SW 2.0: Going Where the Client Is: Exploring Virtual Clinical Social Work Practice

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Folks, the next SW 2.0 column for The New Social Worker Magazine is ready! You can read it at the links below:
If you prefer, you can download the full magazine issue here.

This article profiles the amazing virtual clinical practice work of Nancy Smyth, Mike Langlois, DeeAnna Nagel, and Kate Anthony.The article also has many additional resources if you would like to explore virtual clinical social work practice.

I should also note that it is with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to writing the SW 2.0 column regularly. Unfortunately, I am not able to write the column on a regular basis while wrapping up my dissertation at the same time. I will still write about technology for The New Social Worker as time permits, and will blog about technology and social work at http://www.karenzgoda.org. I hope the column helped you think about integrating technology into your practice in new ways and explore the possibilities these technologies extend. I strongly believe it to be at the heart of innovative social work practice in the future, and look forward to seeing your contribution to the field. Although we won’t get to hang out via the column as often as we’d like, Linda and I are brainstorming ways to continue to provide this information, so stay tuned. Keep pushing the envelope, trying new ideas, reaching out and connecting with one another, and learning new ways to connect with clients and help them help themselves on their journey. It has been my pleasure to interact with you and explore how social workers can use technology better. Learning new things helps us grow and develop as a profession and as professionals, and a proactive attitude toward innovative practice will ensure that we are doing everything we can to help the clients we care about so much.

Blogging to De-Stress Resources

I had the pleasure of presenting at a self-care themed retreat for social workers at Hebrew Senior Life recently. I was invited to talk about blogging to de-stress. Here are some resources generated from our discussion:

Previous SW 2.0 column on social work and blogging: Social Work? There’s a Blog for That

Middle East Bloggers:

  1. Where is Raed?
  2. Salam Pax, the Baghdad Blogger
  3. Al Jazeera Blogs | Middle East

Social work sites and blogs:

  1. Fried Social Worker
  2. The New Social Worker’s Blog
  3. Social Work Career Development
  4. Social Work Blogs
  5. Social Work Tech Blog
  6. Social Jerk
Tools to Create Blogs

Tools to help keep track of resources:

  1. Instapaper – A simple tool to save web pages for reading later
  2. Yahoo! Groups, especially Clinicians Exchange (need to request membership)
  3. Mendeley – Mendeley is a free reference manager and academic social network that can help you organize your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research.

Blogging tools to help clients:

  1. CaringBridge.org, create free patient websites and blogs. Read the related SW 2.0 column titled CaringBridge: A Valuable Tool for Social Workers and Those With Critical Illness
Guidance on Using Technology Tools in Social Work Ethically


The New Social Worker Online Blog: Must I Un-Friend Facebook? Exploring the Ethics of Social Media

Image courtesy of tsevis. Some rights reserved.

There’s an interesting and provocative article in this month’s New Social Worker Magazine about the ethics and mechanics of social media use in social work practice:

The New Social Worker Online Blog: Must I Un-Friend Facebook? Exploring the Ethics of Social Media

Article summary:

The ethics article in the Summer 2011 issue of THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER addresses ethical issues related to social networking. Is it possible to be a “blank slate” therapist in the era of social media? Is it desirable or necessary for social workers to remove themselves from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites? What are the ethical implications of NOT staying up-to-date and current on these technologies, which may be a big part of clients’ lives? Is there a happy medium?

Read the article at http://bit.ly/nPhATM and post your comments here. We would like to hear your thoughts.

Linda Grobman, ACSW, LSW

My response:

Stirring the big spoon here…honestly, articles such as this make me a little sad. We’ve been emailing and blogging and sharing our lives with one another using technologies for nearly 20 years, and I wish we could get to a point where we could accept and embrace technologies and their potential while being cognizant of risks involved and creating good policies around their use. Instead of integrating our whole selves into our public, professional personas, which for a lot of reasons may not be feasible for some folks, we are encouraged to build these boundaries or eschew social media entirely. It’s like blaming a hammer for a nail in the wall – the technology is not the enemy here and will always evolve to allow new ways to connect, share, and yes exploit.

