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About this book

Launching Palgrave's new interdisciplinary Professional Keywords series, this reader-friendly reference guide distils the vast field of groupwork study and practice into digestible, yet authoritative, chunks. With over 60 alphabetized entries, it is the perfect introduction to groupwork for health and social care practice.

Table of Contents

A

Accountability

Abstract
Professions as a whole, and individual professionals specifically, are required to account for their actions much more publicly than they were once. On the positive side, this limits the opportunity for arbitrary, inappropriate treatment and oppressive behaviour by professionals; on the negative side, it has led to greater defensiveness and to risk-averse behaviour which does not always lead to the best outcomes.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Activities

Abstract
The common understanding of the word activity implies some kind of doing. In groups, however, contemplation in silence can be described as ‘an activity’. Some group sessions might consist solely of one activity, such as group discussion, but it is much more likely that any single group session will be made up of several different kinds of activity. Some groups, like arts and crafts groups, are ‘Activity Groups’ — their existence is focused around the activity itself (Finlay, 1999). However, in most cases, activities are used to help the group achieve a greater purpose.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

B

Beginnings, Middles and Endings

Abstract
Although there have been many classifications of the phases of groupwork, the classic and simplest has been to characterize groups as having three major phases — a beginning, middle and ending.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

C

Cohesion

Abstract
In a groupwork context, group cohesion is one of the elements of group process or group dynamics. It refers to the social and emotional connections or bonds among group members. It is a centripetal force that allows the group to focus on and work towards group tasks and goals (Crouch, Bloch and Wanlass, 1994). There is a reciprocal relationship between cohesion and task, as groups that work closely together tend to have increasing cohesion. Likewise, when groups successfully resolve a crisis or conflict, group cohesion tends to strengthen. In addition, cohesive groups are more productive (Beal et al., 2003).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Collective

Abstract
Humans are social beings. History has long been recorded as though it consists of a baton passed from one strong leader to the next, but this is a distortion: the truth is that human progress is much more dependent on our ability to engage with each other as social beings than on the behaviour of single men and women. It is reasonable to suggest that the civilizing of humanity and the development of democracy has come via its ability to harness the collaborative and collective instincts that are deeply ingrained.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Community Groups

Abstract
The notion of community has been associated traditionally with a geographical area — local communities of people with a common interest in their neighbourhood. Changes, often seen as threats, to the neighbourhood can trigger individuals to come together; examples are concerns about road safety, proposals to bring outsiders into the area (such as establishing a hostel for homeless people), the building of a new supermarket. Some neighbourhoods are well organized, with a community group that is ongoing and proactive — perhaps organizing farmers’ markets, bulb planting and with sub-committees to respond to specific issues as they arise. Tenants’ groups are a localized form of community group, where the boundaries of the group are the local housing estate.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Confidentiality

Abstract
Confidentiality is concerned with the limits placed around information and communication. Confidentiality is important because it encourages people to speak frankly. This openness is often the first step towards self-honesty, i.e. being able to confront your own demons and the reality of your situation. If you have trust in the person you are speaking to, and this trust includes a belief that they will respect your confidences by not telling others, you are more likely to speak freely. The importance of speaking openly is that it helps the speaker to develop beliefs and strategies that can ameliorate problems and heal traumas.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Conflict

Abstract
Conflict is a group dynamic that occurs when there is a difference of opinion, or a disagreement regarding the work or functioning of the group. It may result in strife or friction between or among members of the group, or just raise the passions and energy level in the group. Conflict can emerge as a result of various factors: a power struggle; differing values, beliefs or norms; societal prejudices and differing individual differences (e.g. gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, class) and/or differing ideas regarding the working of the group. The conflict can originate within the group or from outside (Benson, 1992).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Contexts

Abstract
What goes on outside a group has an impact on what happens inside the group. The significance of these contexts for the group has sometimes been neglected, but it is gaining more recognition.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Counselling Groups

