SOCW 6121 Wk 5 Responses

  
RESPONSE 
Respond to two colleagues who identified different empowerment strategies than you by assessing their likelihood of success
Colleague 1: Ladeisha 
Communication:
According to Toseland and Rivas (2017), “Verbal and nonverbal communications are the components of social interaction” (p.68). Communication is the process by which people convey meanings to each other by using symbols. Communication entails (1) the encoding of a person’s perceptions, thoughts, and feelings into language and other symbols, (2) the transmission of these symbols or language, and (3) the decoding of the transmission by another person (Toseland & Rivas, p.68, 2017).   Effective communication is good in areas where clients, co-workers, decision-makers, policyholders, etc, are concerned. Effective communication disrupts down barriers and allows team members to be able to work through their problems, so they can meet their goals. 
cohesion
Group cohesion is the result of all forces acting on members to remain in a group (Festinger, 1950). According to Forsyth (2014), cohesion is made up of three components: (1) member-to-member attraction and a liking for the group as a whole, (2) a sense of unity and community so that the group is seen as a single entity, and (3) a sense of teamwork and esprit de corps with the group successfully performing as a coordinated unit. Establishing a group cohesion in a support group allows the participants to become whole and form some type of bond that will help them in their time of distress. The positive quality of a group who has cohesion is that it can solve challenging situations. 
social integration
According to Toseland and Rivas (2017), “Social integration refers to how members fit together and are accepted in a group” (p.83). for a group to successfully work, the participants are able to be compliant with the rules and regulations; for example, confidentiality. The group should be able to accept the different cultures and belief system. 
Influence
According to Toseland and Rivas, (2017), “In groups with strong social influences, members give up a great deal of their freedom and individuality” (p.83). there can be negative and positive influences to support groups. One negative factor if a person breaks confidentiality. The next negative factor would be not allowing members to express themselves in a positive fashion. A positive influence on a group would be surrounded by people with like issues and being able to be themselves. 
Explain the interaction patterns and the level of group cohesion
According to Toseland, Jones, and Gellis (2004), “Interpersonal attraction contributes to subgroup formation and to the level of cohesion of the group as a whole” (p.16). The interaction patterns in the group and the level of group cohesion helps the participants to find themselves and be able to consider themselves powerful. 
Describe the social worker’s role in empowering members of the group. 
“(Empowerment) suggests a sense of control over one’s life in personality, cognition, and motivation. It expresses itself at the level of feelings, at the level of ideas about self-worth, at the level of being able to make a difference in the world around us (Social Policy, 15, 1985. p. 15-21). As a social worker, I would empower members by helping to realize their strengths. Strengths are something they are good at and or do well such as being a truck driver, barber, mother, etc. The social worker would become involved in what in the engage of the group to ensure no rules are being broken and by doing this, this would empower the group to become bigger and better. 
Explain the importance of empowerment in group work and strategies of empowerment that you might implement with this group.
It is important for empowerment to be in a group because the clients are there because they are lacking something whether it is self-worth, love, etc. Or they are there because they are struggling with an ongoing issue. Strategies for empowerment are provided so that resources and interventions are given that will work for the client. 
Resources
Festinger, L. (1950). Informal social communication. Psychological Review, 57(5), 271–282. doi:10.1037/h0056932
Forsyth, D. R. (2014). Group dynamics (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Rappaport, J. (1985). The power of empowerment language. Social Policy, 15:2:15-21.
Toseland, R. W., & Rivas, R. F. (2017). An introduction to group work practice (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
Toseland, R. W., Jones, L. V. & Gellis, Z. D. (2004). Handbook of Social Work with Groups, Charles D. Garvin, Lorraine M. Gutierrez, Maeda J. Galinsky: Guilford Publications. 
Colleague 2: Damian
Leading group is an essential element of social work practice. As a clinician, there will be many instances were leading or formulating a group will be a huge part of your work. Understanding group, the different types of groups, and how they operate is paramount. Support groups are very popular in social work practice. Especially since they have been demonstrated to provoke fundamental change in client progress, and provide tools that are not received from anywhere else. According to Price, Butow, and Kirsten (2006), although participants in support groups may gain support from family, and friends, but their interest and participation in the support group essentially suggests that there are specific support needs being met in these groups, that are not being met elsewhere. Support groups allow individuals who are dealing with similar conditions, come together, share their difficult experiences, and support each other through it. Often, when individuals deal with severe health issues such as cancer, HIV, etc., or mental health needs, they become isolated and try to deal with these difficult situations on their own. Support groups have shifted this way of thinking, and has demonstrated its effectiveness. 
Support groups are a form of evidenced based treatment, and are utilized by social workers, and other mental health providers for various issues. However, developing a support group is not always easy. Understanding group typologies and dynamics are critical. As a group leader, and an expert on the group issue, it is your job to set the tone and develop the dynamics. There are very serious elements to consider: Communication, cohesion, social integration, and interaction.  Group is bigger than sitting in a circle, talking; but it is having the ability to develop relationships, have effective communication about real issues, and work together to synthesize real issues. 
Group member’s ability to communicate and interact is a crucial component of group practice. In fact, it is very challenging to lead a group who does not communicate or interact. This is why the leader is responsible for setting the tone, and ensuring all participants feel safe, and comfortable. According to Price, Butow, and Kirsten (2006), the role of the group leader is to encourage the development of group cohesion and structure, to moderate any difficulties and provide any information. 
Cancer patients, and other participants of support groups attend these groups because they have a desire to escape their current state of feelings and emotion. This can be fear, anxiety, sadness, depression, etc. This is why the social worker must have the ability to empower the group, and help them overcome their battle with fear and depression. This requires for the social worker to be knowledgeable, and have an engaging personality.  Empowerment is an immense aspect of leading the support group. Clients present with an expectation, and that expectation is to gain some optimism, encouragement, and relief (Price, Butow, and Kirsten, 2006). Knowing that participants have an expectation could be a great way to help with shaping group cohesion, and dynamic. In the beginning, it may be a good idea for the social worker to discuss the purpose of group, but to also include the participants on the goal setting and hopes for outcomes. This ensures that there are no gray areas, and can also help with the reduction of fear. 
Reference
Price, M., Butow, P., & Kirsten, L. (2006). Support and training needs of cancer support group leaders: a review. Psycho-Oncology, 15(8), 651-663.

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