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Explain how a social worker assesses group dynamics

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Why treat a person in a group rather than in individual therapy? The answer to this question lies with interpersonal dynamics. If members are especially invested in the group and the health of others, they can exert influence and even challenge one another, in a way that the social worker may not be able to do on their own through individual therapy. 

Social workers, then, must be able to observe dynamics so they can better understand the forces at play and, through leadership, steer the group forward. Such action harnesses the power of the group. However, dynamics such as sense of cohesion may be subtle at times and come out through nonverbal means. Some things are overt (clearly stated), while others are covert (hidden). So, how exactly does a social worker assess group dynamics? In this Discussion, you examine this question while observing the interplay of people within a fictional group.


Review the Learning Resources on group dynamics. 
View the Group video in the Learning Resources. While watching the video, consider the communication, cohesion, social integration, and influence among the members of the group.


Explain how a social worker assesses group dynamics. Then, evaluate the dynamics (communication, cohesion, social integration, influence) of the therapy group shown in the Group video. Explain how this group’s dynamics may influence treatment. What principles for practice might be helpful for the leader to know in dealing with this group?


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

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

Davies, P. T., & Coe, J. L. (2019). Family relationship dynamics: A developmental perspectiveLinks to an external site.. In B. H. Fiese, M. Celano, K. Deater-Deckard, E. N. Jouriles, & M. A. Whisman (Eds.), APA handbook of contemporary family psychology: Foundations, methods, and contemporary issues across the lifespan, Vol. 1 (pp. 165–185). American Psychological Association.


Required Media

Group. (2020, May 1). S1, Ep 5: Is this allowed in group?Links to an external site. [Video]. YouTube. 

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 14 minutes.

Family Therapy

Time Estimate: 5 minutes



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