Annual International Symposia

Since 1979, the International Association of Social Work with Groups has met for an annual symposium. These symposia have provided opportunities for the membership of IASWG to meet others interested in and committed to the use of groups in social work, to hear and consider new approaches to social work with groups, to socialize, to help shape the present and the future of social group work in social work and in social work education, and to participate in decision making that directs the business of the Association.

Annual symposia have been held across the United States, in Canada, in Germany, and in South Africa. Attendance may vary but enthusiasm does not wane. Those who have attended a symposium are likely to say that IASWG symposia have a special feel about them, testament to the belief that group workers know how to have fun! 

Following each symposium, proceedings are produced that reflect the kinds of ideas and issues current in the field at that time. Past proceedings can be found in the Resources section of this website, or check out our proceedings publisher.

Symposium Support

The International Association for Social Work with Groups is most appreciative for the funding of the following annual symposium activities:

Plenaries

  • The Sumner Gill Memorial Plenary was made possible by the generosity of Jeanne Gill, long-term member of the Association in honor of her late husband, Sumner. This annual plenary was inaugurated in 1997 at the XIX Annual Symposium in Quebec City, Canada. Jeanne Gill was a very active member of the Southern California chapter of the Association.
  • The Beulah H. Rothman Plenary was made possible by a generous gift from the Southern Florida chapter of the Association. This annual plenary was inaugurated in 1998 at the XX Annual Symposium in Miami, Florida. Dr. Rothman was a founding member of the Association and long-time co-editor of Social Work with Groups.
  • The Joan K. Parry Memorial Plenary was made possible by a generous bequest by the Estate of Joan K. Parry. Joan Parry was a long-term member of the Association and in a leadership role of the Southern California Chapter for many years. This annual plenary was inaugurated in 2008 at the XXX Annual Symposium in Köln, Germany.

Invitational Sessions

  • The Roselle Kurland Memorial Invitational presentation was made possible by a gift from the Roselle Kurland Lecture Series, initiated at the Hunter College SSW by Dr. Kurland’s family, friends, and colleagues in honor of her years of teaching and leadership at that institution. This annual invitational session was inaugurated in 2011 at the XXXIII Annual Symposium in Long Beach, California, and focuses on content of special interest to students and new practitioners. Dr. Kurland was a founding member of the Association and long-time editor of Social Work with Groups.
  • The USC Invitational presentation was made possible by a generous gift by the University of Southern California SSW, Los Angeles, California. This annual session was inaugurated in 2011 at the XXXIII Annual Symposium in Long Beach, California, and focuses particularly on the use of group work in administrative settings.
  • The Robert Salmon Invitational presentation was made possible by the generous contributions from family, friends, and colleagues. This annual session was inaugurated in 2012 at the XXXIV Annual Symposium in Garden City, New York, and focuses on content related to the advancement of organizational leadership. Dr. Salmon acted as treasurer of the Association for nearly 20 years.
  • The Catherine T. Papell Invitational presentation was made possible by the generous contributions of friends and colleagues. This annual session was inaugurated in 2012 at the XXXIV Annual Symposium in Garden City, New York, and focuses on group work and diversity, especially as it relates to culture and religion. Dr. Papell was a founding member of the Association and long-time co-editor of Social Work with Groups.
  • The Charles Garvin Invitational presentation was made possible by the generosity of friends and colleagues. This annual session was inaugurated in 2016 at the XXXVIII Annual Symposium in New York City, New York, and focuses on the advancement of research related to social work with groups. Dr. Garvin served as the Association’s first president and was long-time editor of Small Group Research.
  • The Norma C. Lang Nondeliberative Invitational was made possible by a gift from three of Norma’s colleagues, Nancy Sullivan, Joanne Sulman, and Anna Nosko as well as from the Toronto Region Group Workers Network to honour Norma Lang and her ground breaking Nondeliberative Practice Theory. The inaugural event will take place at the IASWG 2020 virtual symposium. Norma was one of the original founding members of the Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups (AASWG, now IASWG). She also founded TRGN, the Toronto Region Groupworkers Network, the longest continuously functioning chapter in IASWG, and spearheaded two symposia in Toronto. Until her final illness in 2012, she attended and presented at almost every symposium, and published in symposia proceedings, books and social  work journals. Norma Lang’s most significant contribution to social groupwork practice theory is Nondeliberative Publication about this theory can be found in the special issue of Social Work with Groups (39, 2-3), 2016. For decades Norma taught nondeliberative practice to MSW students, and to countless practitioners in continuing education courses at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Social Work.   