Abstract
The Association for Specialists in Group Work (ASGW, 2000) describes four different types of group specialization, one of which is the counselling group. The others are task groups, psychoeducation groups and psychotherapy groups. The association acknowledges that there may not be a clear boundary between the four different types of groupwork specialization; however, they suggest that they do have characteristics that provide a professionally useful categorization. Groupworkers use similar skills, processes and techniques across all four specializations and similar theoretical approaches may be integrated into the different types of groupwork. Corey (2011) provides a differentiation between the four types, with a counselling group focusing on a specific problem or issue that members share. Though remedial action may be an aim, counselling groups are primarily concerned with growth and change, rather than intensive psychological overhaul. Group members may be facing problems in their general lives or having difficulties successfully navigating a life transition, but a counselling group does not focus on fixing problems or treating individual members. Rather, a counselling group has a here-and-now focus and the group provides a therapeutic milieu where members share and explore their current situations and develop the skills needed to overcome their difficulties – both current and future. The focus on the now and personal goals, the development of mutual aid and intrapersonal awareness and the translation of group experiences to actions outside the group are hallmarks of group counselling.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Co-Working

Abstract
When the leadership of the group is shared among two or more people this is referred to as co-working or co-leadership (Hodge, 1985). There are many possible models: an exactly equal partnership between two groupworkers, each of whom takes the same leadership role in the group; a partnership in which different leaders take different roles; a collective of perhaps three or more group-workers who might not all be present at every group session — and many other combinations (Doel and Sawdon, 1999, pp. 213–228).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

D

Democracy

Abstract
The political dimension of groupwork is not particularly well developed or understood, yet there are at least two ways in which group-work has strong associations with democracy. These are explored below.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Development

Abstract
Group development refers to how the group as a whole changes and matures over time. There are many different explanations of how groups develop. Some are linear, staged approaches to development, others more cyclical. Linear approaches have been criticized for their rigidity and lack of fit with different types of groups.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Differences and Similarities

Abstract
A group is an opportunity for people who are in similar circumstances to meet and to find out about others’ experiences. To this extent groups are likely to be homogenous, i.e. focusing on similarities. The group’s name might well reflect the circumstances that bring all the group members together: young offenders; women with mental health problems; support group for people caring for people with Alzheimer’s. These similarities are strong factors in building intimacy and a sense of group cohesion.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Difficulties in Groups

Abstract
One person’s paralysing difficulty in a group is another person’s interesting challenge. It is important, then, for groupworkers to recognize and acknowledge their own particular nightmare-in-the-group. Aside from the dread of violence and extreme aggression, which is commonly shared, what is it you most fear when anticipating joining or leading a new group: silence, conflict, taboos, scapegoating (Douglas, 1991).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

E

Encounter Groups

Abstract
The encounter group movement emerged in the 1960s and reached its crescendo in the early 1970s, when, as a movement it began to fade. However, encounter groups and offshoots continue to run in the present day. For instance, many religious denominations and personal development franchises have encounter-type groups. The terms encounter groups, T-groups, sensitivity training and other personal development groups are sometimes used interchangeably (see therapy groups and personal development groups); however, despite considerable overlap they are conceptually distinct. The encounter group movement developed after T-groups and Tavistock Training Groups and can be seen as an outgrowth of those types of groups.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Evaluation

Abstract
Whatever the purpose of a group, whether it is softly vague or hard and explicit, it is important to know whether the group is achieving this purpose (reviews along the way) and has achieved it (an evaluation towards the end or afterwards). Primarily, it is important for the group members themselves, who might have a shared group purpose or specific individual ones that relate them to others through the group. In addition, groupworkers need to know how their l eadership has helped or hindered the group’s achievements and any sponsoring organization needs information about whether its resources (such as staff time) are being used effectively and how the evaluation of this group can aid the broader process of service review to improve the agency’s services (Day, 2005).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Evidence Base

Abstract
Groupwork does not have a robust enough or sufficiently developed evidence base to support practice that is always — in the strictest sense of the word — 100% evidence-based. By this, we mean the type of evidence derived from randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews of the literature (Housen, 2009) — sometimes referred to as the ‘gold standard’ of evidence. The value placed on this ‘gold standard’ research is much contested within groupwork — and beyond. Many argue that this definition of evidence is too narrow. If we broaden the definition of what counts as evidence, group-work has a rich body of knowledge available to inform practice with groups. This broader definition includes knowledge gained from quantitative studies other than only randomized control trials, qualitative studies, expert opinion, single group descriptions, theoretical and conceptual reviews in the literature, information in books on groupwork, evaluations by groupworkers of their own practice and the opinion of group members. Much of this is often described as ‘practice wisdom’.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

