You are visiting us from Virginia. You are located in HHS Region 3. Your Center is Central East ATTC.

The Therapeutic Use of Humor in Treatment and Recovery


Humor is a part of daily living that has been shown to improve mental, physical, and emotional health. Laughter can bring us through some of the darkest times when hope seems glim. Despite the benefits and need for laughter and humor, helping professionals are taught very little about the therapeutic benefits of humor in treatment and recovery. In fact, it is sometimes discouraged in the helping professions. In this presentation you will learn strategies to incorporate humor in your work with clients.



By the end of this presentation, you will be able to:

  • Understand the research on the benefits of using humor to improve physical, mental and emotional health
  • Use humor more effectively in your work with clients
  • Use humor to improve rapport with clients and to help clients grow in recovery
  • Use humor to help reduce burnout and increase organizational morale



Tom Farley

Tom Farley

Tom Farley grew up in Madison, WI and graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Marketing.  He began his career in banking and finance, living and working in the New York City area.  From 1999 to 2012, he ran The Chris Farley Foundation, a nationally recognized non-profit dedicated to substance abuse prevention. Like his brother, Tom was successful in opening the “eyes and ears” of youth audiences through the powerful and effective use of humor.  In 2008 he wrote “The Chris Farley Show”, a New York Time bestselling biography of his late brother, the actor and comedian Chris Farley.  He has been interviewed on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Fox News and The View. He has also been featured in People Magazine, USA Today and several national and regional newspapers and publications. Tom has served on the Dane County Human Services board and several non-profit boards. Tom works for Rosecrance Behavioral Health as the Professional Relations Coordinator for Wisconsin. He is also a motivational speaker, delivering messages on prevention and recovery. Tom lives in Madison, WI.


Mark Sanders, LCSW, CADC photo

Mark Sanders, LCSW, CADC

Mark Sanders, LCSW, CADC, is the Illinois state project manager for the Great Lakes ATTC, MHTTC, and PTTC. He is an international speaker and behavioral health consultant whose presentations and publications have reached thousands throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, West Indies, Lithuania, and Guam. He is the recipient of four lifetime achievement awards, including NAADAC’s prestigious Enlightenment Award, the National Association for Addiction Professionals’ 50th Anniversary Legends Award, the Illinois Certification Board's Professional of the Year Award and Jessica Hayes Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Barbara Bacon Award for outstanding contributions to the social work profession as an alumnus of Loyola University of Chicago. 

Mark is the author of five books on behavioral health recovery. Recent writings include Slipping Through the Cracks: Intervention Strategies for Clients with Multiple Addictions Disorders and Relationship Detox: A Counselors Guide To Helping Clients Develop Healthy Relationships In RecoveryHis groundbreaking monograph, Recovery Management, co-authored with historians William White and Earnest Kurtz, helped shift substance use disorders treatment and recovery from the acute care model towards a recovery-oriented system of care. Mark is the primary contributing author of a trauma-informed gun violence prevention curriculum which is now being implemented in several large cities throughout the U.S., and he authored two stories published in the New York Times bestselling Chicken Soup for The Soul book series.

In addition to his behavioral healthcare work, Mark has a 30-year career as a university educator, having taught at The University of Chicago, Loyola University of Chicago, and Illinois State University School of Social Work. He is also the co-founder of Serenity Academy Chicago, a program which sponsors recovery-oriented peer groups in local high schools.


The Great Lakes A/MHTTC is offering this training for individuals working in HHS Region 5: IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI. This training is being provided in response to a need identified by Region 5 stakeholders.