The Therapy Beat

The Therapy Beat

Robots in the Therapy Room?

By Chris Lyford

January/February 2021

Riley hasn’t been himself lately. He’s been acting more withdrawn—more so than other young boys his age. He’s alone in his room. It’s dark, save for a few stray sunbeams poking through the blinds, casting light on the clumps of dirty clothes at his feet and the tiny desk where he sits. He’s hunched over the tablet in his hands, and barely lifts his head when his parents call his name.

“Riley. Riii-ley!” his mother whispers from the doorway, dad behind her.

“Hi,” Riley offers back timidly.

Mom and dad flash each other a smile. “There’s someone here who wants to meet you.”

Mom places a small, candle-shaped robot in front of him, no bigger than a coffee maker. The robot’s head bobs upward as a cartoonish pair of incandescent green eyes light up behind an oval screen, almost like a deep-sea diver’s helmet. Two paddle-like arms flit at its sides.

“My name is Moxie,” it says, extending one of the paddles. “I’m a new robot. What’s your name?”

A smile appears on Riley’s face. He’s intrigued. “I’m Riley.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Riley,” Moxie says. “What do you do to get ready for bed?”

“Brush my teeth and read a story.”

“I love stories!” Moxie exclaims. “Will you read a story to me?”

“Sure,” Riley replies, reaching for a book. Both parents crouch tentatively on the…

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