Jul 21 2009
A new and exclusive academic program has been established at the University of Haifa that provides studies in medical clowning. The program is intended for students who do not practice in the field of medical clowning or who are non-professionals in the field and interested in making this their career. The dual-major degree will focus on fields of knowledge related to therapy, such as nursing, developmental psychology and the history of medicine, as well as theatrical skills that are necessary for clowning, such as comedy acting, improvisation, street theatre and juggling.
In 2006, the Department of Theatre began a special B.A. program for a group called the “Dream Doctors” - a group of medical clowns who wanted to enrich their occupation with B.A. studies, focusing on topics from the areas of nursing, therapist-patient communication, pain patient psychology, and more. Subsequent to the success of this program and the many requests that came in from people who do not yet practice in this field of medical clowning, the Department of Theatre decided to take up the challenge and to open a new program that will qualify academic medical clowns.
“The new program is intended to afford an academic education and professional qualification. Unlike the previous program, this one includes practical studies in clowning, medical clowning, acting skills and, of course, the history of theatre, the history of clowning and other courses that give the clown a wealth of knowledge and encompassing comprehension of the field. However, unlike clowning alone, graduates of this program will also possess basic tools for providing therapy and will know what the effects of their work as medical clowns will be,” explains Dr. Ati Citron, Head of the Department of Theater at the University of Haifa.
According to Dr. Citron, the main goal of academically institutionalizing medical clowning is to make it a recognized profession, in the same league as physiotherapy, speech therapy and so forth. Academic recognition is one of the primary conditions necessary to make that happen. To this end, the program includes required courses that are necessary for continuing studies in the University’s Graduate School of Creative Arts Therapies. This way, a student who wishes to continue studying toward a master’s degree can do so directly upon completing his or her B.A. studies.
“This academic training will contribute to setting standards that will determine who can provide therapy. There is a tendency to view the clowning profession as something insincere, something temporary; but medical clowning requires consistency and investment. Academic education and training will testify that this is not a momentary thrill; it will advance the professionalism of medical clowns and will enable therapists to confidently apply clowning tools as effective therapy tools,” Dr. Citron emphasizes.