F

Flash Groups

Abstract
Some groups are carefully planned, consisting of members who are recruited or sent, and they are led by trained groupworkers. This is the template for classic social and therapeutic groupwork. However, there are other kinds of group, such as naturally occurring groups and those that form spontaneously, usually in response to a crisis. These exhibit many of the elements of a classic group, even though they are not planned, they are not led by groupworkers and they have no formal membership or recruitment. The term ‘flash group’ has been coined to denote these spontaneous groups (Doel, 2007; Manor, 2007).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

G

Gender

Abstract
Gender has been an important pre-occupation in groupwork literature for several decades and the number of publications on the topic is huge (see the appendices). Gender is often discussed as an issue in the planning and preparation phase of work when the composition of group membership is being considered, as it can have a profound impact on a group. Group members will bring with them the gender roles and stereotypes learned in the societies and cultures outside the group. As such, the gender balance of a group can influence the behaviour of individuals and the group as a whole.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Groundrules

Abstract
Groups develop norms of behaviour, i.e. what is considered to be acceptable in that particular group. Norms are important for group members to develop a sense of belonging and togetherness. However, a group’s norms are not necessarily empowering or productive: it can develop norms of behaviour that are oppressive, coercive and not functional. For these reasons, group leaders often help the group early on to consider how it is going to behave and perform; rather than use the term ‘norms’ which is not generally known and which refers more usually to implicit expectations of behaviour, group leaders often introduce the notion of groundrules, which are explicit guides for behaviour.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Group as a Whole

Abstract
Groups are more than a collection of the individual members and, indeed, more than the sum of their parts. This can be understood if one compares a group to an orchestra (Whitaker, 1985). An orchestra is made up of many individual musicians, each playing their own instrument. Though each musician is expert with their instrument, when they begin to play together the result is more than the sound of many different instruments; rather it becomes an orchestra and the noise is heard as a symphony.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Group Dynamics

Abstract
Dynamics is a word borrowed from the physical sciences and it refers to the study of the motion of physical objects or the changes in movement. It also refers to the study of how physical systems change and develop over time. In the 1940s, Kurt Lewin applied this concept from physics to the study of social groups and coined the term group dynamics. As in physics, dynamics in groups refers to the forces that move, change or influence individual behaviour in the group, the behaviour of the group as a whole, or have an impact on the development of the group. These group forces emerge as the component parts (the members) that interact with one another and form a social system. They result from the interactions that occur within the group, but are also influenced by the histories that group members bring with them into the group.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Group Supervision

Abstract
All professionals’ work is supervised, ideally in a regular reflective session. Supervision helps professionals to develop and it is meant to act as a safeguard for the quality of service. Individual supervision is the norm in most cases, but there are good reasons to consider group supervision (Ashmore et al., 2012). These reasons are similar to those for groupwork in general.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Groupthink

Abstract
Groupthink refers to a psychological phenomenon that is said to be a potentially negative process in group decision-making, problem-solving or behaviour (Janis, 1972; Turner and Pratkanis, 1998). In groupthink members of groups too quickly or uncritically reach a consensus about a decision or course of action. It may also refer to the influence the group as a whole exerts on members to behave in certain ways.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

H

Health Groups

Abstract
Groups are used broadly in healthcare, from group therapy for childhood psychosis to pain management self-help groups, from counselling groups in GP practices to yoga classes in neighbourhood centres. The value of a group milieu has long been familiar to Occupational Therapists. In mental health work, groupwork has for some time been recognized as a chance to alter the attitudes of individuals and with more persistent effects, primarily because the socialization that can occur in groups improves a person’s social behaviour outside the group (Jones et al., 1971; Lewin 1947b).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

History of Groupwork

Abstract
Groups are a universal human experience, so it is no surprise that groupwork is a worldwide phenomenon. However, there are indications that the social significance of groupwork differs between cultures and it would be a mistake to believe that one could transpose the structure of, say, a health group for cancer patients in the UK to a group for people with HIV-AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. We need more evidence, but there are indications that groups in societies that are highly collectivist, such as India and Africa, are seen as a forum where the individual voice can be given expression, and that groups in more atomized western societies are seen as places where people can join together to find their collective voice (Cohen et al., 2012). This is not a rule — as can be seen from some western therapy groups where individuals ‘find themselves’ through the group.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Human Development and Groups

Abstract
We are by our nature social beings. This hard-wired drive to be part of a collective is in part responsible for our evolutionary development as a species. Groups made it possible for humans to survive and this dependency on group life continues today, albeit in greatly different forms. Over the life course naturally occurring and formed groups play an important role in human development.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

