Two of the most valuable workshops I’ve attended, to free myself more, both as a counsellor and as a writer, were two one day Nose to Nose Clowning Workshops, facilitated by the late Jackie Moore at the Blackthorn Trust in Maidstone. This experience led to my being able to let go of some of those expectations of myself that I had been carrying.

Once the red nose was in place, the most important lesson I learnt was that it was hard to be in the here and now, present to myself and/or present to an audience, when I was carrying a sack full of expectations on my back. The heaviness of fear, anxiety and those questions: ‘What do I have to offer?’; ‘Can I get this right?’; ‘Can I do this as well or even better than other people?’; ‘Why can’t I do this?’ needed to surface and then be eliminated. Jackie was a very accepting, compassionate and an enthusiastic facilitator. She knew just what it was like for us.

It was only when I allowed myself to be vulnerable to, ‘not know how to do this’, that a space opened up to a trust, faith and belief that anything might be possible and I didn’t have to know what that would be. I could just allow something or nothing to happen. This was not an easy thing to achieve.

We all grew in different ways and watching other people perform and free themselves to be creative was just as much a joy as realising I could ‘let go’ of expectations and be vulnerable too. It was only when I was able to open myself to just being in the moment that I finally relaxed into finding the clown within me. What I took away from these workshops was the realisation that we all have that clown within us, it is just about allowing it to have the space to be whatever it wants to be in that moment.

‘Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.’

Edgar Degas

The transferable skill that I took into the counselling room with me was the ability to trust and allow the counselling to unfold. Although I was responsible for managing the space in the counselling room, I didn’t need to control it or in any way make something happen. Counselling can be a gentle process of allowing that self expression and self awareness happen. Each of our clients is truly the expert on themselves and they have come into counselling to find something that they want. We can trust the client, ourselves and the process, it is a special relationship that happens, each of us with ourselves and with each other, allowing and freeing a process to unfold as it needs to. Counselling, like clowning is a creative process. I believe I became a better counsellor as a result of doing these two short workshops. They also involved a lot of laughter with and at the other participants which was in itself therapeutic.

‘Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.’

Victor Borge

The photo above is of Carol Thompson who is a Clown Facilitator and Laughter Leader working in London:  She’s also involved in a Therapeutic Service which helps children recover from past traumas, develop confidence and self esteem:  The main Nose to Nose website is: and Carol’s page on that site is:

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