Nationally recognized expert in Laughter Therapy
Enda Junkins, LCSW, LMFT, ACSW
Enda Junkins is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker providing therapy for clients of all ages, including children, adolescents, adults and seniors. She has been a practicing psychotherapist for over 30 years.
She has training in many different kinds of therapy including:
HypnotherapyHypnotherapy can be effective for issues like pain management, smoking, weight loss, panic and others
Cathartic TherapyUtilizing laughter, crying, and anger as emotional release to process issues
My philosophy about therapy is to create a comfortable relationship with my client, support his/her feelings and help him/her clarify the goals for therapy. In helping the client explore and process the issues involved using whatever therapeutic modality works for them, we achieve results as effectively and quickly as possible.
How is laughter therapeutic?
Laughter releases feelings which helps people deal with significant issues and allows them to put the issues in perspective. It is also physically therapeutic by helping people relax as well as releasing various chemicals into the body that help the immune system and create clearer thinking by stimulating both sides of the brain. Laughter also lowers blood pressure and releases endorphins that help with pain.
Can laughter help with serious illness?
Because it helps with pain management, it contributes to healing physical impairment and diseases that create pain and discomfort. Laughter stimulates the immune system which helps the body fight disease. The fact that laughter creates positive thinking can also contribute to the healing process.
Role of Laughter in Psychotherapy
In 1990, I had the good fortune to learn real Laughter Therapy, not just the "laughter therapy" that refers to general everyday laughter and humor in life. First exposed to Laughter Therapy at a conference, I followed up with more formal training in California. This form of psychotherapy made immense sense in a way no other therapeutic modality had. I was delighted to add it to my therapeutic tool kit. It became a specialty and led me to professional speaking, authoring two books, and producing three videos on different aspects of laughter.
None of my clients are ever pushed into utilizing laughter in their therapy or their lives. If they are interested, I present them with the opportunity and the skills and leave the rest to them. If they are not ready to laugh, I follow their lead and utilize other therapeutic modalities instead. My intent is always to assist people to reach their goals in the way they need to go. However, for those who are interested, laughter is a powerful, important and wonderful addition to the therapeutic journey when presented as an option by a therapist who is well trained.
Laughter in therapy does not refer to jokes in therapy nor does it minimize a client's issues. It is one of three major forms of biological catharsis or emotional release. The other two are tears and anger release. With the consent of the client, the therapist works to help find tools to create the laughter catharsis. In order to achieve laughter therapeutically, one finds personal, acceptable approaches to serious issues. Each client is unique and the means to be able to play with serious issues will vary from person to person. Therapeutic playfulness may incorporate a different way of thinking, word play, props, phraseology, etc. Playfulness is not synonymous with silliness so one need not fear losing one's adult dignity.
Interestingly, laughter alone will not suffice to completely deal with many issues. As feelings are accessed, talking, cognitive work, crying, and anger work may be necessary along with laughter. Emotions are held in the body and as we go through life all means of catharsis are a necessary part of healing. Which ones and how much depend on the individual. Laughter is the perhaps the most important because it releases three emotions (anger, anxiety and boredom) and it is the most pleasant and often the most acceptable. Clients who want to utilize laughter in therapy will generally move through their issues more quickly.