Symposium Tracks

  • The Research Track was made possible by a generous gift from Dominique Moyse Steinberg, long-term member of the Association, in memory of her late husband, Irwin H. Steinberg. This symposium track was inaugurated in 2015 at the XXXVII Annual Symposium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It encompasses and recognizes all Symposium activities that address social group work research (plenaries, invitational sessions, papers, workshops, and posters). All activities that fall into this track are so noted in the program.
  • The Mutual Aid Track was made possible by the generosity of IASWG members interested in addressing and promoting mutual aid in practice. This symposium track was inaugurated in 2016 at the XXXVIII Annual Symposium in New York City, New York. It encompasses and recognizes all Symposium activities that promote the understanding and promotion of mutual aid in practice (plenaries, invitational sessions, papers, workshops, and posters). All activities that fall into this track are so noted in the program.
  • The Group Work Training Track was made possible by a generous gift from the family of Anne Kopp Hyman, long-term member of the Association’s Illinois Chapter. This symposium track was inaugurated in 2016 at the XXXVIII Annual Symposium in New York. It encompasses and recognizes all Symposium activities that focus on training of social group workers (plenaries, invitational sessions, papers, workshops, and posters). All activities that fall into this track are so noted in the program.

IASWG Symposia Descriptions & Photo Galleries

  • 2020 Virtual Symposium
    • The Climate is Ripe for Groupwork: Creating Connections and Restoring Hope in a Fragmented World - This is not a choice anymore; this is our obligation. Communities around the world have been destroyed by the effects of climate change, destructive policies that attack basic human rights, persistent war and conflict, and widening socio-economic gaps. The human community, is divided by ideology, privilege, violence, poverty, and racism. These are contributing factors to a global immigration crisis and the displacement of communities. Despite contemporary challenges, human connection through groupwork is a powerful antidote and offers individuals, families, groups, and communities opportunities to join together to create dialogue, enhance mutual understanding, and craft effective interventions that promote healing and instill hope.

  • 2019 Symposium in New York City, New York, USA
    • Group Work in Communities: Breaking Down Barriers, Building Global Connections - Literally and figuratively, barriers of all kinds have become omnipresent in today's global political and social climate. Barriers that keep people out, barriers that keep people in, barriers that separate people from families and communities, and above all barriers in hearts and minds that prevent people from seeing each other with compassion in all their humanity and diversity. We see these barriers being erected all over the world. One of the tasks of social group work is to dismantle these barriers through activism, and community organizing. And by means of social group work in education, health care, criminal justice and other systems, individuals are supported to build relationships and strengthen global communities.
  • 2018 Symposium in Kruger National Park, South Africa
    • Bridging the Divide: Group Work for Social Justice
  • 2017 Symposium in New York City, New York, USA
    • Group Work in Challenging Times: Creative Strategies for Facing Change - In an increasingly adversarial and complex world that affects our lives on so many levels, group work has taken on an even greater importance. Those of us committed to group work know what a powerful resource it can be for addressing and often healing the misunderstandings and conflicts that underlie difference in all its forms. IASWG exists, and our mission as group workers is, to keep group work wisdom and practice alive and thriving so that people, groups, communities, and the planet can change, survive, and flourish.

  • 2016 Symposium in New York City, New York, USA
    • Group Work across the Globe: Building Transformative Connections - In a world that has become increasingly interdependent and global, where communication is frequently defined by technology, with less emphasis on real-time human conversation, our mission as group workers is to create connections between human beings in order to increase supports, share diminishing resources, build and strengthen community with multicultural awareness and competence.

  • 2015 Symposium in North Carolina, USA
    • Group Work: Creating Space for All Voices With its roots in the Settlement House movement, group work has proudly embraced the tradition of creating a space for all voices. Group workers today continue to advance this tradition. With a focus on mutual aid, empowerment, respect for diversity, equal participation, inclusion, and non-judgmental acceptance, group workers deter oppression by widening the circle to create a space for all voices.

  • 2014 Symposium in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    • Unity in Diversity: Embracing the Spirit of Group Work - Located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, June 5 - 8, 2014, the XXXVI Annual Symposium of the International Association for Social Work with Groups hosted by the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary. Calgary is located near the scenic Canadian Rockies, Banff, Lake Louise, and Lake Kananaskis. All Calgary Symposium attendees will have the opportunity to spend Saturday afternoon and evening in Banff! We welcome students, faculty, agency administrators, practitioners of various disciplines, and community workers and developers who utilize the group modality to submit papers, workshops, posters, and other innovative presentation formats.

