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Patient and family resources
Patient and family resources

Therapeutic Clowning

Established in 1993, The Therapeutic Clown Program at SickKids uses spontaneous humour and gentle play to minimize stress during hospitalization and treatment.

A hospital can be an overwhelming place for a child. It is often the first time a child is away from home - away from the familiarity of family and routine. Now, their comfortable bed and familiar night light are replaced with strange, blinking lights and weird, beeping noises. In hospital, a child wants to know who the people coming in and out of their room are  - and do they have a needle? Fear of the new and unknown contributes to the perception that the hospital is a frightening place.

Imagine how different a child’s hospital experience might be if the next person to come to their room was wearing a red nose and a funny looking hat. Instead of giving needles, the therapeutic clowns ask if they would like to play. If the child says ‘yes’, then the fun begins and a child can do what is normal and natural to them - play.

A therapeutic clown at SickKids can become a “constant” for a child; a stable being who comes back again and again.  A clown can become a child’s confidante, playmate and friend, offering comfort and emotional support at a time when children and their families need it most. Therapeutic clowning is an innovative and effective therapy and like laughter, is contagious.

Questions about Creative Arts Therapy and Referrals?
Please contact: creativearts.therapy@sickkids.ca
Kimberly O’Leary, Professional Practice Lead - Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy