Groups in Community and Agency Settings


Niloufer M. Merchant & Carole J. Yozamp

  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Text Size

  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Other Books in the Group Work Practice Kit

    What Is Group Work? (9781483332314)

    Effective Planning for Groups (9781483332307)

    How to Form a Group (9781483332291)

    Groups: Fostering a Culture of Change (9781483332284)

    How to Select and Apply Change Strategies in Groups (9781483332277)

    How to Help Leaders and Members Learn from Their Group Experience (9781483332260)

    How Leaders Can Assess Group Counseling (9781483332253)

    Group Work in Schools (9781483332239)


    In memory of my mother and father, Salma and Mohsin Kapadia

    —Niloufer M. Merchant

    In memory of my mother and father, Mary and Thomas Murray

    —Carole J. Yozamp

    … who inspired us to pursue our education and believe in our dreams!


    View Copyright Page


    We would like to thank Katie Gunderson-Eccleston for assisting us with the many detailed tasks for the book. We thank our families, who were patient and supportive during the writing of this book. Most important, we thank Bob Conyne for the opportunity to share our experience and passion related to group work.

  • Conclusion

    As limited resources impact communities and the services provided, groups will continue to grow in popularity as a cost-effective means to provide prevention, intervention, and post-intervention treatment. As described in detail throughout the book, effective implementation of groups can be accomplished by following the three Ps delineated in the ASGW Best Practice Guidelines (Thomas & Pender, 2008): planning (assessing need and identifying group goals, structure, resources, member screening, and facilitators), performing (generating meaning and therapeutic conditions necessary to maximize the group experience), and processing (the reflective practice of processing group workings with members, supervisors, and colleagues, essential to evaluation and group outcome). Groups are an effective means to bring people together to solve problems, support one another, and accomplish tasks while providing safety and a sense of belonging. The ASGW Multicultural and Social Justice Competence Principles for Group Workers (Singh, Merchant, Skudrzyk, & Ingene, 2012) provide a framework for culturally responsive group work application with diverse populations.

    What is in store for the future of group work? As the world advances in technology, new problems will continue to emerge, such as cyberbullying and online access to harmful substances or predators. New technology requires a different means of intervention to reach tech-savvy individuals. It may mean that practitioners have a more immediate means to connect with group members outside of the actual group meeting.

    Political decisions have a tremendous impact on health care, the military, financial supports, and strategies to help people. If institutions and agencies do not support prevention programs and health insurance does not cover treatment unless it has been diagnosed as a specific disorder, we may be missing opportunities to detect and treat problems before they become life threatening. The decision to send men and women into combat increases the likelihood that they will return with trauma-related issues. This concern will increase the need for services specific to this population. The economy has made it difficult to seek employment, while others have lost jobs. This has increased problems such as substance abuse, depression, and anxiety. Financial restraints have impacted states and counties, limiting their ability to fund services for adults, adolescents, and children with mental health concerns. With the increase in need and the lack of funding, many individuals will go without the assistance they require. Groups are a cost-efficient measure to meet the growing demand for these services.

    As stated earlier, groups can sometimes be blurred depending on the type of setting and the approach used by group facilitators or members. Research is difficult, because there is disagreement as to the objective assessment of efficacy. Moreover, there is often a dichotomy between academic theory and clinical practice. Oftentimes, what is learned in the classroom is not practical in an agency setting. These areas of concern provide an opportunity to bridge academics with practice by following the ASGW framework of professional training standards, which define the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary to do group work. These concepts give rise to the evolution under way to make group work training more consistent with the growing intensity and diversity of demands for group work practice.

    As an academic (Merchant) and practitioner (Yozamp) in the field of counseling, we hope that you will appreciate not only the importance of applying academics to group work but also the equal necessity to modify academics based on what works in clinical practice.

    Learning Activities

    Chapter 2: Prevention Groups
    • Think about what prevention groups were offered in your junior high or high school. What kind of prevention group was it, and how did it benefit the participants as well as the school?
    • Explore the timeline of how prevention groups have changed. For instance, what kinds of topics and groups were offered in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and in the past 10 to 15 years? Do you see a change in the type of prevention groups offered over the years?
    • Check out what types of wellness programs are available on your campus and in your community. Are any of those programs group based? If so, what type of group, as defined by the Association for Specialists in Group Work, would it fall under?
    • Research the long-term effectiveness of popular prevention groups—for example D.A.R.E. (Drug Awareness Resource Education), antibullying groups, and so on.
    • Assume that you are going to implement an after-school group for adolescents in a low-income housing complex. What type of group would you set up, and what multicultural and social justice issues are likely to be addressed in such a setting?
    Chapter 3: Groups in Remedial Treatment Settings
    • Assume that you are in an inpatient hospital treatment setting for mental health issues and are asked to implement a group for clients who are depressed or have suicidal ideation. What type of group would you set it up as, and what are some key planning, performing, and processing issues you would consider?
    • How would you deal with a group member who is unresponsive to group interventions and process?
    • How would you determine whether the group is effective or not?
    • Identify three types of agencies or settings that offer remedial groups in your community.
    Chapter 4: Support and Self-Help Groups
    • What motivating factors might prompt a person to join a support group?
    • As a group facilitator, what therapeutic factors would you want to develop in a support group?
    • Find an open self-help group in your community and attend a session (after obtaining appropriate permission). What type of ideology does that self-help group promote?
    • What types of support groups and self-help groups are offered on your campus and in your community? Are the self-help and support groups described in distinct ways, or are they considered to be one and the same?


    Al-Anon (2008). Courage to change. Baltimore, MD: Alanon Family Group Publisher.
    Alcoholics Anonymous. (2013). Estimates of A.A. groups and members as of January 1, 2013. Retrieved from
    American heritage dictionary of the English language (
    4th ed.
    ). (2009). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
    American Self-Help Group Clearinghouse. (2013, July). Self-help group sourcebook online. Retrieved from
    Anonymous. (1996). Twenty-four hours a day. Center City, MN: Hazelden.
    Blustein, D. L. (1982). Using informal groups in cross-cultural counseling. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 7(4), 260–265.
    Bowen, S., Chawla, N., & Marlatt, A. G. (2011). Mindfulness-based relapse prevention for addictive behaviors: A clinician's guide. New York: Guilford Press.
    Chojnacki, J. T., & Gelberg, S. (1995). The facilitation of a gay/lesbian/bisexual support therapy group by heterosexual counselors. Journal of Counseling & Development, 73, 352–354.
    Cohen, J. A., Mannarino, A. P., & Deblinger, E. (2006). Treating trauma and traumatic grief in children and adolescents. New York: Guilford Press
    Conyne, R. K. (1991). Gains in primary prevention: Implications for the counseling profession. Journal of Counseling and Development, 69, 277–279.
    Conyne, R. K. (2000). Prevention in counseling psychology: At long last, has the time now come?Counseling Psychologist, 28, 838–844.
    Conyne, R. K. (2003). Best practice in leading prevention groups. The Group Worker, 32, 10–13.
    Conyne, R. K. (2004). Prevention groups. In J. L.DeLucia-Waack, D.Gerrity, C.Kalodner, & M.Riva (Eds.), Handbook of group counseling and psychotherapy (pp. 621–630). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    Conyne, R. K. (2010). Prevention program development and evaluation: An incidence reduction, culturally relevant approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    Conyne, R. K., & Bemak, F. (2004). Teaching group work from an ecological perspective. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 29, 7–18.
    Conyne, R. K., & Horne, A. (2001). The current status of groups being used for prevention. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 26, 289–292.
    Conyne, R. K., & Wilson, F. R. (1999). Psychoeducation group training program [Video]. New York: Insight Media.
    Conyne, R. K., & Wilson, F. R. (2000). Division 49 position paper: Recommendations of the task group for the use of groups for prevention. Group Psychologist, 11, 10–11.
    Delucia-Waack, J. L. (1997). What do we need to know about group work a cull for future research and theory. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 22(3), 146–148.
    DeLucia-Waack, J. L., Gerrity, D. A., Kalodner, C. R., & Riva, M. T. (Eds.). (2004). Handbook of group counseling and psychotherapy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    Elliott, T. R., Rivera, P., & Tucker, E. (2004). Groups in behavioral health and medical settings. In J. L.Delucia-Waack, D. A.Gerrity, C. R.Kalodner, & M. T.Riva (Eds.), Handbook of group counseling and psychotherapy (pp. 338–350). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    Emer, D. (2004). The use of groups in inpatient facilities: Needs, focus, successes, and remaining dilemmas. In J. L.Delucia-Waack, D. A.Gerrity, C. R.Kalodner, & M. T.Riva (Eds.), Handbook of group counseling and psychotherapy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. (2013). Support groups. Retrieved from
    Foy, D. W., Eriksson, C. B., & Trice, G. A. (2001). Introduction to group interventions for trauma survivors. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 5(4), 246–251.
    Fredrickson, B. (2009). Positivity. New York: Crown.
    Frew, J. E. (1986). Leadership approaches to achieve maximum therapeutic potential in mutual support groups. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 11(2), 93–99.
    Fukkink, R. G., & Hermans, J. M. (2009). Children's experiences with chat support and telephone support. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 759–766.
    Gallagher-Thompson, D., Arean, P., Rivera, P., & Thompson, L. W. (2001). A psychoeducational intervention to reduce distress in Hispanic family caregivers. Clinical Gerontologist, 23, 17–32.
    Gazda, G., & Pistole, C. (1985). Life skills training: A model. Counseling and Human Development, 19, 1–7.
    Gladding, S. T. (2011). Groups: A counseling specialty (
    6th ed.
    ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
    Greif, G. L., & Ephross, P. H. (Eds.). (2005). Group work with populations at risk. New York: Oxford Press.
    Haberstroh, S., & Moyer, M. (2012). Exploring an online self-injury support group: Perspectives from group members. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 37(2), 113–132.
    Hage, S., & Romano, J. (2010). History of prevention and prevention groups: Legacy for the 21st century. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research and Practice, 14, 199–210.
    Harpine, E. C., Nitza, A., & Conyne, R. (2010). Prevention groups: Today and tomorrow. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research and Practice, 10(3), 268–280.
    Higginbotham, H. N., West, S. G., & Forsyth, D. R. (1988). Psychotherapy and behavior change: Social, cultural, and methodological perspectives. New York: Pergamon Press.
    Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain and illness. New York: Dell.
    Kupprat, S. A., Dayton, A. B., Guschlbauer, A., & Halkitis, P. (2009). Case manager-reported utilization of support group, substance use and mental health services among HIV-positive women in New York City. AIDS Care, 21(7), 874–880.
    Kurtz, L. F. (1997). Self-help and support groups: A handbook for practitioners. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    Kyrouz, E. M., Humphreys, K., & Loomis, C. (2002). A review of research on the effectiveness of self-help mutual aid groups. In B.White & E. J.Madara (Eds.), Self-help group sourcebook (
    7th ed.
    , pp. 1–16). Denville, NJ: Saint Clares Health Services.
    Merchant, N. M. (2006). Multicultural and diversity competent group work. In J.Trotzer (Ed.), The counselor and the group (
    4th ed.
    , pp. 319–349). Philadelphia: Accelerated Development.
    Merchant, N. M. (2009). Types of diversity-related groups. In C.Salazar (Ed.), Group work experts share their favorite multicultural activity: A guide to diversity competent choosing, planning, conducting and processing (pp. 13–24). Alexandria, VA: Association for Specialists in Group Work.
    Merchant, N. M., & Butler, M. (2002). Psychoeducational group for ethnic-minority adolescents in a predominantly White treatment setting. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 27(3), 314–332.
    National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2012). About NAMI. Retrieved from
    Owens, P. C., & Kulic, K. R. (2001). What's needed now: Using groups for prevention. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 26, 205–210.
    Page, B. J., Delmonico, D. L., Walsh, J., L'amoreaux, N. A., Danninhirsh, C., Thompson, R. S., et al. (2000). Setting up on-line support groups using the Palace software. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 25(2), 133–145.
    Parents Anonymous. (2012). Vision, mission and history. Retrieved from
    Pearson, R. E. (1983). Support groups: A conceptualization. Personnel and Guidance Journal, 61, 361–364.
    Pollio, D. E., & Macgowan, M. J. (2010). From the guest editors: Introduction to evidence-based group work in community settings. Social Work with Groups, 33, 98–101.
    Recovery International. (2013). History of Recovery International. Retrieved from
    Riordan, R., & Beggs, M. (1987). Counselors and self-help groups. Journal of Counseling and Development, 65, 427–429.
    Romano, J. L., & Hage, S. M. (2000). Prevention and counseling psychology: Revitalizing commitments for the 21st century. Counseling Psychologist, 28, 733–763.
    Schopler, J. H., & Galinsky, M. J. (1995). Expanding our view of support groups as open systems. Social Work with Groups, 18(1), 3–10.
    Silverman, P. (2002). Understanding self-help groups. In B.White & E. J.Madara (Eds.), The self-help group sourcebook: Your guide to community and online support groups (
    7th ed.
    , pp. 25–38). Denville, NJ: Saint Clares Health Services.
    Singh, A., Merchant, N., Skudrzyk, B., & Ingene, D. (2012). Association for Specialists in Group Work: Multicultural and social justice competence principles for group workers. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 37(4), 277–296.
    Smith, K. (2012, April 29). 5 prevention programs GOP hopes to target. Politico. Retrieved from
    Society for Prevention Research. (2009). A call for bold action to support prevention programs and policies. Retrieved from
    Solomon, P. (2004). Peer support/peer provided services underlying processes, benefits, and critical ingredients. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 27(4), 392–401.
    Strozier, A. L. (2012). The effectiveness of support groups in increasing social support for kinship caregivers. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(5), 876–888.
    Subrahmanyan, L., & Merchant, N. (2006). Cultural identity psychoeducational groups: A multidisciplinary, multi-aged, and multi-institutional approach. Group Worker, 35(1).
    Thomas, R. V., & Pender, D. A. (2008). Association for Specialists in Group Work: Best practice guidelines 2007 revisions. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 33, 111–117.
    Waldo, M., & Bauman, S. (1998). Regrouping the categorization of group work: A goals and process (GAP) matrix for groups. Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 23, 164–176.
    Wilson, F. R., Rapin, L. S., & Haley-Banez, L. (2000). Professional standards for the training of group workers. Retrieved from
    Yalom, I. D. (1983). Inpatient group psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.
    Yalom, I. D. (with Leszcz, M.). (2005). Theory and practice of group psychotherapy (
    5th ed.
    ). New York: Basic Books.

    About the Authors

    Niloufer M. Merchant, EdD, LP, NCC, has been a professor in the Community Psychology undergraduate and Community Counseling graduate programs at St. Cloud State University (SCSU) since 1991. She is an active member of the American Counseling Association (ACA) and Association for Specialists in Group Work (ASGW), a division of ACA. She served as president of ASGW in 2011–2012. She has held other leadership positions, including department chair (2004–2010), board president for the Multicultural Center of Central Minnesota (2005–2007), interim director of the SCSU Women's Center (2002–2003), and interim cultural diversity director for St. Cloud School District (1999–2000). Merchant is a licensed psychologist and national certified counselor, providing clinical and consulting services in the community. She also provides in-services and trainings in the area of cultural competence. Her scholarship and interest areas include group work, multicultural counseling and competence, women's issues, mindfulness-based practices, and social justice issues. She is coauthor of the ASGW Multicultural and Social Justice Competence Principles for Group Workers (2012).

    Carole J. Yozamp, MS, LPC, was employed as a clinical manager/therapist in residential treatment at the St. Cloud Children's Home in St. Cloud, Minnesota, starting in 2005. Recently, Yozamp accepted a new position as staff psychotherapist at a partial mental health hospitalization program for adolescents. Carole is a licensed professional counselor with a master of science in community psychology and criminal justice. She has an extensive work history with the University of Minnesota Extension Service and the Minnesota Department of Corrections. She is a skilled individual, family, and group facilitator.

    • Loading...
Back to Top

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website