First Advisor

Fulling-Smith, Jennifer A.

First Committee Member

Pendleton-Helm, Heather M.

Second Committee Member

Weingartner, Angela H.

Third Committee Member

Black, Linda L.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Document Type


Date Created



College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Applied Psychology and Counselor Education, APCE Student Work


Cheung, Ryan Cheuk Ming. A narrative inquiry into the perceptions of counseling faculty regarding the use of humor in clinical supervision. Published Doctor of Philosophy dissertation, University of Northern Colorado, 2024. Students in counselor preparation programs are required to be clinically supervised by faculty when working with clients. Considering how to help supervisees and positively affect supervision outcomes, one method could be the use of humor by counseling supervisors. Research in the area of humor in counseling supervision is largely missing (Dantzler, 2017; Vereen et al., 2006). A key task in supervision is building a strong working alliance (Bordin, 1983) which includes the development of an affective bond. Humor is a social strategy used to form emotional bonds (Erozkan, 2009), and the bond component of the working alliance is influenced by different personal characteristics such as emotional intelligence, which is related to humor (Gignac et al., 2014). The present study explored counseling faculty perceptions of using humor in clinical supervision. More information is needed to determine the utility of humor in the supervision setting because it is important to understand what the perspectives clinical supervisors have regarding the goals, intentions, and uses of humor to examine the perceived benefits or drawbacks of humor in clinical supervision, and if humor should be included in clinical supervision to enhance the experience. The research questions included the following. What perspectives do counseling faculty have of using humor in clinical supervision? and What are the perceived impacts counseling faculty perceive from the use of humor in supervision? This qualitative study was grounded in narrative inquiry as people use stories to explain and make sense of experiences. A semi-structured interview and extended member check were conducted to collect data from each participant. Eight participants shared their individual perceptions of the use of humor in clinical supervision and the common main themes were: Describing, when people defined what humor was, described the types of humor used, or explained what humor is to them, Implementing, when people discussed incidents of humor that went well or not so well and what they learned in addition to precautions they take when using humor, Impact, when people described how they perceive their humor impacted supervisees, and Context, when people discussed how their humor has changed. Participants reported similar perceptions regarding the use of and impact of humor in clinical supervision. If humor is used intentionally and supervisors are attuned to their supervisees, it generally is perceived to have a positive impact. Many types of humor appear to be effective and taking a developmental and contextual approach is important. The present study was the start of the conversation about what humor looks like in clinical supervision and allows readers to understand the potential benefits and drawbacks that exist for both supervisors and supervisees, from the perspective of the clinical supervisors interviewed. Future research ideas that emerged from the present study include learning if collective humor exists where there is no risk of offending anyone, seeing if humor has the long-term effect of supervisees staying in contact, and a longitudinal study with the same group of participants to explore how humor relates to the experience of burnout. One study that could be done includes learning about the type of humor used based on the level of rapport. Another study could consider when supervisors got trained and how it has an impact on their perspectives of humor.

Abstract Format



266 pages

Local Identifiers


Rights Statement

Copyright is held by the author.