Therapeutic clown program

The Therapeutic Clown Program at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital was established in 2005.

The Therapeutic Clown Program at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital was established by Therapeutic Clowns Canada in 2005.

Since its inception it has grown from a solo model therapeutic clown practice to a duo model (i.e. therapeutic clowns working in pairs). The clowns are:

  • Dr. Flap
  • Nurse Flutter
  • and, occasionally, Doc Hopper

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Nurse Flutter and Dr. Flap visit all 3 inpatient units at Holland Bloorview (that is, Brain Injury Rehab, Specialized Orthopedic and Developmental Rehab, and Complex Continuing Care).

Under Holland Bloorview’s Therapeutic Recreation and Life Skills program the Therapeutic Clown Program offers a diverse range of benefits to Holland Bloorview’s clients.

Using skills including music, rhythm, movement, physical comedy and slapstick, Nurse Flutter and Dr. Flap provide warmth and laughter to clients, families and staff.

As with other similar programs, the idea is to always place the client’s needs and desires ahead of those of the artist’s. This helps to empower each client and allow them to make choices so they can be the leader of the play interaction.

The clowns also provide positive diversion techniques during certain procedures and assist during various therapy, education and Child Life sessions. The clowns are regarded as living ‘tools’ to be partnered with staff here at Holland Bloorview. 

Populations Served
Selected journal publications

Blain, S., Kingsnorth, S., Stephens, L., & McKeever, P. (2012). Determining the effects of therapeutic clowning on nurses in a children’s rehabilitation hospital. Arts & Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice, 4(1), 26-38; doi:10.1080/17533015.2011.561359

Kingsnorth, S., Blain, S., & McKeever, P. (2011). Physiological and emotional responses of disabled children to Therapeutic Clowns: A pilot studyEvidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine doi:10.1155/2010/neq008