CP759-McLaughlin - Boston University

Introduction to Clinical Social Work
Practice with Individuals, Families and
CP 759
Section A5_
Fall 2013
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[email protected]
264 Bay State Rd., Boston, MA 02215
This foundation course teaches the
at various stages of the helping
process (i.e., engagement, assessment, goal-setting and treatment planning, intervention and
termination), whether the client is an individual, group, or family. Clinical methods are
highlighted—what the social worker purposefully does as s/he works with individual clients and
larger systems (e.g., groups, families, communities) and how the social worker reacts and
interacts in the helping relationship. The helping relationship is seen as requiring collaboration
between clinician and client and the strategic use of clinical skills (e.g., strengthening rapport,
assessing needs and strengths, reaching for feelings, identifying goals and expectations,
setting limits) throughout the process. The helping relationship is also based on sound social
work values and ethics, positive regard for the full range of human diversity, and dedication to
social and economic justice.
While the course emphasizes ways that clinicians can help clients accomplish goals, it also
emphasizes the value of the helping relationship as a vehicle for client growth. Because a
major hallmark of effective social work practice is the ability to reflect on one’s interactions with
individual clients and larger client systems, this course highlights the need for students to develop
the capacity for professional self-reflection (i.e., the ability to observe and critique one’s actions
in relation to clients, supervisors, and colleagues and the integration of personal and
professional “selves”). Core concepts of individual, family, and group intervention, case
management, short-term work, and crisis intervention are introduced. Individual methods focus
on developing and maintaining the helping relationship. Family methods focus on joining with the
family as an entire system when multiple members are available, or when only an individual is
available, intervening with the individual while considering influences and implications for the
family system. Group work methods concentrate on group types, group formation, and group
BUSSW’S urban mission provides the context for clinical practice taught in this course. Urban
environments represent a rich cultural mosaic of people and social institutions, but also
generate complex social problems that have existed since the emergence of cities. Since its
inception, the social work profession has focused on providing clinical services to urban
dwellers. Starting with the Industrial Revolution, the needs of urban populations have
influenced the mission, values, and direction of social work and remain central to our practice
today. Work for social change is mandated by the social work code of ethics, and clinical social
workers are committed to working with client strengths to address the bio-psycho-social
problems endemic to urban communities.
By and large, urban problems are related to population density, geographical size, and
economic impoverishment. There are problems in the city and problems of the city. Generally,
problems in the city are difficulties experienced by the society as a whole—drug addiction,
HIV/AIDS, easy access to weapons, mental illness, poverty, racism, sexism, ageism, and other
forms of discrimination. Problems of the city are difficulties unique to urban communities—
deteriorating physical structures, limited or costly housing, pollution, increased risk of
communicable diseases, and improper disposal of waste and various pollutants. Commonly,
urban ecologies share particular properties described below that must be considered in
rendering clinical services to clients living in urban settings.
 Cities have population density in a small geographic space. The pace in cities
may be faster and interactions more impersonal than in suburban or rural areas.
 Cities are rich in diversity and multiculturalism.
 Cities are absorption centers for immigrants and refugees with diverse ethnic
backgrounds and languages.
 Cities often have enclaves and neighborhoods based on class, race, ethnicity,
religion, and/or sexual orientation. They may have clearly segregated residential
 Cities have complex social, political, and physical infrastructures that provide
services to residents.
 Cities have numerous educational, medical, cultural, religious, social, and
recreational resources and institutions.
 Cities are hubs of employment in the corporate and industrial complex, as well as
representative of changing employment trends.
Thus, this urban focus provides a context for social work education and practice at BUSSW.
Competency 2.1.1 Professional Identity
Competency 2.1.2 Ethical Practice
Competency 2.1.3 Critical Thinking
Competency 2.1.4 Diversity in Practice
Competency 2.1.5 Human Rights and Justice
Competency 2.1.6 Research Based Practice
Competency 2.1.7 Human Behavior
Competency 2.1.8 Policy Practice
Competency 2.1.9 Practice Contexts
Competency 2.1.10 Engage, Assess, Intervene, Evaluate
Specific assignments in this course will assess your attainment of this competency.
Information about the specific competencies and related practice behaviors
addressed in this course and your other MSW courses can be found at
Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:
1. Describe the development of the mission, core values, and ethics of professional
social work.
2. Demonstrate the clinical skills essential in the helping process.
3. Develop skills in completing an assessment interview and writing up a bio-psychosocial assessment.
4. Apply in practice the basic concepts and principles of clinical practice with
individuals, families and groups.
5. Apply in practice the basic concepts and principles of family assessment and
6. Describe the steps involved in evidence-based practice.
7. Utilize a strengths perspective in clinical work with individuals, groups, and families.
8. Value the clinical relationship as a key tool in helping clients address problems.
9. Develop and practice skills of self-reflection to become an effective social worker.
10. Understand the importance of evaluating outcomes of the helping process.
11. Recognize the pervasive societal influence of oppression and economic injustice.
12. Identify ethical dilemmas in social work practice.
13. Describe the characteristics of an urban environment and implications for social work
14. Identify and describe the various roles assumed by direct social work practitioners.
15. Understand the relationship among research, theory, and social work practice.
16. Explain the importance of evaluating outcomes of the helping process.
Roles and Responsibilities in Learning
Faculty and students share responsibility for this course.
Faculty are responsible for establishing the competencies to be achieved; setting the
course objectives; choosing the framework, assignments and readings; and creating the
overall learning contract. Faculty present core content and guide students in the
selection, presentation and study of major issues; they promote class discussion and
provide opportunities for small and large group learning. Faculty may share their own
experiences and emphasize particular areas of specialization; they may bring in experts
from the field to lecture on particular topics. Faculty are responsible for evaluation,
feedback and grading of students.
Students are responsible for their participation in the course and for achieving the
competencies set forth in the syllabus. Students participate through classroom
discussion and by working together in small groups. Students are responsible for
reading and articulating learning from required readings, for grappling with clinical
dilemmas in class, and for reflection on their personal/professional values and ethics.
Additional expectations include the following:
Punctuality: When students come to class on time, they demonstrate
positive participation.
Attendance: Attending all assigned class sessions is a visible marker of a
student's investment and good participation. Conversely, repeat
absences, even for other professional events or trips home, signals
disengagement and lack of interest. Conversely, repeat absences, even
for other professional events or trips home, signals disengagement.
Moreover, absences hurt your command of the subject matter and detract
from others' learning. Naturally, there are times when people are sick or
have family emergencies; in these cases, please let the instructors know,
arrange to cover assignments, and get notes from class members.
Class preparation: Class participation is often contingent upon having
done the preparation. Reading the assigned material and completing the
assigned exercises demonstrates planning ahead and an investment in
the work of the course. It is also essential for informed classroom
Participating in classroom discussion: The classroom is a laboratory
for the building of future professional skills and competencies. Being able
to speak responsibly, clearly and appropriately in a group context is both
an academic and professional requirement. Therefore, the classroom is a
perfect environment for students to hone their “speaking aloud” skills.
Students are expected to move outside their comfort zone and take risks
on behalf of strengthening this important competency.