Symposium Proceedings

Each year the IASWG convenes a symposium held in a different location. Key papers related to social group work theory, practice, education and research are selected through a juried process. Over the years the proceedings have been published as special editions of the journal, Social Work with Groups, or independently. Where possible, a link to the abstract has been provided for easy on-line purchase. Some of these books are out of print and can be located through on-line booksellers. To view the IASWG Proceedings Series, please visit the Whiting & Birch website

Proceedings by Year and Location

  • 2018 - #40 - South Africa: In Progress
  • 2016 & 2017 - #38 & #39 - New York City, NY, USA: Wilkins, C., Doel, M., Skolnik, S., Genke, J., Greenhouse Gardella, L., eds. (2019) Group work around the globe: Creating transformative connections in challenging times. Proceedings of the 38th & 39th International Symposium on Social Work with Groups, London: Whiting & Birch.
  • 2015 - #37 – Chapel Hill, NC, USA: Guardella, L., Tully, G. (2019) Group work: Creating space for all voices. Proceedings of the 37th International Symposium on Social Work with Groups, London: Whiting & Birch.
  • 2014 - #36 – Calgary, Alberta, CA: Pelech, W., Ring, K., LaRocque, S., eds. (2016) Unity in diversity: Embracing the spirit of group work. Proceedings of the 36th International Symposium on Social Work with Groups, London: Whiting & Birch.
  • 2013 - #35 – Boston, MA, USA: Gianino, M. & McLaughlin, D., eds. (2016) Revitalizing our social group work heritage: A bridge to the future. Proceedings of the 35th International Symposium on Social Work with Groups, London: Whiting and Birch.
  • 2012 - #34 – Long Island, NY, USA: Tully, G., Dolan-Reilly, G., Bacon, J., Lo Re, A., eds. (2012) Group work: An international conversation highlighting diversity in practice. Proceedings of the 34th International Symposium on Social Work with Groups, London: Whiting and Birch.
  • 2011 - #33 – Long Beach, CA, USA: Lee, C., ed. (2014) Social group work: We are all in the same boat. Proceedings of the 33rd International Symposium on Social Work with Groups, London: Whiting and Birch.
  • 2010 - #32 – Montreal, Quebec, CA: Roy, V., Berteau, G., Dufault, S.F., eds. (2014). Strengthening social solidarity through group work: Research and creative process. Proceedings of the 32nd International Symposium on Social Work with Groups, London: Whiting and Birch.
  • 2009 – #31 – Chicago, IL, US: Bergart, A., Simon, S. R., & Doel, M. eds.(2009). Group work: Honoring our roots, nurturing our growth. Proceedings of the 31st International Symposium on Social Work with Groups, London: Whiting and Birch.
  • 2008 – #30 – Köln, GERMANY: Mensch (CD only)
  • 2007 – #29 – Jersey City, New Jersey, US: Tully, Greg, Palombo, Susanne, & Sweeney, Kathy, eds. 2012. Groups: gateways to growth. London, England: Whiting & Birch.
  • 2006 - #28 - San Diego, CA, US: Moyse Steinberg, Dominique, ed. (2011). Tuning in and orchestrating the power of groups: Beginnings, middles, and endings (Overture, movements, and finales. London, England: Whiting & Birch.
  • 2005 - #27 - Minneapolis, MN, US: Kuechler, Carol, ed. (2011). Group Work: Building Bridges of Hope. London, England: Whiting & Birch.
  • 2004 - #26 - Detroit, MI, US: Lamont, Alice, ed. (2010). Group work reaching across boundaries. London, England: Whiting & Birch.
  • 2003 - #25 - Boston, MA, US: Cohen, Marcia; Berman-Rossi, Lucia; & Fischer-Engel, eds. Holly 2010. Creating connections: Celebrating the power of groups. London, England: Whiting & Birch.
  • 2002 – #24 - New York City, US: Carol S. Cohen, Michael H. Phillips and Merdith Hanson, Editors. 2009. Think Group: Strength and Diversity Through Group Work: Routledge.
  • 2001 – #23 - Northeast Ohio, US: Claudia J. Carson, Anna S. Fritz, Elizabeth Lewis, John H. Ramey, and David T. Sugiuchi, Editors. 2004. Growth and Development Through Group Work. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc.
  • 2000 – #22 - Toronto, Ontario, CA: Nancy Sullivan, Ellen Sue Mesbur, Norma C. Lang, Deborah Goodman, and Lynne Mitchell, Editors. 2003. Social Work with Groups: Social Justice Through Personal, Community, and Societal Change. New York, The Haworth Press, Inc.
  • 1999 – #21 - Denver, Colorado, US: Sue Henry, Jean East, and Cathryne Schmitz. Editors. 2002 Mining the Gold in Social Work with Groups. New York: The Haworth press, Inc.
  • 1998 – #20 -Miami, Florida, US: Timothy B. Kelly, Toby Berman-Rossi, and Susanne Palombo, Editors. 2001. Strengthening Resilience Through Group Work. New York, The Haworth Press, Inc.
  • 1997 – #19 - Quebec City, Province of Quebec, CA: Separate French and English volumes. Plenary papers are the same (in English or French according to the language of the volumes), other selected papers are in their original French or English in the respective language volumes.
