In the ever-evolving landscape of social work, digital technology has ushered in a transformative era, reshaping how licensed professional social workers deliver services.
The recent surge in tele-mental health services, accelerated by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, has birthed a novel actor in the American healthcare system – digital platforms. Social workers across the United States are seizing new opportunities within the gig economy, contracting with direct-to-consumer platforms to offer therapy services via video, text, phone, or email. As these platforms promise consumers convenient access to mental health care, they also offer practitioners greater freedom to provide their expertise without the burdens of business management or group partnerships.
However, these digital platforms come with their own challenges. A qualitative study featuring 22 licensed social workers conducted by Fordham GSS Associate Professor Lauri Goldkind, Ph.D., delves into the nuanced experiences of providing therapy on these platforms. While the research found that the promise of flexibility and supplementary income lures practitioners, it also unveils a landscape where maintaining a desired caseload demands continuous and often invisible labor.
Goldkind’s article is titled “Digital Discontents: Freedoms and constraints in platform social work,” and was published in Social Work and Society International Online Journal. Co-authors on the study are Barbara Pohl and Lea Wolf.