Required Texts
Hepworth, D., Rooney, R., Rooney, G., & Strom-Gottfried, K. (2013). Direct social
work practice: Theory and skills (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.
Murphy, B. C., & Dillon, C. (2011). Interviewing in action in a multicultural world (4th ed.). Belmont,
CA: Brooks/Cole.
Required Readings
Electronic Readings at Mugar Library
APPENDIX: (at the end of the course syllabus)
 Eco-map
 Case study: Peter
 List of Practice Skills
 List of group work specific skills & Yalom's therapeutic factors
 Group types
 Guidelines for group composition
 Guidelines for co-leadership
 Group design chart
Course Materials
Each course has a Blackboard Learn (learn.bu.edu) site. Instructors post the
course syllabus, announcements, handouts, and any other pertinent information
on the course blackboard site. In addition instructors often compile a collection of
articles to supplement readings from textbooks. These readings are available
electronically at the Boston University Mugar Library or the course Blackboard
Learn site. To access the supplemental readings, students must be registered for
the course, have their log in name and Kerberos password.
Accessing Supplemental Course Readings via Mugar Library:
The new library catalog offers a variety of ways to find but here is the easiest way
to find what you need: Go to the main Boston University Library webpage:
http://www.bu.edu/library/. In the center of the page is the Search box. At the
right of the box is a white spy-glass on a blue field. Double clicking on the spyglass will take you to the Advanced Search box. Just above that box are two
tabs: Library Resources and Course Reserves. After clicking on Course
Reserves, type your course number into the box and hit Return. This will take
you to the list of all materials on Reserve for this course number.
To refine your search, click on the “Sorted by” tab near the top right of the page.
Choose either author or title, whichever is easiest for you. Scroll through the list
until you come to the needed resource, then click on the item’s blue View It tab.
This should offer you, in blue, a link to View Full Text. Clicking on this link takes
you to the Kerberos log in page; log in, and the resource file will open for your
Please note that articles for the following courses are listed under the SSW
Department Chair rather than your course instructor:
HB720 – Spencer; HB735 – Moore; WP700 & WP701 - Hudson; SR743 &
SR744 – Gonyea; MP759 – Delgado; SP741- Ruth; CP759, CP770, CP771 &
CP772 – Amodeo.
Some Search Tips
“View It” vs. “Get It”
Because this system is new, and changes are being made to it weekly, you may
come across a handful of online resources which instead of having a View It link,
will have one that says Get It. In this case, click on the More Information
option, which is next to the Get It link. In the box that opens is a smaller box
entitled Links, and within that box is the actual Link to Resource line. Clicking
that will take you to the requested resource.
Unable to locate a reading
Try a different search parameter: if you’ve searched by title, instead use the
author. Try using the “Library Resources” tab rather than the “Reserves” tab. Be
sure you’re searching the reading’s title, rather than that of the original source.
That is, search for the title of the chapter or article, not the title of the original
book or journal. The same is true for authors – be sure to use the name of the
author of the specific reading you need, rather than that of the editor or author of
the monograph or journal from which the reading came.
Please read the following chapter and articles before coming to the first class:
Required Reading:
Hepworth et al. (2013), Chapter 1, The Challenges of Social Work, pp. 3-24
Hepworth et al. (2013), Chapter 4, Operationalizing the Cardinal Social Work Values, pp. 5785
Abramovitz, M. (1998). Social work and social reform: An arena of struggle.Social Work, 43(6),
Lawless, J. J. (2008). Transforming a racist legacy. In M. McGoldrick & K. V. Hardy (Eds.), Revisioning family therapy: Race, culture, and gender in clinical practice (pp. 191-196).
New York, NY: Guildford Press. (MUGAR)
Recommended Reading:
Berndt, L. (2008). Legacies of white privilege. In M. McGoldrick & K. V. Hardy (Eds.), Revisioning family therapy: Race, culture, and gender in clinical practice (pp. 184-190).
New York, NY: Guildford Press. (MUGAR)
Sue, D. W. (2006). The conceptual dimensions of multicultural social work practice. In
Multicultural social work practice (pp. 3-21). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Session 1: September 18, 2013
Introduction to Social Work History, Practice, Values and Ethics in the Sociocultural
Context of the Urban Environment
Upon completing this session, students will be able to:
a. Describe the mission of social work and the purpose of social work practice and
b. Articulate the core social work values and ethics, and how they guide
professional social work practice.
c. Be familiar with and apply the four core social work ethical principles (i.e., selfdetermination, informed consent, professional boundaries, confidentiality) and
two professional mandates (i.e., duty to warn, mandated reporting).
d. Describe the characteristics of an urban environment and consider implications for
clinical social work practice.
e. Demonstrate beginning self awareness and critical thinking skills.
Session 2: September 25, 2013
Introduction to Social Work Theory, Research, and Practice
Upon completing this session, students will be able to:
Articulate the principles and elements of direct social work practice.
Describe the various roles assumed by direct social work practitioners.
Describe the steps in the evidence-based practice process.
Describe the relationship between evidence-based practice,
assessment, intervention, and evaluation in social work practice
e. Articulate how class and race characterize and shape the human
experience and are critical to the formation of identity.
Required Reading:
Hepworth et al. (2013), Chapter 2, Direct Practice: Domain, Philosophy, and Roles, pp. 25-34
Cournoyer, B. R. (2011). Critical thinking, scientific inquiry, and career-long learning. In The
social work skills workbook (6th ed., pp. 52-75). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. (MUGAR)
Murphy & Dillon (2011), Chapter 2, Responsible Practice: Cultural Awareness and
Professional Ethics, pp. 29-60
Recommended Reading:
O’Hare, T. (2009). Overview: Defining and linking assessment, intervention, and evaluation. In
Essential skills of social work practice: Assessment, intervention, and evaluation (pp. 337). New York, NY: Lyceum. (MUGAR)
Session 3: October 2, 2013
The Professional Helping Relationship, Engagement, and Beginning Work with
Upon completing this session, students will be able to:
a. Identify and demonstrate ways to increase self and client awareness
(“tuning in”).
b. Identify key elements of a professional helping relationship including:
 Client-centered focus
 Goal-directed relating and work
 Collaboration (noting that participants have different power,
resources, and skills)
 Intentional and ethical use of self
 Cultural knowledge and sensitivity
 Trust, privacy, and confidentiality
 Respect for the unique worth of each individual
 Nonjudgmental acceptance and responsiveness
c. Describe the key skills in the beginning stage of work with individuals.
Required Reading:
Murphy & Dillon (2011), Chapter 4, Attending and Listening, pp. 97-123
Murphy & Dillon (2011), Chapter 5, Support and Empathy, pp. 127-154
Hepworth et al. (2013), Chapter 3, Overview of the Helping Process, pp. 35-55
Session 4: October 9, 2013
The Professional Helping Relationship, Engagement & Beginning Work with
Individuals, Families and Groups
Upon completing this session, students will be able to:
a. Demonstrate key skills used in the beginning state of work with individuals,
families and groups
b. Identify challenges to engagement with individuals, families, and groups.
c. Recognize ways that culture and class may influence beginning interactions
between the individual, family, or group and the worker, access to resources,
sense of identity and expectations of self and others.
d. Differentiate the worker’s tasks in the beginning work with individual, groups
and families.
