· Describe the social worker’s role in empowering members of the group.

Discussion1: Group Dynamic

Support groups offer a place where individuals who are dealing with difficult situations or conditions can find support and comfort. Many hospitals and agencies offer support groups for individuals living with a serious illness such as breast cancer. Someone living with a diagnosis of breast cancer might feel isolated, and a support group allows members to share similar experiences and feel that they are not alone. It is the role of the social worker to oversee the group dynamic and ensure that all members feel comfortable and safe sharing a very intimate part of their lives.

For this Discussion, review the “Breast Cancer Support Group” case study.

· Post your description of the group dynamic (communication, cohesion, social integration, influence) of this support group. 

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· Explain the interaction patterns and the level of group cohesion.

· Describe the social worker’s role in empowering members of the group.

· Explain the importance of empowerment in group work and strategies of empowerment that you might implement with this group.

References (use 3 or more)

Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen, S. M. (Eds.). (2014). Social work case studies: Concentration year. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing [Vital Source e-reader].

“Working With Groups: Breast Cancer Support Group” (pp. 35–36)

Toseland, R. W., & Rivas, R. F. (2017). An introduction to group work practice (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Chapter 3, “Understanding Group Dynamics” (pp. 67–97)

Drumm, K. (2006). The essential power of group work. Social Work With Groups, 29(2–3), 17–31.

Van Uden-Kraan, C. F., Drossaert, C. H., Taal, E., Shaw, B. R., Seydel, E. R., & van de Laar, M. A. (2008). Empowering processes and outcomes of participation in online support groups for patients with breast cancer, arthritis, or fibromyalgia. Qualitative Health Research, 18(3), 405–417.

Working With Groups: Breast Cancer Support Group

I am a social worker employed in the oncology department of a hospital. The department offers a weekly support group for breast cancer survivors, which I facilitate. The department team decided the group would not be structured but would be revolving and open-ended. The support group meets every Wednesday morning from 10:00–11:00 a.m. in the conference room in the oncology building. I assisted the department in developing fliers, which were placed at the reception desk in the radiation department where they are given to patients as they sign in for their radiation treatment.

I currently have six women in the support group of varying ages and cultural backgrounds. Group attendance fluctuates due to the open-ended revolving status, and I can have as many as 10 women in a group at any given time. I facilitate this group in an informal manner, letting the conversation and topics flow as the patients direct. I encourage all the women to share, but there are a few who dominate the group and group topics, making it difficult for those who are not as outgoing to speak up and discuss what is on their minds. I have also noticed that the support group can deteriorate when the conversation focuses on forms of treatment and when the participants begin to compare treatments. This often causes some participants to panic and voice concerns that they may not be receiving proper or adequate treatment. At these times the group can become slightly chaotic with cross talking and the more dominant women offering suggestions. I have addressed this issue by reminding the group members that they have different stages and forms of breast cancer, and therefore treatment plans will vary.

While it was determined at its conception that this would primarily be a support group, I felt it might be more beneficial to the participants to have a more structured and topic-focused group. I met with my supervisor to discuss my concerns and the possibility of making some changes in the organization of the group. My supervisor listened to my concerns and suggested I go around the room giving each member of the support group an opportunity to discuss what is on their mind but was not inclined to make any other changes in the group structure.

After several similar group meetings, I met with my supervisor again to discuss the most recent sessions and the issues the patients presented to me. As a social worker, I felt it was important not just to listen closely to the needs they expressed, but also to provide the forum and support to meet those needs. I felt this included psychoeducation and structured topics for each week. My supervisor recognized my concerns and desire to make this a more meaningful and supportive experience for the patients but was unsure if administration would agree to make any changes to the current group structure. I asked if I could present the changes I would like to make and the rationalization for these changes at the next department meeting and was told I could.

I realized I could not address every concern that was presented to me by the patients, but I wanted to incorporate as many as possible. I developed a 6-week series that included discussion and information on developing family support by asking spouses and significant others to attend at least one session; nutrition information and meal planning with the assistance of our hospital dietitian; exercise plans developed with the physical therapy department; and information on complementary forms of treatment such as yoga and tai chi. I sought out venues such as local libraries and town centers where these classes were available for free or at minimal cost, and I suggested I could also lead a guided imagery group and teach relaxation techniques. I said I would also reach out to local shops for information and possibly recruit owners to be guest speakers to discuss how to choose a wig or purchase a prosthesis.

I met with my supervisor prior to the department meeting, and she reviewed and approved my presentation. I presented my plan to the department administration who informed me they will take it under advisement and let me know if I can move forward.

(Plummer 35-36)

Plummer, Sara-Beth, Sara Makris, Sally Brocksen. Social Work Case Studies: Concentration Year. Laureate Publishing, 10/21/13. VitalBook file.

Discussion 2:  Week 5 Blog

Referring to your process recording from last week, consider the topics covered in this week’s resources and incorporate them into your blog.

Post a blog post that includes:

· An explanation of how you have addressed intervention or how you might address intervention in your field education experience at a military mental health clinic

References (use 2 or more)

Birkenmaier, J., & Berg-Weger, M. (2018). The practicum companion for social work: Integrating class and fieldwork (4th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.

Chapter 7, “Social Work Practice in the Field: Working with Groups” (pp. 156-185)