Nkechi Njoku Theory and Practice 11, 47-337 (01), Teacher Dr. Gallant

Nkechi Njoku Theory and Practice 11, 47-337 (01), Teacher Dr. Gallant


Nkechi Njoku Theory and Practice 11, 47-337 (01), Teacher Dr. Gallant


Table of Contents


Purpose of Paper1

Relation of Group Work and Social Work2

Style of Leadership3

Keys to successful leadership3


Theoretical Group Models5

Use of key models5

Combination of models6


Keys to successful co-leadership8

Tactics for co-leading group members9

Group Focus11

Group discussions and suggestion11

Analysis of discussion and members’ contributions13

Group Work Stages20

Initial Stage20

Transition Stage23

Working Stage25



Videotaped Session Transcript33


Reference 45


Everybody has to deal with groups in their lives, and much of our success and happiness in life depends on how we deal with these groups. During our life, while a member of society we will need to be part of different groups for numerous reasons. Group and team work is seen widely in the social work field, but it is also being seen in many other fields of employment as an efficient way of working through problems. “The use of teams has expanded dramatically in response to competitive challenges. For example, 82% of companies with 100 or more employees reported that they use teams (Gordon, 1992). Sixty-eight percent of Fortune 1000 companies reported that they used self-managing work teams and 91% reported that they used employee participation groups in 1993 compared to 28% and 70% respectively in 1987 (Lawler, Mohrman, & Ledford, 1995). In examining data on 56,000 U.S. production workers, Capelli and Rogovsky (1994) found that one of the most common skills required by a new worker practices is the ability to work as a team (pg 24). Academics have increasingly selected teams and team effectiveness as important areas for research in response to the increased use of teams in organizations” (Cohen, Bailey, 1997, p.1) Belonging to a group provides structure, and opportunities to build relationships and communicate with others with similar concerns. Groups are a part of our culture. We may experience groups, in our community, schools and places of work, as well as in churches or clubs we belong to.

My paper will review the group process in its entirety, including the roles of effective leaders, co-leaders, and members at various stages of the practice. Also, I hope to further explore the activities and group work processes that happened during our videotape social work session, with the group we group established in class. It is hoped that this paper illustrates and give insight how the group process works, and what experience was gained. Through this paper I hope to improve the understanding of the group process, by exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the group and the members, and to learn from the experience of the videotapes session.

It is essential that social workers have a good solid understanding and knowledge base of the group process. It is also important that the social worker have practice and experience and the skills necessary to lead or co-lead a group with efficiency. Through the process of being part of group work and leading these groups in some capacity, the social worker will gain a higher level of comfort and confidence that a professional gains only when they are able to experience the work first hand. The success of a social worker will many times increase when they are more confident and comfortable, and in turn they will be more effective and inspire more confidence and hope in their clients and co-workers. In many cases working in a group can be more effective and more desirable than a single social worker working on their own. Group work involves focusing on the good of the group, and also the good of each member. “Thus, workers focus on the group as a whole as well as on individual members” (Toseland, 2001. p.50).

There are built in supports and advantages to having a group to discuss issues with and gain from other member’s views and experience. Working in a group is sometimes helpful when addressing client needs. A group of clients can see that there are others with similar problems and concerns, and they need not feel like they are alone in dealing with their adversity. This kind of support puts the clients at an advantage, because when clients see others who are willing to talk about and deal with similar problems, they are more likely to open up themselves to talking about their concerns and ways to improve their situation. This type of group work also helps the social worker, and their ability to help the members. Social workers can utilize the different members of the group to address the different the ways they feel and how they deal with their problems. This may help the worker gain insight into the feelings of others who may not talk up in groups, and it may encourage other members to participate in the session, where they may not have if they were alone. If social worker is an effective leader or co-leader, they will help to bring people together to discuss and work towards common goals, and encourage honest discussion, sharing, and members providing support for one another.