Required Reading:
Hepworth et al. (2013), Chapter 6, Verbal Following, Exploring, and Focusing Skills,
Hepworth et al. (2013), Chapter 7, Eliminating Counterproductive Communication
Patterns, pp. 165-183
Gutierrez, L. (1990). Working with women of color: An empowerment perspective.Social
Work, 35, 149-153. (MUGAR)
And CHOOSE two of the following:
Furuto, S.B.C.L. (2004). Theoretical perspectives for culturally competent practice with
immigrant children and families. In Fong, R. (Ed.), Culturally competent practice
with immigrant and refugee children and families (pp. 19-38). New York, NY: The
Guilford Press. (MUGAR)
Nelson, R., Mitrani, V., & Szapocnik, J. (2000). Applying a family-ecosystemic model to
reunite a family separated due to child abuse: A case study. Contemporary
Family Therapy, 22, 125-146. (MUGAR)
Pope, K. S., & Keith-Spiegel, P. (2008). A practical approach to boundaries in psychotherapy:
Making decisions, bypassing blunders, and mending fences. Journal of Clinical
Psychology: In Session, 64, 638-652. (MUGAR)
Sanders-Thompson,V.L., Bazile,A. & Akbar, M. (2004). African American’s perceptions
of psychotherapy and psychotherapists. Professional psychology: Research and
practice, 35, 19-26. (MUGAR)
Saino, M. (2003). A new language for groups: Multilingual and multi-ethnic group work.
Social Work with Groups, 26, 69-80. (MUGAR)
Shulman, L. (2013). The preliminary phase in group practice: The group as a mutual aid
system. In The skills of helping individuals, families, groups and communities (7th
ed.), (pp. 342-385). (MUGAR).
Session 5: October 23, 2013
Assessment and Formulation with Individuals
Upon completing this session, students will be able to:
a. Describe assessment as both a process and a product.
b. Attend to the context of the assessment and a variety of relevant sources of
information (exploring a situation from multiple perspectives).
Identify methods and tools of assessment, including situations of suicide risk and
crisis assessment.
Apply relevant theory and research findings in assessment.
Develop a biopsychosocial formulation that highlights central issues, offers a
tentative understanding of them, applies critical thinking, and establishes the
ground work for understanding clients’ presenting problems.
Demonstrate assessment skills.
***If your agency uses a particular biopsychosocial outline or form, please bring a blank
copy to class.
Required Reading:
Hepworth et al. (2013), Chapter 8, Assessment: Exploring and Understanding Problems and
Strengths, pp. 185-213
Hepworth et al. (2013), Chapter 9, Assessment: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and
Environmental Factors, pp.215-249
Hepworth et al. (2013), Crisis Intervention, pp. 399-408
Murphy & Dillon (2011). Chapter 13, Work with People in Crisis, pp. 367-407
Dean, R. & Poorvu, N. (2008). Assessment and formulation: A contemporary social work
perspective. Families in Society, 89, 596-604. (MUGAR)
Recommended Reading:
Brems, C. (2000). The challenge of threats of suicide: The duty to protect. In Dealing with
challenges in psychotherapy and counseling (pp. 162-193). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Gambrill, E. (2007). Special section: promoting and sustaining evidence-based practice.
Journal of Social Work Education, 3, 447-462. (MUGAR)
Session 6: October 30, 2013
Goal Setting, Contracting and Interventions with Individuals
Objectives: Individuals
Upon completing this session, students will be able to:
a. Identify purposes of goal setting and contracting.
Identify the tasks of the worker and client in goal setting and contracting.
Identify the collaborative nature of goal setting and mutual accountability.
Explain the collaborative nature of goal setting and mutual accountability.
Demonstrate the differences and challenges in contracting with involuntary clients.
Demonstrate skills used in the initial phase of work with individuals.
Required Reading:
Hepworth et al. (2013), Chapter 12, Developing Goals and Formulating a Contract, pp 327-375
[skip section on crisis intervention]
Malgady, R.G. & Costantino, G. (2003). Narrative therapy for Hispanic children and
adolescents. In A. E. Kazdim & J.R. Weisz (Eds.), Evidence-based psychotherapies for
children and adolescents (pp.425-435). New York, NY: Guilford Press. (MUGAR)
Murphy & Dillon, (2011) Chapter 9, Gaining New Perspectives: Helping Clients Feel and see
Things Differently, pp. 245-282.
Recommended Reading:
Courneyor, B. (2008) Clarifying issues for work and establishing goals. In The social work
skills workbook (6th ed., pp. 345-346, 348-351) (MUGAR)
Hepworth et al. (2013), Chapter 13, Planning and Implementing Change-Oriented Strategies,
pp. 379-398, 408-434
Shulman, L. (2013). Chapter 4, Beginning and contracting skills. In The skills of helping
individuals, families, groups, and communities (7th ed., pp. 97-144). Belmont, CA:
Brooks/Cole. (Blackboard)
Session 7: November 6, 2013
Group Types and Group Formation
Objectives: Groups
Upon completing these sessions, students will be able to:
Describe types of groups and their helpful elements such as mutual aid.
Discuss the multiple factors in decision to provide group services in diverse settings.
Identify differences between group purpose and activities/content.
Describe the steps in group formation.
Identify key principles of group composition
Demonstrate skills used in group formation
Required Reading:
Hepworth et al. (2013), Chapter 11, Forming and Assessing Social Work Groups, pp. 295-326
Kurland, R. & Salmon, R. (1998). Purpose: A misunderstood and misused keystone of group
work practice. Social Work with Groups, 21, 5-17. (MUGAR)
Brown, A., & Mistry, T. (1994). Group work with “mixed membership”: Issues of race and
gender. Social Work with Groups, 17, 5-21. (MUGAR)
Steinberg, D. (2004). The mutual-aid approach in social work with groups. In Mutual-aid
approach to working with groups: Helping people help each other (2nd ed., pp.
13-33). Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press. (MUGAR)
(Begin material from Part 1 of Session 8 below if time permits).
Session 8: November 20, 2013
Goal Setting and Contracting with Groups (Part 1 of Session 8)
Objectives: Groups
Upon completing these sessions, students will be able to:
a. Demonstrate contracting with groups, including defining purpose and group structure
and establishing ground rules and culture of safety.
b. Gain a working knowledge of the stages of group development from contrasting
c. Articulate the two client concept (the individual and the group as a whole) and begin to
apply that understanding to group practice.
d. Articulate co-leadership guidelines and dynamics.
