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Establishing working relationships in online social work

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016. Summary: This article reports on an empirical case study into the process of establishing a working relationship between social workers and service users in an online social work service. Workers were using an online chat application to interact with young people, who sought professional help for various types of psychosocial problems. Two chat conversations and one interview of each of five research participants were analysed in terms of the way in which the working relationship between the service user and the online social worker was established. Thus, a total of 10 chat conversations and five interviews were included in this study. Findings: Subjects were shown to be particularly focused on the process of addressing the issues with which the service users were trying to cope. As a consequence, limited effort was observed with regard to shaping the working relationship in such a way that the service user gained control over the course of the conversation. Applications: As the medium influences the process of establishing a positive working relationship, it is argued that the worker should be able to understand the implications for the manner in which online conversations are conducted. Social work education is called upon to facilitate the acquiring of the knowledge and skills needed for such. It is suggested that more research into service users’ expectations regarding the working relationship within online social work could provide additional insights for the further improvement of these types of services.
Journal: Journal of Social Work
ISSN: 1468-0173
Issue: 3
Volume: 18
Pages: 307 - 325
Publication year:2018