Term Paper: Group Dynamics

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Group Dynamics

The objective of this study is to analyze the dynamics of a 3-person task group and integrate the idea of group structure and group interaction. Included will ideas from the social work field and discuss and each of them and professional roles and boundaries will be described as well as professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and communication. The issue of sufficient self-awareness to eliminate the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse groups will also be addressed as will engagement of individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Additionally addressed will be assessment and interventions.

It is reported that a group may range in size from two to thousands of individuals and that "very small collectives" referred to as dyads may include two members and triads include three members. The size of a group is reported to have a direct influence on the nature of the group. For example the smaller groups tend to be in possession of "many unique characteristics because it includes so few members." (Forsythe, 2006, p.5) The definition of the word group is reported to vary however, "many stress one key consideration: relationships among the members." (Forsythe, 2006, p.5) Therefore, a group is reported to be a collection of individuals who have relations to one another." (Forsythe, 2006, p.5)

Ethics Standards

The National Association of Social Workers ethical standards state that clinical social workers are required to demonstrate "specialized knowledge and skills for effective clinical intervention with individuals, families, and groups. As well, clinical social workers are required to demonstrate "culturally competent service delivery." (2005, p.5) The clinical social worker must have the ability to "establish and maintain a relationship of mutual respect, acceptance and trust" and to "gather and interpret social, personal, environmental and health information." (National Association of Social Workers, 2005, p.5) In addition, clinical social workers must be able to "evaluate and treat problems within their scope of practice" and "establish achievable treatment goals with the client." (National Association of Social Workers, 2005, p.5) According to the NASW, clinical social workers must necessarily "raise their awareness and appreciation of cultural differences" in the present characterized by an increase in the diversity of the population that is seeking services" this includes the need for clinical social workers to have a good understanding of group dynamics. (National Association of Social Workers, 2005, p.6)

Social Work Practice and Group Work

Social work practice with groups is reported to build "on the important impact of groups on individuals and utilizes group processes to accomplish individual and group goals." (Renegasamy, nd, p.4) Group work is a method "by which the group worker enables various types of groups to function in such a way that both group interaction and program activities contribute to the growth of the individual and the achievement of desirable social goals." (Association for the Advancement of Group Work, 1948 cited in: Renegasamy, nd, p. 8) Baloopal and Vassilli (1983) stated that group work "includes both improving the normal functioning and neutralizing the abnormal functioning of individuals." (cited in Renegasamy, nd, p. 8) Rengasamy states that Group Work has as its focus the process "of working with groups, group members may undertake particular tasks and become environments where members can share in a common life, form beneficial relationships and help each other." (nd, p.9) The group worker who is skilled is able to "draw upon an extensive repertoire of understanding, experiences, and skills and be able to think on their feet. They have to respond both quickly and sensitively to what is emerging in the exchanges and relationships in the groups they are working with." (Renegasamy, nd, p. 9)

It is reported that the "mutual aid processes that unfold in a group context" assist the members of the group: (1) to experience their concerns and life issues as universal; (2) to reduce isolation and stigma; (3) to offer and receive assistance from one another; and (4) gain knowledge from the views, suggestions and challenges of one another. (Renegasamy, nd, p. 10) The values of group work are respect for the individuals and their autonomy and the creation of a society that is socially just. (Renegasamy, nd, p. 10)

Social work educators are reported to have emphasized the following humanistic values: (1) individuals are of inherent worth; (2) individuals are responsible for one another; and (3) individuals have the right to experience mental health resulting from social and political conditions that support the individuals' fulfillment. (Renegasamy, nd, p.10) Specifications of group work that are reported to be distinct from those of the other methods utilized by social work include that group work utilizes multiple relationships and a multi-person process. As well, the group is reported to be "an instrument for meeting basic needs and strengthening human capacities." (Renegasamy, nd, p.10) Finally, the group has unique characteristics and use of program media including such as "play, discussion, arts and crafts, dance, music, drama, role play, outings, and parties, which facilitate mastery of skills and serve as a vehicle for fostering human relationships." (Renegasamy, nd, p.10) Program activities are reported to "offer scope for utilization of non-verbal communication" and group membership, the influence of the group, activity participation, and role acquisition are potent effects for the individuals who participate in the group. (Renegasamy, nd, paraphrased)

The primary characteristics of group work include that group work is "practiced by the group itself" and that it is "based on humanitarian philosophy." (Renegasamy, nd, p.11) Group work provides the aspiration to assist one another and makes provision of more skill and information. (Renegasamy, nd, paraphrased) Group work is reported to develop human personality as well. Social group work is defined as an "orderly, systematic plan, way of working with people in groups." (Renegasamy, nd, p. 11)

The knowledge base for Social group work include: (1) knowledge about the nature of individual human growth and behavior; (2) knowledge about the familial, social, political and cultural contexts that influence the social identities, interaction styles, concerns, opportunities and the attainment of potentials of group members; (3) knowledge about the capacity of members to assist one another and to change and contribute to social change in the community; (4) knowledge about the protective and risk factors that affect individuals' needs for services and their ability to act; and (5) knowledge about how to appreciate and understand differences due to culture, ethnicity, gender, age, physical and mental abilities and sexual orientation among members that may influence group life and group work practice. (Renegasamy, nd, p.27)

Engagement, Assessment and Intervention

Professional practice is reported to be inclusive of the "dynamic and interactive processes of engagement, assessment and intervention" as well as evaluation at multiple levels. (School of Social Work, Texas State University -- San Marcos, 2011, p. 6) Practice knowledge is reported to include "identifying, analyzing, and implementing evidence-based interventions designed to achieve client goals; using research and technological advances, evaluating program outcomes and practice effectiveness, developing, analyzing and advocating and providing leadership for policies and services, and promoting social and economic justice." (School of Social Work, Texas State University -- San Marcos, 2011, p. 6) It is reported that the practice behaviors that serve to "operationalize competency" include those of: (1) collecting, organizing, and interpreting client data; (2) assessing client strengths and limitations; (3) developing mutually agreed upon intervention goals and objectives; and (4) selection of the most appropriate strategies for intervention. (School of Social Work, Texas State University -- San Marcos, 2011, p. 7)

The process of intervention includes the initiation of actions to achieve the goals of the organization and the implementation of prevention intervention that serves to enhance the capacities of clients as well as assisting the clients in problem resolution and negotiation, mediation and advocating for clients as well as facilitation of transitions and endings. (School of Social Work,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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