Style of Leadership

The style of leadership a social worker exhibits may depend on many factors, and the situations they are in. “The goal of effective leadership is to meet the socio-emotional needs of members and to help the group as a whole , and each of its members, achieve goals that are consistent with the value base of social work practice” (Toseland, 2001, p.96). The type of leadership will greatly depend on the type of person the leader is. A social worker brings their own views, opinions, beliefs and personality with them when they are dealing with clients in a group session. The leader must be careful not to influence members too much with their own views and opinions, but instead use their social work skills to determine the views, strengths and weaknesses of the members. A good leader will try to get the members to utilize their natural strengths and skills they have, while at the same time, trying to work on their weaknesses, and not letting those weaknesses prevent them from facing their concerns and working towards a positive solution.

The behavior and reaction of the group members and how the social worker interacts with the members will be the determining factors of what skills the leader will use and what type of leadership style they will incorporate. In order to lead effectively, a social worker must be able to change their tactics and leadership style based on how the group members act and what the social worker perceives they need. The leader must use their social work skills and experience to determine what the strengths and weakness of the members are, and what the group as a whole is capable of. A social worker must often deal with clients of different backgrounds, beliefs and customs. It is important that a social worker be sensitive to the difference in their clients. Social workers must also be familiar with the cultures, beliefs, and traditions of these people of different backgrounds. The leader must not assume that clients will act and react similarly to similar situations, but instead they must strive to understand, and empathize with these people, while at the same time making sure they feel comfortable in the group setting, and encouraging the others to accept them as well.

A leader must work beyond their ideas about other cultures and what their opinions of these people’s differences that the leader may not agree with. A social worker must work towards cultural competence. This cultural competence will have to be developed over time by dealing with people of different cultures and observing how they act and what their cultural views are. When a social worker makes an effort to talk with and work with people of different backgrounds other than their own, they are allowing themselves to learn more about other cultures. With this practice the workers are broadening their horizons and allowing themselves to see how others view issues differently than the social worker may. Learning about these differences and accepting them will be a good experience in becoming more culturally sensitive and ultimately becoming culturally competent. When this is accomplished, the social worker will be more valuable because they will be able to understand and empathize with clients of many different backgrounds, and that will help them to be more useful as a social worker.

“Effective group leaders recognize and understand their own stereotypes and perceived notions about other racial and ethnic groups. They do not allow their personal biases, values, or problems to interfere with their ability to work with clients who are culturally different from them. They are aware of how their own cultural background and experiences have influenced attitudes, values and biases about what constitutes psychologically healthy individuals. They are able to identify and understand the central cultural constructs of the members of their groups, and they avoid applying their own cultural constructs inappropriately with these group members” (Corey, Corey, 2002, p.42).

Theoretical Group Models

There are many significant models used in current social work group practice. These models include Reciprocal Model, Social Goals Model and the Remedial Model. Even though each model has its benefits and is useful in certain situations, it is not a good practice for a social worker to rely on only one model. These models are more efficiently used when the social worker understands each model. By having an understanding of all these models, the worker will be able to determine which model fits the case and clients they are working with. It is also useful for social workers to use a combination of these models that will lead to the most successful outcome.

The leader must use their social works skills to utilize parts of an appropriate model that will most benefit the group members. The social goals model includes the use of a role model. If the group situation calls for this, the leader may place herself as the role model. In cases where group members are acting out with anger or otherwise inappropriately, the leader could use her own behavior and reactions to show the clients that they have the ability to act in a calm reasonable manner as the leader is doing. The reciprocal model uses actions done for one another to reinforce the strengths of the group, and to promote a support system among members with similar concerns. In the reciprocal model the leader could recommend a course of action where the members would help each other with emotional and active support in trying to rehabilitate them, and strive towards normal, healthy actions and lifestyles.

An integrative approach of utilizing aspects of multiple models is a useful practice and when a social worker uses their skills and base knowledge to do so, they can create a good model of actions that will increase the efficiency of the group work that is being done. This use of different aspects is often referred to as an eclectic approach. The advantage to this eclectic approach is that the leader can be flexible. Instead of being limited to the actions and suggestion of one model, which may not match all the members and their needs, a leader can choose parts of the models that they determine will be most likely to help the clients.

