Online religious counseling for older adults
Studies have demonstrated the importance of online activities to wellbeing, especially in later life. The present study seeks to determine whether and how online religious counseling can improve the wellbeing of older believers. A six-month qualitative study was conducted with a group of Orthodox Jewish older adults (N = 26, aged 70-96) who manifest various types of age-related distress. The participants were home trained to use a dedicated, accessible online platform featuring religious questions and answers (Q&A). Data were collected through netnographic observation, monthly online inquiry and in-depth interviews with counselees and counselors alike. Analysis indicated that online spiritual Q&A for the elders are characterized by unique content, types and styles of discourse. Their variety reflects the heterogeneity of needs, areas of interest and worldviews among older religious adults. Participation in online religious counseling provided them with numerous religious, intellectual and social rewards. At the same time, their counselors—six rabbis that volunteered in this project—gained religious, communal, professional and psychological benefits from the opportunity to share their knowledge and advice. Anonymity, asynchronicity, digital literacy and types of questions were identified as issues that may have opposite effects on the experiences of participants and counselors, respectively. Although some factors may delay and/or diminish positive contributions, involvement in online religious counseling appears to promote wellbeing in later life. This service is particularly beneficial to Orthodox older adults with detrimental health conditions whose use of online religious Q&A helps them cope with the difficulties they face and maintain their enjoyment of life.
Abdel-Fadil, M. (2015). Counselling Muslim selves on Islamic websites: Walking a tightrope between secular and religious counselling ideals? Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture, 4(1), 1–38. https://doi.org/10.1163/21659214-90000099
Ahmad, N. A., Zainal, A., Razak, F. H. A., Adnan, W. A. W., & Osman, S. (2015). User experience evaluation of mobile spiritual applications for older people: An interview and observation study. Journal of Theoretical and Applied Information Technology, 72(1), 76–85. http://www.jatit.org/volumes/Vol72No1/9Vol72No1.pdf
Ardi, Z., & Sukmawati, I. (2019). The contribution of social media and mobile application to individual subjective well-being in counseling perspective. Journal of Counseling and Educational Technology, 2(1), 39–47. https://doi.org/10.32698/0571
Baker, K., & Ray, M. (2011). Online counseling: The good, the bad, and the possibilities. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 24(4), 341–346. https://doi.org/10.1080/09515070.2011.632875
Blando, J. (2011). Counseling older adults. Routledge.
Campbell, H. A. (2012). Understanding the relationship between religious practice online and offline in a networked society. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 80(1), 64–93. https://doi.org/10.1093/jaarel/lfr074
Campbell, H. A. (2017). Religious communication and technology. Annals of the International Communication Association, 41(3–4), 228–234. https://doi.org/10.1080/23808985.2017.1374200
Campbell, H. A., & Golan, O. (2011). Creating digital enclaves: Negotiation of the internet among bounded religious communities. Media, Culture & Society, 33(5), 709–724. https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443711404464
Cohen, Y. (2015). Israeli rabbis and the internet. In H. A. Campbell (Ed.), Digital Judaism: Jewish negotiations with digital media and culture (pp. 183–204). Routledge.
Corbin, J. M., & Strauss, A. (1990). Grounded theory research: Procedures, canons, and evaluative criteria. Qualitative Sociology, 13(1), 3–21. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00988593
Fisher, J. (2011). The four domains model: Connecting spirituality, health and well-being. Religions, 2(1), 17–28. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel2010017
Flasch, P., & Fulton, C. L. (2019). Counseling Jewish Americans: Considerations for practice. Counseling and Values, 64(1), 2–19. https://doi.org/10.1002/cvj.12091
Foley, G., & Timonen, V. (2015). Using grounded theory method to capture and analyze health care experiences. Health Services Research, 50(4), 1195–1210. https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-6773.12275
Folstein, M. F., Folstein, S. E., & McHugh P. R. (1975). “Mini-mental state”: A practical method for grading the cognitive state of patients for the clinician. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 12(3), 189–198. https://doi.org/10.1016/0022-3956(75)90026-6
Glick, S. (2006, June 13). The contribution of responsa literature to the study of halakha, Jewish culture and history. The Schechter Institutes, Inc. https://schechter.edu/the-contribution-of-responsa-literature-to-the-study-of-halakha-jewish-culture-and-history/
Gottesman, Y. (2009). A new direction to Halachic questions and answers: The compatibility of Responsa topics to the internet medium, regarding sexuality and attitudes towards the internet [Unpublished master’s thesis]. Bar Ilan University.
Hall, D. D. (Ed.). (1997). Lived religion in America: Toward a history of practice. Princeton University Press.
Hoover, S. M., & Echchaibi, N. (2012). The “third spaces” of digital religion [Discussion paper]. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287644204_The_Third_Spaces_of_Digital_Religion
Hsiao, A. F., Wong, M. D., Miller, M. F., Ambs, A. H., Goldstein, M. S., Smith, A., Ballard-Barbash, R., Becerra, L. S., Cheng, E. M., & Wenger, N. S. (2008). Role of religiosity and spirituality in complementary and alternative medicine use among cancer survivors in California. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 7(3), 139–146. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534735408322847
Katz, A. (2015). Drachim chadashot leshu"t (telephone, internet vehodaut)-yitronot, chesronot vemaskanot. [New ways of responsa (telephone, internet and messaging)—pros, cons and conclusions]. The Mayan, 55, 56–62. https://www.machonso.org/uploads/images/212-16-56-62.pdf
Katz, Y. (2012). Technology use in the religious communities in Israel: Combining traditional society and advanced communications. Journal of Religion, Media & Digital Culture, 1(2), 1–30. https://doi.org/10.1163/21659214-90000014
Kawabata, A., & Tamura, T. (2007). Online-religion in Japan: Websites and religious counseling from a comparative cross-cultural perspective. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(3), 999–1019. https://doi.org/10.1163/21659214-90000014
Keller, R. R. (2014). Religious diversity in North America. In P. S. Richards & A. E. Bergin (Eds.), Handbook of psychotherapy and religious diversity (pp. 21–50). American Psychological Association.
