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Socially Just Practice in Groups

Socially Just Practice in Groups
A Social Work Perspective

January 2019 | 320 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Socially Just Practice in Groups: A Social Work Perspective comprehensively covers all aspects of group practice in social work settings, integrating a unique social justice framework throughout. Drawing from their experience as group work practitioners, authors Robert Ortega and Charles D. Garvin walk readers through the basics of group practice, including getting started, doing group work, establishing the purpose, roles and tasks of the group, stages and phases of practice, and specific skills in assessment, monitoring, and evaluation. A social justice framework provides a fresh perspective during an era of widespread social change and provides social workers tools for effective group interventions. Chapters contain detailed case examples to illustrate concepts presented, as well as exercises to help students practice skills.
About the Authors
1. What Is a Socially Just Approach to Group Work?
Defining Social Justice

Social Justice Practice Principles

Purpose and Goals

Member Relevance and Social Identities

Norms and Socially Just Participation


Group Leadership

Group Development and Process

Practice Dimensions


Discussion Questions

2 History of Group Work
The Emergence of Group Work: 1861 to 1927

Clarification of the Method: 1928 to 1946

The Diffusion of Practice: 1947 to 1963

The Move to the Concept of a Generic Method: 1964 to 1979

The Revitalization of Group Work: 1979 to 2000

Recommitment to Social Justice, Empirical Practice, and New Approaches: 2003 to Present

Critique of Existing Practice Theories


Discussion Questions

3 Knowledge for Practice



Group Culture

Discussion Questions

4 Models of Group Work and Relationship to Social Justice
Social Goals

Cognitive-Behavioral Group Work

Task Centered





Discussion Questions

5 Group Purposes
Purpose and Social Justice

A Typology of Purposes

A Typology of Group Purposes

Social Justice Issues Related to Purposes


Discussion Questions

6 Values and Ethics



Transformative Trust

Cultural Humility


Shared Leadership

Additional Ethical Issues in Group Work Practice


Discussion Questions

7 Roles, Tasks, and Critical Consciousness
Roles, Norms, and Statuses

Group Tasks and Functions

Agreements (AKA Ground Rules)




Discussion Questions

8 Leadership
Leadership and Purpose

Social Justice Leadership Processes

Social Justice and Leadership Skills

Social Justice Visioning

Knowledge and Skills

Critical Analysis

Safety Monitoring During Conflict


Leadership and Power

Leadership and Following

Leadership and Co-facilitation

Discussion Questions

9 Group Processes and Development
Stages Usually Referred to in Group Work Literature

Problems in Application of the Concepts of Phases and Stages

Events That Affect Group Development

Social Justice and Group Development

The Role of the Practitioner in Group Development

Further Strategies for Enhancement of Group Development

Resources That Enhance Development

Strengthening Awareness of Social Justice/Injustice

Variations in Group Developmental Processes Related to Group Types and Purposes


Discussion Questions

10 Assessment
What Is Assessment?

Role of Assessment in a Social Justice Model

Problems With Psychiatric Nomenclature

Compatibility With Strengths-Based Perspective

Sources of Qualitative Information for Assessment

Sources of Quantitative Data in Assessment

Measures of Group Processes


Discussion Questions

11 Preparation for the Group Meeting
Group Purpose

Environmental Issues in Planning for a Group

Role of the Agency in the Pregroup Phase

Compositional Issues

Pregroup Meetings With Members/Preparing Members for Groups

Preparing the Setting

Tuning In

Type of Group


Discussion Questions

12 Group Beginnings: Formation
Implications for Social Justice

Handling Offensive Behaviors and Taboo Subjects

Group Tasks in Initial Phase

Dealing With Other Miscellaneous Transition Nuances


Discussion Questions

13 Approaches to Achieving Different Purposes
A Typology of Group Purposes

Social Justice Issues Related to Purposes

Group Programs and Processes That Help Members Attain the Purposes

Skill Attainment

Resistance to Social Control



Discussion Questions

14 Activities
Use of an Analytic Framework

Use of Spontaneous Events

Activities Involving Music

Activities Involving Art

Activities Involving Games

Activities Involving Drama

Activities for Various Types of Issues


Discussion Questions

15 Task Groups
Social Justice in Task Groups

Similarities and Differences Between Individual Change and Task Groups

Pregroup Tasks

Group Formation Tasks

Goal Pursuit Tasks


Discussion Questions

16 Environmental Change
Rationale for Environmental Change

Selection of Environmental Targets

Choosing the Organizational Level

Strategies for Environmental Change

Environmental Change Activities in Which Members as Individuals May Engage

Environmental Change Activities for Either a Member or the Whole Group

Environmental Change Activities for the Group


Discussion Questions

17 Termination and Endings
Meaning of Endings

Social Justice Issues in Endings

Worker Tasks


Understand and Cope With Feelings

Maintain Changes

Utilize Skills in Variety of Circumstances

Utilize New Services

Reduce Cohesion


Special Termination Issues


Discussion Questions

18 Evaluation

Analysis of Data

Dissemination of Data

Social Justice and Evaluation

Evaluation of Individual Change of Members

Evaluation of Changes in Group Conditions


Discussion Questions



Instructor Resource Site

Free online resources for instructors accompany this text on a password-protected Instructor Resource Site.

  • Editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation.
  • Class activities reinforce active learning through individual and group projects.
  • Quizzes containing multiple choice and true/false questions effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.

“This text reflects a unique take on group work, presenting social justice as a key endeavor of work with all types of groups. It provides foundational information about group types, development, and practice within a framework, which emphasizes the need for attention to social justice at each level. It is easy to read and practically oriented."

Stacy Gherardi
New Mexico State University

"Long overdue, this text brings social justice into the forefront as an organizing principle of group work practice."

Joanne Whelley
Barry University

"This is a text I’ve been looking for. It incorporates social justice into group work and in this era we need to emphasize the many forms privilege and oppression can take."

Michelle Bechen
Loras College

I am currently using this text and it is timely and a great addition to the typical group practice textbook options. Thank you.

Dr Nancy Ann Banman
Social Work Program, Bethel College
October 23, 2020

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

Chapter 13

Robert M. Ortega

Robert Ortega has worked as a social worker with children in psychiatric settings and now heads a program to prevent and treat child abuse. Immediately after he received his doctorate he was invited to join the faculty of the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan. He has taught courses at master's and doctoral levels in group work, child abuse, and multiculturalism. He is of Mexican descent although born and raised in the United States. He has written many articles and book chapters on group work, cultural humility, and multiculturalism. He is often invited throughout the country to speak on these issues. He was a member of... More About Author

Charles David Garvin

Charles Garvin holds his master's and doctoral degrees from the School of Social Service Administration of the University of Chicago. He was a practitioner in social work and group work for a dozen years after his master's degree before he studied for his PhD. He graduated from a program of the Chicago Institute of Psychoanalysis that trained child therapists. He has been on the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Social work 1965-2002 and is now Professor Emeritus of Social Work, He is the author or co-author of many books such as Contemporary Group Work, Interpersonal Practice in Social Work, Social Work in Contemporary... More About Author

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