ideas, innovations and apps for social work in the age of smartphones and social media 

Digital Communication with Clients: Do We or Don’t We? | Bridging the Digital Divide in Social Work Practice

This is part of a post by Ellen Belluomini about the use of digital communication (e.g. email, phone, texting) in social work. Ellen Belluomini is a leader, educator, and therapist having worked with thousands of students, teams, clients, and individuals for over twenty five years.

EllenDigital Communication with Clients: Do We or Don’t We?

The answer to this is, well, yes and no. Controversy exists over if there should be communication between clients and social workers via digital methods. Texting and e-mails are an especially ethical and logistics nightmare.  But…everyone is doing it. There are 80% of American’s with Internet access and almost all Americans have access to a cell phone. If we do not give clients our e-mail or personal numbers, they can find them. I used to enjoy caller ID, now I have a choice between “unknown” in which people think I am sales person ignoring me or allow for my number and I am accessible.

This lead to discussing the practice of digital communication with clients. Limits and boundaries about the capabilities of my e-mail and phone are explored in the first session. Both are not confidential, family could access my phone/iPad which has text and e-mail capability or they could also be stolen by someone and read all my information. Administrative information versus crisis contact (no crisis e-mails or texts) is explicitly discussed. So far adults have been great about this, adolescents are another story. Our digital culture has allowed children and adolescents to not think twice about …

Please check out the full article for

  • a discussion of limits and boundaries about the capabilities of e-mails and phones,
  • an example of an e-mail agreement, and
  • the role of social work educators in this.

via Bridging the Digital Divide in Social Work Practice: Digital Communication with Clients: Do We or Don’t We?.

Maybe you also want to know what Ellen thinks about Google Glass?



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Lutz Siemer

Lutz Siemer

Education, Research & Development in Social Work & IT After working as an alternative practitioner and psychotherapist in private practice for nearly ten years I stepped over to higher education in 2005. At Saxion University of Applied Sciences I lecture and do research and development in the area of Social Work, Psychology and IT. Currently I'm focussing on merging mobile technology and social work.

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