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Using Facebook as a tool for informal peer support: a case example

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The social media site (SMS) Facebook can provide social workers with a method to engage in informal peer support. Scholars to date have mainly focused on SMSs such as Facebook as they pertain to clinical interactions with clients, maintaining professionalism especially among social work students, using them for professional or organizational promotion, and using them as an educational tool. Informal peer groups have been found to be an effective tool to combat burnout in high-stress professions such as social work. The use of a SMS such as Facebook for informal peer support could provide additional benefits to social workers beyond what they would experience from offline contact. This article fills a gap in the literature by describing how a group of practicing social workers use a private Facebook group for peer support, informal consultation, emotional support, and personal social connection. Given the continual high rates of job stress and burnout, social workers should consider new and innovative ways to use SMSs such as Facebook to enhance their self-care efforts.
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Keywords: Social media; informal support; self-care; social work practice; support for professionals

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, USA 2: School of Social Work, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA 3: Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, Washington, USA 4: School of Social Work, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, USA 5: Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

Publication date: April 2, 2016

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