I

Individuals

Abstract
There is a philosophical contention that it is not really possible to know what another person thinks or feels and that, like it or not, we are confined to our own bodies and experiences, merely inferring that others feel similar feelings and think similar thoughts. However, advances in our knowledge, especially through social psychology, suggest that Descartes’ famous dictum I think, therefore I am, would better be expressed as We think, therefore we are. Several influential social psychological experiments have pointed to the extraordinary power of groups to influence the way individuals see themselves and the world, for better and worse. Groupthink can often override individuals’ beliefs and mass movements attest to this phenomenon at an even broader level than small groupwork.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Involuntary Groups

Abstract
Group members come to groups for a variety of reasons. It is probably safe to say that few people wake up one morning and say, ‘This is a great day to join a group. I’ll see if I can find one today.’ Rather there are pushes and pulls that will lead people to join groups. For some they will recognize they have a problem, an unmet need, or some concern and search for a way to do something about it. They may come across a group as a possible solution and the promise of the group acts as a pull — joining a group as an active choice. These group members are said to have joined voluntarily.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

J

Joining and Leaving

Abstract
From the perspective of group members, perhaps the two most significant points in time are joining the group and leaving it. We might think that the moment prospective group members come together for the first session of the group is the moment of joining, but the period of planning and preparation is just as much part of this process, especially if there has been an individual offer of groupwork to potential members prior to the group’s start, as part of the selection. People have begun to join the group as soon as they have been introduced to its possibility.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

L

Leadership

Abstract
Leadership is a function and a process that might be exercised by a particular named person (the leader of a group) or might arise informally from within the group membership. Assertive leadership is the capacity to inspire or persuade others to follow a particular course of action or strategy; facilitative leadership is the capacity to direct the process, so that others are helped to decide on a course of action (Heap, 1988a). Effective leadership usually requires a combination of assertive and facilitative leadership. As we will see later, leadership can be exercised even in the absence of a formal leader.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Learning Groups

Abstract
All groups involve some form of learning. Sometimes the group is guided by an overt learning theory, such as cognitive behavioural therapy. Even in groups using methods with different theoretical underpinnings, such as a psychodynamic approach, the development of insight and self-knowledge has, in the broadest sense, an educational impact (Bamber, 2004; Berry and Letendre, 2004; Brown, 1998; Holmes and Gahan, 2006). Some groupwork has a purpose that is primarily about learning or is educational in nature, such as parent education groups (O’Neal, 1999) or sex education groups for young people.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

M

Manualized Groups

Abstract
Manualized groups are structured groups delivered around a manual or defined curriculum, with set topics and activities identified for each session (Middleman, 2005). The manuals are typically based on research as they have primarily grown in popularity over the past 20 years as an outgrowth of the evidence-based practice movement. They are found in most areas of groupwork, especially criminal justice, health, mental health and schools. They focus on a particular problem or identified need, such as, parenting skills, anger management, depression and social skills.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Membership

Abstract
People new to groupwork often ask questions such as: What is the best size for a group? What kinds of people should you have in a group? What kind ofmix of people is likely to work well? What if I have to have the same life experience as the members — is that good or bad? Should groups be open or closed? All these questions are ones about group membership. Though answers with certainty do not exist for these questions and others like them, there are practice principles and practice wisdom, theories of groups and groupwork and research evidence that can help us to respond to these questions. These responses will also be shaped by the purpose, setting and type of group (Brown, 1994; Gitterman, 2005b; Northen and Kurland, 2001).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Methods and Models

Abstract
When one groupworker asks another ‘which method do you use’? it can mean a number of things. The term ‘method’ is slippery and ill-defined and often confused with model. In this entry we aim to clarify these two notions and understand their implications in practice.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

O

Open and Closed Groups

Abstract
The terms ‘open’ and ‘closed’ refer to the nature of membership in groups. Closed groups have a defined membership and no new members are allowed to join the group once it has begun, sometimes called ‘non-permeable boundaries’. Some open groups have new members entering and old members leaving on a very regular and frequent basis; others may only allow new members to enter at certain times. ‘Open and closed’ refers to the nature of group membership, whilst ‘open-ended or close-ended’ group refers to time. Close-ended groups are time limited, with a specific beginning and ending. Open-ended groups, on the other hand, can continue for an indefinite time. There is some confusion about these concepts, as frequently closed membership groups are also close-ended and open groups are more likely to be open-ended. Nevertheless, despite this close association, time limits and membership limits are independent of each other and can vary. There are benefits and drawbacks to both of group membership, depending on the nature and purpose of the group.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Organizations as Groups

