The Social Group Worker’s Role in Group Work Process


In social group work, the worker is of paramount importance. It is commonly believed and generally accepted that the worker is the key to effective group work. In his function as a helper, the worker is accountable for providing guidance and assistance to the group. There is no unique, universally applicable method of group collaboration. A worker must create a framework of thoughts and knowledge that is particularly applicable to group situations. All social workers' primary objective when dealing with a group is to assist its members in achieving the group's objective. While doing so, the group worker assumes multiple roles. The nature of the group, the group's objective, and the relationships within the group environment dictate the exact roles he plays. In this chapter, we discuss the numerous "roles" that workers assume when interacting with group processes in diverse field settings. Determining the Social Group Worker The social group worker possesses knowledge, abilities, and values. The group worker is essentially a "helping individual" as opposed to a "group leader." His influence is indirect, as opposed to direct. He is not a manager who has * Dr. Suresh Pathare, Tuljapur Indian School The Role of the Social Group Worker in the Group Work Process 271 the term, an instructor with superior knowledge or a specialist on the group's subject area. He works with the group at its own speed and gives methodological assistance as necessary.

The worker is not a member of the group, but he joins it when a member of the group, the group as a whole, or both require professional assistance to achieve their own objectives. It should be emphasized that social group workers are not required for all groups. Many groups and individuals will be fully capable of implementing their own programs and will not require expert assistance. As a member of a helping profession, the professional group worker will be utilized and should be present wherever assistance is required.

As a member of a helping profession, the professional group worker will be utilized and should be present wherever assistance is required.

The job of the group worker in group work might begin at various phases in different groups. He may be required to fulfill a function before he even meets the group. This is especially true when a worker inside the context of an agency intentionally organizes the group. His involvement in the created groups can vary according on the group's needs and assistance requirements. The role of the worker will vary amongst groups. This is a result of the groupings and circumstances in which they function. As a group worker, one must have sufficient flexibility and adaptability, as a contribution to group work that is appropriate in one group or at one stage of group development may be wholly inappropriate in another group or at a different time.

Influencing Factors on the Role of the Social Group Worker

Before attempting to identify his specific function inside the group, the employee must first have an understanding of the organization and its surrounding circumstances. The primary intervention 272Social Work with Individuals and Groups 

1) the community setting,

2) the nature of the agency, its function and scope, 

1) the com munity setting,

These variables are present in all group situations. At the time of job determination, the extent to which the worker consciously considers them separately and in connection to one another will be influential.

Therefore, it is difficult, if not impossible, to describe the worker's function as consisting of specific strategies that can be implemented consistently in all group contexts. Due to the fact that some organizations are freshly created and inexperienced with methods of working together, the worker may be entrusted with a considerable level of responsibility. He may choose not to assume responsibility for the same organization at a later point in its evolution. With one group, the worker may make a determined effort to assist that group in collaborating with other groups on the completion of a huge project. He assumes that the group is prepared for this stage and views it as contributing to the group's foundational agency experience.

The most important constant that the worker must comprehend well is that he is constantly The Role of the Social Group Worker in Group Work273 a representative of the agency. He is not a member of the group, but rather a worker responsible for assisting the group in utilizing the agency to meet all or part of its needs. His skill as a group worker is always utilized in accordance with the agency's established norms and procedures. The manner in which he interacts with the group will be determined by the agency's fundamental work philosophy. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that workers define their function within the group as soon as possible, so that the group knows what to expect from them. They should explain the organization to the audience and explain how the worker views his role as a representation of the organization.

