Humor and Music: Influence on the Human Condition

Topics: Humor

existed with humans and dates back to ancient human history (Freeman, 1988). Music helps promote dance in unison because of the rhythm and people innately relating the to rhythm. Many cultures practice social dances for telling stories, celebration, language formation, or connecting to one another (Brown & Parsons, 2008; Gladding, 2016). Dancing in synchrony is just as much connecting with others as it is connecting with the music.

When a human’s brain hears music, certain areas active. The orbitofrontal cortex and ventral striatum are related to feeling pleasure and enjoyment, while the cerebellum is involved with coordination and timing of the dance steps (Brown & Parsons, 2008).

These functions create an enjoyable experience for the dancers listening to music, and it also helps them to coordinate their timing. Because of how humans’ brains are wired, some neuroscientists posit that humans are designed for synchronizing their movements to foster social bonding (Brown & Parsons, 2008).

Enjoyment and Synchronous Dance

Depression, feeling socially isolated, and other mental health concerns are greatly correlated with addictions (Osborn & Iarussi, 2017).

Individuals come into substance abuse treatment with post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) (Lipari & Van Horn, 2017), dealing with feelings of shame and guilt (Milliken, 2008), and apprehension of counselors and the overall treatment. Sometimes there is the concern of never enjoying life again without drugs, and the future seems unbearable. Incorporataing synchronous dance at high exertion levels and fostering a fun environment will not only help clients work up a sweat and socially bond with one another, but also hopefully help them to laugh at themselves.

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DMT researchers Eke & Gent (2010), stated in their study outcomes how they felt a more relaxed and fun atmosphere would have benefited the clients. They noted how they geared the DMT group to always follow a certain course. The researchers decided including relaxed and flexible viewpoints on their part might have fostered greater connection within the group (Eke & Gent, 2010). The purpose of group work, dance interventions, and other counseling interventions is to benefit the clients. At times, the clients may benefit most from a dance intervention focused on enjoyment and fun.

Inspired by enjoyment and fun, a dance intervention fosters humor and play.

Humor and play are as ancient as dance and considered creative applications in counseling (Duffey et al., 2016; Gladding, 2016). Humor and play are not as readily utilized in the counseling profession as some other creative interventions. The counseling process is seen as serious work to most professionals and adding in elements of humor can feel like minimizing the presenting issue (Gladding, 2016). While the counseling process is vital for the client’s healing process, adding humor and play may foster enjoyment.

Incorporating a synchronous dance group at high exertion levels with substance abuse clients may promote a setting for the enhancement of fun, humor, play, and enjoyment. Using a relaxed environment for the group may also increase feelings of relating to one another with non-judgmental viewpoints. Non-judgmental outlooks toward others is a MBI quality (Chiesa & Serretti, 2013) that could be reached with a fun dance group.

Implications for the Counseling Profession

Professional counselors must adhere to implementing groups and techniques within the boundaries of their education and training (ACA, 2014). Attempting to lead a synchronous dance group with high exertion may or may not reside in a counselor’s competent area of counseling. Dance and other creative counseling techniques can be used with clients, and the Association for Creativity in Counseling (ACC) encourages counselors to do so (Duffey et al., 2016). Creative interventions may foster connection with others through innovative avenues. Most substance abuse treatment centers and addiction counselors adhere to evidenced-based modalities. This is correct for counselors to use evidenced-based modalities, but by infusing creative interventions, clients may develop greater insight into themselves and their addictions. By not infusing creative interventions, counselors could be limiting their client’s growth.

If a counselor feels inept to lead a dance group, they could consider recommending their client to attend a dance class at a local studio. Certain dance forms such as ballet, contemporary, modern, swing dance, ballroom dance, and many others, focus on synchronized movement and tend to increase heart rate. Counselors working in substance abuse treatment centers might consider asking a Dance/Movement Therapist to lead a dance group. Since this paper is not proposing the dance group to necessarily be a therapy group, counselors or supervisors could also recruit local dance instructors.

Regardless of who leads the dance group, creative interventions are increasingly commonplace in research literature (Gladding, 2016). Counselors are also increasing their usage of MBI with clients dealing with substance use issues. With a national push for researchers to apply and assess the outcomes of MBI (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018), a push for creative intervention research may be in the near future. Counselors are encouraged to use synchronized dance with high exertion for their substance abuse clients.


With the trends of substance use disorders and addiction issues being a national concern, new and innovative treatments are of great importance. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2012) reported 3.8 million individuals (ages 12 and up) receiving substance use disorder treatment. Recognizing the need for alternative interventions, The National Institute on Drug Abuse developed the HEAL project which supports research on mind/body interventions (MBI) (NIDA, 2018). Although MBI are newer in the addiction field, research displays positive results (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, 2018). This paper proposes dance as a creative intervention that could be considered a MBI because of it promoting a non-judgmental outlook and a fun environment.

Dancing in sync with others is thought to increase social bonding, which could be extremely beneficial for individuals with addictions experiencing feelings of isolation. When individuals participant in a synchronous dance group with high exertion, more endorphins, and natural brain opioids are released and increase the potential for greater social bonding. Also, according to neuroscience, when individuals’ brains are involved in a difficult task (e.g., dance), their brain waves are synced. Synchronous dance with high exertion physically asks the individuals to dance in unison and their brain waves may become more in sync as well. Overall the individuals will feel connected to the moment, the dance, and each other.

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Humor and Music: Influence on the Human Condition. (2021, Dec 14). Retrieved from

Humor and Music: Influence on the Human Condition
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