So what policy makes sense for you? I enjoy being my authentic self in public because it helps me meet and connect with others who do the same, and I find these conversations and interactions provocative, enriching, and memorable. At its best it’s like touching upon actual humanity in public where others can join in. My general policy is not to share publicly anything I wouldn’t want my mother to read or to show up on say the New York Times. For those in direct practice with clients, I encourage you to create a policy that makes sense for you but I would use “end all participation in social media” as a last, probably unnecessary resort. Plenty of clinicians use social media to talk about their practice (NOT using client details or any identifying information), their philosophy around the treatment they are using, connect with other workers online to help grow their thought process, and create a policy about how to interact with current and former clients on social media. For example, I’ve been teaching for over 3 years and will not friend current students or students who may be in my courses in the future. But after class is over certainly let’s continue the conversation!

What are your thoughts? What social media policy works best for your, your professional life, and your clients?

Next SW 2.0 Column Ready! I Want You To Be Part of This Experience: Kickstarter

Folks, my next SW 2.0 column for The New Social Worker can be found at the link below:

I Want You To Be Part of This Experience: Kickstarter

This article focuses on how two different arts projects are using a site called Kickstarter to help spread project awareness, connect with others, and raise funds. Here’s an excerpt:

Don’t you want to know what happens in this movie? Titled Mother’s Red Dress, this film is a:

…tragic love story about a young man suffering from amnesia who’s trying to piece together the past after seeing his mother kill her abusive boyfriend. He leaves home and moves to a small town in Southern California where he meets a young woman who inspires him to rebuild his life with her. All is going well until he receives a call from his mother who says she is dying of cancer and wants to see him one last time. She offers to reunite her son with his father who abandoned them years ago—his father wanting to convince his son that he is a changed man. He returns home, hopeful his mother has changed but finds his past waiting for him in the house where he grew up
. (Official film description,http://www.MothersRedDress.com).

Mother’s Red Dress

The story itself is very personal for John Paul Rice, one of the filmmakers who worked with the director on the script. John was inspired by his mother, herself a survivor of an abusive household, to create a film where family members explore the complex relationships and choices they make when coping with abusive family situations. In John’s words, “Children are trained to love their parents. People make decisions and choices according to their environments. There is always hope that people will change. The film explores the pain of denial that each character faces, yet in the end each makes different choices to cope.”

John hopes that the film will bring to light the damaging effects of denial and help others to face their own experiences and feel hopeful for the future. He and the film’s writer, Edgar Michael Bravo, spoke with many folks and social service organizations with experiences with domestic violence. He was inspired by those who survive and try to thrive despite the trauma. He hopes that others will relate to the characters and have a positive, thoughtful, meaningful reaction, such as taking the best you can from others and giving the best you can of yourself.

Read the rest of the article here. What fun projects have you found on Kickstarter? How might you use it in your practice?

Social Work and Technology Resources

I had the pleasure of chatting online with students in Elizabeth Lightfoot‘s Social Work in Cyberspace course tonight. Liz is at the University of Minnesota and it’s been great fun to connect with her about technology in social work. Here are some resources from tonight’s chat:

  • Crowdsourced Fundraising

Donations to Help Haiti Exceed $528-Million, Chronicle Tally Finds

Four Myths of Obama’s Money Machine


Grameen Foundation


  • Technology and Social Work Practice

Social Media Help Keep the Door Open to Sustained Dissent Inside Saudi Arabia

Detective’s plea puts Microsoft to work – Computer system helps track child pornographers

Emergency Homeowners’ Loan Program (EHLP)

Information for Practice

  • Gaming, Virtual Worlds and Therapy

Gamer Therapy

Virtual Connections – Exploring Social Work & Education-relationships that promote learning & growth-in a New Media World

  • Tools for Students

Remember the Milk

Mendeley – Mendeley is a free reference manager and academic social network that can help you organize your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research.

Instapaper – A simple tool to save web pages for reading later.

What would you add?