The Role of the Social Group Worker in Group Process

In the aiding process of group work, the interactions and relationships of the participants to one another are of great significance. They are never stagnant. They evolve over time and in response to certain circumstances. Group process refers to the shifting interactions and relationships as well as all the developments and changes occurring inside a group. The job of the social group worker in the group work process is best seen as that of a'midwife,' who gives assistance during childbirth. He serves as a methodological aid and catalyst. He makes his knowledge and experience accessible to group members during the group work process. It means that youth groups, treatment groups, adult groups where there is a need to improve relationships, groups that require assistance in understanding their own problems, and groups that require assistance in working toward the improvement of community services all require the services of a professional group worker. 274 Interventions in Social Work with Individuals and Groups A social worker is required to be knowledgeable and skilled in a variety of tasks when dealing with groups. The selection of a particular role should (ideally) be based on what will be the most effective given the conditions. Some, but not all, of the roles played by social group workers in group process are described below.

In this function, the group worker is present with the group as a "helper" or "enabler," doing things with the group as opposed to doing things for or to the group. His influence is indirect as opposed to direct. He assists individuals and groups in articulating their needs, defining and identifying their challenges, exploring resolution techniques, selecting and implementing a solution, and enhancing their problem-solving skills. As an enabler, the worker assists members in reviving and mobilizing their own skills and resources to address challenging situations.

In the job of broker, the employee identifies community resources, government schemes, and programs that can assist group members in carrying out their ideas. Frequently, group members lack information regarding available resources and services. As a broker, the employee informs members about available resources, eligibility requirements, and other restrictions for utilizing a particular service.

Advocate: This is an active, directing function in which the employee advocates on behalf of a group. When current institutions are least interested in delivering services to a citizen group in need of assistance, the advocate's role may be acceptable. In this capacity, the group worker provides leadership for gathering information, defending the legitimacy of the client's need and request, and fighting the institution's choice not to give services.

When a group is founded with a social objective in mind, the group worker functions as an activist. An activist seeks change; typically, this implies a transfer of power and resources to a disadvantaged group. In their capacity as activists, group members are concerned with social injustice, inequality, and deprivation. The objective is to modify the social environment so that it better meets the requirements of individuals.

The social group worker frequently acts as a mediator between group members, groups, group-community, and group-agency. As a mediator, the employee assists in resolving disputes, conflicts, or competing viewpoints inside the group or between a member and another individual or organization. The mediator's function entails intervening to find compromises, reconcile conflicts, or establish agreements that are mutually satisfactory. He acts as a liaison between the group and the agency, working through the members of the organization. In order to discover miscommunication and explain a position, social group workers utilize their value orientations and specialized abilities. At a group for adolescents in a residential facility, for instance, the worker may assist two members in resolving a quarrel regarding their involvement in a recreational activity. In another group, the worker may assist a participant in resolving a problem with a child-care professional.

Negotiator: A negotiator brings together parties in contention over one or more problems and strives to achieve bargaining and compromise in order to reach mutually acceptable agreements. Comparable to mediation, negotiation entails finding a middle ground that all parties may accept. In contrast to 276Social Work Intervention with Individuals and Groups a mediator, whose position is neutral, a negotiator is typically affiliated with one of the parties. Group workers take this function in particular when negotiating with group members, the agency, or the community regarding time, location, resources, etc.

Educator is one of the most significant positions assumed by employees in assisting members in achieving their objectives. The educator job entails imparting knowledge and providing new skills to group members. To be a successful educator, the employee must first possess knowledge. Additionally, she or he must be an effective communicator so that knowledge is presented clearly and is easily understood by the recipient.

An initiate brings attention to an issue or even a prospective problem. It is essential to understand that some issues can be anticipated. With his experience and understanding, the group worker is able to anticipate future problem areas and call the group members' attention to the concerns. In this capacity, he or she will initiate conversation or action on the problem area. Typically, the initiator position must be followed by additional functions; merely bringing problems to light does not resolve them.

An important objective of social group work is empowerment. The group worker's purpose as an empowerer is to help individuals and groups develop their personal, interpersonal, economical, and political strength and impact by enhancing their circumstances.

Coordinators are responsible for bringing components together in an organized manner. Group workers frequently assume agency responsibilities. The Function of the Social Group Worker in the Group Work Process277 the role of coordinator in assisting group members to obtain services from various agencies. Occasionally, the group worker coordinates amongst group members, particularly during the first phase of group formation.

