Diversity and Difference in Practice

Competency Chapter

Competency 1: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior

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Behaviors Make ethical decisions by applying the standards of the NASW Code of Ethics, relevant laws and regulations, models for ethical decision-making, ethical conduct of research, and additional codes of ethics as appropriate to context.

1, 7, 13, 14

Use reflection and self-regulation to manage personal values and maintain professionalism in practice situations

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1, 4, 5

Demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior; appearance; and oral, written, and electronic communication

1, 6, 7

Use technology ethically and appropriately to facilitate practice outcomes 1, 6, 14

Use supervision and consultation to guide professional judgment and behavior 1, 4

Competency 2: Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice

Behaviors Apply and communicate understanding of the importance of diversity and difference in shaping life experiences in practice at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels

3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Present themselves as learners and engage clients and constituencies as experts of their own experiences

1, 5, 8, 14

Apply self-awareness and self-regulation to manage the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse clients and constituencies

1, 4, 5, 7, 8

Competency 3: Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice

Behaviors Apply their understanding of social, economic, and environmental justice to advocate for human rights at the individual and system levels

4, 5, 8, 9

Engage in practices that advance social, economic, and environmental justice 3, 4, 5, 9

Competency 4: Engage In Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice

Behaviors Use practice experience and theory to inform scientific inquiry and research 2, 3, 8, 14

Apply critical thinking to engage in analysis of quantitative and qualitative research methods and research findings

2, 4, 8, 10, 14

Use and translate research evidence to inform and improve practice, policy, and service delivery 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Competency 5: Engage in Policy Practice

Behaviors Identify social policy at the local, state, and federal level that impacts well-being, service delivery, and access to social services

1, 4, 5, 11, 12

CSWE EPAS 2015 Core Competencies and Behaviors in This Text

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Competency Chapter

Assess how social welfare and economic policies impact the delivery of and access to social services 1, 5, 10, 12

Apply critical thinking to analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice

1, 5, 8, 12

Competency 6: Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities


Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks to engage with clients and constituencies

2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12

Use empathy, reflection, and interpersonal skills to effectively engage diverse clients and constituencies 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11

Competency 7: Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities


Collect and organize data, and apply critical thinking to interpret information from clients and constituencies

4, 7, 8, 12, 14

Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in the analysis of assessment data from clients and constituencies

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8

Develop mutually agreed-on intervention goals and objectives based on the critical assessment of strengths, needs, and challenges within clients and constituencies

6, 7, 8, 9, 14

Select appropriate intervention strategies based on the assessment, research knowledge, and values and preferences of clients and constituencies

3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11

Competency 8: Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Behaviors Critically choose and implement interventions to achieve practice goals and enhance capacities of clients and constituencies

1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in interventions with clients and constituencies

2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13

Use inter-professional collaboration as appropriate to achieve beneficial practice outcomes 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Negotiate, mediate, and advocate with and on behalf of diverse clients and constituencies 5, 8, 9, 10, 12

Facilitate effective transitions and endings that advance mutually agreed-on goals 13

Competency 9: Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Behaviors Select and use appropriate methods for evaluation of outcomes 6, 8, 11, 14

Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in the evaluation of outcomes

1, 4, 5, 6, 8, 14

Critically analyze, monitor, and evaluate intervention and program processes and outcomes 5, 6, 8, 14

Apply evaluation findings to improve practice effectiveness at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels 14

CSWE EPAS 2015 Core Competencies and Behaviors in This Text

Adapted with permission of Council on Social Work Education. These competencies and behaviors also appear in the margins throughout this text.

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Harlow, England • London • New York • Boston • San Francisco • Toronto • Sydney • Dubai • Singapore Hong Kong • Tokyo • Seoul • Taipei New Delhi • Cape Town • Sao Paulo • Mexico City • Madrid • Amsterdam Munich • Paris • Milan

An Introduction to Group Work Practice Ronald W. Toseland University at Albany, State University of New York

Robert F. Rivas Siena College, Emeritus


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To our parents, Stella and Ed, Marg and Al

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Preface 13

1. Introduction 17 Organization of the Text 18 The Focus of Group Work Practice 18 Values and Ethics in Group Work Practice 21

Practice Values 21 Practice Ethics 24

Definition of Group Work 27 Classifying Groups 28

Formed and Natural Groups 28 Purpose and Group Work 29 Treatment and Task Groups 29

Group Versus Individual Efforts 32 Advantages and Disadvantages of Treatment Groups 32 Advantages and Disadvantages of Task Groups 34

A Typology of Treatment and Task Groups 35 Treatment Groups 36

Support Groups 36 Educational Groups 38 Growth Groups 39 Therapy Groups 40 Socialization Groups 41 Self-Help Groups 42

Task Groups 44 Groups to Meet Client Needs 44 Groups to Meet Organizational Needs 50 Groups to Meet Community Needs 54

Summary 58

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Contents 7

2. Historical and Theoretical Developments 59 Knowledge f rom Group Work Practice and Practice Research: Treatment Groups 59

Differences Between Casework and Group Work 60 Intervention Targets 61 The Weakening of Group Work 62 Current Practice Trends 63 Divergent and Unified Practice Models 66 Evidence-based Group Work Practice 67 The Popularity of Psycho-educational, Structured, Practice Models 68

