Online therapy is the delivery of supportive and therapeutic services over the Internet. Online therapy offers the advantages of convenience and increased access to services. Service delivery may be problematic due to ethical concerns and legal liability. Limited research supports the efficacy of online therapy for a variety of health and social concerns. Increased use of the Internet by consumers and human service agencies will likely see growing use of online therapy and require training for workers and development of new policies and procedures for online service delivery.
Information technology (IT), which encompasses tools and prescribed actions, has begun to substantially impact social work, given 50 years of impressive developments. This entry looks at IT trends and their impact on society and social work. The trends covered concern rapid IT development, connectivity, globalization and outsourcing, intelligent applications and devices, centralization and distribution of power and control, and distance education. Issues and challenges for social work are also discussed.
Frederic G. Reamer
Digital, online, and other electronic technology has transformed the nature of social work practice and education. Contemporary social workers can provide services to clients through online counseling, telephone counseling, video counseling, cybertherapy (avatar therapy), self-guided web-based interventions, electronic social networks, e-mail, and text messages. In addition, increasing numbers of social work education programs are using distance education technology to teach their students. Social work administrators store electronic records in the “cloud” and community organizers use online social networking sites to facilitate their work. The introduction of diverse digital, online, and other forms of electronic social services has created a wide range of complex ethical and related risk management issues. This article provides an overview of current technology used in social work, identifies compelling ethical issues, and explores risk management issues. The author identifies relevant standards from the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics; model regulatory standards adopted by the Association of Social Work Boards; and practice standards adopted jointly by the National Association of Social Workers, Association of Social Work Boards, Council on Social Work Education, and Clinical Social Work Association
Jo Ann R. Coe Regan
Higher education continues to undergo a period of rapid change with the rise of new technologies and learning modalities. The increased use of technology applications, computers, the Internet, and course management software systems has resulted in the development and widespread implementation of technology-supported learning environments in social work education throughout the world. New terms and abbreviations, such as online learning, web-based learning, blended learning, e-learning, learning management systems), computer-aided instruction, computer-supported instruction, technology-enhanced learning, internet-based training, and virtual learning environments are impacting the delivery of higher education for both distance and on-campus modes of instruction. The massive open online course (MOOC) movement and use of data analytics about students has pushed more faculty to experiment with technology and new pedagogical approaches. The article provides an overview of current technology applications and how they are being used in social work education. Implications of using technology in social work education include educational quality issues, pedagogical, and philosophical concerns, and future trends and challenges will also be discussed.
Surveys have always been a popular social work research method. They are particularly applicable for portraying population characteristics on the basis of a sample. Two key methodological issues influencing the value of any survey are the representativeness of its respondents and the reliability and validity of its measures. Surveys can be administered by mail, online, or in face-to-face or telephone interviews. Each modality has advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, which method to use will often depend on the purpose of the research, the nature of the research question, and feasibility considerations.
Robert L. Schneider, Lori Lester, and Julia Ochieng
Social work advocacy is “the exclusive and mutual representation of a client(s) or a cause in a forum, attempting to systematically influence decision-making in an unjust or unresponsive system(s).” Advocacy was identified as a professional role as far back as 1887, and social workers consider client advocacy an ethical responsibility. Social workers are increasing the use of electronic advocacy to influence client issues and policy development. As client and societal needs evolve, universities should emphasize advocacy in their curricula, and the National Association of Social Workers should promote electoral and legislative initiatives that reflect an emphasis on social and economic injustices.