Required Reading:
Hepworth et al. (2013). Chapter 16, Intervening in Social Work Groups, pp. 507-533
Shulman, L. (2013). Chapter 11, First group sessions and contracting. In The skills of helping
individuals, families, groups, and communities (7th ed., pp. 388-419). Belmont, CA:
Brooks/Cole. (MUGAR)
Wright, W. (2000). The use of purpose in on-going activity groups: Framework for maximizing
the therapeutic impact. Social Work with Groups, 22, 31-54. (MUGAR)
Recommended Reading:
Garland, J., Jones, H., & Kolodny, R. (1978). A model for stages of development in social work
groups. In S.Bernstein (Ed.), Explorations in group work: Essays in theory and practice
(pp. 17-71). Bloomfield, CT: Practitioner’s Press. (MUGAR)
Assessment and Formulation with Families (Part 2 of Session 8)
Objectives: Family
Upon completing these sessions, students will be able to:
a. Shift thinking from an individual to the family system as a whole.
b. Recognize the range of family structures, roles and rules, patterns of interactions,
stressors, and strengths in the family assessment.
c. Develop a family formulation.
Required Reading:
Hepworth et al. (2013), Chapter 10, Assessing Family Functioning in Diverse Family and Cultural
Contexts, pp. 251-294
Taibbi, R. (2007).The power of one: Individual work in a family context. In Doing family
therapy: Craft and creativity in clinical practice (pp. 237-250). New York, NY: Guilford
Press. (MUGAR)
Recommended Reading:
Nichols, W. C., & Pace-Nichols, M. A. (2000). Family development and family therapy. In W. C.
Nichols, M. A. Pace-Nichols, D. S. Becvar, & A. Y. Napier (Eds.), Handbook of family
development and intervention (pp. 3-22). New York: John Wiley & Sons. MUGAR
Session 9: December 4, 2013
Goal Setting, Contracting and Interventions with Families
Objectives: Family
Upon completing these sessions, students will be able to:
a. Describe methods of engaging families in initial worker contacts
b. Recognize ecological and cultural perspectives in family work
c. Demonstrate basic intervention skills in early family and couple sessions.
Required Reading:
Hepworth et al. (2013), Chapter 15, Enhancing Family Relationships, pp. 455-489
Session 10: December 11, 2013 (Last class session)
Transitions, Endings and Evaluation with Individuals, Families, and Groups
Upon completing this session, students will be able to:
a. Describe how evaluation builds on the biopsychosocial assessment, and goal
setting and treatment planning.
b. Demonstrate ways to evaluate practice effectiveness of work with individuals,
families and groups.
c. Describe common termination reactions and how to address them in a timely
and appropriate way.
d. Demonstrate skills used in ending and transition.
Cournoyer, B.R. (2011). Chapter 11, Ending. pp. 393-396. (MUGAR)
Hepworth et al. (2013). Chapter 19, The Final Phase: Evaluation and Termination. pp.
Murphy & Dillon (2011). Chapter 14, Endings and Transitions, pp. 410-437.
Assignment #1 provides the opportunity to reflect on your identity as a professional
social worker and the behaviors appropriate to that role (competencies include: practice
personal reflection, attend to professional roles and boundaries, and articulate
challenges experienced).
Assignment #2 offers the chance to apply critical thinking to inform and communicate
professional judgments and utilize conceptual frameworks to guide assessment,
intervention and evaluation (competencies include: distinguish and integrate multiple
sources of knowledge, including research based knowledge; communicate an
understanding of differences in shaping life experiences).
Assignment #3 provides an opportunity to use research to inform your practice and
engage, assess, intervene and evaluate a group (competencies include: develop a
mutually agreed upon focus of work and desired outcomes, assess client strengths and
limitations, and select appropriate intervention strategies.
At the graduate level, quotes from a dictionary, DSM definitions, non-scholarly/nonprofessional web site material, and instructor remarks in class are not sufficient as
citations from the professional literature. References to theory and research should
inform and support, your assessment, and challenge practice and practice analysis
throughout this assignment. Paper writing should follow the headings provided
Federal health regulations of 2003 mandate the protection of client
confidentiality by changing the name of the client, significant others, agency,
conditions, other descriptors, and geographic locations that could lead to
client identification. Generalize to aid disguise: e.g. "I'm placed at a local Elder
Services site, where my client, whom I shall call Luisa, had been seen off and on
over the past few years by several interns before being assigned to me."
DUE: Session 4
The first assignment is weighted at 20% of the course grade and should be NO MORE THAN 5
PAGES. The assignment will involve a description and self-reflection on a beginning client
contact. This assignment will be due no later than October 9, 2013. Assignments should
be completed in MS Word using APA style (6th edition).
1. Please respond to the following questions as they relate to an initial contact
with a client, consumer, or constituent: (1 page)
What did you see as your purpose in this interaction with the client?
What did the client see as the purpose?
How did you and the client talk about your similar or different goals?
How did you negotiate the next step in your work together?
2. Using course readings (i.e., required and recommended) discuss: (1-2 pages)
 What role(s) did you assume as a professional social worker and
its/their relation to the purpose of this client interaction?
 How was worker authenticity and empathy applied and/or
demonstrated in this contact?
 What social work skills did you use to foster a working relationship with
this client/consumer/constituent? Identify which of these skills were
most helpful to the client/consumer/constituent. Why?
3. What challenges did you experience in this interaction related to your own
personal biases, assumptions and values, cultural differences, and ethical
issues? Provide a few ideas of how you might address these in the future. (up to
1 page)
4. What questions and/or concerns do you have about your work with this
client/consumer/constituent? (up to 1 page)
DUE: Session 8
Due date: November 20, 2013
This assignment should be about 8 pages long, double-spaced, in 12-pt. font,
with an alphabetized References page at the end. This Assignment is
weighted at 40% of your grade.
Please incorporate a minimum of 6 citations from 4 reference sources in the course
bibliography. (No more than 2 chapters from each textbook can be used as
references.) Citations should support each of the three sections of your paper if
possible. Use APA style throughout. One of your references should be
specifically focused on your specific population or agency setting. If you cannot
find references related to your population or setting in the course bibliography,
these references may come from other professional literature sources.
This paper gives you an opportunity to apply concepts and skills learned in the
first part of this course to the assessment process in the work you are doing with
an individual in a group or family context. The assignment is divided into
three sections:
Section 1 asks for a brief discussion of the client’s referral for service and a
biopsychosocial assessment of the client (see outline for assessment in course
Section 2 asks for a working formulation;
Section 3 asks for the use of an evidenced-based process to identify an effective
intervention or approach with the client about whom you are writing.
This section of the paper can follow the topic outline reviewed in class, or may
follow an outline that is more relevant to the particular client, family, or agency
setting you are describing. Regardless of the format used, the assessment
should include the following:
Description of agency (2 paragraphs): What type of agency you are working in
(i.e. community mental health center, school, daycare, community
organization…)? What is the treatment modality (individual, group or family) in
which the client is seen?