Leaders must constantly adjust themselves to the behavior and needs of the group as they present themselves. This is why it is so important that the social worker has the skills that are needed to deal with many situations. The leader must gauge the group, and what they need from a leader and then practice the skills that will help most in assisting the group members. The leader must not only be able to use their skills proficiently, but they must also be able to judge what the best skills are to use that will fit the group and the situations. A successful leader is one who can mange their skills and use the correct ones to the optimal benefit of their group members. The leader must combine the understanding of their own abilities with the understanding of the group and its members in order to be effective.

The skills needed by a leader include, gathering information, assessing a group and their situation, and focusing the group on what is important and what needs to be done. Facilitative skills are also important to make sure that the communication between members and with the leader are open, honest, and forwarding the discussion towards understanding and a natural solution. Gathering information and assessment are essential skills in understanding a group, what their concerns are, and what they need. These skills are necessary in order for the leader to help the co- leader to organize the group and come up with a plan of action to be taken based on the group’s needs and what needs are most important. Actions skills are utilized to help a group take an active approach to accomplishing their goals. This may include assisting the group in taking a survey or accompanying them on actions to improve their community. In this case, action skills involve taking the planning and recommendations to the natural next step, by actually trying to act out and make a positive change to the situation. Focusing skills should also be used by the leader to see that the group members pay attention to the most important aspects of their concerns and work towards improving the areas most in need of improvement.

“Group members carry on a complex interpersonal process, acting, making decisions, and doing a variety of other things. The group worker does indeed seek to influence the group’s process, but does so within the framework if an ongoing series of social events that have their own viability and rhythm” (Ephross, Balgopal, 1978, p.43).


Co-leadership is an effective model for group work because it uses two leaders and makes the work, assessment and management of the group more manageable. The leader and the co-leader can work together to focus the group on the right topics, and to make sure all the ground is covered that needs to be covered during the sessions. The co-leader works to support the leader and their authority while also supporting the group and the group’s objective. When the leader needs help focusing the members on what is important, or needs to clarify an idea to the group, the co-leader can assist and give a different perspective on things. The co-leader also gives the leader another viewpoint of the group and how things are progressing. If the leader misses an important point or is focusing on one member at a certain time, the co-leader can point out something else important or the thing the leader might have overlooked. In addition, if the leader and co-leader come from different theoretical perspectives, their different viewpoints can compliment each other. This can lead to a more accurate assessment of the group since their situation is not being looked at from one perspective. These different views and ideas may lead to a more thorough examination of the group’s concerns and increase the likelihood of a solution to the problem. Benefits of a co-leaders includes “…role modeling, stimulating group dynamics, group management, professional development and mutual support” (Cohen, DeLois, 2001, p.22).

Group work with a leader and a co-leader can have drawbacks as well. If the leader and co-leader do not work well together or are not used to how each other operates, there may be conflicts between the two. Difference of opinion can cause a lack of focus in the group, and may lead to disagreements on how to handle the group’s concerns and what action to take. The group may also sense a difference of views between the leader and co-leader, and this could make them lose confidence in the group process or the ability of the group to be effective. In this way the leader and co-leader are betraying their clients trust by putting their personal agendas above the good of the group. So, it is important that the leader and co-leader be chosen carefully so that they can work together successful, and that their views are not so far apart that they cannot lead together without arguing.

In order for co-leadership to be successful, the leader and the co-leader must be on the same page. There must be agreement between the leader and co-leader. It does not have to be 100% agreement, but they must agree on what is going to be overall good for the group, and somewhat on how to handle the group. Their should be some agreement on what concerns they should focus on, so that the leaders and the group members have a general idea of the objective and what is really important for them to accomplish with this group. A harmony between the leader and co-leader and also between the leaders and the members is necessary to have the best chance at giving the group a good chance at achieving their goals.