Episode 110 - Dr. Kathryn Chernack: Social Media Use and Social Work Practice: Boundary and Ethical Considerations

Monday, January 07, 2013, 6:35:22 AM

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In this episode, Dr. Kathryn Chernack discusses the common ethical issues and dilemmas encountered by social workers when using social media. Dr. Chernack describes the opportunities and challenges for social workers as the profession responds to the widespread use of social media in our private and professional lives, as well as the increasing presence on social media sites of the organizations for which we work.

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Average Rating: 4.9 stars (8 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 5stars  great points, Tuesday, August 23, 2016

By Shelly H. :

I really appreciate this discussion, maybe especially re: the client whose husband's death was heavily covered in the media. The concept of choosing NOT to search for information until/unless the client expressed a preference or opinion - brilliant.

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Average Rating: 5stars  review of dr. chernack's podcast, Thursday, May 01, 2014

By Joseph D'Ambrosia :

This topic is so relevant to 21st century social work practice. This issue is something most of us social workers encounter, yet I don't think we often discuss it until an issue arises. For example, I don't remember it ever being brought up during my years as an undergrad; yet, I learned of a student who was asked to leave the social work program because of something he posted on Facebook. Dr. Chernack raised some very interesting points for us to consider when using social media. Whenever I send out an email at work, my signature includes links to my agency's blog, Facebook, etc. I have it there because I'm really proud of my agency's work and want to share it. Yet I do recognize the potential to connect myself to my clients in the cyber world and I have to be cognizant of that. The point about agencies having a "social media policy" was also interesting. I don't think my agency has one. If it does, I don't know about it. I know that I have "liked" my agency's Facebook page and also "like" some of the postings that show up in my newsfeed from it. But I do try to demonstrate professional behavior in the online world. I agree that it is critical to maintain professional boundaries with clients and that it can be difficult to do so if one is engaged with clients in a casual online setting. Personally, I have chosen not to become Facebook friends with my coworkers or clients; I try to keep my personal and work lives separate in that way. I also liked Dr. Chernack's application of the NASW Code of Ethics to social workers' use of social media. We've been doing a lot of discussions and readings this semester pertaining to social work ethics and ethical dilemmas. This podcast nicely highlights the ever-changing nature of these types of issues and the many gray areas contained within them. I agree with her overall message for social workers to be mindful and careful in our use of social media, especially in terms of protecting the privacy and confidentiality of clients.

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Average Rating: 5stars  the responsible use of social media, Saturday, February 02, 2013

By Jennifer Perrin :

In this podcast, Dr. Kathryn Chernack discusses the importance of Social Workers referring to the NASW Code of Ethics when deciding whether or not to utilize social media. The ethical standards discussed included technological competency, maintaining professional boundaries, protecting privacy, dual relationships, commitment to employers, and confidentiality. I found this podcast to be interesting and informative and practical advice was given about how to handle Facebook friend requests, Twitter and blogging accounts. In this day and age there is no escaping social media; however, it is important to be aware of the potential for violating the Code of Ethics as well as maintaining professional boundaries by not disclosing private information about ourselves. Dr. Chernack also discusses the importance of not violating our client's privacy through the use of social media and she recommends that Social Workers do not use social media to gather information about their clients. At the end of the podcast, Dr. Chernack makes some recommendations regarding the responsible use of social media sites such as: using the highest privacy setting on sites we are members of, making sure we are in control of who views our social media, checking for changes in privacy setting regularly, checking ourselves online periodically to see what information is online, discussing with clients upfront what our policies are regarding social media, and always maintaining professionalism when posting online.

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Average Rating: 5stars  just some thoughts, Tuesday, January 29, 2013

By daryl cognito :

Really enjoying the podcast with Dr. Kathryn Chernack and it really ties in with the Alberta College of Social Workers conference this year. Not to nit pick but two quick things. Twitter can be set to private meaning only those you approve can see your posts. When using social media to communicate with clients it can be helpful to have a ghost profile with just your name, no info or pictures. This allows you to communicate but not reveal your info or your relationship with the person.

I do really agree on the idea of not using twitter to follow clients, in fact, following a client any other way than clinical is not a good idea. Facebook and twitter can be helpful with individuals hard to reach in conventional such as people who are between homes (homeless) but I would not be comfortable saying much more that "hey give me a call" or "can you stop by".