Knowledge f rom Group Work Practice: Task Groups 69 Knowledge f rom Social Science Research 70 Inf luential Theories 72

Systems Theory 72 Psychodynamic Theory 75 Learning Theory 76 Field Theory 77 Social Exchange Theory 79 Constructivist, Empowerment, and Narrative Theories 80

Summary 81

3. Understanding Group Dynamics 83 The Development of Helpful Group Dynamics 83 Group Dynamics 84

Communication and Interaction Patterns 84 Group Cohesion 95 Social Integration and Inf luence 99 Group Culture 105

Stages of Group Development 108 Summary 112

4. Leadership 114 Leadership, Power, and Empowerment 115

Leadership, Empowerment, and the Planned Change Process 118 Theories of Group Leadership 119 Factors Inf luencing Group Leadership 120 Effective Leadership 121

An Interactional Model of Leadership 122 Purposes of the Group 122 Type of Problem 123 The Environment 125 The Group as a Whole 126 The Group Members 127 The Group Leader 128

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8 Contents

Group Leadership Skills 129 Facilitating Group Processes 130 Data-Gathering and Assessment 134 Action Skills 136 Learning Group Leadership Skills 143 Leadership Style 144

Co-leadership 148 Summary 151

5. Leadership and Diversity 153 Approaches to Multicultural Group Work 154 A Framework for Leading Diverse Groups 155

Developing Cultural Sensitivity 156 Assessing Cultural Inf luences on Group Behavior 160 Intervening with Sensitivity to Diversity 166

Summary 175

6. Planning the Group 176 Planning Focus 176 Planning Model for Group Work 178

Establishing the Group’s Purpose 178 Assessing Potential Sponsorship and Membership 179 Recruiting Members 185 Composing the Group 188 Orienting Members 194 Contracting 196 Preparing the Environment 198 Reviewing the Literature 200 Selecting Monitoring and Evaluation Tools 201 Preparing a Written Group Proposal 202 Planning Distance Groups 202

Summary 211

7. The Group Begins 212 Objectives in the Beginning Stage 213

Ensuring a Secure Environment 214 Introducing New Members 215 Defining the Purpose of the Group 220 Confidentiality 223 Helping Members Feel a Part of the Group 225 Guiding the Development of the Group 226 Balancing Task and Socio-emotional Foci 231 Goal Setting in Group Work 231

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Contents 9

Contracting 234 Facilitating Members’ Motivation 235 Addressing Ambivalence and Resistance 235 Working with Involuntary Members 240 Anticipating Obstacles 242 Monitoring and Evaluating the Group: The Change Process Begins 243

Summary 245

8. Assessment 246 Conducting Efffective Assessments 247

Focus on Group Processes 248 External Constituencies and Sponsors 249

The Assessment Process 249 How Much Information? 250 Diagnostic Labels 251 Assessment Focus 252 Relationship of Assessment to the Change Process and Problem Solving 253

Assessing the Functioning of Group Members 254 Methods for Assessing Group Members 255

Assessing the Functioning of the Group as a Whole 262 Assessing Communication and Interaction Patterns 262 Assessing Cohesion 263 Assessing Social Integration 265 Assessing Group Culture 270

Assessing the Group’s Environment 271 Assessing the Sponsoring Organization 271 Assessing the Interorganizational Environment 273 Assessing the Community Environment 274

Linking Assessment to Intervention 276 Summary 279

9. Treatment Groups: Foundation Methods 280 Middle-Stage Skills 280

Preparing for Group Meetings 281 Structuring the Group’s Work 285 Involving and Empowering Group Members 291 Helping Members Achieve Goals 293 Using Empirically Based Treatment Methods in Therapy Groups 303 Working with Reluctant and Resistant Group Members During the Middle Phase 305 Monitoring and Evaluating the Group’s Progress 308

Summary 310

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10 Contents

10. Treatment Groups: Specialized Methods 311 Overreliance on Specialized Methods 311

Intervening with Group Members 312 Intrapersonal Interventions 313 Identifying and Discriminating 314 Recognizing Associations 315 Analyzing the Rationality of Thoughts and Belief s 316 Changing Thoughts, Belief s, and Feeling States 318 Interpersonal Interventions 326 Learning by Observing Models 327 Environmental Interventions 333 Connecting Members to Concrete Resources 333 Expanding Members’ Social Networks 334 Contingency Management Procedures 335 Modifying Physical Environments 338

Intervening in the Group as a Whole 339 Changing Communication and Interaction Patterns 339 Changing the Group’s Attraction for Its Members 341 Using Social Integration Dynamics Effectively 343 Changing Group Culture 345

Changing the Group Environment 346 Increasing Agency Support for Group Work Services 346 Links with Interagency Networks 348 Increasing Community Awareness 349

Summary 351

11. Task Groups: Foundation Methods 352 The Ubiquitous Task Group 352 Leading Task Groups 353

Leading Meetings 354 Sharing Information 356 Enhancing Involvement and Commitment 358 Developing Information 359 Dealing with Conf lict 361 Making Effective Decisions 364 Understanding Task Groups’ Political Ramifications 366 Monitoring and Evaluating 367 Problem Solving 368

