LOUPS Pub social, June 2016: "Humour in psychotherapy", Babak Fozooni

Pub social events in London are always a great opportunity to meet past and current psychology students. We, the London region, like to believe it is an established tradition, greatly enjoyed by all who attend and not only our members!

The aim of our pub socials is to get people together, and that is precisely what we did at our last event, with the help of our fantastic OU tutor, Babak Fozooni. Babak is a critical psychologist specialising in social, developmental and political psychology. He has obtained six degrees and has written on topics ranging from discourse analysis and crowd psychology to cinema and sport. He is also an OU associate lecturer, and, as some of you know already, he presents our OUPS Overview day for DD307 (Social psychology). We were delighted to have Babak as our guest for the evening, and Babak, as always, did not disappoint. He was on great form, covering a wide range of subjects, with references from Billig to 'Family Guy' ....the usual fantastic lecture that he so greatly delivers every time!

Babak's talk was based on his personal research on the use of humour in therapy. He had designed an open-ended questionnaire, consisting of nine questions, getting his answers by using social media and emails. Those who know Babak might think social media is not his style, so please allow me to clarify - these were not his own social media channels as he is probably the only person in London without a mobile phone and without some sort of internet account! He requested the help of other people who own Facebook accounts, etc. to publish his survey link so he could carry on with his work. The rationale for this research was Babak's personal fascination with humour and a keen interest in the theory of humour use in therapy.

His presentation began with an outline of previous research in the field, starting with the 1970s when little such research was conducted, and most of that negative (i.e. 'The destructive potential of humour on psychotherapy', Lawrence Kubie (1971), American Journal of Psychiatry), before moving on to more 'sophisticated' research carried out by the 1990s and novel humour therapy techniques, such as Albert Ellis' Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) or Bernet's 'Banter Therapy'. In his survey, amongst other things, Babak investigated whether therapists are using humour during therapy sessions, and if so, at which stage of the therapeutic process they might consider engaging humour. His research, although still ongoing, suggested a number of benefits of humour in therapy, ranging from psychological improvements (reduced symptoms of depression, memory improvement, etc.) to political aspects (laughter subverts the sombre, hierarchical, rigid structure of therapy). He pointed out the need for fresh empirical work on humour, for establishing dedicated humour therapy training courses for those interested and, finally, for achieving a theoretical understanding, in parallel to empirical and training work.

Ahh ....those who were there that evening know it is virtually impossible to pen Babak down! How could I possibly capture his dynamism, his passion, his wit? This brief description does not deliver even a small percentage of what the lecture actually covered! His talk was not 'restricted' only to the subject, although that would have been extremely interesting on its own, it is the digressions and diversions Babak always takes ....from Freud to Jack Nicholson, from academic theories to the Sopranos, from 1970s psychological research to Donald Trump.... it was one of those 'you had to be there' evenings!

After his whirlwind tour of humour and its use in psychotherapy, Babak invited those present to join in the discussion with any questions or observations, which continued into the night in a local restaurant - this seems to have become the traditional ending to a LOUPS social event!

Our next pub social in London is scheduled for October/November, exact date yet to be confirmed. We are excited to have Graham Edgar as our guest for the night, with a talk on the science and magic of mindreading. We will advertise via our usual channels, Facebook, email alerts, if you are on our mailing list, and don't forget to check our cool new website to be up to date with all of our events!