Abstract
The established definition of a group is three or more people who are connected and interdependent, usually to accomplish a shared purpose. This definition helps to distinguish a group from other collective nouns for people, such as a crowd. If we apply this same reasoning to the question of whether or not an organization can be a group, the answer is a conditional yes. In small organizations a collection of people will know each other, share a purpose and be interdependent on one another to accomplish their work. Large organizations, however, cannot technically be classified as a group because the criterion for members knowing each other is unlikely to be satisfied. However, these large organizations are usually composed of teams and other smaller groupings that constitute a group. It can be useful, then, to see the ‘groupness’ in small and large organizations (Longres, 2000).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Outcomes

Abstract
Outcomes have become increasingly important in all branches of the human services; yet, despite this near obsession, outcomes are often confused with processes, inputs, outputs and impact.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

P

Personal Development Groups

Abstract
There are many types of personal development group, such as training (T-groups) and encounter groups (Jones, 1972). The sensitivity training group movements are not as prominent and this has led to a narrower definition of personal development groups; they are groups with the explicit purpose of increasing self-knowledge through interactions with others in a small group. The emphasis is on giving and receiving honest and empathic feedback with a focus on the here and now and group processes (Berg, Landreth and Fall, 2013; Young et al., 2013). These groups are frequently used in educational programmes for the helping professions, especially in counselling and psychotherapy, with the recognition that the professional (counsellor, psychologist, social worker, etc.) is a person first. Who the person is within the professional has a profound impact on the helping relationship; good practice, therefore, requires the development of in-depth personal understanding through personal development groups that are integrated into the curricula of professional training programmes.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Planning and Preparation

Abstract
There are some well-established models for planning and preparation, such as the FAAST model (Focus, Aim, Activities, Structure and Techniques), which provides a chronology for planning group sessions (Westergaard, 2009). In this entry, we will consider the general principles of planning and preparing for groups and offer some advice regarding the practicalities.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Populations

Abstract
A population is yet another word for a group of people — in this case, a group defined by a category of specific characteristics. This might be geographical (the Scottish population) or along lines that are socially constructed, such as class, race, gender and sexuality (the working-class population, the black and gay communities). In social group-work, ‘populations’ are generally defined at another level of detail. For example, a group created for women with severe and enduring mental health problems is at the intersection of two populations: women and people with certain kinds ofmental health problems. Most ofthe populations served by social groupwork are marginalized and in vulnerable situations, experiencing some form of oppression and discrimination and generally less powerful than the majority populations. Groupwork frequently exposes and develops the resilience of these populations.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Power

Abstract
Power is the ability to control and influence ideas, resources and, indeed, other people. It is also a quality that people possess in relation to themselves, the ability to control their own lives and actions. As every group is, in some respects, a microcosm of its wider society, the social constructions of power in that society are present in the group. In addition to these broader social meanings, group dynamics can be understood through a framework of power. Theories of group development suggest that groups encounter issues of authority, between group members and also between the members and the group l eadership. In some groups, for example involuntary groups where members are required to attend the group (perhaps via a court order), the authority theme is explicit and usually present from the start of the group; in other groups, questions about who is in control of the group’s processes and group direction might be much more implicit and suppressed and require the group’s leader to bring into the open. Sometimes this power hierarchy is referred to as the ‘pecking order’ in groups (Bennis and Sheppard, 1956; Bion, 1959).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Problem-Solving

Abstract
Problem-solving is a method by which problems are carefully identified and analysed, and strategies are developed to address the problem, with the intention of solving it or, at least, alleviating it. This method can be used with individuals, with groups or with individuals in groups (Marsh and Doel, 2005). As a group-work method it goes further than working with a set of individuals in a group. Sometimes the problem will be one that is shared by everybody in the group and experienced by them in the same way (such as a group formed to combat the problem of a neglectful landlord); at other times the problem will have a common name (such as alcoholism) though it might be experienced as a problem in different ways by each individual in the group and each might take a different course of action to overcome it, using the group as a source of strength.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Process