A Model for Effective Problem Solving 369 Identifying a Problem 370 Developing Goals 373 Collecting Data 374 Developing Plans 375

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Contents 11

Selecting the Best Plan 375 Implementing the Plan 376

Summary 378

12. Task Groups: Specialized Methods 380 Small Organizational Groups 380

Brainstorming 380 Variations on Brainstorming 384 Focus Groups 385 Nominal Group Technique 388 Multi-attribute Utility Analysis 392 Quality Improvement Groups 395

Large Organizational Groups 397 Parliamentary Procedure 397 Phillips’ 66 401

Methods for Working with Community Groups 403 Mobilization Strategies 403 Capacity-Building Strategies 405 Social Action Strategies 407

Summary 410

13. Ending the Group’s Work 411 Factors that Inf luence Group Endings 411 The Process of Ending 412 Planned and Unplanned Termination 412

Member Termination 413 Worker Termination 415

Ending Group Meetings 416 Ending the Group as a Whole 418

Learning from Members 418 Maintaining and Generalizing Change Efforts 418 Reducing Group Attraction 424 Feelings About Ending 426 Planning for the Future 428 Making Referrals 429

Summary 432

14. Evaluation 433 Why Evaluate? The Group Worker’s View 435

Reasons for Conducting Evaluations 435 Organizational Encouragement and Support 435

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12 Contents

Time Considerations 436 Selecting a Data Collection Method 436

Evaluation Methods 437 Evaluations for Planning a Group 437

Obtaining Program Information 437 Needs Assessment 438

Evaluations for Monitoring a Group 439 Monitoring Methods 439

Evaluations for Developing a Group 445 Single-System Methods 446 Case Study Methods 449 Participatory Action Research Methods (PARS) 450

Evaluations for Determining Effectiveness and Efficiency 450 Evaluation Measures 454

Choosing Measures 454 Types of Measures 455

Summary 459

Appendix A: Standards for Social Work Practice with Groups 460 Appendix B: Group Announcements 471 Appendix C: Outline for a Group Proposal 473 Appendix D: An Example of a Treatment Group Proposal 474 Appendix E: An Example of a Task Group Proposal 476 References 478 Author Index 507 Subject Index 519

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We are gratified by the wide use of this text by professionals, as well as by educators and students in undergraduate and graduate courses in schools of social work throughout the United States and the world.

Because we are committed to presenting a coherent and organized over- view of g roup work practice f rom a generalist practice perspective, the eighth edition continues to include typolog ies illustrating group work practice with task and treatment g roups at the micro-, meso-, and macro-level. Our research and practice focuses primarily on treatment groups, and the eighth edition continues to present our interest in improving practice with many different types of treatment groups.

New to This Edition • Research on Virtual Groups. In recent years, we have done research on the

uses of virtual group formats (teleconference and Internet groups) and have included an updated and expanded section on virtual groups in the 6th chapter of this edition.

• Additional case examples throughout this edition illustrate practice with a wide variety of groups. These were added based on feedback f rom our students, reviewers of the book, instructors, and others who have contacted us about the importance of illustrations of evidence-based practice examples.

• Updated and deeper content of the middle stage chapters on practice with treatment and task groups. The latest evidence-based treatment and task group research is incorporated throughout Chapters 9 through 12, and content has been added, deleted, and changed to ref lect current practice.

• Incorporated the most current literature on working with reluctant and resistant group members in specific sections of Chapters 7 and 9 and throughout the text.

• We find that our students face many situations with individuals who have encountered multiple traumas in their family lives and in the larger social environment, making them understandably reticent to engage group workers and fellow group members, and trust in the power of group work to heal. There- fore, we have updated and expanded sections on working with individuals who have difficulty engaging in and sustaining work in groups and have added addi- tional information about conf lict resolution skills as it pertains to both treatment and task groups.

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• Thoroughly updated Chapter 5 on leadership and diversity as social group work- ers practice in an increasingly pluralistic society.

• Thoroughly updated reference material and new content f rom evidence-based practice sources.

About Group Work Over the years, we have been especially pleased that our text has been used by educators who are dedicated to improving task group practice within social work. Group work is a neglected area of social work practice, especially practice with task groups. Most social workers spend a great deal of time in teams, treatment conferences, and committees, and many social workers have leadership responsibilities in these groups. Group work is also essential for effective macro social work practice, and therefore, we have continued to emphasize practice with community groups. The eighth edition also continues our focus on three focal areas of practice: (1) the individual group member, (2) the group as a whole, and (3) the environment in which the group functions. We continue to empha- size the importance of the latter two focal areas because our experiences in supervising group workers and students and conducting workshops for professionals have revealed that the dynamics of a group as a whole and the environment in which groups function are often a neglected aspect of group work practice.

Connecting Core Competencies Series This edition is a part of Pearson’s Connecting Core Competencies series, which con- sists of foundation-level texts that make it easier than ever to ensure students’ success in learning the nine core competencies as stated in 2015 by the Council on Social Worker Education. This text contains:

• Core Competency Icons throughout the chapters, directly linking the CSWE core competencies to the content of the text. Critical thinking questions are also included to further students’ mastery of the CSWE’s standards.

