Diversity in Group Work: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

By Robert Basso, William Pelech and Edcil Wickham.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Rapid demographic changes have increased the need for culturally sensitive practice in all professions. This paper describes an inquiry set out to learn how practitioners from pastoral counseling, psychology and social work conceptualize and use diversity in their groups. A grounded theory approach was adopted involving interviews with seven counselors drawn from six different community-based organizations. Notwithstanding the participants differing professional affiliations, we found that there was general confusion about the term “diversity” among all respondents. Practitioners usually established groups by inviting potential members based upon a variety of commonalities. Practitioners offered little on how one can strategically use diversity within a group to promote group development or achieve therapeutic goals. Indeed, evident in their responses was some ambivalence about the benefits and challenges posed by diversity in groups. In working with diversity, practitioners suggested open discussion about the differences evident in the group. They also recommended that time be taken to learn about and really listen to diverse members, and try to see the world through their eyes. Given these findings and the paucity of related research, further research into how practitioners can harness diversity in service of group development and therapeutic goals is clearly warranted.

Keywords: Group Work, Diversity, Interdisciplinary, Qualitative Research, Group Development

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.135-144. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 657.188KB).

Dr. Robert Basso

Associate Professor, Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Dr. William Pelech

Associate Professor, Social Work, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Dr. William Pelech is an Associate Professor and Director, elearning and Distance Education in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary. His research interests include northern and Aboriginal social work, community development, curriculum design, group work, group psychotherapy, group leadership, FASD and child welfare, social policy, ethics and values, intergenerational trauma and first nations people, field education, spirituality, diversity and change, and Indigenous social work education and practice.

Edcil Wickham

Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada


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