1. Areas of client’s life/situation to cover:
a. Description of client: (2 paragraphs): A description of the client/family
including name (disguised), age, gender, ethnic and racial background,
economic background, sexual orientation, etc.
b. Presenting Problem (1 page): What are the client’s concerns and
problems or those of the people who referred him or her? Why is the client
seeking help at this time? What brings the client to the agency at this
time? What are the "facts" of the problem(s)? (This information might be
gathered from sources like background sheets, direct observation or
collateral information). What is the individual's/family's interpretation of the
problem(s)? What is the client’s response to his/her feelings? What is the
client’s response to family members or others’ interpretation of the
problem? Are there any other precipitants to the problem(s)? Are there
any potentially serious health or safety concerns? Are there any legal
c. Source of referral (1 paragraph): This should include reason for referral
and client's understanding of and part in the referral. Was client mandated
to see you? Or was the client’s participation voluntary?
d. Description of client (1 paragraph): Appearance, dress, posture, eye
contact, facial expressions, mannerisms, modes of communication, verbal
as well as nonverbal, and range of emotions expressed.
e. Work and school data and history: (1-2 paragraphs). Employment and
unemployment history, current occupation, professional skills, reasons for
ability or inability to maintain employment, current level of education, and
current or future plans to further education.
f. Economic and living situation (2 paragraphs): Includes home,
neighborhood, natural support networks, economic resources, opportunities,
stresses and entitlements.
g. Family information (2-3 paragraphs): Includes information about family
structure (disguised names, ages, relationships, etc.) as well as family
dynamics, cultural and ethnic background, roles and activities, strengths,
family goals and communication styles. Address both strengths and stresses
related to the family environment.
h. Selective physical, emotional, and social history, depending on nature of
problem (3 pages):
Client and family alcohol and drug history/use/abuse and
the consequences on the client's health, social, work/ school,
familial and emotional functioning. Experience with, attitudes
towards, and outcomes of treatment programs, self-help groups,
12-step, etc. Extent of sobriety, experiences with relapses, and
family response to substance use and/or treatment (i.e.,
supportive, not supportive, enabler, participating in treatment).
History and current experience with child, sexual,
spouse/partner, elder abuse or other abuse, neglect or
victimization, or trauma or other crisis.
History and current experience with mental illness and/or
psychiatric treatment, including level of functioning and
support systems.
History and current experience with physical illness, and/or
hospitalization or other treatment.
Religious and/or spiritual affiliations, experiences, activities,
Legal/court history (e.g., incarceration history, child custody,
divorce, etc. as well as resulting outcomes, strengths, and
limitations of these experiences)
Alternative healing history or experiences.
Social, cultural, racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation,
age, and socio-economic factors as they affect and are
related to the current problem(s), client's strengths, and
resources (e.g., depressive symptoms related to retirement and
growing older)
Nature of interactions with relevant individuals and groups in the
agency or community that are related to and affecting current social
functioning. For example, how does the individual act in a group
setting if this is where you see him or her? (2 paragraphs).
Strengths and limitations of the individual, family and community
in relation to working on resolution of the problem(s).
*Note: If your setting uses a particular biopsychosocial outline or form, please
include a blank copy at the end of your paper. Feel free to include any additional
assessment tools you have used (these are best included as an Appendix to your
paper—per APA) such as genograms, life charts, ecomaps, questionnaires or
self-rating scales used by your agency.
Write a formulation which represents your hypotheses about possible factors
(psychological, interpersonal, social, cultural, environmental, biological,
developmental, economic, political) that may have caused or influenced the
client’s current situation. These may be fairly obvious or quite subtle and may be
outside the client’s awareness. The formulation includes your hypotheses about
how the client/family has come to this point in his/her/their life, and it notes some
of the themes or threads that you and the client have identified. It incorporates
both the strengths and problems presented by the client and the situation, and it
forms the basis for the next steps, that is, determining goals for the work you and
the client will be doing together and the contract about how the work will be done
to reach those goals. Be sure to consider in your assessment the client’s
membership in at-risk or vulnerable groups (e.g., gender, class, age, sexual
orientation, race, culture, religion, ability), experience of oppression or
social/economic injustice, and ways these factors influence the client’s strengths
and needs.
SECTION 3: Evidence-based Practice (EBP) and Decision-making:
Beginning Skills for Clinical Practice (1-2 pages)
In this section of the paper, you will consult the research literature related to
the client about whom you have written in the psychosocial assessment. You
will develop a question that you would like to research regarding an effective
approach to working with this client. Your question should be specific and
focused and should take into account the cultural characteristics of the client
system as well as the agency setting. You will be looking for articles or
abstracts that describe clinical research that attempts to answer a question
about effective interventions with clients.
You will then search the relevant research databases to find 3 articles or
abstracts which provide answers to your question. If they don’t directly provide
answers, you may find articles which at least give some direction about helpful
interventions related to the particular client, problem or setting. In some cases,
you may not find anything related to relevant research on clinical interventions
with your particular client/problem. In that case, please describe your search
process: databases you used; search terms you used; research that was
partially related but could be potentially helpful; barriers encountered in the
search process. For this assignment, do not spend more than an hour
searching for articles (unless you get so interested and involved that you
can’t stop searching!!)
If you find articles or abstracts that are useful in some way, write a couple of
paragraphs addressing the following:
how does the information provided in the articles/abstracts help you think
about working with this particular client?
Is the information about effective interventions consistent with
interventions used in your agency?
How might you use this information to discuss goals and make a contract
with your client?
If your search does not yield articles/abstracts that are helpful, write a
couple of paragraphs describing how you will decide how to approach working
with this client.
What sources of guidance/information will you use (course readings,
discussion with your supervisor and other staff at the agency, your own
past professional experience)?
How are decisions at your agency made about intervention approaches to
clients? What evidence do practitioners use to decide how they will work
with clients?
DUE: Session 10
All groups will present their proposal during the final class.
This assignment is weighted at 20% of your overall grade.
This presentation gives you an opportunity to integrate theory and skills learned in
the course to plan a group or to reflect on a group you are currently conducting at
your agency. You will address tasks and issues of group development during the
beginning, working, and ending phases of groups such as: population strengths
and needs, group type, formation and composition, group purpose and contracting,
group format and activities, group dynamics (safety, power and control, conflict,
etc.), and evaluation of the group experience.
Your presentation is expected to be of a professional quality and would as closely
as possible approximate what you would actually present in an agency setting to a
group of stakeholders consisting of administration, board members, staff and
potential group members.
You will need to Cite from a minimum of 6 scholarly references, 1-2 of which
should address evidence-based group work models with your target population or
specific problem area. Attend to issues of race gender, ethnicity, age, religion, and
class, as they are relevant to all aspects of work with groups. A reference list should
be submitted at the time of your presentation. Class time will be provided for you to
meet as a group, but it is expected that you will need to plan this assignment as a
group outside of class.
Presentation preparation overview
1. You will be assigned to groups consisting of three or four members based on
common areas of interest which you identify. First, your group should choose an
agency setting in which one of you is interning on which to focus your
assignment. If none of you are currently placed in an agency that matches your
area of interest, you can use a previous work setting, create a fictional agency,
or research one online. During class, I will be available to consult with you as
you initiate the process.
2. Discuss each of the domains below and use the outline to organize your
presentation. Make sure to address all the areas within each item.
Disguise details to preserve confidentiality.
1. Agency Context: Describe the agency, department, and general population
served. You may use the description of the agency from one of your
placements, previous employment, one that is fictional, or one that you
2. Need: What population have you and/or your agency identified for this group?
What client needs and problems will the group address? What client strengths
will the group utilize?
