Current Content
Volume 36, Number 1
January/February 2010

Magic as a Therapeutic Intervention To Promote Coping in Hospitalized Pediatric Patients
Robyn Hart
Michael Walton


Magic as a therapeutic intervention is used in an innovative, hospital-based program to address the psychosocial issues children and adolescents often experience as a result of illness and hospitalization. A child life specialist and a magician with an MBA collaborated, blending clinical expertise with business acumen and professional-level magic skills to create the program. The program has two distinct components: (1) magicians using interactive, close-up magic and humor as a technique to promote socialization, enhance self-esteem, and increase opportunities for choice and control, and (2) magicians providing the personal instruction and materials that enable chronically ill and long-term patients to learn and perform magic to promote a sense of empowerment and feelings of mastery. Positive responses from patients, families, and staff to the program at one hospital led to the creation of Open Heart Magic, a non-profit children's foundation that maintains and staffs bedside, interactive therapeutic magic programs in five hospitals in the Chicago metropolitan area.