Information Therapy and Play

Information Therapy and Play

I was on the faculty again at the annual Information Therapy conference in September 2003. My panel’s topic was, “When does information become therapy?” My take is that the answer is very similar to the case with play therapy. Play is very common – one of the great features of childhood. Not all play is therapeutic – certain video games come to mind. Often, however, play is therapeutic – it relieves stress, eases discomfort, and encourages growth and development.

A few children engage in a specific kind of play called play therapy. Here a skilled therapist watches a child interact with toys, listening as a child plays to learn what issues are important to the child. The therapist may then help the child to address those issues with play, moving to constructive ends to stories and scenarios, for instance. And such is the case with information.

We are bombarded with health information. Not all health information is therapeutic – certain TV commercials come to mind. Often, however, health information is very therapeutic. It can ease concerns, and give people the insight, ability and confidence to manage their own medical situations. This often takes place entirely outside the medical system. Some people benefit from a more specific form of information use called information therapy, where someone else is involved as they interact with the information, listening to learn their concerns and helping to guide them as they interact with the information they are looking for.

This skilled “therapist” may be someone else with the same situation, a family member, a wonderful host, a nurse, a social worker, perhaps a doctor. Perhaps it could even be an expert computer system. The key is the mutual interchange, the listening and the sharing. As I listened and learned at the conference, I found myself thinking about our spectacular community team.

My deep thanks to you all, for all you do, for all of us.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

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