  • French: Sous la direction de René Auclair, Jocelyn Lindsay et Daniel Tourette. 1997. Groups Symposium 1997. Volume 46, Numéros 2 et 3, 1997, Service Social. Publication Officielle de l’École de service social (faculté des sciences sociales) de l‘Université Laval. Quebec.
  • English: Jocelyn Lindsay, Daniel Tourette, and Estelle Hopmeyer, Editors. 2003. Crossing Boundaries and Developing Alliances Through Group Work. New York, The Haworth Press, Inc.
  • 1996 – #18 - Ann Arbor, Michigan, US: Harvey Bertcher, Linda Farris Kurtz, and Alice Lamont, Editors. 1999. Rebuilding Communities: Challenges for Group Work. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc.
  • 1995 – #17 - San Diego, California, US: Joan K. Parry, Editor, 1997. From Prevention to Wellness Through Group Work. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc.
  • 1994 – #16 -Hartford, Connecticut, US: Albert S. Alissi and Catherine G. Corto Mergins .1997 Voices from the Field: Group Work Responds. New York: The Haworth Press.
  • 1993 – #15 - New York City, US: Roselle Kurland and Robert Salmon, Editors. 1995. Group Work Practice in a Troubled Society: Problems and Opportunities. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc.
  • 1992 – #14 - Atlanta, Georgia, US: Benj. L. Stempler, Marilyn Glass, with Christine M. Savinelli, Editors. 1996. Social Group Work Today. And Tomorrow: Moving from Theory to Advanced Practice. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc.
  • 1991 – #13 - Akron, Ohio, US: Marvin D. Feit, John H. Ramey, John S. Wodarski, and Aaron R. Mann, Editors. 1995. Capturing the Power of Diversity. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc.
  • 1990 – #12 -Miami, Florida, US: David Fike and Barbara Rittner, Editors. Working from Strengths: The Essence of Group Work. Center for Group Work Studies. Out of print.
  • 1989 – #11 - Montreal, Quebec, CA: With editorial Assistance of Jocelyn Lindsay and Jean-Pierre Landriault. Innovation – Tradition: Social Work with Groups and the Challenge of Change: Le service social des groupes et le défi dechangement societal. Montreal: The Coordinating Committee of the 11th Annual Symposium on Social Work with Groups. Two volumes. Papers printed in original English or French as presented.
  • 1988 – #10 - Baltimore, Maryland, US: Paul H. Ephross, Stanley Wenocur, and Thomas V. Vassil, Editors. 1993 Social Work with Groups: Expanding Horizons. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc. Also published as Social Work with Groups, Volume 16, Numbers 1/2 1993.
  • 1987 – #9 – Boston, Massachusetts, US: James A. Garland, Editor. 1992. Reaching Out: People, Places and Power. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc. Also published as Social Work with Groups., Volume 15, Numbers 2/3, 1992. This book is available at Amazon.com.
  • 1986 – #8 -Los Angeles, California, US: Marie Weil, Kenneth Chau, and Dannia Sutherland, Editors. 1991. Theory and Practice in Social Group Work: Creative Connections. Published as Supplement #4 to Social Work with Groups. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc.
  • 1985 – #7 - New Brunswick, New Jersey, US: Marcos Leiderman, Martin L. Birnbaum, and Barbara Dazzo, Editors. 1988. Roots and New Frontiers in Social Group Work. Published as Supplement #3 to Social Work with Groups. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc. Out of print.
  • 1984 – #6 - Chicago, Illinois, US: Joseph Lassner, Kathleen Powell, and Elaine Finnegan, Editors. 1987. Social Group Work: Competence and Values in Practice. Published as Supplement #2, Social Work with Groups. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc.
  • 1983 – #5 - Detroit, Michigan, US: Marvin Parnes, Editor. 1986. Innovations in Social Group Work: Feedback from Practice to Theory. Published as Supplement #1, Social Work with Groups. New York: The Haworth Press, Inc. Out of print.
  • 1982 – #4 - Toronto, Ontario, CA: Norma C. Lang and Christine Marshall, Editors. 1983. Patterns in the Mosaic: Patterns and Issues in Contemporary Practice: Purpose, Context, and Technology. Toronto: Committee for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups. 2 volumes. This was out of print but then reprinted. Check for availability from the Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, 246 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1A1.
  • 1981 – #3 - Hartford, Connecticut, US: Norman N. Goroff, Editor. 1983. Reaping from the Field – From Practice to Principle. Hebron, Connecticut, Practitioners Press. 2 volumes. Out of print.
  • 1980 – #2 -- Arlington, Texas, US: Paul H. Glasser and Nazneen S. Mayadas, Editors, 1986. Group Workers at Work: Theory and Practice in the ‘80s. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • 1979 – #1 – Cleveland, Ohio, US: Sonia Leib Abels, and Paul Abels, Editors. 1981. Social Work with Groups: Proceedings 1979 Symposium. Louisville, Kentucky, Committee for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups. Out of print.

