Frequently Asked Questions


What is Therapeutic Clowns International (TCI)?


Therapeutic Clowns International (TCI) is a philanthropic organization dedicated to enriching the lives of hospitalized, critically ill and disenfranchised children globally. TCI was established with the intent of sharing the profession and best practices of therapeutic clowning within and outside the borders of Canada and into acute care populations and areas of conflict. We seek to expand therapeutic clown programming, training, program sustainability in partnership with interdisciplinary health care teams in hospitals and related facilities. Our goal is to minimize stress for patients and families, during hospitalization and treatment through gentle play and humour.



What is a Therapeutic Clown Practitioner?



A Therapeutic Clown Practitioner is a professional who has studied the theory and best practices in the art of therapeutic clowning, specifically trained in the practice of integrating the therapeutic clown, partnering with health care professionals in their individual facilities. Therapeutic Clowns are paid professional members of the interdisciplinary health care team, offering best-practices in family- centred care. They provide compassion and hope through lighthearted humour. She/he focuses on patient-centred care and works in conjunction with a medical team on a year round basis - an important distinction between clowns who visit on an ad hoc basis to divert attention or to entertain.


What do Therapeutic Clowns do?


TCI Programs enable Therapeutic Clown Practitioners to:

  • Empower children giving back control, offering them the choice to direct and control how, where and when they wish to interact. The child becomes the caregiver for the bumbling, often vulnerable clown.
  • Provide medical procedure support through 'distraction play' for patients.
  • Provide relaxation strategies... encouraging laughter and humour in the hospital setting.
  • Transcend any language barriers either real or perceived through non verbal communication, being its own language.

Importantly, therapeutic clowns 'treat' the patients' families and hospital staff as well. Good humour is contagious and can engender kindness, patience and the awareness that anything is possible instilling hope. With the universal language of shared humour and laughter, therapeutic clowns communicate with children of all ages.


What are the Benefits of Therapeutic Clowns?


In the last twenty-five years, therapeutic clowns have been visible in health care settings around the world, particularly in pediatric hospitals. Therapeutic clowns bring relief from pain, anxiety and feelings of isolation and loneliness. The therapeutic clown works as a gentle play facilitator, humourist and companion; their presence often opens pathways to healing and empowerment. The Therapeutic Clown is a humourist who invites laughter. Laughter has been proven to be a positive 'medicine'. Laughter is a natural relaxant and stress-reducer. The de-stressing enables doctors and nurses to make assessments and to treat more effectively, as well it can help to facilitate communication. Research proves the benefits of laughter to the healing process.


Psychological benefits of laughter and humour:

  • Helps create a positive state of mind
  • Has a positive effect on a person's physical health
  • Helps alleviate anxiety
  • Increases effect on serotonin and endorphins
  • Wards off depression
  • Helps speed patients recovery time
  • Less dependent on prescriptions
  • Speedy patient recovery

The physiological benefits of laughter:

  • Throat blasts of air, uncoordinated spasms
  • Digestion improves
  • Boosts immune system
  • Cholesterol lowered
  • Heart rate increases then drops
  • Lungs take in carbon dioxide
  • Circulation improves
  • Clears mucous
  • Eyes cleanse
  • Muscles and diaphragm contract
  • Increases brain levels of calming substances such as serotonin and endorphins the body's natural painkillers

Where do Therapeutic Clowns work?


Therapeutic Clowns International (TCI) Programs are integrated within hospitals and health care facilities. These programs offer Complementary Therapy in family-centred care environments in partnership with the interdisciplinary health care team. Therapeutic clown programs encompass all members of the team including doctors, nurses, child life specialists along with occupational, physio and recreational therapists.

TCI Programs are committed to the philosophy that: "A child's work is play."

Play is how children learn, grow and understand their world and the environment around them. While undergoing treatment and dealing with illness, must and should continue to play. Indeed, it is often the way in which children express their fears and anxieties. Through play a child may also resolve their fears and anxieties.


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