• For easy reference, a matrix is included at the beginning of the book that aligns the book chapters with the CSWE Core Competencies and Behavior Examples.

Instructor Supplements The following supplemental products may be downloaded f rom www.pearsonglobal editions.com/toseland.

Instructor’s Resource Manual and Test Bank. This manual contains a sample syllabus, chapter summaries, learning outcomes, chapter outlines, teaching tips, dis- cussion questions, multiple-choice and essay assessment items and other supportive resources.

PowerPoint Slides. For each chapter in the book, we have prepared a PowerPoint slide deck focusing on key concepts and strategies.

14 Preface

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Acknowledgments The ideas expressed in this book have evolved during many years of study, practice, and research. Some of the earliest and most powerful inf luences that have shaped this effort have come about through our relationships with Bernard Hill, Alan Klein, Sheldon Rose, and Max Siporin. Their contributions to the development of our thinking are evi- dent throughout this book. The ideas in this book were also inf luenced by Albert Alissi, Martin Birnbaum, Leonard Brown, Charles Garvin, Alex Gitterman, Burton Gummer, Margaret Hartford, Grafton Hull, Jr., Norma Lang, Catherine Papell, William Reid, Beulah Rothman, Jarrold Shapiro, Laurence Shulman, and Peter Vaughan. Our appreciation and thanks to the reviewers of the seventh edition who gave us valuable advice for how to improve this new eighth edition: Tom Broffman, Eastern Connecticut State University; Daniel B. Freedman, University of South Carolina; Kim Knox, New Mexico State University; Gayle Mallinger, Western Kentucky University; John Walter Miller, Jr., University of Arkansas at Little Rock. We are also indebted to the many practitioners and students with whom we have worked over the years. Reviewing practice experiences, discussing group meetings, and providing consultation and supervision to the practitioners with whom we work with during research projects, supervision, staff meetings, and workshops has helped us to clarify and improve the ideas presented in this text.

We would also like to acknowledge the material support and encouragement given to us by our respective educational institutions. The administrative and support staff of the School of Social Welfare, University at Albany, State University of New York, and Siena College have played important roles in helping us to accomplish this project. Most of all, however, we are indebted to our spouses, Sheryl Holland and Donna Allingham Rivas. Their personal and professional insights have done much to enrich this book. Without their continuous support and encouragement, we would not have been able to complete this work. A special note of thanks also goes to Rebecca, Stacey, and Heather for sacrificing some of their dads’ time so that we are able to keep this book current and relevant for today’s practice environment.

Ronald W. Toseland Robert F. Rivas

Acknowledgments for the Global Edition Pearson would like to thank the following people for their work:

Contributors: Henglien Lisa Chen, University of

Sussex Pooja Thakur, writer Elizabeth Wright, Murdoch University

Reviewers: Bruce Gillmer, Northumberland, Tyne

and Wear NHS Foundation Trust Pooja Thakur, writer Elizabeth Wright, Murdoch University

Preface 15

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This text focuses on the practice of group work by professional social workers. Group work entails the deliberate use of interven- tion strategies and group processes to accomplish individual, group, and community goals using the value base and the ethical practice principles of the social work profession. As one prepares to become an effective social work practitioner, it is important to realize the effect that groups have on people’s lives. It is not possible to be a member of a society without becoming a member or leader of groups and being inf luenced by others without direct participation. Internet groups are also becoming more popular as people choose to meet others in virtually as well as face-to-face. Although it is pos- sible to live in an isolated manner or on the f ringes of face-to-face and virtual groups, our social nature makes this neither desirable nor healthy.

Groups provide the structure on which communities and the larger society are built. They provide formal and informal struc- ture in the workplace. They also provide a means through which relationships with significant others are carried out. Participation in family groups, peer groups, and classroom groups helps mem- bers learn acceptable norms of social behavior, engage in satisfying social relationships, identify personal goals, and derive a variety of other benefits that result f rom participating in closely knit social systems. Experiences in social, church, recreation, and other work groups are essential in the development and maintenance of people and society. Putnam (2000) points out that there has been a sharp decline in participation in clubs and other civic organizations and that social capital is not valued in contemporary society. At the same time, web-based social network and self-help group sites continue to grow enormously in popularity, enabling users to keep up con- tacts with more and more people. One goal of this book is to under- score the importance of groups as fundamental building blocks for a connected, vibrant society.


• Describe how group work is carried out using a generalist perspective.

• Demonstrate how values and professional ethics are applied in group work practice.

• Define group work and its practice applications.

• Compare the differences between task- and treatment-oriented groups.

• List the advantages and disadvantages of using groups to help people and to accomplish tasks.

• Describe the types and functions of treatment groups.

• Define the types and functions of task groups.