Abstract
Group process and group dynamics are often used interchangeably. However, process is a slightly broader term that includes group dynamics. Its meaning, as defined in the Oxford English Dictionary, has over ten variations. These definitions include: concepts such as a succession or order of things (e.g. stages or steps); everything that occurs during those stages (e.g. the patterns of behaviour); a series of actions occurring in a purposeful way (e.g. actions that can be mapped using a flow chart); and the interactions between groups and the wider society. In groupwork, process includes some of all these definitions, perhaps best summed up as all the interactions, procedures and forces that have an impact on the individuals and the group as a whole (Theodoratou-Bekou, 2008).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Purpose

Abstract
The notion of purpose is linked closely to that of accountability. Knowing the purpose ofa group helps everybody involved to account for the group. These purposes might be ‘soft’ or ‘hard’: an example of the former is a support group for displaced persons where there is no expected outcome at the end of the group, just the hope that they have felt comforted by the group; an example of the latter is a group for young offenders with the express purpose of preventing re-offending.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

R

Race

Abstract
Race is a socially constructed and culturally transmitted concept, and one that is highly contested. It is beyond the scope of this A–Z entry to explore the nuances of this social construction and cultural transmission (please follow up citations in the text and further reading), suffice to note that individuals are quickly socialized into a particular racial grouping, depending on the particular social constructions in use in their time and place. People quickly understand their ‘place’ in society, as racial classifications in particular have a profound impact on access to goods, services and resources. These social stratifications also greatly influence the formation of individual and group identity, as well as relationships among people in any society (Germain and Bloom, 1999; Longres, 2000; Machery and Faucher, 2005).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Recording and Documentation

Abstract
Recording is rarely seen as a glamorous activity, but it is an important and potentially rewarding aspect of groupwork. It should be a feature from the start of the group, not an afterthought. The methods that will be used to record the group need to be decided early and agreed with group members. Group sessions should be documented as soon as possible after their conclusion.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Recreation Groups

Abstract
The influence of recreation on the development of groupwork has a long history. The settlements, camping movement, scouts, YMCA, YWCA and adult progressive education all saw the small group as a vehicle for growth and change through recreation, among other activities. Growth and change were not just the domain of ‘talking therapies’, rather active doing was seen as important, both as a means and as an end. Recreation continues to be a significant methodology in groupwork practice today.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Reflection and Groupwork

Abstract
The idea of reflection was popularized by Donald Schön in the 1980s. He theorized that the kinds of rules that might help engineers build a bridge (technical and rational) are less useful in more complex social situations, such as groupwork. Schön differentiated between reflection-on-action and reflection-in-action. In groupwork terms, the former is central to the debriefing that is important after a group session, and the latter is characterized by the internal dialogue a facilitator has during a group session. The difficulties of reflecting whilst in the midst of the action is one of the potential benefits of co-working, when one of the leaders can attend to the here and now and the other can reflect on how to explain what is happening at a process level (for instance, that there is sub-grouping, and reflection on whether this is beneficial or harmful to the group.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Research Using Groups

Abstract
Group life is a common feature of human existence so it is reasonable to consider the group as a possible context for activities such as research (Swift, 1996). Research might best be conducted in groups for these reasons:
  • The population being researched feels most natural in a group (Walmsley, 1990); for instance, the teenage tendency to spend time in small groups suggests that a more accurate picture will be drawn if teenagers are studied in their groups rather than (or as well as) individually (France, 1996).
  • The people under study are living in groups, such as people in residential institutions, so research conducted at the group level is congruent with their everyday experience.
  • A group is an opportunity to bring people together with a wide range of experience, in the hope that this will provide richer data than individual research interviews. In a group setting, techniques such as brainstorming can generate more ideas more quickly.
  • A group is an opportunity for researchers to test out hypotheses with different people and to observe how people respond to other people’s views and reactions through group discussion.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Researching Groups

Abstract
The notion that human beings are not solitary beings and are attracted to group life was advanced long ago by Plato and Aristotle; however, methods of scientific enquiry to understand and theorize about groups began only a century or so ago with the development of the social sciences. The history of the study of groups and group-work (both social groupwork and large group behaviour in mobs, crowds and mass movements) is relatively modern.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Residential Groups

Abstract
Residential services can be considered as ‘twenty-four hour groups’ — the residential milieu as a special type of group. Young people in a group home for young people who are ‘looked after’ are likely to share many experiences, such as having biological parents whose rights were terminated, experiences perhaps of foster care placements that broke down, problems with broken education, and uncertainty about the coming transition to life beyond care. They will need to learn to live together as a surrogate family, to develop life skills, prepare for the world of work or further education, cope with the emotional hurts and damage caused by their chaotic upbringings, as well as managing a care system that has possibly failed them at key points in their lives.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Resources

