How do mental health professionals use humor? A systematic review

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Goodwin, John
O’Malley, Maria
McCarthy, Karen
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Taylor & Francis
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Although the value of humor is appreciated in mental health care, little is known about how professionals employ humor. The purpose of this systematic review was to explore how mental health professionals use humor. Academic databases were systemically searched. Papers were subjected to quality appraisal. Ten studies met eligibility criteria. Mental health staff used humor to cope with stress and adversity. They also used humor to enhance relationships with service users, and to erode team-related power dynamics. It was suggested that knowing when to use humor appropriately was dependent on experience and how well staff knew service users. However, it was also found that staff’s use of humor was sometimes negatively perceived by service users, as it could reinforce power dynamics. Due to the limited and low level of evidence, it is recommended that rigorous research in the area of humor in mental health practice is undertaken.
Humor , Humour , Mental health , Mental illness , Psychiatric
Goodwin, J., O’Malley, M. and McCarthy, K. (2024) 'How do mental health professionals use humor? A systematic review', Journal of Creativity in Mental Health.
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