Social Work Practice with Groups: Engagement, Assessment, and Planning
Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much. Helen Keller
(1) What competencies do I need to engage with and assess client systems at the group level of social work practice? (EPAS 2.1.10(a & b))
(2) How can I use evidence to practice research-informed practice and practiceinformed research to guide the engagement and assessment practice behaviors with groups? (EPAS 2.1.6)
(3) What are the potential ethical issues that may occur in social work practice with groups, particularly in the early phases of the group’s development? (EPAS 2.1.2)
(4) What knowledge and skills do I need for culturally competent group-level engagement and assessment practice? (EPAS 2.1.4)
N ONE OF US LIVES WITHOUT SOCIAL CONNECTIONS . Many of us spend much of our lives negotiating our closeness to family, neighbors, friends, associates, and colleagues. Regardless of the ways in which the connections are experienced, virtually everyone has relationships to small collectives of other people or groups. In this context, group refers to the natural or planned associations that evolve through common interest (e.g., supporting the local Little League), state of being (e.g., having a child with a disability), or task (e.g., working together at a place of employment). Connectedness to groups depends not only on an individual’s
needs for affi liation but also on cultural norms, social arrangements, and social location (e.g., faith traditions, children’s school, or neighborhood of residence). Within social work, group work is a “goal-directed activity that brings together people for a common purpose or goal” (Toseland & Horton, 2008, p. 298).