Therapists' experiences in adopting technology as a therapeutic medium with children
Cotton, Deborah Jean
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Children, growing up in this digital era incorporate technology into play, communication and learning. Therapists working with children endeavour to use mediums with which children are familiar and thus need to make a decision whether to include technology in or exclude technology from their therapeutic environments. This is no easy decision, in the midst of negative publicity regarding the role technology plays in children‘s lives. A deeper understanding of what encourages or discourages therapists from using technology as a therapeutic medium with children could guide practitioners in their decisions regarding the use of technology in therapy. The aim of this study was to explore and describe experiences of therapists using technology, as a therapeutic medium with children. A qualitative multiple case study design was used. Experiences were defined as the “active process" of reinterpreting the "physical, perceptual, affective and cognitive aspects" of being exposed to events to bring about a change in response options (McKnight & Sechrest, 2003:471). Data were collected by means of semi-structured interviews and visual data. Seven therapists participated in the research, selected by means of non-probability purposive sampling and snowball sampling. Collected data and reflective field notes were analysed thematically, using an inductive, interpretive approach, guided by a theoretical framework, the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA). Findings indicated that all participants were aware that children find technology appealing, but participants who were older or psychodynamically orientated were less inclined to incorporate technology as a therapeutic medium. Participants who were experimental by nature used technology as a therapeutic medium with some caution. Experimentally inclined participants who had received training in using technology used technology not only as a therapeutic medium, but also more confidently as a play medium. Participants were deterred mainly by the uncertainty of the therapeutic value of technology, the lack of ethical guidelines regulating the use of technology in therapy and the concern that technology may interfere with the therapeutic process. Further research regarding parents’ and child-clients’ perspectives of using technology in therapy would perhaps reduce speculative perceptions. Research regarding therapists’ values and perceptions of technology as a therapeutic medium could guide stakeholders in their development of training programs and necessary ethical guidelines.
- Humanities