Send in the Clown Therapy!

‘Excuse ME!’ the clown gasps turning towards Api, as a smile breaks out on Api’s face, she just loves a toot joke!  The clown turns and again another toot sound blasts out – Api shakes her head from side to side in pure glee with a smile on her face so big it seems to light up the room!

Api is one of the respite clients at Safehaven who takes part in the Therapeutic Clown program.  A program we recently piloted at our homes.  

And so far the feedback is awesome!

Play is really important for child development; clown therapy is an opportunity to engage in fun and play, while forgetting about medical issues and concerns. Laughter and humour can have a very positive impact on helping clients to feel relaxed, reduce stress as well as restore a sense of control and dignity.

 “The children really look forward to the Therapeutic Clowns. They each feel included with the one-on-one time during the session. They like to have a laugh and have a smile – it’s fun to watch!” said Gillian Mootoo, Client Care Coordinator for Bloor Respite.

 The therapeutic clowns spend a lot of time getting to know our clients, and the unique personalities of each.

They know that Api can’t help but laugh at a funny joke or toot humour. Whereas Joseph is more of a gentle soul, who prefers a soft tune on the ukulele with some fluttering butterfly fingers that he can reach out to grab. Then there is Destin who loves the slapstick jokes – fake sneezes that blow the clowns across the room or grooving to beat-boxing tunes.

“Our focus is to encourage the clients to be the leader each playful interaction, we do this by taking cues from them and building on that – expanding what they offer us. A connection is made and it is sealed with a laugh, dancing or physical movement, vocal responses or eye contact!” said Helen Donnelly, a leading Therapeutic Clown practitioner and educator at George Brown College.

Safehaven‘s  pilot-partnership with George Brown College’s Therapeutic Clowning Certificate Program has been a wonderful opportunity to provide inclusive recreational programming to our clients that is non-institutional, light, joy-filled and fun.  

To support therapeutic programs at Safehaven, like the Therapeutic Clowns, please visit: