Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

4 hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent with additional time spent in preparation of group work activities for class.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Social workers work in groups and develop and offer group work to clients. This unit focuses on the theoretical models and skills for social work intervention in groups in a range of settings and contexts. The theory examined and critically appraised includes, models of group stage and progression, group dynamics, psycho-education groups, mutual aid groups, concepts of group care, counselling groups, principles for effective team work and solution focussed group work applied to a variety of practice contexts and with diverse populations. The experiential component requires students to plan a group program and participate in leading and facilitating groups. Students will select a specific population group or context for application of models for group work intervention from the following: aged; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; corrections; cultural and linguistic diversity; disability; health; income security and poverty; mental health and rural and remote. 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 - Critically evaluate the efficacy of various models for group based intervention applied to specific groups of vulnerable people (, GA4,GA5,);

LO2 - Explain the integration and application of social work practice processes and theories for work with groups using specific methods (GA5,GA8,GA9);

LO3 - Demonstrate high level oral and written communication skills and advanced skills in planning and conducting a group program and critically evaluate the conduct of group programs (GA1,  GA4,GA5, , GA7,GA8,GA9);

LO4 - Identify and critique social work practice skills in working with groups of people from diverse cultural backgrounds (GA1,GA4,GA5);

LO5 - Critically reflect on the therapeutic use of  self, the impact of personal values, and the applicability of professional ethics and values in a variety of group work contexts (GA3,GA4,GA5);

Graduate attributes

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

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

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


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
  • 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
  • managing process and content needs of groups
  • 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.
  • Evaluation in group work

Models for Group Interventions

  • problem solving approaches
  • decision making approaches
  • strengths perspective
  • working with resistance - motivational interviewing

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 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 students 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 ability to plan a group program and effectively advocate for its value through a written proposal. Advocating for client needs and services is a key skill for professional practice, achieving professional comittments 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, 2,3,6). Assessment 2 will assess students’ skills in facilitating a group to determine their ability to effectively deliver a group work session and demonstrate emergingprofessional competence (LO3,4,6). Assessment three enables students to integrate the knowledge and practice of group work by reflecting on group progression and the role of facilitation in group work inline with their role-play experiences (LO2,3,4,5,6). 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

Submission for a Group Proposal: Enables students to present a proposal that advocates for a group program to meet client needs


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO6

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

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


LO2, LO3, LO6

GA1, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA9

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


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Brandler, S., & Roman, C. (2016). Group work: skills and strategies for effective interventions (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Conyne, R. (2013). Group work leadership: an introduction for helpers. Los Angeles: Sage. 

Corey, M., CoreyG. & Corey, C. (2014). Groups: process and practice (9th ed.). California: 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.). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

Furlong, M. (2013). Building the client’s relational base: a multidisciplinary handbook. Bristol: Policy Press.

Lindsay, T. & Orton, S. (2014), Groupwork Practice in Social Work (3rd ed.). Learning Matters, UK.

Malekoff, A. (2015). Group work with adolescents: Principles and practice. Guilford Publications.

Ochre, G. (2013), Getting Our Act Together – How to Harness the Power of Groups. Groupwork Press, Melbourne.

Zastrow, C. (2015), Social Work with Groups (9th Ed), Brooks/Cole, USA.

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