ClownZero Healing Through Humor Program is a pioneer outreach program created in association with UCSF Children’s Hospital. Hosted by UCSF, ClownZero is a team of professional performers and therapists dedicated to healing through humor, who work as clown doctor’s alongside Child Life Specialists and other hospital medical personnel. ClownZero clowns visit acutely and chronically ill patients, their families, and hospital staff, facilitating laughter and creating community through play.
Clown Therapists are professional performers and clowns chosen for the high level of artistry and acute sensitivity they bring to clowning as therapy. Each has a depth of experience in sharing laughter in a variety of environments and together are veterans of hospital clowning programs around the world. Some have backgrounds in Child Life, Drama and Behavior Therapy and all are experienced as performers working with different populations of adults and children.
Medical experts agree that laughter is a natural healthy reaction to stress. Clown therapists encourage laughter to combat stress, reduce pain by releasing endorphins, promote a positive outlook, help patients and families cope with difficult situations, and strengthen the bonds between people. Laughter boosts bodily functions and improves muscle capacity and deep breathing.
Patients often experience loneliness during illness and can therefore feel the hospital is a place of isolation. Often by encouraging laughter or just “being with” patients and staff, clowns can focus attention toward hopefulness, levity and play. In this manner, clowns reduce feelings of isolation and help create positive energy in an environment. Clown therapists are trained to witness sensitive situations and respond appropriately in order to ease tension. ClownZero therapists receive special training in creating situations during play that increase the level of control for the patients. The therapists themselves take positions of a “ready partner” or as the “object of play” to ensure a patient-centered environment rich in imagination, caring and humor.