Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Social Media Advocacy-Legalizing Same Sex Marriage

Various advocacy groups are showing how to utilize support for a cause through technology in the U.S. Supreme Court review of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). A social media site, Facebook, is flooded today with red equality avatars supporting gay marriage. Okay, so it might not have an impact on Justice Scalia or Alito’s decision to repeal DOMA or their views on same sex marriage, but there is significance in the action. How many people are opening their Facebook’s to view a sea of these red equality flags? On a microsystems level a person can view their intimate social network in terms of who supports these beliefs. People can be influenced by the opinions of significant other’s in their lives.  The opinions may not be the same as their family of origin.

Seeing the world through red colored glasses from an exosystem perspective, Facebook pages of businesses, the media, and people of influence in culture, may have power in a changing world. Consumers are viewing the opinions of their “likes” from a new perspective, a political one. Facebook user demographic charts show 72.5% of users are between 13-34 years of age. If users like a page because their friends do, they will receive content specific posts. How would these posts influence young people and in turn, our next generations?

How does this type of tactic work on our macrosystem? Gay marriage is trending and many people are listening.  According to the recent Gallup poll (2011), 70% of Americans from 18 to 34 support legalizing same sex marriage.  Does the impact of the digital generation decrease homophobia enough to shift the rights of an oppressed population? Conversely, 65% of men and 55% of women over fifty disagree with the legalization of gay marriage.  Boomers, the silent generation, and the G.I. generations born between 1958 and older are adapting more slowly, with Republicans of this age range significantly stagnant. It seems, at least for the digital natives, technology is changing the way our society views significant issues of our time. One cannot change the direction a sea of technology transforms. 

 Newport, F. (2011, May 20). For first time, majority of americans favor legal gay marriage. Retrieved from 

 Social Media Today. (2011, March 07). Facebook demographics revisited – 2011 statistics. Retrieved from

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Digital 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 sending red flags through digital means. I have texted/talked adolescents off the ledge and reinforced techniques to deal with stressful situations.  Later, I have to transcribe the communication for my records. Important e-mails I print out. The adolescents have not abused the tool. They understand I may not answer right away because my phone is not attached at my hip. We discuss technology as not a reliable form of asking for help and explore other methods of intervention.

Text Messaging Statistics

 Most of my clients use texting as a form of communication about session times or cancellations.  An excellent example of an e-mail agreement you can adapt to your practice is available here. I know I will adapt this form for my use with clients. This document is a good resource for digital communication standards.

I believe social work educators who are practitioners are particularly vulnerable to boundaries regarding e-mails.  Students are being taught to communicate with instructors through Skype, texting, e-mails, and learning management systems. “The more communication the better” is toted when courses are blended or online. A slippery slope may occur when this translates to client interaction. Social work educators need to be especially mindful because they are a mentor in the field. The boundaries they teach and exhibit will be remembered by their students.

I am diligent in my efforts to maintain boundaries between my different responsibilities. Not that mistakes don’t happen, but I learn fast. This is the whole crux of the issue; change is constant with digital communication. Even with our adaptation to these technologies there may not be models for us to refer in case of a concern. Then all we can do is learn, get supervision, and refer back to our code of ethics. What have been your experiences with digital communication and clients?


Mishna, F., Bogo, M., Root, J., Sawyer, J., & Khoury-Kassabri, M. (2012). 'It just crept in': The Digital Age and Implications for Social Work Practice. Clinical Social Work Journal, 40(3), 277-286. doi:10.1007/s10615-012-0383-4

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tech grants from SAMHSA

SAMHSA is accepting applications for up to $10.9 million in Technology-Assisted Care in Targeted Areas of Need grants

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is accepting applications for Technology-Assisted Care in Targeted Areas of Need (TCE-TAC) grants totaling up to approximately $10.9 million over the next three years.  The purpose of this program is to expand and/or enhance the capacity of substance abuse treatment providers to serve persons in treatment who have been underserved because of lack of access to treatment in their immediate community due to a variety of factors (e.g., lack of transportation, limited supply of substance abuse treatment providers, etc.).
By providing greater access to the use of technology such as web-based services, smart phones, and behavioral health electronic applications (e-apps), TCE-TAC grants will enhance and/or expand the ability of providers to reach out to people in treatment, as well as track and monitor their health so that providers can help ensure services are available where and when they are needed.
This grant program is expected to provide up to an estimated 13 grants to be awarded up to $280,000 a year each for up to three years. The actual award amounts may vary, depending on the availability of funds.
WHO CAN APPLY:  Eligible applicants are domestic public and private non-profit entities. [See Section III-1 of this RFA for complete eligibility information.]
SAMHSA Headlines

Link to Grants:

Monday, March 4, 2013

Making Orientations Online

This is an article the Chronicle of Higher Education wrote on Orientations for Adjunct Faculty. National Louis University was highlighted due to their implementation of an online orientation for their adjuncts. Linda Kryzak and I created and implement the training for the school. Online orientations make information accessible to all faculty. After the training, faculty are invited into an online cafe to discuss questions, share stories, or be updated on changes at the University.
Here is the link to the article...

Adjunct Orientations Take Hold, With a Variety of Approaches