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Top 10 Considerations for Using Communication Technology in Practice

Do you use — or have you ever considered using — communication technology in your social work or social service work practice?

The College’s Professional Practice Department often receives inquiries from members and the public about the use of such technology in practice. Communication technology is a broad field and may refer to texting, email, video chat, social media platforms, websites, or other types of online communication.

Here is our top 10 list of considerations for using communication technology in practice:

  1. Are you competent to use a particular communication technology? Do you have the knowledge, capability and confidence required to use the technology, such that you can provide professional and ethical care and services?
  2. Have you consulted your professional liability insurance provider to determine if they will cover the use of communication technology in practice?
  3. Have you sought further consultation, supervision or education on using communication technology in practice?
  4. Are you able to engage meaningfully with your clients using communication technology? Some clients may not be familiar with some communication technologies and/or may feel more comfortable meeting in person.
  5. What form of communication technology will you use? Can you use it in compliance with the Standards of Practice, and any applicable privacy and other legislation?
  6. Have you developed a communication technology policy that outlines the extent, nature and limitations of service provision?
  7. Have you communicated clear boundaries with your clients about how communication technology will be used in practice? For example, are your clients aware of:
    • Why communication technology is being used to provide service, and whether it will be used for administrative or clinical purposes, or both?
    • When messages will be checked, and when or whether they will receive a response from you?
    • The fact that messages received through communication technology may become part of their client record?
  8. Have you put a crisis management plan in place in the event of an emergency?
  9. Have you read the following Practice Notes?
  10. Are you considering using communication technology with clients outside Ontario? If so, have you addressed the various practice considerations, including whether:
    • You will be covered by your professional liability insurance?
    • You need to consult with a lawyer (often a service that is provided through your professional liability insurance)?
    • You need to contact the regulatory or licensing body in the province or jurisdiction where your client resides?

If you have questions about this issue or other practice concerns, please contact the Professional Practice Department at 416-972-9882 or 1-877-828-9380, or email practice@ocswssw.org.


Practising Electronically in Ontario

Social workers registered in good standing in another Canadian province or territory who wish to deliver social work services in Ontario, exclusively by electronic means, may now apply for registration with the OCSWSSW at a reduced fee.

In order to be registered to practise electronically in Ontario, an applicant from another province must hold a certificate of registration, licence or permit for social work that has been issued by a Canadian social work regulatory authority, which authorizes them to practise the profession of social work, or to use a title or designation relating to the profession, or both. Applicants must also meet all the requirements of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) application (including academic verification of a social work degree for those registered in Alberta and Saskatchewan).

To find out more about the registration process for electronic practice in Ontario, whether as a member of, or an applicant to, the OCSWSSW, please visit Practising Electronically in Ontario and Certificates of Registration.