A group facilitator is a person who acts as a leader for group activities. The group may be a therapy group, an educational group, a self-help group, a sensitivity group, a family therapy group, or another type of group. Group workers' primary responsibilities include facilitating conversation and assisting group members in reaching a decision. As a facilitator, he or she provides methodological assistance. The individual does not discuss the method, but employs it to facilitate the group process. He/She does not permit himself/herself to become involved in the group's problem. When obliged to voice his/her own perspective, he/she always makes it clear whether he/she is serving as a group worker or expressing his/her own opinion as a group member.

Communicator and Interpreter: The group worker is an expert in the "how" of interpersonal communication. In situations where interpersonal connections must be managed, the group worker must function as a communicator or interpreter. The job of communicators is distinct from that of supporting group communication. In this role, he or she assists the group or its members in comprehending what is being communicated. Sometimes she must interpret or rework the terms in order to clarify them to the members. In situations where a group is forming from scratch, for instance, members may be confused and even suspicious about the group's objective and the worker's function; at this time, the group worker must act as a communicator and interpreter. Similarly, when the group members are unable to recognize the true benefits of being in the group or when their expectations for the group are excessively high, she clarifies and simplifies the situation.

The Function of Social Group Workers in Various Settings

We will now cover the function of the group worker in a variety of field contexts. As is well-known, there are various areas of social work practice. Professionals in the field of social work in India assist the elderly, delinquents, unemployed, and those with disabilities in their communities, groups, and families. The services of social workers are categorized into numerous categories of practice based on their relationship to addressing certain societal problems, serving the requirements of specific client groups, or reflecting specific environments. Family and child welfare, health and rehabilitation, mental health, occupational social work, community development, education or school social work, social work in corrections, and aging or gerontological services are major settings. Practicing social group work is feasible in nearly all circumstances. The models may change based on the requirements and characteristics of the environment. Similarly, the job of the social group worker would vary depending on the context.

In this section, we shall discuss a few crucial field contexts for understanding the role of group worker.

1)Group Social Worker in Community Development Setting

When examining the job of social group worker, some characteristics of social group work in community settings must be taken into consideration. The fundamental aims The Role of the Social Group Worker in Group Work Process279 of social group work in a community setting includes: social integration of the community on a local neighbourhood basis through participation in self-help and mutual-aid programmes; motivating people to improve their living conditions, particularly those adversely affecting their physical and social development; and creation of opportunities for undertaking economic betterment programmes based on the maximum use of community resources. In a communal setting, group work takes the shape of self-help groups, leisure groups, action groups, etc.

The social group worker in the function of organizer must utilize all of her skills to organize the diverse community segments into cohesive groupings. She coordinates the development of the group members' personalities through involvement in recreational, cultural, and other activities. In this job, one of her key responsibilities is to develop responsible leadership within the groups she organizes. Working at the inter-group level is one of the most important responsibilities of the macro-level worker. This includes ensuring that rivalries between groups are kept to a minimum, encouraging inter-group collaboration, aligning the goals of each group with those of the community as a whole, promoting communication, etc. Another essential function of the group worker is that of a "resource person." It needs her to be aware of numerous opportunities within and beyond the community that could be leveraged to improve the performance of the group members. The group worker must also become a critical link between the civic administration and the people, particularly in the early stages of his job 280Social Work Intervention with Individuals and Groups. Eventually, though, this 'liaison functionary' responsibility must be handed to the members of the group.

