Session: E-Social Work: Opportunities and Challenges of Practicing in the Digital Space (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

322 E-Social Work: Opportunities and Challenges of Practicing in the Digital Space

Sunday, January 20, 2019: 11:30 AM-1:00 PM
Golden Gate 3, Lobby Level (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Mental Health (MH)
Symposium Organizer:
Lauri Goldkind, PhD, Fordham University
Faye Mishna, PhD, University of Toronto
This symposia presents research focusing on dimensions of digital social work practice. While tele-mental health models have been discussed in the literature for over two decades, social work as a whole has been slow to attend to the ubiquity of digital technology in the lives of consumers and as well slow to embrace electronic tools for practice. Here, we highlight the implications digital technology on traditional mental health practice contexts as well as exploring alternative practice contexts., All of the research presented here responds to the Grand Challenges call for social work to “Harness the power of technology for social good”.

Paper one focuses on how mental health practitioners (N=25) address and integrate digital technology use among youth in residential treatment settings. This qualitative study found there was acceptance that some digital technology access, was reasonable and integration could promote treatment engagement among youth, despite practitioner's concerns about safety, privacy and confidentiality. The degree of apprehension toward youth technology access was based on clients' needs, program philosophy and location, as well as practitioners, age and familiarity with technology.

Paper two offers a practitioner focused perspective, also conducted using a qualitative methodology, specifically, structured open ended interviews and situational analysis, of licensed clinical social workers providing tele mental health services on third-party private for profit platforms (N=22). Social workers were enthusiastic about the ability of digital tools to reach vulnerable and isolated populations. However, they also reported limited support from the platform provider as well as raising concerns about ethical and licensure challenges which might not exist in traditional mental health agency.

Paper three presents the findings of a systematic review of digital media-making (DMM) as a therapeutic practice. The author reviewed more than 35 studies within social work and related disciplines and found that DMM therapies have proven to be beneficial amongst a broad range of populations. Some of the most frequently mentioned therapeutic benefits include: enhanced self-efficacy, increased range of emotional expression, increased social connection, and improvements in psychosocial functioning. A major finding of this study is that DMM therapies are particularly effective with trauma-exposed populations.

Participant four presents a qualitative study regarding the use of digital storytelling (DS) as a trauma narrative intervention for adult survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV, N =17) experiencing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Results indicated pre- and post-DS changes, on average, there was a 26 point decrease in overall total PTSD symptoms. Thematic analysis indicated that, in addition to incorporating the traumatic events into one's ongoing life story, other major transformative aspects were positive identity development, enhanced mastery and a greater sense of relatedness.

The discussant is the Dean and of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. She holds the Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Chair in Child and Family. Her program of research is focused on bullying, cyber bullying, interventions with vulnerable children and youth, and cyber counseling and is currently conducting a study on the impact of cyber technology in traditional face-to-face counseling.

* noted as presenting author
Wtf, Well That's Fantastic: Opportunities and Challenges of Practicing in the Digital Space As a Clinical Social Worker
Lauri Goldkind, PhD, Fordham University; Lea Wolf, MSW, Independent; Kim Grocher, msw, Fordham University
The Therapeutic Potential of Digital Media-Making: A Systematic Review
Jenn Miller Scarnato, MSW, Tulane University
See more of: Symposia