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Education and Training on Social Networking Websites for Mental Health Providers Open Access

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Social networking websites can have a positive and negative, psychological impact on individuals who use them, especially if these individuals have previously experienced depressive symptoms. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) informs the curriculum in master’s and doctoral level counseling graduate programs, yet the extent to which social networking websites and their psychological impacts is explored in these programs is unknown. This is an exploratory, mixed methods study that explores the extent to which CACREP graduate programs address this topic and prepare mental health professionals to address this topic in their practice as well as exploring the extent to which, and how, mental health professionals are seeing social networking sites impact their clients. Thirty-two participants completed an online survey that consisted of open-ended and closed-ended questions. The data collected was analyzed through frequency distributions and by developing themes using in vivo coding. These themes were then used with the frequency distribution results to inform the findings in this study.Conclusions were drawn from this study that CACREP programs are not formally addressing social networking websites psychological impacts on clients in their curriculum and mental health professionals shared that clients are being psychologically impacted by social networking websites. Mental health professionals are experiencing a need for education and/or training in this area in order to address this area with clients. Lastly, from this study there are several recommendations for additions to the CACREP curriculum in relation to social networking websites psychological impacts as well as suggestions for interventions to address these issues.

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