Critical issues presentations/Wikitherapy: Bringing the Wikimedia projects into therapy settings

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Submission no. 164
Title of the submission

Wikitherapy: Bringing the Wikimedia projects into therapy settings

Author of the submission
  • Mina Theofilatou
  • Manos Kefalas
  • Greta Doci
Country of origin

Greece; Greece; Albania

Topics

other, Outreach, Projects

Keywords
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Wiktionary
  • Wikisource
  • Therapy
  • Sociomental disorders
  • Learning disorders
Abstract

23 December 2015 was the start date of my IEG project titled Wikitherapy; the concept was “born” in the IdeaLab session of Wikimania 2015 in Mexico City, and with the support and guidance of WMF staff and especially Marti Johnson, I developed my idea into a grant proposal which was then selected for funding.

The motto of the Wikitherapy concept is “patients adding value”, and this works in both directions: the Wikimedia projects are enriched by their contributions, but most importantly, the patients’ lives are enriched by the pride and joy in contributing their “pebble” of knowledge to the world and interacting with a diverse and accepting international community of editors.

The details of my project have all been set out on the dedicated pages on Meta (https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Grants:IEG/Wikitherapy); what I wish to discuss in this presentation is the outcome and whether it can be taken to a broader level. The program is currently being piloted in Argostoli Day Center with a group of six patients aged roughly between 30 and 40 with socio-mental disorders and who have received ongoing therapy from a team of four health professionals (pharmacotherapy, group therapy and counseling) and various volunteer organizations (theatre, choir, cooking etc.). Our target WM projects are primarily Commons, Wikisource and Greek Wiktionary. To date I have held five sessions, and it is already clear that working with them will be a challenging and – as it already seems – rewarding experience. In parallel, over the past three months I have piloted the same concept with one student aged 22 with severe learning disorders at the Argostoli Evening High School, and he has already made enough progress to be in the position to present his work at an upcoming event.

The end date of the IEG project is 22 June 2016, which practically coincides with the start of Wikimania 2016. In this respect, the content of the presentation will be developed over the next 5 months and should my submission be accepted, it will be the first public announcement of its results. Learning patterns and metrics shall constitute a substantial part of the presentation, as it is these aspects that will tangibly indicate whether the project can be replicated in other therapy settings. I will also try to include a medical profile of each participant and his/her accomplishments, for the purpose of indicating a sample set of disorders and how these editors have interacted with the WM community and contributed to the WM projects (in consultation with the Center’s psychiatrist and psychologist to determine the degree of disclosure and exposure appropriate to medical confidentiality).

I have included team members Manos Kefalas (advisor) and Greta Doci (volunteer) as co-authors, as their input and feedback have already played an important role in tailoring the program to specific needs: Manos is already investigating the possibility of launching Wikitherapy in Athens associations and organizations geared to the common good, whereas Greta has been providing support to the Evening School student in his native language (Albanian).

To sum up, the point that I aspire to make with my presentation is that editing the Wikimedia projects can be used as a therapy approach, in the “meaning-making” sense; as Anna Koval (WMF) put it on the IEG discussion page, “…"wiki therapy" could be considered a variant of art therapy, which has documented benefits…” The tools and metrics that will have been derived by then shall lead to an interesting discussion about engaging patients and underprivileged/marginalised/vulnerable etc. populations in Wikimedia editing, making the most of the benefits and tackling the challenges.

Result

Not accepted