Holistic Circus Therapy

Holistic Circus Therapy or HCT, delivers evidence based therapeutic and educational practices via circus activities to increase capacities and promote independance in client's abilities to meet their self care, leisure, and productivity goals.


HCT's uses circus exercises as a therapeutic, educational, empowerment tool for individuals and

communities. HCT activities are designed to reflect the functional abilities, interests and goals of its participants. Tasks are incrementally graded (adjusted) in order to be challenging yet achievable.


The “Accessible Circus Paradigm” is HCT's practice model which is underpinned by The Canadian Model of Occupational Performance, or CMOP (CAOT, 2002) one of the theoretical models that is widely utilized within the occupational therpay profession. (picture insert)

This model represents a dynamic relationship between environment, person, and occupation. Change in any aspect affects all others. Spirituality resides in persons is shaped by the environment and gives meaning to to occupations.  

The Accesible Circus Paradigm uses circus as an empowerment and educational tool for individuals and communities. Activities are client-centered to reflect the interests, goals, and functional abilities of participants. Tasks are continually graded to be challenging yet achievable, therefore increasing self-motivation to participate and engage in the therapeutic process. Intervention focuses on increasing capacities which enable participants to thrive and experience success in achieving their self-care, leisure and productivity goals.



Circus, as a discipline, provides a variety of experiences and activities which facilitates positive emotional, physical, and mental health outcomes. Occupational therapy and circus promote a better quality of life using the experience of play, fun and creative expression.



Holistic Circus Therapy was inspired by a project that Jill Maglio managed in 2005 with Westside Circus in Melbourne, Australia. The study focused on a group of elementary, middle school and high school students of varied ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses and its goal was to determine the effects a circus skills program had on the students’ acquisition of a set of life skills: selfconfidence, self efficacy, problem solving, trust, communication and leadership. The study also sought to measure how circus activities could enhance the awareness and quality of physical, emotional and mental health. From the study, it became evident that group circus activities promote the development of

all the life skills that so many young people may not be able to develop in school or at home.


Jill also further tested her hypothesis in 2009 by running two circus

programs in Cambodia, one for atrisk youth and another for people with disabilities. The results and benefits experienced by multiple populations compelled Jill to create HCT in 2010 upon returning to New York.



HCT programs are administered in 3 different categories: services, professional development training and research initiatives.

1. Services — designed for individuals of all ages and abilities, and are also appropriate for those eligible for special services in the areas of social, physical, cognitive, emotional and community health. HCT is not only suitable,

but ideal for the following settings: education, health promotion, recreation and community building. Circus activities provide ample choice and opportunity for everyone to find an activity they enjoy engaging in, whether

solo or with the group. Contact info@holisticcircustherapy.com to learn more about how to bring HCT to

your organization?


2. Professional Development — HCT is proud to offer trainings in its pioneering method to other professionals in the occupational therapy community.

Are you an occupational therapist? Click here to learn how you can incorporate HCT methodology into your practice 


3. Research Initiatives — HCT partners with universities and organizations dedicated to excellence in research, in order to  continually test its unique approach along other evidence based practcies accepted and used within the profession.

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