CHAPTER 9 HELPING INDIVIDUALS, FAMILIES, AND GROUPS WITH ENVIRONMENTAL STRESSORS Summary of Content 1. The Social Environment Clients’ social networks exist within a cultural context and include immediate and extended family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and colleagues (and pets can be important members as well). Social networks expand and con- tract over time in response to changing circumstances, but they remain potent sources of support that buffer the impact of life stressors and promote resil- ience. They can provide four types of support: instrumental, emotional, infor- mation, and appraisal. Interactions with others in a social network also create and reinforce feelings of esteem and competence and shape and reinforce views of self and others. Social media has made it easier for individuals, families, and groups to access and connect to social networks. Problems arise when there is a disconnect between a need and the social network’s ability and willingness to respond. Cultural and social identities can either promote or inhibit help-seeking behavior and a network’s responsiveness to such behavior. When seeking assistance is viewed as a sign of weakness or as a source of embarrassment, either by those in need or those to whom they turn, this exacerbates stress. A social network also can become a source of stress when need is minimized, ignored, or punished. Social media can create stress through cyberbullying, stalking, and the promotion of misinformation, polarization, and alienation.
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