When “Okay, Google” Fails: How to Search for Counseling in the World of Humans and Technologies

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Liliia Zemnukhova


Digital Technologies, Psychotherapy, Sensitive Experience, Autoethnography, Sociotechnical Process


 With the spread of information technology, more and more areas of everyday life are influenced by digitalization. However, not all problems can be addressed by technological solutions, especially not those associated with particular sensual or emotional experiences. This essay focuses on the search for psychotherapeutic assistance (or psychological counseling) as a case of sensitive experience. The data analyzed includes in-depth interviews with psychologists, psychotherapists, experienced and potential clients, as well as with those who are skeptical about the practice of counseling in general. While conceived as an autoethnography, the essay pays particular attention to interview materials and the summary of overall results of my part of the study. The discussion and conclusions present not so much a technological attempt to algorithmize searches, but rather an understanding of the search practice as a sociotechnical process, since its significant part is related to digital technologies and their communication capabilities. We will see that the search for psychological counseling is associated primarily with social connections, physical contacts, and trustworthy recommendations, which can be personal or technologically mediated, while the technologies themselves serve the purposes of information retrieval and communication. Technical services programmed to perform specific tasks related to psychological counseling do not replace the expertise of a person, but rather provide another opportunity to gain more in-depth knowledge of the practice.

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DOI: 10.25285/2078-1938-2019-11-1-166-176

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