A conceptual framework for electronic socio-emotional support for people with special needs

Shpigelman CN, Reiter S, Weiss PL.  Department of Special Education, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel. carmits@univ.haifa.ac.il.  Int J Rehabil Res. 2009 Dec;32(4):301-8. doi: 10.1097/MRR.0b013e32831e4519.

In recent years an increasing number of people under psychological distress turn to computer-mediated communication for support. A related development is the increasing number of computer-mediated support groups in which people meet, share interests, and exchange socio-emotional support through text-based messages on computer networks. To date, a few policy makers and researchers have addressed the phenomenon of social-emotional support through electronic communication for populations with special needs. This paper presents a conceptual framework developed to characterize an electronic socio-emotional support process for people with special needs. The electronic socio-emotional support framework is based on a review of the literature as well as the results of a pilot study, which examined the use of an electronic mentoring intervention program based on mutual self-disclosure and friendship between mentors and youth with special needs. The implications of the electronic socio-emotional support framework for people with special needs are discussed.