Group work is an integral part of life, and in particular, an essential component of social work practice. Group work provides a myriad of benefits that individual work cannot provide, such as the synergy among members that group work provides over case work (Corey & Corey, 2006), and it is precisely why group work is applied in the social work setting.
Various theories affect how group work is practiced, affecting both group dynamics and the different stages of the group (Hepworth, 2013). In my paper, I will be sharing my experiences as a member of a group, focusing on the various stages, interaction patterns observed and my personal reflections on the entire process.
2. Group transition
Initial stage: Formation of group
The formation of our group was an abrupt process, a mishmash of people who are interested in helping the same target group, which in this case was for schooling youths. The six of us came together as strangers to this project, signing up based on a mutual interest in helping schooling youths. At this stage, the objective of our group was to foster accomplishment of identified work goals (Hepworth, 2013), which was to meet the needs of youths facing esteem issues.
Broadly defined, a task group is the formation of a group to work on a single defined task or activity (Corey & Corey, 2006). In a task group, members are assumed to have various expertise on the subject matter, ranging from a diversity of skillsets. Our group comprised members who possessed an assortment of skills, with some gifted in linguistic ability, to others who excelled at concise summarizing and critical questioning skills which greatly aided our workflow. However, given a cohesive lack of trust and an initial degree of awkwardness between members who barely knew each other at this stage, it was difficult for us to get work done efficiently at the start.
Transition Stage: Conflict resolution
Initially, as the group started to work on the task at hand, it was inevitable that some unfamiliarity and silence precipitated the sessions. At this stage, members would be unwilling to share or have some sense of animosity towards each other, a trademark of this stage (Hepworth, 2013). There were times when awkwardness set in as we had a lack of common topics to talk about, which gave rise to uncomfortable pauses In addition, other troubling issues arose, such as our conflicting schedules, which created even more confusion as we started to work on our project,.
Groups at this stage are navigating through formation of bonds, building trusts and focusing on current issues (Toseland & Rivas, 1984). Being the only male in the group, I had to seek ways to form bonds with my groupmates, establishing communication pathways in order for the group to function well. Only through a constant effort on everyone’s part did I slowly become attune with the group’s communication pattern, an acclimatization which facilitated our transition to the next stage.
Having gained a closer working relationship after forging closer bonds, a trademark of moving into the working stage (Toseland & Rivas, 1984), our group managed to work more efficiently and productively. With a greater understanding of each others’ working habits, we proceeded on to churn out the paper at a far smoother pace. Delegation of work was much more efficient, as we were more comfortable in taking on our various jobscopes all for the common cause of designing the programme for the project.
In addition, members now were more poised to confront each other about potential conflicts on the issue at hand (Corey & Corey, 2006). For example, discrepant ideas on which parts to include for the paper were aired openly, whereas prior to this everyone shyed away from direct confrontation of differing views. This can be perceived as a willingness to trust and take risks among members, as the level of cohesion and trust between members...
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Corey, M. S., & Corey, G. (2006). Groups: process and practice. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Brooks/Cole.
Doel, M., & Sawdon, C. (1999). The essential groupworker: teaching and learning creative groupwork. London; Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Hepworth, D. H. (2013). Direct social work practice: theory and skills. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.
McNicoll, P. (2010). Social Work with Groups. Social Work With Groups, 34(1), 96–97. doi:10.1080/01609513.2011.537194
Toseland, R. W., & Rivas, R. F. (1984). An introduction to group work practice. New York; London: Macmillan ; Collier Macmillan.
Zastrow, C. (2009). Social work with groups: a comprehensive workbook. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.
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