Trainees’ Internet and online social networking experiences, behaviors, and attitudes with clients and supervisors.
By P. Asay and Ashwini Lal
Training and Education in Professional Psychology, Vol 8(2), May 2014, 105-111.
The ubiquity of the Internet and online social networking creates rapidly developing opportunities and challenges for psychologists and trainees in the domains of relationships, privacy, and connection. As trainees increasingly are natives of an Internet culture, questions arise about the ways in which developing psychologists may view Internet issues and the guidance they receive from professional psychologists for whom the Internet is a significant cultural shift. A national survey of graduate students (n = 407) assessed student Internet behaviors (e.g., “Googling” clients, online social networking), training about online issues, attitudes toward online social networking and client or supervisor contact via these networks, and fears and comfort about making decisions regarding these networks. The survey also assessed what students reported they would do and what they would think if clients and supervisors contacted them via social networks. Results indicate that most trainees have changed and monitored their online presence since beginning graduate school. A quarter of respondents had “Googled” clients, and almost half had “Googled” supervisors. A small number indicated that both clients and supervisors had reported “Googling” the trainee. Students expressed concerns about making ethical decisions about online social networks. Half reported discussing Internet issues in their graduate training programs, whereas a quarter indicated they had discussed Internet issues at their training sites. Implications for training are discussed, with recommendations of program disclosure of Internet policies to students, discussion of Internet issues before trainee clinical work, role plays of ethical issues, and supervisor-initiated discussions of Internet issues.
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