In addition to the aforementioned responsibilities, the social group worker in a community setting must also act as a "management expert." In this position, she must teach the group leaders and other members office administration skills, with a focus on letter writing, file processes, basic bookkeeping, meeting record-keeping, elementary public relations, and fund-raising.

ii)Group Social Worker in Institutional Settings

The social group worker contributes to the institution by facilitating possibilities for productive leisure time use. In addition, her contribution includes an awareness of the group and the nature of institutional living, which enables a large number of institutional residents to make constructive use of the institution's resources. Group living is institutional living. It includes living groups, school groups, job groups, leisure-time groups, friendship groups, age groups, and a multitude of other groupings. The abilities required of the group worker to make positive use of these group relationships for the success of institutions. Institutions that utilize the group worker's expertise include penal institutes, institutions for the mentally retarded and the disabled, homes for the elderly, and homes for children. The group worker's responsibilities vary based on the institution's many functions and the employed individuals.

As stated previously, the group worker's job in an institution extends beyond recreational factors. Her knowledge and abilities are beneficial to the entire group living situation; The Social Group Worker's Role in the Group Work Process281 she assists the institution in comprehending the dynamics of group behavior, just as the caseworker provides the institution with a fundamental understanding of individual treatment. Given that houseparents and counselors are directly involved in the group living process, the social group worker in an institutional environment assumes a particularly supportive role towards them.

An additional important role of the social group worker in any institutional setting is his direct work on some specific problem of the group, such as discharge from the institution, intake into the institution, special behavior problems, or emotional needs problems that cannot be addressed in the normal group living situation. In this setting, the group worker is responsible for supervising and coordinating particular services that are not provided by the houseparent but are related to group life. It is essential that the group worker coordinate these services from the perspective of social interactions as well as treatment for the person, so that the treatment focus is maintained within them.

Group workers in an institutional context are responsible for referring clients to community recreational and group association resources. She also maintains contact with volunteers, if the facility employs them, and works with groups of institutional residents' relatives. For additional comprehension, we shall analyze the job of social group workers in a few institutional contexts.

iii)Group Social Worker in Clinical Settings

In hospitals and clinics, the social group worker becomes a member of a multidisciplinary team that also includes the medical doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, nurse, and social caseworker. In such settings with a stated treatment objective, the 282Social Work Intervention with Individuals and Groups purpose of the service is considerably more specific than in the community environment. As assistance becomes more "targeted," so do the methods and responsibilities of the group worker.

Social workers in a hospital context provide direct assistance through group work and casework techniques. In a medical setting, the social worker engages in group work and plays multiple roles: i)enable patients with similar problems to come together so that they feel less isolated and alone in facing their problems; ii)instill a sense of belonging and a sense of community that gives them the courage and confidence to adjust to the larger community outside; and iii)work through problems in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

iv)Social Group Worker in an Institutional Setting

The school environment is unquestionably a group one, and teachers work in groups. Social workers are employed by schools to assist students whose difficulties at school stem from social and emotional concerns within the student, his family, or his social surroundings. Numerous schools in India acknowledge the significance of the school social worker's job as caseworker, counselor, and group worker. The school social worker interacts with the child, his or her family, school personnel, and the community. While working with them, he applies his casework and group work knowledge and skills. The Role of the Social Group Worker in the Group Work Process 283 The school social worker is responsible for a variety of responsibilities in the educational context. In this capacity, one of his tasks is that of a social group worker.

In his capacity as a social group worker, he encourages group adaptation through group work activities. He organizes group work activities in the form of recreation, role-plays, story-telling, group exercises, etc. to develop the schoolchildren's capacity for social involvement and constructive group interaction. Through directed group contact, the worker fosters in youngsters a sense of connectedness, belonging, and identity. This also contributes to the improvement of their social adjustment and the growth of their personalities.

Working with special student groups, the school social worker expands practice with specially organized groups of children and adolescents with social and academic adjustment issues. He pays special attention to pupils who underachieve, misbehave, drop out, or are excluded from meaningful peer interaction. He ensures that children who are lonely, isolated, or disabled have the opportunity to participate constructively in special interest or leisure groups.

