Credit points


Campus offering

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SWTP220 Field Education in Social Work 1 OR SWTP333 Social Work Field Education 1

Teaching organisation

Teaching and learning strategies for this unit will include lectures, small group discussions, skill development workshops and/or LEO online activities.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Social workers work in groups and develop and offer group work to clients. This unit focuses on the development of knowledge and skills in working with groups as an essential part of social work practice. It will examine the theoretical models and skills necessary for work with diverse groups in a range of settings and contexts, including group dynamics, psycho–education groups, mutual aid groups, concepts of group care, counselling groups, principles for effective team work and solution focussed group work. The unit will build on the ethical principles underpinning social work practice through examination of a range of ethical issues that regularly confront practitioners in group work practice. The experiential learning will provide students with practice in planning and facilitating groups, as well as critical reflection on group processes and the use of self. The aim of this unit is to provide students with knowledge and skills in group work, a key area of social work intervention, including an understanding of the benefits of group work, knowledge for running groups effectively, and skills in planning and facilitation of groups.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Demonstrate skills in planning and facilitating a group program (GA1, GA2, GA7, GA9)

LO2 - Critically evaluate the conduct of group programs (GA4, GA5, GA8) 

LO3 - Integrate knowledge of group work theory, processes and dynamics in the development of an appropriate model of group work in a range of contexts and diverse population groups (GA4, GA5)

LO4 - Integrate knowledge of social work ethics in social work practice with groups (GA1, GA2, GA5)

LO5 - Apply social work practice processes and theories for work with groups (GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO6 - Demonstrate the skills of reflective practice in all aspects of social work practice with groups, including a critical understanding of the use of self and social work professional identity (GA4, GA6, GA8). 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

AASW Practice Standards (2013)

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

4.2 Understand and articulate social work and other relevant theories and concepts

5.1 Conduct an assessment and analysis of needs to inform the services being offered


1.1  Practice in accordance with the Code of Ethics (2010)

3.1 Work respectfully and inclusively with cultural difference and diversity

3.2 respect, strive to understand and promote the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their cultures

5.4 Apply critical and reflective thinking to practice


4.2 Understand and articulate social work and other relevant theories and concepts

4.4 Understand and articulate how and when theories, knowledge bases and knowledge sources inform practice

5.4 Apply critical and reflective thinking to practice


1.1  Practice in accordance with the Code of Ethics (2010)

1.2  Manage ethical dilemmas in practice

2.1 Represent the social work profession with integrity and professionalism

5.3 use a range of specific social work methods and techniques appropriate to area of practice


4.4 Understand and articulate how and when theories, knowledge bases and knowledge sources inform practice

5.3 use a range of specific social work methods and techniques appropriate to area of practice

5.4 Apply critical and reflective thinking to practice

6.1 Effectively communicate with a diverse range of people.


5.3 use a range of specific social work methods and techniques appropriate to area of practice

5.4 Apply critical and reflective thinking to practice



Topics will include:

Social Work Theories with Groups

  • group norm theories
  • use of power
  • leadership and leadership style theories
  • cohesion and conflict theories
  • verbal and non-verbal communication theories
  • theories of the change process

Types of Groups

  • working with diverse groups
  • self-help groups
  • mutual aid groups
  • social work with families
  • task groups
  • educational groups
  • treatment groups with diverse and vulnerable populations
  • groups with involuntary clients

Group Processes

  • purpose and goals of groups
  • group dynamics
  • group rules
  • skills involved in group work
  • forming and leading a group
  • group composition and recruitment
  • open or closed groups
  • co-leadership in groups 
  • gender and group work
  • creativity and group work
  • group care
  • dealing with challenging behaviour in group work
  • ethical issues in group work

Stages of Group Development

Groups in the beginning phase

  • Group characteristics at the initial stage
  • Creating trust: leader and member roles
  • Group process concepts at the initial stage (group norms, group cohesion)
  • Leader issues at the initial stage
  • Techniques for getting started and moving on

Groups in the middle phase

  • Member issues in early–middle, middle–middle and end–middle phase
  • Worker's role: use of self and issues of authority
  • Issues of control, confrontation, cohesion, compromise, catharsis
  • Techniques for dealing with conflict and difficult group members
  • Working with fears and resistance.