3. Structure: What type of group will this be? And why? And by whom was this
group type chosen? (See Garland’s group types in the appendix.) What is the
length of each meeting? Will it be open-ended or closed? Number of group
members? Will it be led by a single facilitator or co-led? Justify your decisions.
Was research evidence a factor in the choice of group type? Please elaborate
using appropriate citations from the research literature.
4. Recruitment: What steps would you take in getting the group started? Include
how you would approach the agency system and staff, and deal with any
ensuing resistance/reluctance.
5. Composition: What composition factors would you consider? (If you are
already working with a group, discuss the rationale for the selection of
members, and the effects of this composition.)
6. Purpose: How would you clarify the purpose of the group and negotiate a
working agreement with the members?
7. Content: What will the group actually do in the meetings? Include such issues
as meeting format, themes, activities, and decision-making.
8. Contracting, Power, and Safety: How are/might issues of power, control and
authority be manifested in your group (e.g., through your leadership style, in this
group’s early development, in roles that group members may take on, in
mandated groups)? How might you help members and yourself develop safety
and competency? If you would like to use the Schiller group development
model, how would issues of challenge and change be expressed in the group
(e.g., through your leadership style, in this group’s early development, in roles
that group members may take on, in mandated groups)? If mandated group,
consider limits of confidentiality and effect on contracting, power, and safety.
9. Evaluation: How do you plan to evaluate the group experience (e.g., use of
standardized instruments, on-going feedback, questionnaires, attrition)? If this is
a mandated group, what are your reporting requirements/criteria for group
10. Pitch it! Finally, you will be asked to explain the group to a potential group
member (Played by your Professor!). You will need to explain my role (i.e., client
demographics and history) and you will have ten minutes to pitch the group
and answer my questions. (Your classmates will have an opportunity to ask
questions after your presentation.) Consider the following:
First, you will have ten minutes to present the group proposal. You will decide what
group of stakeholders will comprise your audience. Examples are: your agency
director, supervisor, board or community group (pick one). This presentation should
cover the major areas outlined above. Start with title of the group.
Does your group pass the “purpose” sniff test? Consider these criteria: The
purpose of the group can be stated clearly and concisely by both the worker and
the group member. Avoid use of jargon.
You will have ten minutes to present your group and five minutes to conduct your
“interview “of the potential group member. The group will receive one grade overall
based on the quality of the content and the professionalism of the presentation.
You need to provide a list of references in APA form that you cite and utilize during
your presentation.
 The group will receive one grade overall based on the quality of the content
and the professionalism of the presentation.
The first assignment (Reflection on Wk/Client Interaction) is weighted at 20% of the
course grade.
The second assignment (Biopsychosocial Assessment) is weighted at 40% of the
course grade.
The third assignment (Group Work) is weighted at 20% of the course grade.
Active class participation, consistent attendance, and articulation of learning from
the required readings for each class constitute 20% of your course grade.
If students who are Clinical majors receive a grade of C+ or lower in this
course, the instructor may contact the student’s faculty advisor to request
that a Problem Resolution be held.
Students are expected to attend all class sessions and to inform the instructor in
advance of any absences. Failure to attend class sessions is likely to have a
negative effect on your course grade.
Academic honesty:
Papers and presentations in the School of Social Work must meet standards of
academic honesty and integrity, avoiding any possibility of plagiarism or other
forms of academic misconduct. For specific information about the BUSSW policy
regarding academic misconduct, see Student Handbook: Ways & Means
Writing style and references:
Students are expected to follow the editorial and reference standards set out in
the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2010). This
manual is available at the Mugar Library reference desk. A helpful BUSSW APA
Style Guide can be found at
Students with disabilities:
If you have a disability and want to request reasonable accommodation, the
University requires that you consult with Boston University’s Office of Disability
Services for information regarding this process (http://www.bu.edu/disability/).
Academic writing assistance:
If you would like academic writing assistance, information can be found at
http://www.bu.edu/ssw/current/academic/assistance/index.shtml or contact the
BUSSW Office of Student Services.
Electronic devices in the classroom:
Computers may be used to support the learning activities in the classroom, with
permission of your instructor. These include such activities as taking notes and
accessing course readings under discussion. However, non-academic use of
laptops and other devices are distracting and seriously disrupt the learning
process for everyone. Neither computers nor other electronic devices are to be
used in the classroom for non-academic reasons. This includes e-mailing,
texting, social networking, and use of the Internet. The use of cell phones during
class time is prohibited. Please turn off cell phones and refrain from taking calls
unless you are “on call” and have cleared this with the instructor prior to class.
Under such circumstances, please put your phone on vibrate, sit close to a door,
and step out of the room to take the call.
Religious holidays:
The school, in scheduling classes on religious holiday, intends that students
observing those holidays be given ample opportunity to make up work. Faculty
members who wish to observe religious holidays will arrange for another faculty
member to meet their classes or for canceled classes to be reschedule
Fill in connections where they exist. Indicate nature of connections with a
descriptive word or by drawing different kinds of lines:
_________ for strong, - - - - - - - - - - for tenuous, ++++++++++ for stressful.
Draw arrows along lines to signify flow of energy, resources, etc. 
Identify significant people and fill in empty circles as needed.
Family or Household
An outpatient substance abuse and mental health clinic in a suburb of Santa Fe
A 38-year-old, gay, white Catholic male of Irish-German descent, working as a
carpenter to support his work as a sculptor
White female social worker in her early 30s
Presenting Problem:
You are engaging a client who has been mandated for outpatient substance
abuse treatment following his second driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI)
Case Record:
Peter, the subject of this study, was referred to the Counseling Center, an
outpatient mental health clinic in the suburbs of Santa Fe, to receive aftercare
treatment for his 2nd DUI offense. He had just completed two weeks of inpatient
treatment in a program designed specifically to treat 2nd time offenders. The
referral source was Dr, Weiss, and the Clinical Director of the program. Dr. Weiss
described Peter as, "a quiet man who was cooperative and pleasant. He seemed
to get a lot of the educational portion of the program, but didn't participate at all in
the group discussions." While the Counseling Center is listed in the yellow pages
as a substance abuse treatment center, it does not specialize in this field and
receives only a nominal number of mandated referrals. Such referrals tend to be
given to a select number of clinicians at the agency who have a greater
understanding of substance abuse and dependence and who are more
comfortable sitting with a coerced client (who is often very angry and "resistant"
to treatment). I happen to be one of those clinicians and Peter was referred to
Peter identifies himself as "an artist unable to make a living from art." He is a
sculptor and makes large, spiny, abstract sculptures in the backyard of his small
home in suburban Santa Fe. To supplement his income, he works a 40-hour job
as a carpenter. Peter is the fourth of five children; he has four brothers. His father
was a lifetime Navy officer, and Peter, his mother and siblings moved around the
country every two to three years. Peter is gay and stated, "I always knew this
and am quite comfortable with it now." He has long been disillusioned with the
Catholic Church because he feels the church is wrong to reject him simply
because of his sexual orientation.
