Best medicine: why British doctors are now prescribing comedy and laughter scenes to trauma patients

Humor will give patients a new way to see their pain | Photo credit: iStock Images


  • Angie Belcher, comedian-in-residence at the University of Bristol, has worked with health advisers in the UK.
  • They are all in synergy on a project to develop comedy sessions to help patients recover from trauma.
  • Here’s how they hope it will work in healing.

Counseling, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Medication – That’s all we thought doctors would go for when treating a trauma patient? In the UK, a prescribed acting class could become a new way to help people recover from trauma.

Angie Belcher, a comedian-in-residence at the University of Bristol, has worked with health advisers to develop comedy sessions to help patients recover from trauma, according to a report by British daily The Guardian. Belcher worked with health counselors and psychological theories to develop the sessions.

Guardian cites that this is not the first time that such an original idea has been considered to involve comedy in the healing process.

He says several comedians — such as Russell Brand and Jimmy Carr — have written about mental health in their books.

Check out this TED Talk video of Ruby Wax who went even further – she not only beat her mental illness, but after returning from the mental health facility, she studied psychotherapy, got a master’s degree in behavior Mindfulness-Based Cognitive at Oxford, gave a Ted Talk and received an OBE for Mental Health Services.

And how will this help the trauma patient?
By helping them uproot the stigma, the shame, the guilt around the disease they have battled and gain a new perspective – a positive outlook. By combining the arts with psychology and looking at “an inner sense of self”. Belcher told the BBC that all comedy comes from “trauma not happy times” and gives people a new perspective on experiences.

Belcher, who holds a master’s degree in psychology, told the BBC: ‘Comedy is a force for good’ and people don’t realize how much it ‘can change people’s lives… We’re all naturally comedians When I work with young people, there are a lot of people with gender dysmorphia, people who have recently come out, issues with family, class and race. We explore these topics. account, people look six inches taller.

“I always tell people: the more authentic and vulnerable you are on stage, the closer your audience feels to you. The closer they feel to you, the more believable you are. And the more believable you are, the funnier you are,” Belcher told The New Statesman.

Bristol GPs will be able to socially prescribe the pilot course (a six-week comedy course for patients dealing with trauma) from this month. In fact, Belcher’s first series, which has 15 participants and is conducted in partnership with Bristol Wellspring Settlement’s social prescribing team, kicked off on January 13, 2022, which is today. Students will come from all walks of life, in a wide range of traumatic conditions – those under suicidal watch, also those struggling/recovering from addiction, those suffering from gender dysmorphia, depression, anxiety, PTSD or bereavement, etc.

At the end of the course, it is hoped that participants will be able to perform five minutes of stand-up based on their own life. Professional comedians Charmian Hughes and Jack Campbell will help moderate the sessions.

Disclaimer: The tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are provided for general information only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or dietitian before starting any fitness program or making any changes to your diet.

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