“It just crept in”: The Digital Age and Implications for Social Work Practice
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Today’s generation of youth and adults relies on communication technologies for entertainment, information, and social connections and more and more, for personal help and advice. With cyber technology having permeated the ways in which individuals seek support for a wide range of issues, the purpose of this paper is to report on a study that examined practitioners’ experiences and views of whether and how online communication has entered their face-to-face practice and of the implication for the therapeutic work. Using qualitative methodology, 15 social work practitioners participated in focus groups and interviews exploring their perspectives about the impact of cyber technology on their traditional face-to-face social work practice. The prevailing finding was that cyber communication has dramatically changed the nature of professional relationships. This key finding was supported by four major inter-related themes arising from the data: (1) client driven practice; (2) Pandora’s box; (3) ethical grey zone; and (4) permeable boundaries. Implications for practice are provided.
KeywordsCyber technology in therapy Cyber communication in traditional social work Cyber technology and ethics Online technology and social work practice
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