My first session with Peter has been arranged by Dr. Weiss and took place two
days after Peter completed his inpatient treatment. Peter came to the session
neatly but casually dressed in a flannel shirt and blue jeans. He sat down;
slumped into the chair I offered him and dropped his leather jacket in a heap on
the floor next to him. He started the interview immediately: “I can't come this time
of day. I just spent two weeks out-of work and my boss was pissed at that and
now I had to come here In the middle of the day and take some more time off. I
just can't afford that and I definitely can't afford to lose my job!" I responded, "We
can try to negotiate a better time and if today's not good, we can reschedule."
Peter interrupted and in a calmer tone said, "No, I'm here; we may as well start.
What do we need to do?" I said, '"The best place to start maybe is to get to know
one another to see if we can work together…." Peter interrupted again, "What do
you want to know about me?" His questions were both plaintive and challenging
and I needed to breathe slowly to keep from giving quick responses. Studying his
harried face I asked, "What do you think would be important for me to know
about you?" He said, "that I come from a dysfunctional family, that I have a
problem with alcohol, and that I am gay.” Peter studied my face.
Amodeo, M. (Ed.) Social work approaches to alcohol and other drug problems:
Case studies and teaching tools for education and practitioners
Levels of predicted
Most Unfavorable outcome
thought likely
Less than expected success
Expected level of success
More than expected
Most favorable outcome
thought likely
Tune in
Put client’s feelings into
Share worker’s feelings
Reach for non-verbal
Identify content and
process connections
Help client see life in
new ways
Move from general to
Focus listening
Reach inside silences
Reach for feelings
Make a demand for
Partialize client’s
Hold to focus
Check for underlying
Challenge the illusion of
Point out obstacles to
Support clients in taboo
Share data
Identify next steps
Identify doorknob
Explore client resistance
Facilitate confrontation
Advocate for client
Reach for individual
communication in a
Monitor the group
Monitor the individual
Murphy & Dillon
Psychologically attend
Physically attend
Use silence
Identify and affirm
Provide concrete
Use empathic echo
Use closed/open ended
Initiate new topics
Appreciate and use
Partialize and prioritize
Accentuate the positive
Encourage client
Reflect discrepancies
Observe stuck patterns
Hepworth, Rooney &
Give positive feedback
Determine client’s
Clarify roles
Respond verbally and
Use metaphors
Look for underlying
feelings and use feeling
Convey empathy
Stay in touch with client
Accurately assess client
Respond to nonverbal
Teach client to respond
Be authentic
Use self-disclosure
Share feelings/reactions
Identify impact of
problem on others
Make requests and give
Interrupt dysfunctional
Say no and set limits
Lean into client’s anger
Maintain focus and
manage interruption
Identify the problem
Clarify ecological factors
Assess developmental
needs and wants
Assess strength in
Assess obstacles and
Convey assessment
findings to client
Provide immediate
Give concrete
Offer hope
Set goals jointly
Identify relevant social
Define goals explicitly
Increase self-efficacy
Enhance self-esteem
Mobilize resources
Recognize threats to
I. Yalom describes the therapeutic factors that operate in groups:
 Imparting of information
 Instillation of hope
 Universality
 Altruism
 Corrective recapitulation of the primary family group
 Development of socializing techniques
 Imitative behavior
 Interpersonal learning
 Group cohesiveness
 Catharsis
 Existential factors (life is tough, but we can take responsibility)
These factors assume differential importance depending on the goals and
compositions of the specific group. Many of the factors are interdependent. In the
change process, some refer to actual mechanisms of change; others to
conditions for change.
Yalom, I. (1995) The theory and practice of group psychotherapy (4th ed.) New
York, NY: Basic Books.
II. The Worker's tasks and skills (Schwartz)
1. Finding, through negotiation, the common ground between the requirements of the
group members and those of the systems they need to negotiate.
2. Detecting and challenging obstacles to work, as these arise.
3. Contributing facts, ideas, and values when such data may be useful to the work.
4. Lending his own vision and projecting his own feelings about the struggles in which
they are engaged.
5. Defining the requirements and limits of the situation (working agreement).
Skills required are:
1. Reinforcing the different ways in which people help each other.
2. Partializing large problems into smaller, more manageable pieces.
3. Generalizing: finding connections between small segments of experience.
4. Calling for talk that is purposeful and invested with feeling (2 nd and 3rd stages
of elaboration).
5. Reaching for opposites, ambiguities.
6. Demanding work.
Schwartz, W., & Zalba, S. (1971). The practice of group work. New
York, NY: Columbia University.
(Schwartz's ideas have been developed and elaborated upon by
Shulman in Skills of helping.)
1. Task and Social Action
 Focuses on the task, outcome, productivity (rather than individual
development or social relationships).
 In some instances, the task may serve as a way for members to interact.
 Allows people to act on their own behalf in bringing about changes in their
 Gives people voice in decisions that affect their lives--empowerment.
 Multiplies solutions and resources - power in numbers.
Examples: Committees, community organization, planning or governing
groups, Tent City Organization for Mixed-Income Housing, Coalition for
Pregnant and Parenting Teens, Oral History Video Project, Planning
Committee for Junior High Drug Awareness Week, AIDS Brigade, Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual & Trans-sexual Caucus.
Worker: Helps to define the task, confront barriers, and keep group focused.
May share vision and knowledge of resources and strategies. Encourages
and develops leadership from within the group.
2. Growth & Education for Life
 Promotes normal social growth -helps people meet developmental
challenges and transitions, and adapt to new situations.
 Preventive, especially around stress and crises.
 Provides information, opportunity for mastery of content.
 Helps people learn new skills and new roles.
 Expands the range and quality of social relationships.
 Stimulates creative expression.
 Allows persons who have been isolated or subject to oppressive
environments, to learn basic social skills.
Examples: Activity groups at community centers and schools, new mother's
group, alcohol education group, groups for Southeast Asian students who are
newcomers, special interest groups (drama, photography, dance), group for
people making career changes, multicultural awareness group.
Worker: Roles may range from that of teacher of specific information or skills
to that of a facilitator of group expression and program to that of resource
provider. The worker may be didactic or reactive/reflective in stance.
3. Support and Stabilization
 Helps people who are experiencing life crises, stress, or lack of support in
their lives (including those experiencing discrimination and economic
 Promotes the strengths and adaptive capacities of persons.
 Provides supports for those in danger of deterioration.
 Helps build coping skills.
Provides opportunity for education, expression of feelings, mutual aid,
clarification, problem solving, specific skill building.
Examples: Groups for homeless women (after-school activity group for their
children), for persons who are divorced (and their children), for persons
diagnosed as HIV+, for persons addicted to drugs/alcohol (and their families),
for families with a person in the hospital; groups for people with cancer, for
parents of court-involved adolescents, for elderly facing a housing crises,
groups for survivors of sexual abuse, single session to help families deal with
the violent death of teens in a community.
Worker: Can be active, instructive, initiating, as needed. Use of support,
clarification, and structural/environmental modification.
4. Recapitulation/Restitution
 Allows for re-working of relationships through re-experiencing or playing
them out in the present.
 Helps connect the source with current problems in relationships.
 Suitable for those with good reality testing, impulse control, ability to
handle anxiety, willingness to examine their relationships in the present.
 Focus on the process-feelings and interactions-of the group in the present.
