Our Story

The Healing Corps journey began when grandfather/granddaughter duo, Dr. Carl Hammerschlag and Hayley Sklar Shapiro, traveled to the Peruvian Amazon as humanitarian clowns. There, they began training clowns who were also healthcare professionals to conduct mental health clinics in public settings where clinicians saw patients for 15-20 minutes. Even in such brief encounters it was possible to establish an intimate connection, which had significant impact on both “the patient” and the practitioner. In this setting, we did not make diagnoses, prescribe drugs or focus on “the patients” problems but rather on their strengths and resilience. Here, a persons’ story could really be heard; and given the opportunity to simply sit and listen attentively, the clinicians were reminded of their own healing power.

As a community health psychiatrist who, for many years had worked in Native American communities, Dr. Hammerschlag was inspired by how this method encouraged rapid relational intimacy and wanted to bring this model back to The States. As a sixteen year old, Hayley was inspired by how the clown served as a vehicle to get love close and was motivated by the collaboration between the community and the clown clinicians to make something meaningful happen.

After five years of conducing clinics in the Amazon, the duo found a way to replicate this model in their home back in Phoenix, Arizona. Thus, The Healing Corps, formerly knows as ClownTown Healing Fest was founded. Their mission: transform the techniques and skills a clown uses to gain trust, connect quickly, and listen compassionately into a unique training for healthcare providers and community health workers. Today their diverse and unique curriculum serves as a practical demonstration of the future of healthcare: a paradigm shift from interventional to preventive medicine.

The Healing Corps’ accredited training teaches skills and techniques for more rapid, compassionate and patient-centered care. Our methodology approaches healing through the lens of the clown, inviting participants to take on new perspectives. This curriculum, devised by internationally recognized physician, author, and humanitarian clown, Dr. Carl Hammerschlag and operationalized by co-founder Hayley Sklar Shapiro. If you are interested in learning more about the workshop we offer please click below

Workshop Information

Our day long workshop is followed by serving community in The Truth Clinic: a practical demonstration in how to use clown techniques, such as humor, compassion, eye contact, spontaneity and play to create intimate healing relationships. To learn more about The Truth Clinic click below.

Clinic Information