AATH Founder Alison Crane
The American Association for Therapeutic Humor was founded in 1987 by Alison L. Crane, RN, one of the leading public speakers throughout the 1980's on the therapeutic uses of humor in the healthcare setting. Alison started the Association in a spare bedroom of her townhome, after it became apparent that audiences wanted easier access to research-based information on all aspects of humor.
Her one-year-old assistant, Sarah, was her constant companion and helped Alison perfect her filing systems, since Alison had to redo them each time Sarah discovered a new way to get into the file cabinets. Initially, Alison produced a 6-10 page quarterly newsletter called Laugh It Up, but starting in March 1990, an additional 2-page newsletter called Laugh It Update was also produced for members, and focused on one specific subject with each issue. The Association also offered an annual one-day workshop on therapeutic humor, and twice collaborated with the Institute for the Advancement of Human Behavior to put on the highly successful Humor and Pastoral Counseling Conference (affectionately named "The God Conference" by Alison and Joan Piaget at IAHB.)
In 1996, the organization established a website (www.aath.org).
AATH was renamed the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor in October 2001 to reflect its international membership as well as its focus on both theoretical as well as the "applied" aspects of integrating humor into a variety of therapeutic modalities.