The Center for Professional Development


Psychotherapy with Adolescents in the Age of Social Media:  Some Ethical Dilemmas

Friday, October 25, 2013

3 CEUs / 3 Act 48 Credits / 3 Ethics Credits

This workshop emphasizes, through the lens of ethical decision making, some of the clinical challenges and dilemmas encountered in psychotherapy with teens relative to the ubiquitous presence of social media.  Specific focus is given to ways that texting, online interactive games, and social networking sites have impacted concepts of privacy, social competence and confidence, confidentiality, and community for contemporary adolescents, and the subsequent impact on the psychotherapy process. A didactic presentation presents an ethical framework to guide clinical decisions in working with adolescents in therapy.  Case vignettes give participants an opportunity in small groups to apply ethical decision making to practice situations. Upon completion of this workshop, participants are able to 1) distinguish between ethical principles, professional codes, and state regulations and how they apply to work with adolescents; 2) discuss the limits of confidentiality in psychotherapy, particularly group psychotherapy, and the merits of signed informed consent forms with both adolescents and their families; 3) identify methods of working clinically with issues of privacy, confidentiality, and community as they arise in social media with adolescents in therapy; and 4) recognize the ethical and clinical implications of the therapist's "trilemma" in working with youth around social media issues. The so-called digital divide (that children from lower socio-economic groups, often children of color, have less access to the new media) is explored. This workshop is appropriate for advanced bachelor’s and post-master’s degreed social workers in private practice, agencies, schools, and residential programs.    

Thomas K. Hurster, MSS, LCSW, CGP, FAGPA, is an adjunct faculty member at Bryn Mawr College GSSSWSR where he teaches clinical Social Work with Children and Adolescents, and two other courses.  He is a Supervisor of Child and Family Support Services at Benchmark School in Media, PA, and is in private practice.  With over 30 years of clinical experience with youth , he currently sees children and adolescents and their families in both a private practice setting and in school-based counseling; as part of his practice he currently conducts two co-ed psychotherapy groups for high school aged youth, three school-based children’s groups, and a parent group.  He is co-chair of the Child and Adolescent Special Interest Group of the AGPA, and on the board of the Philadelphia Area Group Psychotherapy Society, and a former board member of the PSCSW.