With support from Parsons, Diatta recently presented her thesis on principles of therapy for children with disruptive behavioral dis-orders at the 2015 Design Indaba conference in Cape Town. She shared objects she had designed for a family therapy strategy employing alternative communication methods to help therapists comprehend how people construct their worlds. “Uncovering the meaning we attach to objects, I tap into our implicit understanding of relationships and events,” says Diatta.
When working with children with disruptive behavioral disorders, professionals often use three parent-child interaction methods—praise, verbal reflection, and description—to reinforce positive behaviors. Bridging cognitive science and design, Diatta developed the object shown on this page, and others, which enable parents to use the therapy techniques at home.
Diatta says she worked so hard on her thesis that it “felt like it was my life.” But her advisor, Patricia Beirne, wisely reminded her that “what you do after will be greater.” Diatta is now building a design practice and is also an independent contractor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Duckworth Lab and at Character Lab, where she develops design-driven strategies for use in mental health treatment and education.