Overview of Social Work Groups
Just like social work theories, social work groups are very instrumental among academicians and professional practitioners.
Different types of social work groups are considered a key aspect of social work practice. Note that the development of social group work can be traced back to the 1920’s, when it was used by social agencies to provide leisure activities among different types of groups.
The social relations encompassed in these activities emerged as quite significant to the involved members, where they prompted organizers to study the entailed relations, examine methods involved in their organizing, and scrutinize various approaches towards working with the groups.
Group work in social work can be defined as:
“Goal-directed activity characterized by small task and treatment groups developed to meet socio-emotional needs as well as accomplish designated tasks”.
Objectives of Social Group Work
When exploring the different types of social work groups, it is essential to understand the general objectives of social work groups. Such objectives include:
1. Enhancement of personal growth, including increased self confidence and self esteem,
2. Development of intellectual knowhow, abilities, and skills,
3. Enhancement of professional growth, including building professional values, standards, and ethics,
4. Development of cooperation, communication, and teamwork skills like leadership, management, planning, and peer support,
5. Enhancement of independence and responsibility for self learning,
6. Development of reflective practices, including reflecting and reviewing as well as future planning.
Areas of Group Work in Social Work
Group work designates agencies in either of the key divisions in the social work field. This is illustrated in the different areas central to group work practice. In this it is important to distinguish between group work either as a process, field, or techniques.
1. Group-work Process
Group work could be defined as an educational process that focuses on:
1. Individual growth and social adjustment through association in voluntary group, and
2. Applying this association to further other socially desirable ends.
The process is therefore interested in individual growth as well as social results. Note that the two objectives have to be consistently combined in their pursuit for it to be termed as social-work process.
The entailed educational procedure is guided by certain principles that include: particularization, self-direction, indirection, repetition, and integration.
2. Group-work Field
The group-work filed entails all the leisure-time agencies that rely on group-work process development in their activities.
This is in recognition of the fact that works within extensive leisure-time groups that could be characterized by minimal or lack of stability in attendance or enrollment, leisure time as the primary objective, prevention of delinquency, or building up of citizenship.
Nonetheless, these groups may partially apply the group-work process that is desirable, although in a quite different approach.
3. Group-work Techniques
There are numerous group-work techniques used in group-work process. Some of these techniques may be used like parts of the group-work process such as community organization, case-work, recreation, and education.
Discussion is a key technique that is used extensively in administration particularly in group-for-action cases and case conferences.
Techniques used in group-work process seek to address practical problems. Such problems may include 1) effective formation of groups, 2) mutually satisfactory relationships, 3) discovery of individual capacities, interests, etc, 4) development of group activities tentative program, 5) determination and modification of group member status, 6) improvement of group members’ relationships, 7) individual personal guidance provision, and 8) making group process realize social and individual ends simultaneously.
Values of Social Group Work
Respective types of social work groups function within particular values.
Social group work practice is guided by the key social work value, “that human beings boast the opportunities to appreciate their potential for adopting a lifestyle that is socially desirable and personally satisfying”.
Group work in social work is guided by humanistic values that govern practice in areas such as worker role and memberships within social work groups.
Some of the key humanistic values include:
1. The inherent worth of individuals,
2. People should be mutually responsible for one another,
3. It is the fundamental right of individuals to enjoy mental health that is usually derived from political and social conditions capable of supporting their fulfillment.
Objectives of Social Group Work
Social group work is guided by particular objectives. The objectives are meant to ensure that practice in different types of social work groups is orderly and systematic.
Social group work entails conducting entailed activities with the intention of helping group members develop skills, learn new ideas, change attitude, and assume responsibilities.
This is to be realized through a social process that is guided by the below objectives.
1. Train the individual ways of living and working together as well as getting involved in group activities to foster their emotional, intellectual, and physical growth.
2. Help the individual enjoy a good life within their group and family. This entails teaching the individual how to work together with others through participation in various activities.
3. Help develop the behavior and personality of individuals participating in the groups through the use of group work process.
4. Prepare individuals participating in the group process how to assume responsibility within a democratic working environment.
5. Learn how to divide labor as well as understand role specialization and how to perform individual roles within the group.
6. Establish tasks suitable for individuals based on their knowledge, skills, and interest.
7. Accord individuals the opportunity characteristic of potential the chance to exercise leadership characterized by dignity.
8. Prepare individuals for positive social change.
9. Help individuals widen their horizons about life.
10. Enable people optimize their leisure time.
Types of Social Work Groups
There are two key typologies of groups in social work that include
1. Treatment groups and
2. Task groups.
Within each typology, there are numerous categories that are defined by the entailed scope of social group work.
A proper list of social groups is as elaborated below.
These are primarily the most common types of social work groups. They entail the particular approaches of social group work usually employed in health care settings. They include:
1. Psycho-Educational Groups
These rank at the top of the list of social work groups. Their design is meant to help impart knowledge about a situation or condition to patients. For instance, they could be used to teach positive recovery behavior to heart-attack or diabetes patients as well as teen drug awareness.
Accordingly, the groups provide patients with the opportunity to acquire knowledge about their condition, discuss their fears, inquire about their conditions, and how to cope with or improve on the condition.
Approaches of social group work within this typology require the therapist to create an environment that encourages patients to ask questions regarding their conditions. Such an environment should be supportive, non-judgmental, and mutually beneficial.
2. Skill-Building and Growth Groups
These are instrumental types of social work groups. Their objective is to provide opportunities for involved individuals to alter their feelings, thoughts, and behavior in regard to themselves and others.
The groups are meant for self-improvement as well as checking potential within the individual. Entailed groups provide supportive atmosphere and services within which individuals can experiment, acquire insights, and attain growth.
Note that diversity is key to growth within such groups.
3. Therapy Groups
These also feature majorly among the list of social work groups. Under this category, the objective of social group work is to foster rehabilitation or recovery in incidences where patients are victims of injury or trauma.
Therapy groups could also be valuable approaches towards facilitating effective adaptation to sudden change in circumstances among affected individuals.
For instance, the importance of social group work in therapy could be exhibited in their appropriateness in helping violent crime victims recover from the emotional trauma suffered from the incidence.
The therapist is required to direct the affected individuals to speak in turns to share their experiences, where everyone makes a contribution, and helps develop empathy.
4. Support Groups
These are some of the most common types of social work groups. They are sometimes also referred to as self-help groups.
These groups work by bringing together individuals with similar experiences. Such individuals might include people undergoing cancer treatment, bereavement, addiction, or medical conditions.
Values of social group work under this category encompass emotional support derived from sharing of personal feelings, firsthand information about conditions, and coping strategies.
Examples may include health-related support groups, where individual’s relationships with the physician and other medical staffs as well as family members may not be adequate in providing appropriate mental support.
These groups may vary in their formats, assuming forms such as online communities, face to face meetings, and teleconferences.
Also a prominent category among the types of social work groups, task groups seek to enhance collaboration among teams that handle patients. These teams are usually cross-discipline and therefore quite diverse.
In social work, such groups may include social workers, physicians, and nurses who regularly meet to assess the progress of a patient within a specific unit in a hospital, for instance, burn injury or diabetes unit.
Approaches of social group work under this typology would entail treatment conferences devised to generate and assess patient treatment plans, including determining whether a patient’s treatment goals are being met.
The entailed scope of social group work in task groups would include providing motivational interviewing training and harm reduction to primary care physicians handling youths affected by cases such as homelessness.