1 Introduction


Organization of the Text 18

The Focus of Group Work Practice 18

Values and Ethics in Group Work Practice 21

Definition of Group Work 27

Classifying Groups 28

Group Versus Individual Efforts 32

A Typology of Treatment and Task Groups 35

Treatment Groups 36

Task Groups 44

Summary 58

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18 Chapter 1

OrganizatiOn Of the text

Group work is a series of activities carried out by the worker during the life of a group. We have found that it is helpful to conceptualize these activities as being a part of six developmental stages:

1. Planning

2. Beginning

3. Assessment

4. Middle

5. Ending

6. Evaluation

Groups exhibit certain properties and processes during each stage of their development. The group worker’s task is to engage in activities that facilitate the growth and development of the group and its members during each developmental stage. This book is divided into five parts. Part I focuses on the knowledge base needed to practice with groups. The remain- ing four parts are organized around each of these six stages of group work practice. Case studies illustrating each practice stage can be found at the end of Chapters 6 through 14.

the fOcus Of grOup WOrk practice

Social work practitioners use group work skills to help meet the needs of individual group members, the group as a whole, and the community. In this text, group work involves the following elements.

group Work practice • Practice with a broad range of treatment and task groups • Generalist practice based on a set of core competencies described in the Educa-

tion Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) of the Council on Social Work Education (2015)

• A focus on individual group members, the group as a whole, and the group’s environment

• Critical thinking and evidence-based practice when it exists for a particular practice problem or issue

• Application of foundation knowledge and skills f rom gener- alist social work practice to a broad range of leadership and membership situations

• Specialized knowledge and skills based on a comprehensive assessment of the needs of particular members and groups

• Recognition of the interactional and situational nature of leadership


Behavior: critically choose and implement interventions to achieve practice goals and enhance capacities of clients and constituencies

critical thinking Question: Generalist social work practice involves many systems. How is group work related to generalist social work practice?

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Introduction 19

This text is firmly grounded in a generalist approach to practice. To accomplish the broad mission and goals of the social work profession, generalist practitioners are ex- pected to possess core competencies based on the Council on Social Work Education’s (2015) Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) that enables them to inter- vene effectively with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. This text highlights the importance of the generalist practitioner’s acquisition of the core competencies defined in the EPAS standards.

This text is designed to help generalist practitioners understand how group work can be used to help individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities func- tion as effectively as possible. Most group work texts are focused on the use of groups for clinical practice, and many focus only on therapy or support groups with little attention paid to social, recreational, or educational purposes. Scant is made of commit- tees, teams, and other task groups that all social workers participate in as members and leaders. Despite the distinctive emphasis of the social work profession on the interface between individuals and their social environment, in most group work texts, even less attention is paid to social action groups, coalitions, and other community groups. This text examines work with a broad range of groups in generalist practice with individuals, organizations, and communities.

This text is also grounded in a critical thinking and evidence-based approach to practice. Whenever possible, suggestions made in this text are based on evidence accu- mulated f rom research studies in the literature. Although quantitative evidence f rom re- search studies is important, qualitative case studies of group work are also a part of this evidence base. Critical thinking and practice experience are essential on especially when a solid base of empirical evidence is lacking.

Macgowan (2008) points out that group workers using evidence-based group prac- tice principles incorporate critical thinking skills such as challenging assumptions and questioning what is taken for granted. They evaluate sources of evidence for their rigor, impact, and applicability. Macgowan (2008) suggests a four-step process: (1) formulating answerable questions, (2) searching for evidence, (3) critically reviewing the evidence, and (4) applying and evaluating the evidence. Although this rigorous process cannot be done while in the midst of practicing with a group, practitioners can follow this advice when planning for a group and in-between sessions. Social group workers can also use evidence-based protocols in their area of interest. For example, LeCroy (2008) has ed- ited a book of evidence-based treatment manuals for children and adolescents, and many similar publications exist for other populations. Part of the art of practice is using critical thinking skills, evidence, practice skills, and accumulated experiences in similar situa- tions to achieve the very best outcomes for group members and others who are affected by the work of the group.

Regarding group work practice with individuals, the group as a whole, and the group’s environment, some prominent group workers such as Gitterman and Shulman (2005) focus on the whole group as the unit of intervention and place less emphasis on working with individuals. Others place greater emphasis on changing individual group members and less on group as a whole dynamics (Boyd-Franklin, Cleek, Wof sy, & Mundy, 2013; Rose, 2004; Walsh, 2010). Both perspectives are useful. Whatever approach is used when leading groups, workers should direct their attention to individuals, the group as

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20 Chapter 1

a whole, and the environment in which the group functions. The worker focuses on in- dividual members to help them accomplish their goals. The worker intervenes with the group as a whole to achieve an optimal level of group functioning and to ensure that the group accomplishes its purposes. The worker also assesses the group’s environment and decides whether to help the group adapt to it or change it. During these interventions, it is especially important to focus on group processes as well as the content of the interaction. This dual focus has been referred to as the half-and-half principle (Chen & Rybak, 2004).

The purpose of the group helps determine the emphasis that each focal area should receive. For example, in a support group for recently separated people, the worker might focus on the development of mutual aid among all members of the group. Individual members might also need help developing plans for dealing with specific problems. Sim- ilarly, in the group for recently separated people, the worker might focus on developing individualized treatment plans, but also on enhancing group cohesion, mutual aid, and other beneficial group dynamics. The worker might also focus on factors outside the group that might have an impact on its members. This fits with a person-in-environ- ment perspective that is essential to generalist group work practice. For example, a close examination of the environment in which members of the support group for recently separated people functions might reveal a need to make community services, such as support for single parent dads, more responsive to members of the group. This may, in turn, lead to the development of a social action group to address this problem. Later, this text examines in detail the three focal areas of the individual, the group as a whole, and the group’s environment.