Abstract
There are two kinds of resources, those external to the group and those internal to it. The external resources needed for successful groupwork are:
Skills and time are probably the most significant resources. Groupwork skill is a valuable resource that agencies should cultivate — it transfers to skills in teamwork. Individual practitioners who undertake groupwork training as part of their continuing professional development are a resource to help develop a groupwork service for the agency, not just to lead individual groups.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Roles

Abstract
Role is defined as a ‘person’s allotted share, part, or duty in life and society; the character, place or status assigned to or assumed by a person’ or a ‘function performed by someone or something in a particular situation or process’ (Oxford English Dictionary). These definitions provide several important insights into the meaning of ‘role’ in group dynamics.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

S

Selection

Abstract
The first step in selecting for group membership is to ask what are the purposes for which a group is appropriate, as opposed to individual or family work. Once the idea of a group has been justified, the next step is to reach out to an appropriate membership and possibly offer the groupwork service individually (Doel and Sawdon, 1999).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Self-Help Groups

Abstract
Self-help groups are widespread and popular. They include groups set up for a very wide range oflife conditions or stressful transitions — from micro-credit to consciousness rising to pain support groups. The best-known self-help groups are the 12-step programmes such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Narcotics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous. Despite this widespread popularity, there is still confusion between self-help groups, support groups, therapy groups and self-directed groupwork.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Sessions

Abstract
Session is the term usually given to each individual meeting of a group. In the planning and preparation stage one of the decisions to be made is the number of group sessions. In off-the-shelf packages, sometimes called manualized groups, this number is almost always fixed (according to the curriculum for the group), whilst in groups where the groupworkers are creating the group structure themselves, the decision rests with them. In many groups, the number of sessions might be provisional and a final decision is taken by the group itself. Groups that are open-ended do not have a predetermined final session, but they nevertheless have sessions, i.e. times when the group comes together.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Setting

Abstract
The setting in which any experience occurs shapes and influences that experience. Space has cultural meanings and expresses more than just a physical location. A school building, its classroom and the children’s chairs hold associations for adults (pleasant or not) that would inevitably colour any group that met there. The space and setting tells group members about the values of the group and how the group is valued by the larger community. The physical context for a group — whether it is in the community, outdoors, in an institution or a medical or educational setting — has a profound impact on the group.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Silence

Abstract
Perhaps no single topic grips the groupwork literature more than silence. There is no bad fantasy (other than violent conflict) that haunts the groupworker more than silence when anticipating a group session. Why is this the case?
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Size

Abstract
Does size matter? Definitional boundaries are far from straightforward; anything from a threesome to a large crowd can be described as a group. So, what is the ‘groupness’ that connects them all and does the number in the group affect the properties of that group?
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Skills

Abstract
A skill can be defined as knowledge in action. By this we mean doing something specific based on explicit knowledge. Skills are actions that can be learned and rehearsed through practice and these actions might be verbal or non-verbal. In a groupwork context, a skill is a purposive action by the groupworker with the intention of influencing group process or the behaviour of individuals in the group. For example, a group member is asked to repeat a question to the group rather than to the groupworker (the skill of redirecting). This action may be based on the groupworker’s knowledge that member-to-member interaction builds and strengthens relationships, or it might stem from their experience of this effect or be an intuitive understanding that this helps group process.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Social Action

Abstract
Social action emerged in the 1970s, especially in the field of juvenile justice and work with young offenders, though it has shown its transferability to other fields of groupwork practice, such as health, education and active citizenship. Social action challenged the orthodox view that juvenile crime is attributable to individual pathology or the breakdown of social norms and developed an action-centred community work approach in contrast to the prevalent social education approach.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Structure

Abstract
In engineering, structure refers to physical objects assembled in such a way as to be able to carry a load. Similarly, in groupwork, structure refers to the elements that need to come together in order to support the group. Many of these are described in detail in separate A–Z entries, but here we collect them together in a brief overview. Decisions about the structure of the group should be made during the planning and preparation phase of work. However, issues of structure continue to influence the functioning of the group across its course, and need to be reviewed and adapted to best support the group.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Sub-Groups