Koenig, H. G. (2012). Religion, spirituality, and health: The research and clinical implications. ISRN Psychiatry, 2012, Article 278730. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2012/278730/
Koltz, R. L., Tarabochia, D. S., Wathen, C. C., Koltz, D. J., Foote, A., Cuyle, N., & Volkman, A. (2016, March). Living well into later years: A psychoeducational support group [Paper presentation]. American Counseling Association Conference, Montreal, Canada. https://www.counseling.org/docs/default-source/vistas/article_15e3bf24f16116603abcacff0000bee5e7.pdf?sfvrsn=7da9442c_4
Lee, U., Kang, H., Yi, E., Yi, M., & Kantola, J. (2012). Understanding mobile Q&A usage: An exploratory study. In CHI '12: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 3215–3224). ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/2207676.2208741
Levin, J. (2013). Religious behavior, health, and well-being among Israeli Jews: Findings from the European Social Survey. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 5(4), 272–282. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0032601
Levin, J., & Prince, M. F. (2011). Judaism and health: Reflections on an emerging scholarly field. Journal of Religion and Health, 50, 765–777. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-010-9359-2
Lifshitz, R., Nimrod, G., & Bachner, Y. G. (2019). Spirituality and wellbeing in later life: A multidimensional approach. Aging & Mental Health, 23(8), 984–991. https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2018.1460743
Litwin, H., Schwartz, E., & Avital, D. (2017). Religiosity and wellbeing among older Jewish Israelis: Findings from SHARE. Journal of Religion, Spirituality & Aging, 29(2–3), 208–223. https://doi.org/10.1080/15528030.2015.1132491
Malone, J., & Dadswell, A. (2018). The role of religion, spirituality and/or belief in positive ageing for older adults. Geriatrics, 3(2), Article 28. https://doi.org/10.3390/geriatrics3020028
Nachtstern, B. (2008). Judaism 2.0: The influence of the internet on the religious society in the 21st century. In Rashi, T., & Zept, M. (Eds.), Yiahadut vemedia [Judaism and media] (pp. 195–208). Golden Crown.
Noelker, L. S., & Browdie, R. (2013). Sidney Katz, MD: A new paradigm for chronic illness and long-term care. The Gerontologist, 54(1), 13–20. https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnt086
Okun, S., & Nimrod, G. (2017). Online ultra-orthodox religious communities as a third space: A netnographic study. International Journal of Communication, 11, 2825–2841. https://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/6515/2085
Orsi, R. A. (2003). Is the study of lived religion irrelevant to the world we live in? Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 42(2), 169–174. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-5906.t01-1-00170
Pargament, K. I. (2002). The bitter and the sweet: An evaluation of the costs and benefits of religiousness. Psychological Inquiry, 13(3), 168–181. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327965PLI1303_02
Ralph, N., Birks, M., & Chapman, Y. (2014). Contextual positioning: Using documents as extant data in grounded theory research. SAGE Open, 4(3). https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244014552425
Richards, D., & Viganó, N. (2013). Online counseling: A narrative and critical review of the literature. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69(9), 994–1011. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.21974
Shaw, R., Gullifer, J., & Wood, K. (2016). Religion and spirituality: A qualitative study of older adults. Ageing International, 41(3), 311–330. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12126-016-9245-7
Steinitz, O. Z. (2011). Responsa 2.0: Are Q&A websites creating a new type of halachic discourse? Modern Judaism 31(1), 85–102. https://doi.org/10.1093/mj/kjq034
Sukmawati, I., Ardi, Z., Ifdil,I., & Zikra, Z. (2019). Development and validation of Acceptability of Mental-Health Mobile App Survey (AMMS) for android-based online counseling service assessments. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 1339(2019), Article 012124. https://doi.org/10.1088/1742-6596/1339/1/012124
Tie, Y. C., Birks, M., & Francis, K. (2019). Grounded theory research: A design framework for novice researchers. SAGE Open Medicine, 7. https://doi.org/10.1177/2050312118822927
Tsuria, R. (2016). Jewish Q&A online and the regulation of sexuality: Using Foucault to read technology. Social Media + Society, 2(3). https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305116662176
Tsuria, R., & Campbell, H. A. (2020). “In my own opinion”: Negotiation of rabbinical authority online in responsa within Kipa.co.il. Journal of Communication Inquiry. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/0196859920924384
Wang, K. Y., Kercher, K., Huang, J. Y., & Kosloski, K. (2014). Aging and religious participation in late life. Journal of Religion and Health, 53(5), 1514–1528. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-013-9741-yWong, N. M. N., Chu, S. K. W., Huang, H., & Hung, M. Y. (2015). Cross‐cultural quality comparison of online health information for elderly care on Yahoo! Answers. Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 51(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1002/meet.2014.14505101055