Featured Article from Conferencing

Creative Thinking Brings the Right Tech to George Washington Art Therapy Students

November 13, 2013

Student therapists at The George Washington University have found a new use for video teleconferencing: monitoring art therapy sessions. A recent upgrade from a legacy system that tied into QuickTime streaming media is now providing students better access to recordings of therapy sessions without changing the University’s existing IT structure.

The George Washington University has one of the best art therapy training programs in the nation, but the therapy process is unique. Dealing with often fragile patients working out deep-seated issues, art therapy must be done in a private environment that allows patients to safely forget the outside world and express their innermost feelings. Yet in order for students to learn how the process works they need to be able to watch the therapy session, monitoring everything from body language to materials and color choices; for years GWU has relied on an antiquated recording system which was fraught with problems. IT staff were constantly working to keep the six computers that service the six therapy rooms working, and after the sessions there was a delay before the material was transcoded and put on DVD for archiving. The DVD’s could be checked out for review but often went missing or were mislabeled.

They did like the system’s user friendly Creston AV Controllers, so when the upgrade was approved they searched for an answer that would allow the department to keep the controllers. Providing real time monitoring and instant retrieval of the session was also on the list of needs.

The LifeSize (News - Alert) Express 220 video teleconferencing system checked all the boxes and its 1080p resolution is high enough to show the therapy client’s artwork in fine detail. Sessions can now be streamed live into classes, as well as archived for later access. Therapy students can quickly and easily set up camera angles prior to the session or change them during using the remote control. And since the system is managed through the main server, individual workstations are no longer an issue.

Though the LifeSize Express is meant for video conferencing it works just fine for this one-way purpose, and it’s another example of tech being used “off-label.” All over the world companies and people keep purposing technology for something a creator never thought of – consider USB drives handed out as preloaded marketing giveaways or laptops used as streaming TV’s. On a more serious note the U.S. military even distributes iPods to soldiers in the Middle East for access to maps, language translation tools and connectivity with their unit. On the home front I’ve read of an Amazon Kindle hung on the wall as a time and temperature station, and repurposing an old mobile phone into a nanny cam.

Just as The George Washington University discovered, it’s at this intersection of creativity and technology where the best answers are found.



Edited by Cassandra Tucker