Groups in the ending phase

  • Member issues e.g., affection, disillusionment, acceptance
  • Worker's role
  • Working with intense emotions: grieving
  • Reviewing highlights, evaluating effectiveness
  • Exploring separation, projecting the future.
  • How will the group be evaluated?

Models for Group Interventions

  • problem solving approaches
  • decision making approaches
  • strengths perspective
  • working with resistance - motivational interviewing
  • Narrative therapy in groups
  • Solution-focused group work 
  • Group work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of learning with 36 hours of face-to-face lectures, and interactive tutorials, and compulsory role-play workshops. Lectures will provide detailed content about the theory of group work, good facilitation, and how to manage challenges that arise. Tutorials will incorporate group work activities, first modeled by the lecturer and then facilitated by students in the second half of the unit. This will ensure students have an opportunity to participate in group work and understand the experience of being a participant in groups, as well as practice their skills in facilitation. As a skills unit there is an 80% attendance requirement to ensure feedback on, and practice, development, and assessment of, core social work practice skills. The assessments for this unit provide students a work-like opportunity to plan and present a proposal advocating for a group to meet client needs, as well as apply their knowledge to practice by reflecting on group progression and receiving feedback on their facilitation skills. This approach ensures theory and skills for group work are practiced, integrated and applied, preparing stuents for successful professional practice.           

Assessment strategy and rationale

This unit takes an authentic assessment approach allowing students to demonstrate their learning and competency in scenarios relevant to social work practice with groups. The first assessment is designed for students to demonstrate their knowledge of group development, in particular the ability to plan a group program and effectively advocate for its value through a written proposal. Advocating for client needs and required service delivery to meet these needs is a key skill for professional practice, achieving professional commitments outlined by the Australian Association of Social Workers to social justice and individual wellbeing, and articulating the value of group work interventions in a professional written format (LO1,3,5). Assessment 2 will assess the assimilation of group work skills, applied through the facilitation of  a group session in order to demonstrate emerging professional competence in this field of practice (LO1,3,4,5). Assessment three enables students to apply their knowledge of group work by reflecting on group progression, the role of facilitation in group work, ethics in groupwork, and the use of self, inline with their role-play experiences (LO2,4,6). Together these assessments require students to demonstrate competency in the knowledge and skills of effective group work and the integration of theory and practice, to show entry level competency in planning, implementing, and evaluating group work interventions. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written assignment: Enables students to present a proposal that advocates for a group program to meet client needs 


LO1, LO3, LO5

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Group Facilitation Assignment: Enables students to facilitate a role-play group session and involves peer and lecturer assessment of skills


LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5

GA1, GA2,GA5, GA6, GA7, GA9

Reflective assignment: Enables students to apply group work theory to practice to reflect on group progression, facilitation and the impact of self


LO2, LO4, LO6

GA1, GA2, GA4,GA8,GA9

Representative texts and references

Australian Association of Social Workers (2010). Code of ethics. Canberra: AASW.

Conyne, R. (2013). Group work leadership: An introduction for helpers. London: Sage.

Corey, M., Corey, G., & Corey, C. (2010). Groups: process and practice (8th ed.). USA: Thomas Brooks/Cole.

Doel, M., & Kelly, T. (2013). A-Z of groups and groupwork. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Dudgeon, P., Milroy, H., Walker, R. (Eds.) (2014) Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait  Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practice. (2nd ed). Commonwealth of Australia

Hartley, P., Dawson, M., & Dawson, M.(2010). Success in groupwork. London: Palgrave Macmillan. 

Lindsay, T. & Orton, S. (2014). Groupwork practice in social work (3rd ed.). Exeter: Learning Matters.

Ochre, G. (2013). Getting our act together: how to harness the power of groups. Melbourne: Groupwork Press.

Zastrow, C. (2015). Social work with groups: a comprehensive worktext (9th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning..

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