Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) permeated social work practice before coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In addition to ICT-based formal services (e.g. e-counselling), social workers used ICTs informally as an adjunct to face-to-face practice. Building on our previous research, our cross-sectional online survey examined social workers' informal use of ICTs in four countries: Canada, the USA, Israel and the UK. The survey was administered through Qualtrics software among social workers across Canada (n = 2,609), the USA (n = 1,225), Israel (n = 386) and the UK (n = 134), and analysed using IBM SPSS Statistics version 26. The findings substantiate the ubiquitous use of informal ICTs in social work practice, as an adjunct to face-to-face treatment, across the four countries. Given the current, unprecedented context of COVID-19, we discuss the meaning of our findings related to access, ethical considerations (e.g. professional boundaries) and supervision in the context of restricted face-to-face practice. We discuss the implications for social work practice, education and research, and conclude that in the COVID-19 context, there is an even greater need for research, clinical discussion, supervision and policy on informal ICT use in social work practice.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Grant no. 435-2016-0600).
© 2021 The Author(s).
- clinical practice
- informal ICT use
- information and communication technology
- social work