Can Counsellors Use Humour to Create a Therapeutic Alliance with Mandated Clients?
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A mandated counselling client attends counselling under the direction and supervision of an outside agency. They have been coerced to attend under the threat of punishment and are, understandably, often resistant to the process and unwilling to participate. How can counselling be made more compelling for a client who is resistant? A strong therapeutic alliance has been found to contribute to increased client participation and a positive therapeutic outcome. This research is focused on answering the question: Can humour help to create a therapeutic alliance in order to improve the mandated client’s chances at counselling success? Loss of autonomy, lack of intrinsic motivation, and disbelief in the counselling process are all barriers that stand in the way of the mandated client’s success. Motivated by the author’s personal experience, this paper uses a systematic literature review to analyze and link the literature devoted to research done with mandated clients and humour, making a case for the counsellor’s use of humour in building rapport with mandated clients. Though this review was limited to the personal experience of the author and, specifically, to the use of positive humour, it found that humour has qualities which contribute to building and strengthening the therapeutic alliance between counsellors and mandated clients. Humour has the potential to renew a client’s sense of autonomy, create new perspectives on clients’ problems, and increase client counsellor understanding. These findings can prove useful to mandating agencies, counsellors, and educators who work with resistant or recalcitrant clients, and may be of interest to counsellors in general.