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How Counselors can effectively use Social media

How Counselors can effectively use Social media
Image from: freepik

 

How Counselors can effectively use Social media?

We often look at a new technology with suspicion and think it will completely upend our lives. Social media have not only changed how do we communicate but to varying degrees, society itself. Social media and other digital platforms have now become the primary mediums through which adolescents and young adults get connected, form relationships and stay informed. People of all ages use social media to get connected, pursuing interests and making new connections online. Since, almost everybody is spending so much of time on social media; it can also prove to be an ideal platform for counseling.

Counselors are well aware that depression, anxiety, alienation, and even social isolation is caused by many factors, but they still do their job by talking to people face-to-face. Although many counselors have embraced social media for their work, others are still skeptical about “faceless” interaction. 

Regardless of what one may think, the genie is out of the bottle. Social media are here to stay and counselors have to seriously think about adopting this media. Digital personal interaction has now become integral to our social life, and counselors who shun any mention or understanding of social media risk not just failing to get connectd with clients, but actually alienating them. 

It’s true that face-to-face communication has traditionally played an important role in counselors’ training and work; therefore, it may be difficult for practitioners to view digital communication as an effective way to form a therapeutic bond with clients. Counselors are trained to gather information not just from speech, but also from facial expressions and body language. Hence, most of the counselors are under the impression that in-person conversation is the only way in which people communicate and form relationships. 

Because of above-mentioned reasons, counselors may not want to engage in serious counseling on a virtual platform, but they should understand that many people — including many young clients prefer forming relationships in this way. Moreover, such relationships are just as good and meaningful to people as those formed in the usual manner. 

It is up to counselors to recognize this new scenario that has its own language, values and customs. Unless counselors do not identify the importance of this segment, they may not be aware of the complexities of this culture and will struggle to accept its importance in clients’ lives. Once they begin to understand this cultural group, they are more likely to empathize and make connections, strengthening the counselor-client relationship. It’s about time; counselors must understand how technology has become an indelible part of our lives.

Counselors can take initiative by developing basic literacy in social media and other online platforms. Eventually, they would learn enough about the online activity to understand the part it plays in clients’ lives. Social media also gives the opportunity for counselors to interact 24/7, something that was not possible earlier.

How Counselors can effectively use Social media
Image from: freepik

 

Counselors, who especially work with teens, may be wise to learn as much as they can about different social media platforms, social media sites and popular apps that young people use. Most importantly, they should strengthen their relationships with young people, especially those in risk zones, in order to intervene and provide support when needed.  Teens are one such group that is still going through the normal developmental phases of defining themselves and figuring out who they are. They may feel comfortable in the digital world; however, there are still many things that they don’t understand. Here counselors can play a vital role in guiding adolescents to protect their safety by being more careful about their social media activities such as where they post personal information, being wary of people they don’t know and recognize that people aren’t always what they claim on these digital platforms.  

Not only teenagers, but even adults need to understand that the internet is forever. Once something gets posted, it cannot be taken back. It’s not necessary for all counselors to be available on every social media platform, but the least they can do is to have enough understanding of the digital culture to connect with and understand clients.

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