Music and Clown Therapy – Keys to Recovery

Upon arriving in the former Yugoslavia in the summer of 1995, we immediately began working in the numerous centers for refugees that were located throughout Slovenia. Families had been ripped away from everything they knew, and were now being housed in temporary, often bleak conditions in abandoned warehouses, wooden barracks, student dormitories, and run-down hotels. If the children had not been traumatized by what they had seen and heard as a result of direct fighting in their former villages, they were by the violent up-rooting of their lives and being cast into totally new and fearful surroundings, with little or no hope of a positive outcome. Assessing the need of these precious children, our Healing Hearts team immediately set out to construct a program that was aimed at relieving the stress. We had to reassure them they were loved, that it was OK to laugh, and that in spite of it all, things would one day return to normal.

Using a similar approach to that of Patch Adams in his ground-breaking work with child cancer victims in hospitals, we used a mixture of theater, story-telling, music, clowns, and games to help the children get out of themselves and into the moment. In one village in southern Kosovo where many of the children had witnessed serious atrocities, we were warned in advance by authorities that these children had been severely traumatized, and not to expect too much in the way of reaction. But after 20 minutes, these same children who had indeed been quite somber in expression at the outset, were entering in with us, laughing, singing, and participating in the games so much that when it was time to stop, they begged us to continue longer.

Seeing the positive results of this approach, we have continued to use music therapy in every place we have ministered – former war zones, orphanages, hospitals, institutions for children with special needs, homes for the physically and mentally impaired, poverty-stricken villages, flood and earthquake-affected areas, schools and kindergartens. “Changing the world, healing one heart at a time” is the slogan of Healing Hearts Balkans, and we have found that one of our best “surgical” tools to be that of music and clown therapy!

To view the following photos on Healing Hearts Balkans Facebook page click here.

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