Therapeutic Medical Clowning
Clowning and The Difference It makes
With no previous thought that I would like to be a clown, I try it and I absolutely love it. Hence, DR Dolphin is born. With my little flower nose glued in place, I arrive at Cooper Hospital each week, where I have found such an amazing way to bring a smile and make a difference in so many people's lives.
I discovered DR Dolphin, my alter-ego. This is the character that enables me to be playful and silly, to engage with the other clowns and those with whom we encounter in a light-hearted way. I love that I am able to connect with the patients, their families, and the staff of this wonderful hospital and bring smiles, temporary happiness, and momentary distraction. Every week I lace up my blue converse high tops, glue on my bright red nose, meet up with my fellow clowns, and we set out to "make our rounds."
Many times we distract babies with bubbles and our light up thumbs. Though not really doctors, we do perform some awesome procedures without even charging the patient a copay! Chief among our popular procedures is the famous "nose transplant", and this usually brings not only smiles, but giggles and guffaws from most of the patients and their families. Most people enjoy the opportunity to engage with us, even allowing us to transform their appearance with red foam noses and leaving the somber and serious atmosphere of those in the room a bit more cheerful than we found them. They appreciate the opportunity for a break in the hospital routine.
I like to be useful, and therefore, before leaving a patient, I will often perform a series of cognitive tests for the patients after applying their new nose. From my bag of foam letters, they use their cognitive skills to determine what certain letters stand for. For example, a brown E, (a brownie), a clean X, (a kleenex), a pink I, (eew-pinkeye),etc.
After a series of comprehensive training sessions begun in the Spring of 2015, I became an official Bumper T Caring Clown (BTCC), an organization in more than 25 states and on both coasts that is comprised of volunteers dedicated to the mission of making a positive difference in the lives of hospitalized patients, their families, friends, and caregivers. Therapeutic clowning is a powerful tool in promoting the healing process. Trained in the art of using gentle humor, we are masters in the art of "reading a room", listening, and truly connecting with people who need someone to listen.
Here's why it works: Sometimes I am silly, playful, and fun; other times more of a listening ear for someone who needs a bit of attention to ease the stress they feel. With no agenda or expectations, I am spontaneous, as dictated by the particular situation, circumstances, and individuals I encounter. I look forward to my volunteer job and know I make a difference!
Therapeutic medical clowning is far different from the clowns you see at birthday parties or that we used to find at the circus. Our purpose is to help the patients, and to use our silly antics to offset the stress that goes along with being in the hospital. Laugher is healing. It's true we can't make anyone get well, but we certainly can help them have a bit of fun!