Abstract
A sub-group is a group within a group. Usually it is a small grouping of people whose loyalties, interests and sense of belonging are strong, and sometimes stronger than their commitment to the group as a whole. Members of a sub-group might share characteristics that are notably different from the rest of the group, such as a sub-group of men in a group where the majority are women, a minority ethnic sub-group, or a sub-group of shy, silent people. A sub-group might consist of just a pairing or a trio, but it might be larger. The group might be constituted of readymade sub-groups, such as a group for sibling or family groups.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Supervision of Groupwork

Abstract
Supervision is an essential element in continuing professional development and is made up of four different but related functions: support, education, management and, in some cases, assessment. It is an opportunity to discuss any difficulties in groups so that the group-worker can be supported through these and guided towards appropriate action. Supervision sessions are also opportunities to celebrate good practice and the group’s achievements (Turkie, 1992).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Support Groups

Abstract
In general, support groups provide social assistance for people who are isolated and, for whatever reason, do not have access to their own personal support systems. Support groups can provide professional support, too, such as workers in various multi-professional teams who join together in a same-profession support group.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

T

Taboos

Abstract
A taboo is a topic, activity or behaviour that is prohibited by custom, rule or social pressure. Taboo subjects in many cultures include sexuality, death, certain illnesses, discussion of topics such as religion, open expression of feelings, challenging authority or seeming to act above your station. Group members bring the values, norms and customs (including taboos) of their family and social groups with them, and sometimes a taboo can strongly interfere with the work of a group. For example, many groups are formed to help members deal with difficulties that are taboo in the wider society, and this makes them very difficult to broach. The strength of the taboo might even prevent some people from joining groups that could help them. For example, taboos around sex, drug use and HIV/AIDS can make it difficult for HIV positive people to join a support group; once joined, the taboo inhibits the group from discussion of the very topic that brings them together.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Tasks

Abstract
In groupwork, tasks refer to the actions, activities or work that must be accomplished by the worker and members so the group can develop and achieve its purposes. Some tasks are primarily the responsibility of the groupworker, others are that of the members, and yet others are shared. Though the tasks are important across the life of a group, some of the tasks take greater importance at different phases of work (Berman-Rossi, 1993).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Theories

Abstract
The main purpose of a theory, certainly in groupwork, is that it should be useful. It should organize knowledge and experience in ways that increase our understanding of what to do. As Kurt Lewin puts it so neatly, ‘There is nothing so practical as a good theory’.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Therapy Groups

Abstract
Groups are formed for many purposes. In this entry we consider the type known as therapy or psychotherapy groups (Corey, 2011; Zastrow, 2001). Therapy groups do not have a monopoly on therapeutic outcomes. Self-help groups, for example, can be very therapeutic for their members. Indeed, there is a sense in which any coming together of people around shared purposes or concerns has the potential for a therapeutic outcome — improved psychological well-being. However, these other types of groups do not have therapeutic outcomes as their primary purpose (Kurtz, 1997).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Time

Abstract
Time is a significant element of groups and groupwork. It is a seemingly simple concept with a surprisingly complex number of applications, which we will explore in this entry.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

V

Values

Abstract
Groupwork is a method practised by many different professions, encompassing many different beliefs about how and why groups can and should be used. Moreover, there are numerous models and methods of groupwork. It is, then, a very broad church and any attempt to define the groupwork values is challenging but not impossible.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

Virtual Groups

Abstract
In the early days of personal computing, technologically minded people with shared interests formed special interests groups and communicated through bulletin boards or used Internet Relay Chat (IRC). These activities were primarily the domain of the early adopters of interactive computer technology (ICT). Since then the world has been transformed and there is a wide range of technology to facilitate online groups and possible to find virtual groups related to any hobby, leisure activity, social cause, personal problem, health condition or interest. This burgeoning of online groups has been increasingly researched (Kelly et al., 2006).
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly

W

Work Groups

Abstract
Not all groups are naturally occurring. Some are formed for a specified purpose — to complete a range of tasks or to accomplish a particular piece of work. These work groups or working groups are often formed within a single organization, though they can also reach across to other interest groups, such as clubs, residential associations and the like. A key feature of these work groups is that they are focused on an agreed outcome and they are time-limited, so there is a deadline for the work. What draws group members together is the interest in the work or necessity of the tasks that they must accomplish — and the fact that this can best be achieved by a group rather than a set of individuals. In short, a team is formed. We suggest the equation: teamwork = groupwork.
Mark Doel, Timothy B. Kelly
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