ASSUMPTIONS UNDERLYING SOCIAL GROUP WORK
It is accepted that the group attempts to achieve its goals through the interaction of its members. So the basic assumption is that the group organized for a given purpose attempts to achieve this purpose by employing their members to the best possible use. There are many factors that can influence the interaction of the members of a group. These factors may be the liking of members of each other, availability of direction, resources available, etc. A group in which members dislike one another tends to perform less effectively their roles than a group whose members are on friendly terms.
Douglas has drawn up a list of the basic assumptions upon which group work practice is based. These assumptions are:
- That group experience is universal and an essential part of human existence.
- That group can be used to effect changes in the attitudes and behavior of individuals.
- That group provides experiences that can be monitored or selected in some way for beneficial ends. Life outside the group is in no way neglected, it tends to be put out of focus.
- That group offers experiences shared with others so that all can come to have something in common with the sense of belonging and of growing together.
- That groups produce change that is more permanent than can be achieved by other methods and the change is obtained more quickly also.
- That groups assist in the removal or diminution of difficulties created by previous exposure to the process of learning.
- That groups as instruments of helping others may be economical in the use of scarce resources. e.g., skilled workers, time, etc.
- That a group can examine its own behavior and in so doing learn about the general patterns of group behavior.
In general, social group work is based on the following basic assumptions:
- Man is a group animal.
- Social interaction is the result of group life.
- Man’s achievements can be increased, changed, and developed through group experiences.
- The capacity to solve problems may be increased through group experiences.
- Group experience changes the level of individual aspirations and desires.
- Group recreational activities are beneficial to both individuals and society.
- Group experience has a permanent impact on individuals.
- Group work always focuses its attention on two types of activities: program and social relationships in the group.
- Professional knowledge and skills are essential for working with the group.
- Knowledge of social science is required to deal with the group.
Social group work is an approach used by social workers and other professionals to help individuals within a group setting. Several assumptions underlie social group work, and these assumptions guide the practice of group work. Here are some of the key assumptions:
Mutual Aid and Support
Social group work assumes that individuals can provide support and assistance to each other. It is based on the idea that group members can help each other solve problems, cope with challenges, and achieve their goals. The group provides a platform for mutual aid and support.
Group work assumes that social interaction is essential for personal growth and development. Through interaction with others, individuals can gain new perspectives, learn from different experiences, and develop better social skills.
This assumption holds that many of the issues individuals face are normal reactions to life’s challenges. Group work aims to create a space where people can share their experiences and recognize that they are not alone in their struggles.
Social group work assumes that empowering individuals is a crucial goal. Group members are encouraged to take on active roles within the group and to make decisions that affect the group’s functioning. Empowerment is seen as a means to enhance individuals’ self-esteem and self-efficacy.
Social Systems Perspective
Group work often considers the broader social context and systems that impact individuals. Understanding how societal and environmental factors affect an individual’s well-being is an important aspect of social group work.
Equality and Inclusivity
Social group work is typically guided by principles of equality and inclusivity. It aims to create a safe and respectful environment where all group members have an equal voice and opportunities to participate.
This assumption recognizes that individuals go through various stages of development throughout their lives. Group work takes into account the developmental needs of group members and tailors interventions accordingly.
Problem-Solving and Goal-Oriented
Social group work assumes that groups can work together to identify problems and set goals for improvement. The group process often involves problem-solving techniques and action plans to address specific challenges.
Confidentiality is a fundamental assumption in group work. Group members trust that what is shared within the group remains confidential, which encourages open and honest communication.
Respect and Acceptance
Group work operates on the belief that all individuals should be treated with respect and acceptance, regardless of their background, beliefs, or circumstances. This fosters an atmosphere of trust within the group.
Social group work recognizes the importance of cultural sensitivity and competence. Practitioners should be aware of and respect cultural differences within the group, promoting a culturally inclusive approach.
Empathy and Compassion
Practitioners are expected to demonstrate empathy and compassion towards group members. These qualities help create a supportive and caring environment within the group.
These assumptions serve as a foundation for social group work practice, guiding the methods and strategies used to facilitate positive change and growth in individuals within a group context. Social group work can be applied in a variety of settings, including schools, community centers, mental health facilities, and rehabilitation programs, among others.