Another essential job of the school social worker is to facilitate value education and leadership development programs. Through the group work activities, he instructs the children on cooperation, teamwork, and the like. The school social worker employs the group work technique when supporting or directing special interest groups in activities such as theater, puppet-making, or community service initiatives. He plays a significant role in encouraging pupils to participate in a variety of activities that widen their perspectives and enhance their connections with classmates and adults. 284 Interventions in Social Work with Individuals and Groups v)Social Group Worker in Children's and Adolescents' Institutions

In our nation, both the government and nonprofit organizations provide institutional services for children and adolescents. There are observation houses, orphanages, and homes for street children, among others. These institutions are not places where children and/or adolescents are merely fed, clothed, and possibly reintegrated into a family. The most essential aspect of institutional care is the daily group living situation, which may be used constructively to socialize the children and teach them life skills.

The function of the group worker at a children's home is one of the most crucial areas of employment. She mostly works with children and adolescents for whom group dynamics are essential even outside of the institution. In the absence of family, these children require all the services provided to children in their own homes, as well as certain additional services relating to their anxiety, loneliness, and preparation for life outside of the institution. Therefore, the quality of group living is as important as the educational, clinical, and other specialized services provided by the institution.

The social group worker's responsibilities on the institutional team include assisting with the group living situation and facilitating special groups. His responsibilities include: i)directing group work with established groups of children within the institution.

ii) collaborate with parent groups wherever possible.

iii)being accountable and contributing to the recreational program as part of group life. The Role of the Social Group Worker in the Group Work Process 285 iv) oversight and coordination of child care providers (sometimes called house parents).

v) oversight of volunteers who work with institutionalized groups of children.

vi) responsibility for referral to community resources for group association, both while the child is in the institution and while his discharge is being planned.

Participation in the diagnosis of individuals and in decisions regarding placement in the institution, grouping of children, treatment plans, and aftercare plans.

viii)On sometimes, social group workers facilitate therapeutic discussion or activity groups for children with intensely negative emotions or issues relating to adults.

vi)Social Group Worker in the Elderly Services

The organization of social group work with the elderly occurs at both the community and agency levels. Typically, the group worker works directly with certain groups. Occasionally, the employee must work indirectly with the group of volunteers serving the elderly. In both instances, the formation of specialized organizations is intended to promote communal life. Many of the elderly's difficulties are exacerbated when they enter an institution. As with other institutionalized individuals, they feel detached from normal community life, which revolves around the family. They frequently exhibit some impairment in their capacities. Self-respect is particularly at risk. Consequently, the goals of group work with the elderly are typically: i)to boost the members' self-esteem. 286 Interventions in Social Work with Individuals and Groups ii) to afford the possibility of planning.

iii) to become an integral part of their own local community and, if feasible, a wider community.

iv) to develop a communal bond that can perhaps replace the warmth of family relationships.

The tasks of the social group worker in community-based agencies that provide services to the elderly include: I developing a program for various types of groups depending on the needs of this age group.

ii) direct work with certain groups of the elderly, particularly those who display relational problems.

iii) like with all group activity, some contact with others outside the group, but more intensively within the age group in question.

iv) training, coordination, and oversight of volunteers and part-time employees in programs for the elderly.

v) consultant to committees of senior persons regarding social action on their own behalf, upon request.

In an institution for the elderly, the functions of the social group worker are as follows: I direct work with formed groups for the purpose of providing specific assistance to those who cannot easily enter the group life of the institution; ii) responsibility for the stimulation of a rich and varied programme in the institution designed to satisfy individual needs and to counteract the feeling of segregation from the community which The Social GROUP WORKER This is typically accomplished by serving as a consultant to the personnel of one or more institutions.


The purpose of this chapter was to help you comprehend the role of the social group worker. You are now familiar with the position of the group worker in group work situations and her primary function in social group work. Now you know that the group worker's role varies depending on the nature of the group's objective, the group's operating environment, the agency, the group members' interests, needs, abilities, and limitations, etc. You will be able to explain the functions that group workers play in group work processes. Social group work is practicable in the majority of field settings. We examined the importance of social group workers in several crucial contexts. You now have the information and expertise necessary to recognize the group worker's job in diverse contexts.


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