Another aspect of group work practice is that workers draw on a broad base of knowledge and skills f rom generalist practice that they apply to their work with a broad range of groups. The generalist approach emphasizes that social workers perform many roles in their professional lives. It suggests that there are foundation knowledge and skills that transcend specific roles. For example, in-depth knowledge about human develop- ment and skill in empathic responding are essential for effective work with individuals, families, groups, and communities. Although foundation knowledge and skills are de- scribed throughout this text, specialized knowledge and skills are often needed when practicing with children, adolescents, adults, and elders with a wide variety of problems. Therefore, this text also presents specialized knowledge and skills useful for practice with these populations and problems. In keeping with an evidence-based approach to group work practice, the specialized knowledge and skills presented in this book are based on empirical findings in the literature when they are available or critical thinking and prac- tice experience when there is little or no empirical evidence.

Most experienced practitioners continue to learn by exposure to different approaches to group work. Aspects of different approaches, such as humanistic, behavioral, and em- powerment, can often be integrated in a particular practice situation to meet the multi- level needs and preferences of members. A major tenet of the generalist approach is that practice should be based on a comprehensive assessment of the needs of each member in their unique, complex situations.

An integration of practice approaches is often preferable to using a single approach. Exclusive adherence to one approach may work well for a group with a particular set of needs, but it may not work well when leading a group with other needs. Critical thinking skills should always be employed as workers make decisions about the best approach to

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Introduction 21

take. Rigid adherence to one approach tends to make workers oblivious to other po- tentially useful methods. It can also distort workers’ assessments of situations. Workers might mistakenly attempt to fit data f rom a situation to a particular practice approach rather than choosing the practice approach that best fits the situation. For these reasons, group workers can be most effective when they are familiar with several approaches to group work and when they apply specialized knowledge and skills differentially and crit- ically depending on the particular group work endeavor.

The approach used in this book also recognizes the interactional nature of the helping process. A static, prescriptive approach to group work practice often appeals to novice practitioners because of its simplicity, but this often does not match the complexity and diversity of the real world of group work practice. The leadership model presented in Chapter 4 presents some of the factors that workers should consider when deciding how to proceed with a group.

Values and ethics in grOup WOrk practice

Practice Values

Group work practice is inf luenced by a system of personal and professional values. These values affect workers’ styles of intervention and the skills they use when working with group members. Values also affect members’ reactions to workers’ efforts. Despite the emphasis on ethics and values in the Education Policy and Accreditation Standards published by the Council on Social Work Education (2015), Strozier (1997) found that few social group work course syllabi gave much emphasis to the topic of values or ethics in group work practice.

Values are belief s that delineate preferences about how one ought to behave. They refer to a goal that is worth attaining (Rokeach, 1968). There is no such thing as val- ue-f ree group work practice. All group workers operate with certain specific assump- tions and values regarding the nature of human beings, the role of members, and the role of the group leader. Values inf luence the methods used to accomplish group and individual goals. Even a leader who is completely permissive and nondirective reveals the values embodied in such a stance.

A worker’s actions in the group are affected by contextual values, member value systems, and the worker’s personal value system. Levine (2012) has identified values that are dominant in American society.

american Values • Judeo–Christian doctrine with its emphasis on the dignity and worth of people

and people’s responsibility for their neighbor • Democratic values that emphasize equality and participation, including men’s

and women’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness • The Puritan ethic that emphasizes men’s and women’s responsibility for

themselves and the central role of work in a moral life • Social Darwinism that emphasizes the survival of the strongest and the fittest in

a long-term evolutionary process

Assess your understand- ing of the focus of group work practice by

taking a brief quiz at www .pearsonglobaleditions.com/ toseland.

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22 Chapter 1

The context in which the group functions affects the values exhibited in the group. Contextual values include the values of organizational sponsors, funders, communities, accrediting bodies, regulatory agencies, the social work profession, and the larger society. All of these entities have a direct or indirect effect on the group.

Before beginning a group, the worker should become familiar with the agency’s formal and informal values. These are embodied in its mission statements, goals, policies, procedures, and practices. Are treatment groups a preferred method of delivering therapeutic services? Are decisions often made in task groups consisting of staff members, or are most decisions made by agency administrators without staff input? Becoming aware of the policies, proce- dures, and practices regarding the use of groups in a particular agency can help the worker prepare for possible resistance and evaluate and use sources of support within the agency.

The community where the group conducts its business can also inf luence the func- tioning of the group. For example, community standards and traditions, as well as racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic composition, differ widely among communities. When plan- ning a group, the worker needs to consider how these aspects of communities are likely to inf luence the group and its members.

The worker and the group are also affected by professional values. These include respecting the worth and dignity of the individual, respecting a person’s autonomy and self-direction, facilitating a person’s participation in the helping process, maintaining a nonjudgmental attitude, ensuring equal access to services and social provisions, and af- firming the interdependence of the individual and society.