Examples: Therapy groups for young adults having problems in relationships,
for people who are anxious, stuck, or dissatisfied in their work, for adult
children or people in recovery who are ready to examine the nature and
impact of formative relationships.
Worker: Likely to be permissive, interpretive, less directive. Use of
transference, catharsis and regression; reflection of here-and-now
NOTE: Groups that have a curriculum or that are more didactic in nature are
often referred to as educational/support or psycho-educational groups. At times
there may be some overlap of group types. However, one should always be clear
about the purpose of the group and the outcome expected. Are you aiming
towards prevention? Growth? Stabilization? Social change?
Adapted from:
Garland, J.(1986). The relationship between group work and group therapy. In M.
Parnes (Ed.), Innovations in social group work: Feedback from practice to
theory (pp. 17-28). New York, NY: Haworth Press.
You may not have a choice about the composition of your group. Attendance
may be mandated by the courts or may be required by virtue of an individual's
admission to a specific program (e.g., day treatment center, hospital unit).
Obviously, it is preferable to have group members who are motivated to work on
their problems and who have expectations for a positive outcome. This is not to
say, however, that individuals who are reluctant to participate or acknowledge
problems should be counted out. Through the group and skillful leadership, it
may be possible to reach that part of them that is seeking help. You may not
have choices for other reasons, e.g., there are limited numbers of people
available or members are self-selected. If you do have choices, consider the
1. Consider the purpose of the group foremost: It is essential that members
have a common need, so that they have some focus for the content of group
life. Is there a connection between the individual's personal sense of urgency
and the work of the group? (Shulman& Schwartz). Remember that common
status and common need are not the same. For example, addicts in a
treatment center have many different needs. In the time that they have,
around what needs can they come together? Rape victims have a common
experience; however, their needs differ at various points. Initially, they need
to deal with the immediate crisis and get their life stabilized; later, they need
to deal with any residual feelings or difficulty in relationships.
2. Aim toward assembling a compatible and cohesive group (Yalom). The group
should be homogeneous in enough ways to ensure stability and
heterogeneous in enough ways to ensure vitality (Redl's law of optimum
distance). In a cohesive group, conflict can be tolerated and transformed into
productive work. Think about people who are similar in developmental level,
degree of vulnerability and capacity to tolerate anxiety Think about people
who are different in coping patterns and defenses.
3. Compose the group, if possible, so that no single member represents a
significant difference, resulting in pressure to exemplify or speak for an entire
group (e.g., only man, only person of that age, only Black, only gay person,
only person of a particular socioeconomic group, etc.) You may talk to that
person about the composition so that s/he can make an informed decision
about joining. You may feel that the special focus of the group transcends
differences. In any case, it is important to acknowledge and discuss the
salience of race and other differences.
4. Think in terms of pairing, blending, & bridging; that is, persons who might be
similar or compatible or provide a link with other persons.
5. Choose people who can communicate in a meaningful way with each other.
6. When the purpose of the group is to help members help each other because
they have specific problems, such as children of alcoholics, children of
divorced parents, people with AIDS, women who have been battered, etc,
demographic factors are not as important variables for grouping. Persons
who are in pain because of such problems can relate and form groups even
though they are of different sexes and are different in age, sexual orientation,
educational level, socioeconomic background, ethnic origin and race (Klein).
This principle applies particularly to short-term, focused groups, where the
common situation and issues are experienced intensely and where the goals
are circumscribed.
7. Variables may be more or less important according to the type or treatment
groups; less important in task groups (Daniels & Paradise). Children's groups
require consideration of age (2-3 year span recommended, generally) and
developmental level. In psychodrama groups, it is important to consider
physical vulnerabilities and problems with reality or boundaries.
Race appears a more critical factor (wish to have greater percentage of
members like them) in intimate groups than in task groups (Davis). In
research involving small problem-solving groups, those composed of equal
numbers of Black and white members experienced more conflict than groups
with a majority of one race (Davis, Chen, & Strobe).
8. Consider the specific requirements of your specific agency and group. For
example, a group for people with panic disorders requires that members be
able to tolerate attendance and be receptive and capable of doing daily
homework assignments.
These are musts in co-leadership, especially important for a student paired with a
regular agency staff member. These guidelines are to be pursued diplomatically but
1. Clarify what "co" means. Is it truly equal participation and equal status or a
euphemism for something else? Acknowledge it to each other and to the
group if you are in fact an observer, assistant, etc.
2. Develop a plan a timetable and procedures by which you will reach full
3. Clarify you respective philosophies, styles, and theories.
4. If the group is being formed, you should participate in all of the decision
making (goals, model, etc.) and in as many of the procedures (e.g.
interviewing prospective members) as is logistically feasible.
5. If the group is already running, you should be informed of its history, both in
terms of the ongoing operations and evolution as well as the purpose, goals
and formation activity that brought it into being.
6. You and your partner should meet between group sessions to de-brief,
cathart, theorize, talk about your co-work and relationship, and plan for the
next session.
7. Be especially aware of potential power differences, conflicts of interest and
the like, if your co-worker is also your field instructor (supervisor).
8. It is highly desirable to have available a third party or parties all the way from
a consultant to a peer or co-worker's group.
9. It is not advisable to be supervised or consulted to apart from your partner.
10. Last, but not least, try hard to deal with and/or put into place all of these items
at the very beginning of your association. If you do not, it usually becomes
increasingly difficult as time goes by to "retro-fit" your contract and modus
Benne, K., & Sheats, P. (1948). Functioning roles of group members. Journal of
Social Issues, 4, 42-47.
Task Roles
1. Initiating: Proposing tasks or goals: Defining a group problem; suggesting a
procedure or ideas for solving a problem.
2. Information or opinion seeking: Requesting facts; seeking relevant
information about a group concern; asking for suggestions or ideas.
3. Information or opinion giving: Offering facts; providing relevant information
about a group concern; stating a belief; giving suggestions or ideas.
4. Clarifying or elaborating: Interpreting or reflecting ideas and suggestions;
clearing up confusion; indicating alternatives and issues before the group;
giving examples.
5. Summarizing: Pulling together related ideas; restating suggestions after the
group has discussed them; offering a decision or conclusion for the group to
accept or reject.
6. Consensus testing: Sending up trial balloons to see if the group is nearing a
conclusion; checking with the group to see how much agreement has been
Maintenance Roles
1. Encouraging: Being friendly, warm, and responsive to others; accepting
others and their contributions; rewarding others by giving them an opportunity
or recognition.
2. Expressing group feelings: Sensing feelings, mood, and relationships within
the group; sharing own feelings with other members.
3. Harmonizing: Attempting to reconcile disagreements; reducing tension
through “pouring oil on troubled waters”; getting people to explore their
4. Compromising: When own idea or status is involved in a conflict, offering to
compromise own position; admitting error, disciplining self to maintain group
5. Gate-keeping: Attempts to keep communication channels open; facilitating
the participation of others; suggesting procedures of others; suggesting
procedures for sharing opportunity to discuss group problems.
6. Setting standards: Expressing standards for the group to achieve; applying
standards in evaluating group functioning and production
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