What Is Information Visualization, And What Can It Help Me With?

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP
Updated May 1, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Many of us experience an overflow of information on a regular basis. We may be said to live in the “information age,” where facts and data seem to fly at us from left and right. There may be a lot of information we use to make decisions and understand the world around us, but how does our mind process it? How can we learn to prioritize the things that matter to us the most? One way to achieve this goal may be through a process known as information visualization, which can be defined as presenting information in a visual way, such as with a graph or drawing. Information visualization can help you break down large tasks and ideas into smaller ones, track your progress toward goals, and more. A licensed therapist may help you incorporate information visualization into your life in a way that works for you.

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Learn effective information visualization strategies

What is information visualization?

Information visualization generally refers to the practice of using visual means, like charts, tables, and drawings, to showcase information in a way that can be easy to understand and manipulate. 

You may be familiar with information visualization techniques at school or in the workplace. Creating spreadsheets, tables, graphs, and other visual tools to interpret abstract or numerical information may be something we do often.

Applying this idea to daily life can be a little less straightforward, though. There can be lots of ways to take advantage of information visualization. You might create a mood or inspiration board, chart your progress toward goals, or draw out a representation of your emotions. How you use visualization can be up to you. 

How information visualization can be used

Information visualization can be useful in many parts of our lives, especially when it comes to communicating something that seems to be impossible to explain through words alone.

For instance, if someone wants to present information, be it a journalist, your boss, or someone giving a speech, trying to communicate everything through words alone can be tricky, if not impossible. Conveying the emotions felt by bystanders who have witnessed a major event in words, for instance, may be far less impactful on an audience than showing images or video footage of the event in question.

Visualization can help people present their findings more effectively as well. If someone has written an article about how a city has crumbling infrastructure, a map may be useful to show the magnitude of the problem. Maps, in general, can serve as a great example of information visualization. Verbal instructions regarding how to get somewhere might be confusing or subject to error, but seeing the route to a location on a map may make more sense.

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How you can take advantage of information visualization

Whether it be on the job or in your personal life, learning how to use visual tools to make sense of information can be an effort worth pursuing. Many people find that seeing something visually, rather than just reading it, helps them better process and understand its meaning.

If you’d like to furnish your home, for instance, but feel overwhelmed by all the furniture that might go into it, you might find sketching out each room to be beneficial. If you’re writing an article but don’t know where to begin, you might create a graphic organizer that lists what you know, what you need to research, and who you’d like to interview. If you’re saving up for a big purchase, you might create a document that lists your budget, your desires, and any questions you might have.

Practices like these can take a subject that seems overly complicated and break it down into more manageable pieces.

Seeking professional help

Techniques like information visualization can help you take charge of different things in life, but doing so isn’t always easy, nor may it always be something you feel equipped to do on your own. Speaking to a licensed mental health professional like a therapist may help you discover how to take advantage of this method and others to organize, plan, and reflect on the things you care about most.

A convenient way to receive support and advice may be through online therapy. Because you can meet with a provider at a time and from a location that makes sense for your schedule, online therapy can make it simple to incorporate time dedicated to this goal into your routine.

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Learn effective information visualization strategies

Although more research may be needed regarding the efficacy of online therapy for information visualization skills, a large body of evidence supports the idea that online therapy is typically just as effective as in-office therapy. Therapy can be an excellent way to improve various skills and address any mental health-related concerns you may be experiencing.

Takeaway

Information visualization usually refers to the visual representation of words, thoughts, or ideas. This practice can help us understand things more deeply, connect with information on a more personal level, and break complex topics into digestible pieces. You can use information visualization in your own life to plan and organize your goals and tasks, especially with the help of a mental health professional.
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The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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