Beyond the values held by all professional social work practitioners, group workers share a special concern and interest in values that are basic to group work practice. Some of the key values of group work have been stated by Gisela Konopka (1983). She suggests that all group workers should agree on the importance of the following values.

group Work Values • Participation of and positive relations among people of different color, creed, age,

national origin, and social class in the group • The value of cooperation and mutual decision making embodied in the principles

of a participatory democracy • The importance of individual initiative within the group • The importance of f reedom to participate, including expressing thoughts and feel-

ings about matters of concern to individual members or the group as a whole, and having the right to be involved in the decision-making process of the group

• The value of high individualization in the group so that each member’s unique concerns are addressed

These values are not absent in other aspects of social work practice, but in group work, they are of central importance. In addition to these five core values, we have found four additional values to be fundamental to practice with any type of task or treatment group.

Four Key Values • Respect and dignity—The worth and dignity of all group members no matter

how devalued or stigmatized they may be by society. This includes valuing mem- bers’ contributions to the life of the group and adhering to all aspects of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) code of ethics.

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Introduction 23

• Solidarity and mutual aid—The power and promise of relationships to help members grow and develop, to help them heal, to satisfy their needs for human contact and connectedness, and to promote a sense of unity and community.

• Empowerment—The power of the group to help members feel good about themselves and to enable them to use their abilities to help themselves and to make a difference in their communities.

• Understanding, respect, and camaraderie among people f rom diverse back- grounds—The ability of groups to help enrich members by acquainting them with people f rom other backgrounds. Members’ respect and appreciation for each other grow as their relationships deepen over the life of a group. Thus, one powerful aspect of social group work is that it helps to decrease ignorance, misunderstanding, and prejudice among people f rom diverse backgrounds.

In addition to these core values, the worker and the members bring their own unique set of values to the group. Part of the worker’s task is to help members clarify their val- ues and to identify and resolve value conf licts between the leader and members, among members, and among members and the larger society. More information about resolving conf licts is discussed in Chapters 4 and 11.

The worker should be especially sensitive to the effect that cultural diversity has on valued behavior in groups. For example, in Native American culture, although cooperation is an important value, it is considered impolite to offer advice, help, or opinion to someone unless it is solicited (McWhirter, & Robbins, 2014; Ratts & Peder- sen, 2014). At the same time, workers should be careful not to stereotype members by assuming that particular backgrounds are always associated with particular values (Sue & Sue, 2013).

Workers’ personal value systems also affect how they practice. If workers are un- comfortable discussing certain value-laden topics, or if they impose their own values on the group, their work will be seriously impaired. Similarly, if they are not aware of the implications of their values, they are likely to get into conf licts with members who have different values.

Workers who are not aware of their own values will also have diff iculty when faced with ambiguous and value-laden situations. Sometimes, the goals of the worker, the agency, the community, and the group members differ (Rothman, 2013). This of- ten occurs with involuntary clients who are receiving the service of a worker at the request of law-enforcement officials or others in the community who find the client’s behavior unacceptable. The clearer workers are about their own values and their own purposes and stances in relation to working with the group, the easier it will be for them to sort through conf licting goals and make their own purposes known to group members.

One of the best ways for workers to become aware of their own values and their own stance in working with a group is to obtain supervision. Although workers will never become value-f ree, supervision can help them become aware of the values they bring to the group. Supervision can help workers modify or change values that are not consistent with those of the social work profession or helpful in their practice with groups of people. Value-clarification exercises can also help workers identify personal and

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24 Chapter 1

professional values that might inf luence their work with a group (Dolgoff, Harrington, & Loewenberg, 2012; Rothman, 2013).

Practice Ethics

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has devel- oped a code of ethics to guide the practice of its members. The code of ethics is an operational statement of the central values of the social work profession. Social workers who lead groups should be thoroughly familiar with it. The code is available directly f rom NASW and is reproduced in many social work practice textbooks.

Corey, Corey, and Corey (2014) point out that a code of ethics specifically for group workers would be a helpful adjunct to the more general codes of ethics developed by professional associa- tions. Although a code of ethics specifically for social group work

practice has not been developed, the Standards for Social Work Practice with Groups that are reprinted in Appendix A1 contain core values (Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups, 2013).

Ethical practices with groups include (1) informed consent, (2) leader competence and training, and (3) the appropriate conduct of group meetings. Informed consent en- compasses being clear with members about the purpose and goals of the group; giving them information about screening and termination procedures; the potential risks of participation; the cost, timing, and duration of sessions; whether participation is volun- tary; what is expected of them during meetings; and procedures to ensure confidential- ity. A written or verbal statement should also be included about what information the worker and the organization may have to disclose. Depending on the type of members, this might include the following situations: (1) child abuse or neglect, (2) harm to self or others, (3) diagnostic codes, utilization reviews, and other information for reimburse- ment f rom mental or physical health care providers, (4) courts, probation, or parole, and (5) family or legal guardians.

