The IASWG Case-Based, Multi-Media Resource Project

The purpose of the project is to provide social work faculty, students, practitioners and allied professionals with open access to group work case studies, teaching guides and videos of real-life and simulated group sessions. As well, the project seeks contributions of like materials from practitioners and professionals in the field to include in the project. 

This project is an open access, web-based platform, featuring Case Studies collected by IASWG members, for use in training and teaching practice in social work with groups and groupwork. Our goal is to expand resources to support group work learning and practice. The documents on this page are “open use” –  and users are expected to provide feedback on their process of using the cases, as well as any outcomes.

Case Studies in Group Work

  1. Hoarding Group - This vignette presents a maintenance group for people with hoarding disorders where the facilitator manages challenging group dynamics that threaten the integrity of the group. The facilitator skillfully attends to (a) dynamics resulting from the blending of two previous groups (b) conflict between two group members vying for power and control and (c) extra group communications among the facilitator and group members and last (d) issues of transference between and among group members are also touched upon. Submitted by Patty Underwood ([email protected]
  2. Somali Boys Group - This case of a Somali Boys group explores a critical incident that highlights intersecting areas of culture and co-leadership in group work with refugee youth. The critical incident challenges the group to maintain their native culture while learning to adapt to the host culture. The incident also represented a test of whether facilitators would live up to the mission of the group. Recommendations for intervening in culturally respectful ways are highlighted. Submitted by Saida Abdi ([email protected]
  3. Bereavement Group - This case presents a time-limited bereavement group designed to diminish isolation for its members and to provide accurate information about the grief experience. A critical incident ensues when the facilitator becomes aware that one of the selected group members may not be the best fit for the group. The facilitator must contend with the challenges that arise when there is a perceived threat to their bereavement support needs – particularly difficult for people who already have felt isolated in their grief and anxious to be in a mutually supportive setting. Themes around member pre-screening and group boundaries are explored. Submitted by Annie Banks ([email protected])

IASWG Members are invited to submit a case study or other materials

We are actively seeking additional case studies from IASWG members, as well as additional resources such as video, teaching tips, podcasts, process recordings, etc. 

Step 1: Identify a case study or other materials for submission

Criteria for an engaging case study include:

  • An experience that happened in group work, where the author is either a member or facilitator/worker.
  • A discussion centered around a critical incident or challenging situation in the group
    Brief context for the group as is described on the Case Study Submission form
  • Helpful case studies often have potential to be used in teaching and training. 

IASWG members may submit case studies by using this GoogleForm or by emailing the completed Word document submission to [email protected].

Step 2: Format of the case study submission - The case study should be no more than 6 pages in length (double spaced).  Accompanying brief teaching ideas (and possible materials to guide discussion) are welcome, but not required.

Accompanying brief teaching ideas (and possible materials to guide discussion) are welcome, but not required. Please Note: All information included in the Case Study and relevant materials should be disguised – client information, agency information, etc, to ensure confidentiality.  The case study author’s name and email address will be linked to the case.

Step 3: Submit!

Mark Gianino ([email protected]), Donna McLaughlin ([email protected]) and Carol S. Cohen ([email protected] ) are the curators of this site. Please feel free to contact them with any information.

Feedback from people who use these cases and materials

We want to hear from you! Have you utilized any of the project’s resources? This project is based on a feedback loop among case writers and users of the web resources. Click here to share your feedback on how and why the material was used and your assessment of its effectiveness. In this project, ongoing, posted feedback about resources will continuously aid all users and the working team to assess the needs of consumers and allow for additions, corrections and the development of even more valuable case material. 

Discussion on the Use of Case Studies and Related Material in Group Work 

Over our profession’s history, social work educators have used case studies to teach particular course content (Richmond, 1897; Towle, 1954), drawing vignettes from students’ and practitioners’ work in the field (Reynolds, 1965; Wolfer & Gray, 2013). The use of case study learning in social work has expanded in the past 15 years, including resources broadly focused on practice (LeCroy, C.W., 2014; Wolfer, Franklin & Gray, 2013), and focused on specific fields of practice such as international social work (Bettmann, Bettman, Jacques, & Frost, 2013), child welfare (Cohen, Gimein, Kollar, & Bulin, 2015), social work research (Csiernik, Birnbaum & Pierce, 2010), child, adolescent and family treatment (LeCroy. & Anthony, 2015), and sexual orientation and gender expression, (Messinger & Morrow, 2009).

Case studies in social work with groups are also time-honored teaching tools (Cohen, 1995; Coyle, 1948; Getzel, 1988; Shulman, 1968) that rely on small group learning and student-initiated inquiry that incorporate ‘real-life’ scenarios. While current social group work texts, such as Grobman and Clements (2012), Glassman (2009), Pelech, Basso, Lee and Gandarilla (2016), Shulman (2015), and Toseland and Rivas (2016) include some excellent social group work case examples, there is currently no dedicated teaching resource of case studies in group work available.

The current state of social group work case studies, videos, and other materials is challenged by a lack of currency and availability. In addition, the cost of textbooks and associated videos can be prohibitively expensive for many social work programs and students. An open access journal is one that anyone can access without cost (Mattaini, 2004). In recent years, open access journals have become an indispensable means of disseminating social work knowledge at relatively low-cost to publishers and consumers. A more recent development has been in the use of social work open access podcasts (Fronek, Boddy, Chenoweth & Clark, 2016; Singer, 2011) that have been enthusiastically embraced by students, educators and practitioners. As of this writing, there is little known regarding the use of open access platforms in the dedicated dissemination of case-based learning and teaching of social work with groups.