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Social Work and Artificial Intelligence: Towards the Electronic Social Work Field of Specialisation

The utilisation of artificial intelligence and other technologies in social work cast doubt on the digital acumen of social workers. This paper sought to contribute to the development of electronic social work popularly known as e-social work. Integrative literature review was adopted as the methodology for this paper. The paper has found that there is a need for the development of the field of electronic social work in order to enable the safe and ethical use of artificial intelligence in practise. In addition, the paper has provided guidelines. The paper found that Continuous Professional Development and an interdisciplinary Master’s (coursework) programme that integrates AI in social work can equip e-social workers with skills and knowledge about technologies. To this end, the paper recommends that institutions of higher learning should develop educational programmes, and the South African Council for Social Service Profession should develop policies and ethical guidelines that enable e-social work to be regarded as a field of specialisation in social work. The paper further recommends that social workers need to be provided with digital training in order to maintain confidentiality, informed consent, professional boundaries, professional competence, record keeping, and other ethical considerations.

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University of Limpopo
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Journal article - open access
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