Social workers who provide services to groups face special confidentiality challenges when attempting to comply with standard 1.7 of the NASW code of ethics that focuses on privacy and confidentiality issues. Workers should inform members that they cannot guarantee that group members will not share confidential material outside the group (Fallon, 2006; Lasky & Riva, 2006). Nevertheless, workers should be aware that breaches of conf identiality in groups increase their liability (Reamer, 2001; Whittingham & Capriotti, 2009). They should guard against breaches of confidentiality by having all members of the group pledge that they will adhere to confidentiality policies. Reamer (2006) also suggests that workers have a firm policy not to talk individually about group members outside of the group context except during supervision. This policy builds trust and avoids perceptions of favoritism or special alliances with certain members. Some ethical dilemmas faced by group workers are described cogently by Bergeron and Gray (2003), Kirschenbaum (2013), and Rothman (2013).

In a survey of 300 group psychotherapists, Roback, Ochoa, Bloch, and Purdon (1992) found that the limits of confidentiality are rarely discussed with potential group members even though breaches of conf identiality by members are fairly common.

Diversity and Difference in Practice

Behavior: present themselves as learners and engage clients and constituencies as experts of their own experiences

critical thinking Question: Members bring their communication styles to the group. How can the leader support effective group communication among members with different styles?

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Introduction 25

Group leaders may also be required to report certain information, such as child abuse, even without the permission of a group member. To avoid ethical and legal problems associated with a group leader’s failure to provide sufficient information about the lim- its of confidentiality, Roback, Moore, Bloch, and Shelton (1996), Reamer (2006),and Fallon (2006) suggest having members and the leader sign an informed consent form (Table 1.1).

Table 1.1 Informed Consent Form

1. All verbal and nonverbal information mentioned before, during, and following group meetings is to remain confidential. It is not to be mentioned to anyone outside the group including your spouse, significant other, or others that are close to you, even if you think you can trust these individuals with the information without it being shared. There are no exceptions to this rule.

2. The law requires me to notify the authorities if you reveal that you are abusing children or if you express intent to harm yourself or to harm other people. In addition, I may share information with colleagues internally in this organization during supervision or consultation meetings about this group. Generally, no last names will be used when this information is shared, and the members of the staff of this organization are bound by confidentiality and will not share the information with others.

3. If you reveal confidential information in the group, this information may be spoken about outside the group by other members of the group, even though confidentiality has been requested of all group members. You could be hurt emotionally and economically if your confidences are told outside the group. Group leaders like myself, and this organization, may not be able to prevent other members’ breaking the confidentiality agreement.

4. Other members of this group may tell confidential information to you. If you repeat these confidences outside the group, the member whose confidential information you tell may have legal grounds to sue you for telling the confidential information to someone outside the group.

5. If you violate the confidentiality rules of the group, you promise to tell the group leader and the members of the group. In certain circumstances, the group leader may expel you from the group.

I have read and understand the information about the risks of confidentiality in treatment groups. I have discussed the risks with the group leader, and I have had the chance to ask all the questions that I wish to ask about the matter and about all other matters pertaining to my participation in the group. The group leader has answered all my questions in a way that satisfies me. I understand that I can leave the group at any time. By signing this document, I agree to accept the risks to my confidentiality explained to me by the group leader.




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26 Chapter 1

The second area of ethics includes ensuring that workers have the proper educa- tion, training, and experience to lead a particular group. Practitioners should not offer a group, or use a procedure or technique within a group, without sufficient education, ex- perience, and supervision to ensure that it is implemented properly. Practitioners should seek out additional supervision when they anticipate or encounter difficulties with a particular group.

As they continue to practice, group workers have the additional responsibility to engage in ongoing professional development activities, including workshops, seminars, and other professional educational opportunities. They should also keep up with current clinical and empirical findings that relate to their ongoing work with group members.

The third broad area in both codes of ethics focuses on ethical principles for the conduct of group meetings.

ethical principles • Screening procedures lead to the selection of members whose needs and goals

can be met by the group • Workers help members develop and pursue therapeutic goals • Workers discuss whether the proceedings of the group are confidential and make

provisions so that they are kept confidential • Members are protected f rom physical threats, intimidation, the imposition of

worker and member values, and other forms of coercion and peer pressure that are not therapeutic

• Members are treated fairly and equitably • Workers avoid exploiting members for their own gain • Appropriate referrals are made when the needs of a particular member cannot be

met in the group • The worker engages in ongoing assessment, evaluation, and follow-up of

members to ensure that the group meets their needs

Violations of these ethical principles can be damag ing to group members. For example, it has been found that both unsolicited aggressive conf rontation and passive abdication of authority are associated with damaging group experiences (Forsyth, 2014; Smokowski, Rose, & Bacallao, 2001). Overall, a safe, low-conf lict environment is related to positive outcomes in treatment groups (Kivlighan & Tarrant, 2001).

Lakin (1991) suggests that even well intentioned, enthusiastic group workers can subtly violate ethical principles and that these violations can be harmful to members. He presents evidence, for example, that pressures to conform can lead members to suppress particular opinions, thoughts, or points of view simply because they clash with the dominant ideology expressed in the group. To guard against this, he suggests that all group workers should consider the extent to which (1) workers’ values are con- sonant with the needs and problems of group members, (2) workers carefully con- sider members’ needs, wants, and wishes instead of pushing their own agendas, and (3) each member’s needs are individualized rather than treated as identical to the needs of other members.

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