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  • Writer's pictureViva Sarah Press

Therapeutic clown vs. Clown therapist

I met a girl who was a ball of energy. She was electric. Bounced off walls. Constantly fidgeted.

I met a boy who was gifted. He was jaded. Maddening. Desperate to learn.

I met a girl who was narcissistic. She was a bully. She was insecure. She terrorized her classmates.

To all of them, I offered joy.

But I did not – and could not – offer therapy.

I believe there is a difference between therapeutic clowning and clown therapy.

There are clown therapists, of course. They should also have a background in therapy (psychotherapy, drama therapy, music therapy, art therapy or another approved therapy).

I do not classify myself as a therapist. I have not been professionally trained as such. I am certified in therapeutic clowning and educational clowning.

As my alter ego, Oshi, I offer empathy and compassion, humor and fun, silliness and storytelling, distraction and diversion.

I couldn’t help the energized girl stop twitching. But we did dance together. We shared her energy. We bounced off walls together. For a moment of fun.

I couldn’t solve the gifted boy’s resentment of school. But we had a wild conversation on different topics way beyond a sixth-grade level. He tried not to enjoy it. But his smile said otherwise. It was one enjoyable moment.

I couldn’t solve the bully’s ways. She tried to bully me, too. It didn’t go all that well. But there was laughter and a sense of pleasure, for a moment.

The therapeutic clowning technique is an art form that often leads to better communication, stress reduction or temporary emotional change.

Medical therapeutic clowns are the best example. These amazing messengers can ease anxiety, pain and suffering of those in hospital with doses of fun and humor. They empower patients to deal with their circumstances. They bring pleasure for a precise time period.

I met a girl who hid in plain sight. Mainly from herself. But also, from others. She was exhausted. She was clever. She was unhappy.

I met a boy who had learning disabilities. He was sweet. He was dejected. He just didn’t know.

I met a girl who was high-functioning autistic. She was lost. She was sad. She didn’t understand how to make friends.

For all of them, I could offer pleasure and enjoyment.

I could share a laugh.

I could share positive energy with them.

I would never suggest I could solve their predicaments -- problematic thoughts, behaviors and feelings-- for the long-term. That’s the job for a trained therapist. Maybe one day I’ll go that route.

In the meantime, I’m honored to be a therapeutic and educational clown. I love being able to add joy and fun to a situation. Especially, for an exact moment.

My clown alter ego, Oshi loves, generating fun and delight. I've been blogging about my/Oshi's clowning experiences since 2018.


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