Humour and Trauma Work

I was working with a client today on self-limiting beliefs and saboteurs, and the session was full of laughter, as well as a few tears.

As we were talking about one of my client’s self-limiting beliefs I took on a humorous mocking voice and started talking to my client in the voice of their saboteur. Within minutes my client could detach from their saboteur and started laughing at what I was saying and how I was saying it. When I stopped I said, “can you see just how everything it believes about you is a complete lie?”. The answer was unequivocally “yes, it all was a pack of lies”.

This is the work of the saboteur(s), to fill our heads with self-deprecating thoughts that we take as true, and damn are they good at it.

Humour was great for this session. We were both laughing and it was healing because the spirit in which it was done was not to mock the client but to mock the internal voices. Those voices are keeping the client stuck in inaction and wanting to push everyone away. Before this call they were trying to stop working with me as their Coach, which is common when there is a big saboteur that a client is working to change. Fear often leads people to push away the very people who want to help us and be there for us.


Since this session where we discussed the saboteur, we have done some further exploration about what the saboteur was trying to tell my client. Through acknowledging it the voice has quietened and while it hasn’t gone away it is kept much more in check and my client has made some huge shifts in their life especially connecting with more people and starting conversations with complete strangers.

Misconceptions About Trauma Work

There is a huge misconception that trauma work is all about being sad and quiet and speaking in soft voices. Sometimes all of those things need to happen but other times to create a shift, loud assertive voices, funny voices, and all the humour are required to help a client separate from their saboteur and see it not as a permanent fixture in themselves but something they can actually create a relationship with and learn from.

An analogy I like to use when talking about saboteurs is, they are like the school bully. When nobody pays them any attention they get louder and louder and then when they do get all the attention they still get louder. As with bullying, to end the cycle you need to get curious and create a relationship with it because it is super hard for it to have a relationship with you and for it to still get the same enjoyment out of bullying you.

A Note for other Coaches Looking to integrate Humour in your Practice

For any coaches out there who work with clients on trauma, humour is a great tool to use but must only be used when you have a strong rapport with your client.

That doesn’t mean you need to be working with them for months before you integrate it either. The client I used this with, we were in our third session but we have a strong enough rapport for this to be an affective tool. Used correctly, humour will completely transform your clients perspectives and feelings towards going into more of the deep and painful emotions associated to their trauma(s). It deepens the trust when you can bring humour to what otherwise feels like a really painful topic.


If you’re curious to find out how humour can be a part of your, or someone you know, trauma healing journey, get in touch.

Humour + Trauma Work = Processing and Healing.

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