SKILLS OF SOCIAL GROUP WORK
In a general sense, skill means the capacity to perform activities. The Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “knowledge of and expertness in execution and performance”. Virginia Robinson refers to skill as “the capacity to set in motion and control a process of change in specific material in such a way that the change that takes place in the material is affected with the greatest degree of consideration for and utilization of the quality and capacity of the material”. Trecker defines methods and skill as “Methods means the purposeful use of insights and understanding based upon a body of knowledge and principles. Skill is the capacity to apply knowledge and understanding to a given situation.
Jekins has listed certain skills that are essential for a social group worker to become more productive in-group situations.
- Exchanging ideas among the members freely and clearly, using language understood by everyone and with no fears of starting arguments or hurting feelings.
- Examining objectively how well the group and its members are working.
- Sharing the leadership jobs among the group members and showing sensitivity to the feelings of all.
- Accepting new ideas and new members into the group without irreparable conflict, and disciplining the group to work toward long-range objectives and profit from failures.
- Thinking clearly about group problems, findings, causes, and working for solutions.
- Adjusting group procedures and plans to meet the feelings and desires of the members.
- Creating new jobs or committees as needed and terminating them or the group itself, when the need is fulfilled.
Phillips has enumerated the following skills of social group work.
I. Skill in Using Agency Functions
The group worker must be skillful in carrying out the functions of the agency. He should always try to propagate what the agency in the community wants to do. He does the following activities for this.
1. The Intake Process
The worker who meets the applicants while carrying out the agency’s procedures for intake will discuss with him what he/she particularly wants from the agency as well as what is available for him/her to consider both the privileges and responsibilities of agency membership.
2. Connecting the Group with the Agency
The worker relates the group more firmly to the agency by helping it to understand what the agency stands for and what kind of responsible behavior is expected of them as well as of other groups.
3. Serving the Individual through the Group Work Process
Since the function of the agency includes helping group units to develop in socially useful ways, as well as helping individuals the social worker’s attention must be on the development of the group as a whole and on each individual’s use of the group.
4. Working with the Individual Outside the Group of Meetings
Although the worker offers his services within the group process, he also provides help to the individual if need be for the better use of the group experience on the part of the member.
5. The Referral Process
An important part of the group work agency’s service is to work with members and their parents in the process of considering the use of other community services to help with problems that cannot be dealt with within the group work agency.
II. Skill in Communication of Feelings
The social group worker should have the following skills.
a. The Worker’s Feelings
High among the qualities essential to a social worker’s skill is the capacity to feel with others.
b. The Group Member’s Feelings
The worker must be skillful in helping the group members to know, accept, express, and be responsible for their feelings.
c. Group Feelings
The interaction of each member with the others and the worker produces group feelings. The worker helps the group understand their feelings and their meanings.
III. Skills in Using the Reality of the Present
Under this the social worker does two things.
- Utilizing the group’s current interest for purposeful activity.
- Helping the group to make responsible decisions.
IV. Skill in Stimulating and Using Group Relations
- The social group worker should enable each group member to find and take his part in relationships with other members.
- He should be skillful in using programs to strengthen group relations.
Trecker has listed the following basic skills of social group work.
I. Skill in Establishing Purposeful Relationship
- The group worker must be skillful in gaining the acceptance of the group and in relating himself to the group on a positive professional basis.
- The group worker must be skillful in helping individuals in the group to accept one another and to join with the group in common pursuits
II. Skill in Analyzing the Group Situation
- The worker must be skillful in judging the developmental level of the group to determine what the level is, what the group needs, and how quickly the group can be expected to move. This calls for skill in direct observation of groups on the basis of analysis and judgment.
- The group worker must be skillful in helping the group to express ideas, work out objectives, clarify immediate goals, and see both its potentialities and limitations as a group.
III. Skill in Participation with the Group
- The group worker must be skillful in determining, interpreting, assuming, and modifying his own roles within the group.
- The group worker must be skillful in helping, group members to participate, to locate leadership among themselves, and to take responsibility for their own activities.
IV. Skill in Dealing with Group Feelings
- The group worker must be skillful in controlling his own feelings about the group and must study each new situation with a high degree of objectivity.
- The group worker must be skillful in helping groups to release their own feelings, both positive and negative. He must be skillful in helping groups to analyze situations as part of working through group or intergroup conflicts.
V. Skill in Program Development
- The group worker must be skillful in guiding group thinking so that interests and needs will be revealed and understood.
- The group worker must be skillful in helping groups to develop programs, which they want as a means through which their needs may be met.
VI. Skill in Using Agency and Community Resources
- The group worker must be skillful in locating and then acquainting the group with various helpful resources that can be utilized by the members for program purposes.
- The group worker must be skillful in helping certain individual members to make use of specialized services by means of referrals that cannot be met within the group.
VII. Skill in Evaluation
- The group worker must have skill in recording the development processes that are going on as he works with the group.
- The group worker must be skillful in using his records and in helping the group to review its experiences as a means of improvement.
Social group work is a method of social work practice that involves working with groups of people to address various issues and challenges they may face. Social group work practitioners utilize a range of skills to facilitate group dynamics, promote cooperation, and achieve group goals. Here are some essential skills for social group work:
Effective communication is crucial in group work. Social group workers need to be able to listen actively, express themselves clearly, and facilitate open and respectful dialogue among group members.
Facilitators guide group discussions and activities, ensuring that the group stays on track and meets its objectives. They create a safe and inclusive environment for all participants.
Assessment and Planning
Social group workers must assess the needs and strengths of group members and develop a group work plan that outlines goals, strategies, and outcomes.
Groups can experience conflicts, and social group workers should be skilled in resolving disputes and promoting healthy conflict resolution within the group.
Empathy and Empowerment
Group workers need to be empathetic and able to empower group members by recognizing their unique perspectives, experiences, and contributions.
It’s important to understand and respect the diverse cultural backgrounds and identities of group members. Cultural competence promotes inclusivity and sensitivity to differences.
Understanding group dynamics is crucial for maintaining a positive and productive group atmosphere. This includes recognizing roles and norms within the group.
Group workers help the group identify and address problems and challenges. They should be skilled in problem-solving techniques.
Managing group sessions effectively, keeping to a schedule, and ensuring that each member has a chance to participate are essential for successful group work.
Documentation and Record-Keeping
Social group workers often need to keep records of group activities, member progress, and any significant developments. This is important for evaluation and accountability.
Evaluation and Assessment
A periodic assessment of the group’s progress is necessary to determine if goals are being met and if adjustments are needed.
Depending on the group’s purpose, social group workers may need to connect members with external resources and services that can support their needs.
Social group workers should be adaptable, as group dynamics and individual needs can change over time. Flexibility in approach is often necessary.
Adhering to a strong code of ethics, including confidentiality, informed consent, and respecting the rights and dignity of group members, is paramount.
Group work can be emotionally demanding. Practitioners need to engage in self-care practices to prevent burnout and maintain their well-being.
Group workers often take on a leadership role in guiding the group’s activities and decision-making processes.
Sometimes, group work involves advocating for the needs and rights of group members to external organizations or systems.
Collaboration with other professionals and agencies may be necessary to provide comprehensive support to group members.
Overall, social group work is a complex and dynamic field that requires a combination of interpersonal skills, cultural competence, and the ability to manage group dynamics to achieve positive outcomes for participants.