The Therapeutic Clown Program at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital recently initiated the ‘clown phone line’. The service was implemented so that clients could connect with clowns easily themselves, or with family or staff at times clowns are not present.

A need for connection can be felt keenly in children at times of great stress. This service provides an immediate connection between client and clown.

Clinical care is enhanced through better communication between clients, families and clinicians. Enhanced relationships are forged between clinicians assisting a client’s call; they are seen as equals and caregiving becomes holistic.

This service aims to lead the system in therapeutic clowning by nurturing the desires and needs of clients who miss the clowns providing an emotional bridge between clinicians and clients. The benefits are many: psychosocial wellbeing, immediacy, a coping mechanism and a tool for clinicians to redirect clients during times of agitation/ loneliness. Another benefit is providing children access to the arts to enhance self-expression.

When a child leaves a message on the clown phone line, they are entering the world of imagination and play. The child is in control of the agenda and activates that playful part of themselves which desires to be heard and recognized. Often the clowns are asked ‘Did you get my message?’ providing the therapeutic clowns opportunity to praise, admire and thank the child for reaching out. Clients can leave multiple messages or leave messages with peers; this coming together fosters camaraderie. ‘Elliot Eisner, (Stanford University) emphasized… the arts can enhance thinking—the ability to use metaphor, or the role of imagination’

This is a low-no cost service for the Therapeutic Clown Program. The time needed to access and document the messages left by the clients is minimal. The service is a simple concept for clients to grasp and easy for them to access and implement. There is no limit on how often clients can use this service that gives them a freedom and a sense of control. The service is also an integral part of Holland Bloorview’s 2012-2017 Strategic Plan. This service satisfies all four strategic directions: transforming care, accelerating knowledge, leading the system and inspiring our people. The Therapeutic Clown Program aims to distribute annual satisfaction surveys of both the program and this service in particular.

Contact Information:

Contact Title: Coordinator Life Skills &Therapeutic Recreation
Contact Email:

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