I’ve really enjoyed the discussion and comments about social networking and all the ways it can impact us as counselors. I am all about the technology and think integrating it appropriately into my practice has been a fabulous thing. My clients seem to like it, I like it and my younger clients think it’s cool that their counselor texts and tweets. Until very recently, though, I hadn’t really given much thought to how social networking had impacted my professional networking. A lot of my counselor friends are Facebook users and we “friend” each other and keep in touch that way. Mostly though, we run into each other at workshops or conferences or some other professional gathering. The other day, however, my Facebook experience took on a whole new facet.
My message box had a little red “2” and with a click of the mouse, I was looking at a couple of messages from counselors I didn’t know. Now, that isn’t that unusual. What was different was that these folks were from places half way around the world! Who were they and why were they contacting me? Turns out, I had crossed paths with one of them at the ACA Conference last spring. We had chatted about some New Orleans things and she was reaching out to say hello. The other person had found me through another counselor friend on Facebook and was interested in something I had done.
Well, what started out as casual contacts has quickly grown into discussions about counseling and how things are done in our respective parts of the world. Other counselor friends have joined in and it seems like there is a genuine interest in knowing how others practice their craft. In a short time, I have learned so much from them and that as different as we are, we share so much in common as counselors. It’s truly been an enriching experience and one that, without online social networking, might not be possible. How else could I talk to counselors in three different countries in 10 minutes? Amazing! It never occurred to me to use social networking in this way but when it happened, it made perfect sense. I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Dawn Ferrara is a counselor in private practice and clinical manager for a community-based children’s mental health program. Her areas of interest include disaster mental health counseling, lifestyle management, and counselor wellness.