findings showing the health benefits of comedy television and films at The UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center, Mattel UCLA Children's Hospital and Semel UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, we moved forward to in our partnership tonuse comedy clips in therapeutic settings to brighten mood, relieve pain and reduce loneliness. We brought laughter therapy to pediatric units: outpatient Dialysis, Infusion, ICU: Critical Isolation and more. We have since expanded to include many other forms of comedy techniques to alleviate pain and suffering and improve quality of life. Below are some examples of our expansions:
Comedy clips as a teaching tool for improved attitudes and behaviors:
Our Rx Laughter Behaviorial Program offers humorous clips to illustrate funny, alternates ways of perceiving and dealing with stressful situations. The goal is to use positive humor to offer a change in attitudes and then behavior. We have used this in support groups to help teens with behavioral health issues such as anger management, interpersonal issues and depression. We have done this in support group workshops led by Joseph Shrand MD in his teen groups in Boston Mass and with Harvard Stand up Comedy undergraduate Socity volunteers at Boston's The Franciscan Hospital in their teen Behavioral Disorders Clinic. More below.
Personal storytelling using comedy to see a negative situation in a comical way:
Humor therapy through personal storytelling can be powerful: longer term and can produce a new way of viewing a difficult situation, offering light at the end of the tunnel. A humorous outlook for those in support groups for emotional issues as a result of physical illness or trauma can produce longer lasting changes in thoughts, feelings and behaviors for improved coping and communication. Through our humor therapy programs, we help young adults with behavioral and emotional issues who are in support groups at mental health clinics.
These children and adolescents are often struggling with issues such as anger, addiction, recovery from trauma and behavioral issues that interfere with healthy relationships. In sessions led by our volunteers, we use a variety of interactive techniques with one thing in common - they all use comedy as a way of opening the door to uncomfortable feelings and painful memories with a fresh perspective in a sensitive, compassionate way. Sessions are supervised by their clinician with the goals of new and healthier insights, perceptions, attitudes and behavior.
We have collaborated with the Highpoint Treatment Center in Brockton, Massachusetts with former Clinic Director & Harvard Psychiatry Professor Joseph Shrand MD. Using comedy in their support groups under the guidance of trained clinicians, we helped improve the quality and quantity of disclosures in therapy sessions and educated the teens about how comedy can be used as an effective tool to reduce inner conflict and stress, and improve communications with others. We are grateful for this partnership.
Comedy clips to unclot feelings in a non-threatening way for better coping:
More of our therapeutic support groups where we have done this have included cancer patients at cmental health clinics such as the Markstein Cancer Education and Prevention Center in Oakland, California and the Edelman Westside Mental Health Clinic in Los Angeles for people transitioning to daily outside life full time. Those who participated say that comedy helped them to "unclot" feelings in new ways to disclose these feelings in a safe environment.
Rx Laughter uses comedy as therapeutic care during research
Rx Laughter and the National Cancer Institute of Thailand helped under-served adult inpatients receiving cancer treatments who lack resources for psychotherapy and in many cases are without a strong support system of family or friends. Offering comedy in support groups relieves stress and worry and helps them bond with each other and their nurses. Medical staff said that they were happier and less stressed knowing that their patients were having a good time. A surprising finding: Comedy helped the patients sleep better during the time that they were undergoing their medical treatments at the hospital which indicates that comedy can be used as pain management for adults in pain. The control group did not report the same effects in our project. Understanding the Effects of Humor Therapy on Patients' Self-Reports
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - improv and role playing for improved communication:
This is a serious problem for many military families. Relationship issues with children who are becoming reacquainted with their mother or father are one of the consequences of long separations. In comedy improvisational workshops such as the one that we held at the UCLA Nathanson Family Resource Center with Second City faculty, military families can learn fun communication skills to bring them closer together. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/military-families-invited-to-improvisational-231829.aspx
Some centers we have also partnered with to teach improv include ComedySportzLA improv performers for UCLA pediatric hematology patients and families. Thank you ComedySportzLA for volunteering your team, your studio and your talents.
Rx Laughter Digital Wellness Center
Programs include Prescribed!, Prescribed4Kids, Comedy Coping Clips and the Student/Hospital Pair Up Programs- see links on top
Expansion into other art forms:
We have expanded our repertoire to include inspirational and uplifting music, art, photography and written works to calm, inspire and bring comfort to many struggling with mental health issues caused by the pandemic such as joblessness, poverty, homelessness, illness and depression.
Comedy Streaming for inpatients - opening it up and narrowing it down:
The choices for someone sick and in pain yet in need of comedy are too difficult to navigate. Through streaming of chosen age appropriate selection of funny and free classic and contemporary films and television more people who need it can be helped. Contact the Founderv of Rx Laughter for more information. See contact us