Local Therapist Uses Laughter and Other Tools to Help Clients Increase Happiness and Overall Wellbeing

By Christine Hayes, MS LPC CLL-E

Christine Hayes knows laughter offers many benefits, and that’s why she has found ways to incorporate laughter therapy into her counseling practice.

Christine, a Licensed Professional Counselor, and the owner of Sunny Shores Counseling, has a passion for helping clients to increase their happiness, develop positive relationships, and enhance their overall wellbeing. She uses a Cognitive Behavioral Client-Centered Approach—and laughter is just one of the tools in her toolbox. Christine explained that laughter benefits us mentally, physically, and socially.  In today’s treatment, she said, counselors and their clients desire complete wellness (and laughter helps with that).

Mayo Clinic reports that laughter increases personal satisfaction and makes it easier to cope with difficult situations. Research shows that laughter improves the immune system.  Both negative and positive thoughts create chemical reactions in the human body. Negative thinking can bring more stress to the system and decrease the immune system. Positive thoughts like joy and laughter release neuropeptides that fight stress and assist our immune system to prevent and fight diseases.

Christine uses laughter in her individual, family, and couples therapy sessions, and also offers a Healing with Laughter group. She first came across this idea when she was earning her bachelor’s degree at ASU. There, researchers were looking at the connection between laughter and one’s overall well-being. Christine invited a registered nurse and Certified Laughter Leader (CLL) to talk to a group of cancer patients and their families where she interned. She witnessed how the laughter therapy session positively impacted the group.

In 2011, she became a CLL. She learned laughter exercises, benefits, and daily principles that increase one’s happiness. Laughter exercises utilize a combination of visualization and laughter sounds. Christine incorporates daily principles into her practice (Compliments, Flexibility, Gratitude, Kindness, Forgiveness, and Self-Care).

Christine has utilized laughter in her personal and professional life. Christine has gone through many of her own struggles, including a recent battle with cancer (she is now cancer-free). She said her children would do a laughter exercise to cheer her up. She has personally witnessed how laughter can help reset us.

Christine has also worked in multiple leadership roles and utilized laughter in her leadership. Her motto of “Riding the Waves” is instrumental. She said you can’t control things that happen, but you can control your reaction to them. Dr. Carl Marci, Director of Social Neuroscience, reports that laughter improves counseling sessions because therapists who laugh with their clients increase connection. It fosters trust and rapport and reduces defensiveness with clients.

Learn more at www.sunnyshorescounseling.com. Call 928.458.6870. Sunny Shores Counseling is at 122 N. Cortez Street Suite 105 in Prescott.