Counseling in the Digital Era: Considerations for a New Generation

Jeanna Nicole Pagnotta, Fordham University


Adolescents’ lives are now experienced in increasingly sophisticated digital environments. Thus, some researchers have argued for current adolescents’ consideration as a distinct cultural group. As such, clinicians who work with this population may be expected to be conversant with their clients’ digital habits to establish an efficacious therapeutic alliance and bolster treatment outcomes. This study may be among the first to examine whether the multicultural competence thought to support the therapeutic alliance should include an understanding of social media, particularly when working with adolescent clients. Here, the relationship between adolescents’ social media use patterns and their perceived therapeutic alliance based on their perceptions of their therapists as social media-competent was examined, as was the relationship between traditional multicultural competency (MCC) and therapeutic alliance ratings. Participants were 77 adolescents, aged 14 to 17, who were currently in therapy for depression and/or anxiety. Participants completed an online survey assessing their social media use habits, perceptions of their therapist’s social media competency and traditional MCC, and ratings of therapeutic alliance. The results indicated that therapists’ perceived social media competency positively predicted therapeutic alliance ratings, regardless of variations in participants’ social media use. The results also demonstrated a positive relationship between adolescents’ perceived traditional MCC and ratings of therapeutic alliance, and provided preliminary validation for a newly adapted measure of therapists’ social media competency. These findings establish social media competency as a distinct form of MCC, which may present a new area of training and professional development for psychologists who work with adolescents.

Subject Area

Counseling Psychology|Psychology

Recommended Citation

Pagnotta, Jeanna Nicole, "Counseling in the Digital Era: Considerations for a New Generation" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10604200.