IASWG Honorees

Each year the International Association for Social Work with Groups honors individual members who have made significant contributions to our organization. Below are our IASWG Honorees from past symposia:

  • 2020 - Virtual: 
  • 2019 - New York City: Andrew Malekoff
  • 2018 - South Africa: Reineth (CE) Prinsloo
  • 2017 - New York City: Ginette Berteau, Shirley Simon
  • 2016 - New York City: Urania (Ronnie) Glassman
  • 2015 - Chapel Hill: Nancy Sullivan
  • 2014 - Calgary: Ann Bergart 
  • 2013 – Boston: Jurgen Kalcher & Hubie Jones
  • 2012 – Garden City: Ellen Sue Mesbur
  • 2011 – Long Beach: Mark Doel & Alex Gitterman
  • 2010 – Montreal: Steve Kraft, Robert Salmon, & David Ward
  • 2009 – Chicago: Janice Andrews-Schenk, Tobi Berman-Rossi, & Carol and John Ramey
  • 2008 – Cologne: Sonia Leib Abels, Paul H. Ephross, Jeanne Gill, & Joan Parry
  • 2007 – Jersey City: Leonard Brown, Michael H. Phillips, Lawrence Shulman
  • 2006 – San Diego: Maeda Galinsky & Martin Birnbaum
  • 2005 – Minneapolis: Roselle Kurland & Gisela Konopka
  • 2004 – Detroit: Judith A. B. Lee
  • 2003 – Boston: Albert S. Alissi, Heinz J. Kersting, & Bill Cohen / Haworth Press, Inc.
  • 2002 – New York City: Marcos Leiderman & Goerge Getzel
  • 2001 – Northeast Ohio: Marvin D. Feit, Sue Henry, Charles D. Garvin & Anna Snyman Fritz
  • 2000 – Toronto: Paul Abels & Alex Gitterman
  • 1999 – Denver: Bernard J. Wohl & Irving H. Kaplan
  • 1998 – Miami: James A. Garland & Margot Breton
  • 1997 – Quebec City
  • 1996 – Ann Arbor: Allan Brown & Mary Lou Mahaffey
  • 1995 – San Diego
  • 1994 – Hartford
  • 1993 – New York City
  • 1992 – 14 - Atlanta
  • 1991 – Akron: Walter W. Hill, Joseph Lassner, Malvin Morton & Vernon Odom
  • 1990 – Miami
  • 1989 – Montreal
  • 1988 – Baltimore
  • 1987 – Boston
  • 1986 – Los Angeles
  • 1985 – New Brunswick
  • 1984 – Chicago
  • 1983 – Detroit
  • 1982 – Toronto
  • 1981 – Hartford
  • 1980 – Arlington
  • 1979 – Cleveland