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Humour, Positivity and Healing

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Workshop Overview
Workshop Session Plan
Key Learning Outcomes

Workshop Focus:
Healing and humour
Half day workshop
Target Audience:
Staff and management
Expected Outcomes:
Focus employees on interacting positively and changing attitudes


The Humour, Positivity and Healing workshop has been designed for Medical environments yet is applicable to human services environments where staff and client interactions are common.  The workshop helps turnaround negative attitudes and reinforces the importance of connection which is part of the healing process.   Staff are given the opportunity to dress up as clowns and visit patients.  This provides them with a whole new perspective and deepens their understanding of service and the feeling of empathy.  The clowning gives them a space to connect in ways that are positive, fun and creative.  This part of the workshop is great for releasing stress and building the team and helping them understand the purpose of their work, the healing the patients.

The workshop was requested by a doctor in oncology.  The workshop was run with nurses, psychologists, doctors and nursing staff at a busy hospital in Bangkok, Thailand.  An evaluation was undertaken afterwards and the staff commented that it was very helpful in raising their awareness about empathy and Dr. Patch Adams work.  Some felt free for the first time in their lives.  It was a successful workshop and will be expanded in Asia.

Workshop Overview

The Humour, Positivity and Healing Workshop is designed for health, healing and student training environments. The workshop is a half day workshop yet can be extended to a full day depending on participant numbers and if there are areas that require more intensive focus.

The workshop is part theory and part practical. It aims to develop emotional intelligence and the use of humour and a positive attitude in highly stressed environments. The workshop discusses Dr. Patch Adams work as a clown doctor and the importance of treating the ‘whole person’. The workshop introduces the idea of humour in healing environments and references Dr. Shayne Yates and Patricia Cameron Hill’s work, as former health professionals, who advocate for humour at work and its importance to wellness and staff morale. The workshop introduces staff to the importance of how they are feeling whilst they are doing and the impact emotions have on others. Participants then experience a laughter session, explore issues of happiness and clowning techniques to prepare them to experience clowning around their organisation. This is a very important exercise for assisting people to de-mask by stepping out of roles and learn to play with others. This does not diminish professionalism, it enhances as people come to understand their connection to others and how this connects to healing.  It is excellent for team building and exploring the health environment with a fun hat on. Clowning around enables staff to connect with patients, other staff and families. It is a wonderful experience of empowerment learning fun, de-stressing and feeling lighter.

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Workshop Session Plan

  • Introduction
  • What is laughter?
  • Clowning in hospitals and wellbeing
  • Humour and healing – examples of Patch Adams and Patricia Cameron Hill and Shayne Yates (nurse and doctor team)
  • You are what you think and feel – emotional intelligence
  • Laughter session – stress release and positivity
  • Suggested approaches to happiness – practical applications
  • Clowning techniques – having fun and team building
  • Creating happy healing organisations – empowering positive staff

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Learning Outcomes

  • To understand what is laughter and why it is important to wellbeing
  • To learn about clowning in hospitals and the philosophy behind it
  • To be inspired to contribute to creating positive environments
  • To learn about the power of emotions
  • To experience a laughter session and release stress
  • To learn skills of feeling happiness and developing positivity
  • To learn about clowning techniques and finding your clown
  • To generate ideas for creating happy healing organisations.