Invitation to a Mutual Aid Action Team

Let’s Reconnect Social Groupwork to the Social Work Profession

Are you concerned about the dramatic loss within our profession of social work’s own unique method of working with groups? Are you troubled by the increasing isolation of social groupwork from the profession as a whole? 

Today, most social workers may be aware of the field of groups, but often do not know that social groupwork is social work’s own method of working with groups. The main reason for this loss of practice knowledge is that 50 years ago, most schools of social work switched from methods teaching to generic direct practice. The speed of the loss of the method was so rapid that by 1979, we founded our own Association to preserve social groupwork. Nor do most social workers realize that early on, when casework adopted the medical model’s hierarchical dyadic practice, it also severed its practice from a democratic social justice value base by conflating social reform with reform of the individual. Conversely, since the time of the Settlement Houses, social groupwork has carried the ethical value base of the social work profession within its practice. Social Groupwork has always been Social Work.

Do you also know that you can transform any group in the field of groups into a social work group using social groupwork skills?  Social work with groups exemplifies a democratic, non-hierarchical, social justice, strengths-based practice that creates community in every group – using mutual aid and purposeful activity. This foundational practice is firmly based in social work’s core values that include changing the system to meet the needs of people. This is in stark contrast to a hierarchical, dyadic medical model that seeks to change people to meet socially constructed norms.
IASWG needs to fiercely advocate for the reintegration of these basic social work values into the practice of the profession as a whole. Currently, social work is attempting to graft social justice values onto hierarchical clinical practice -- with no understanding or acknowledgement of social work history and social groupwork.
Do you want to be part of an IASWG mutual aid group that aims to understand and change this situation in our profession? This group will be committed to taking back social work practice in a way that effectively reintegrates Social Groupwork with the rest of the profession. We will meet virtually to design interventions that actively work toward these goals and we are inviting you to join.
If interested, please contact Joanne Sulman at [email protected].