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Average Rating: 4stars  ethical standards, Monday, January 28, 2013

By Laura DeJong :

I appreciated Dr. Chernack’s podcast as this is a significant issues in social work practice today. It appears that there are many advantages of being able to access client’s information online, however, it seems that it is definitely an ethical issue which she brings up several times. Keeping your professional life and your personal life separate could become very sticky if you allowed your clients to become your friends. In some ways it seems like it is pretty cut and dry of what you should or should not do as a social worker when it comes to social media, and the ethical standards you should uphold that are clearly outlined in the NASW Code of Ethics. On the other hand, small towns/communities/social groups may present situations where the client and professional come in contact and maybe have to function in the client/professional relationship as well as through knowing similar people or organizations. I think it is up to each social worker to decide what is or is not appropriate. One other thought I might add is that besides the confidentiality aspect and invasion of privacy of a client if the professional were to view their client’s information on social media websites is how would this effect the professionals personal opinions/belief systems of the client outside of the helping relationship. This could affect how he/she practices which would certainly not be good for giving objective guidance or help. Thanks Dr. Chernack for sharing your thoughts on this topic.

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Average Rating: 5stars  social media and professional boundaries, Monday, January 28, 2013

By Marianne :

Dr. Chernack podcast was very informative and helpful to all social workers as they keep up with the latest technology. Dr. Chernack discussed professional boundaries clearly. Her great recommendation of discussing social media policy with our client during the initial session was very helpful. Social media policy sets clear boundaries to the professional relationship between the worker and the client. Dr. Chernack had many practical recommendations that I will certainly be using. Proper use of privacy setting and periodically checking them was a great reminder. Additionally searching my public information online was a great insight.
Dr. Chernack discussion of the role of supervision to distinguish between personal curiosities and acquiring necessary information about our client was well addressed. Dr. Chernack clearly explained this issue ethically using the NASW code of ethics.
This podcast had great practical recommendations for social workers. I recommend this podcast.

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Average Rating: 5stars  beneficial for all social workers, Sunday, January 27, 2013

By C.Tessier :

With society becoming much more technology based, I found this podcast to be extremely helpful and eye opening. Dr. Chernack does a great job of pointing out the different challenges that a social worker may face when being a part of social media. While we all wish to stay with the times and learn the different technology, it is essential that we learn how to adapt in an ethical way. Being on facebook, twitter, and other social media sources can cause issues with confidentiality, maintaining boundaries, and protecting privacy as Dr. Chernack points out. Dr. Chernack does a good job at explaining how some of these issues can be addressed. One recommendation that I feel will be very helpful for many in years to come is that social workers should explain their social media policy at the point of intake for each individual client. This will help be a first step into keeping clear boundaries.

I would recommend this podcast to all social workers, new and experienced, to learn how to remain ethical in a technological world.

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Average Rating: 5stars  ethical considerations for social workers when using social media websites, Sunday, January 27, 2013

By Stephanie :

I found the podcast segment featuring Dr. Chernack very interesting and helpful regarding boundary and ethical considerations social workers should pay attention to when using social media websites. Dr. Chernack gave some recommendations regarding privacy settings and the proper way to make sure they are activated. She stated that it is a question for each individual social worker if he/she should have a Facebook and/or Twitter and how high one may set the privacy setting to their page, depending on if they would be using the social media site for personal use, or if say the social worker was using the site to tweet research articles or other helpful information for clients to see.
Dr. Chernack addressed the situation of clients potentially friending their fellow social worker on Facebook and how to handle that situation in a professional demeanor. She gave insight on how to politely decline a client’s friend request and how to explain to the client the reasoning for the decline. She stated that if the worker decides to accept the clients friend request in an effort to reach out to them for more of a connection, that one has to be very cautious with boundary lines and what the worker may disclose to their client via Facebook wall posts, pictures etcetera. In this event, issues of confidentiality and privacy could be violated if the workers friends on Facebook has an inclination that a client is a friend.
Dr. Chernack also discussed the ethical considerations one may have to look at when deciding if he or she wants to look at a client’s Facebook to get information about them prior to their first session together. She discusses the Code of Ethics (1.7A) that states that social workers should not solicit private information from clients and should respect clients right to privacy.

I would recommend everyone listen to this segment!

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