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The social worker in parent group education : an examiniation of social workers' participation in parent… Smith, Marjorie Vivien 1952

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THE SOCIAL WORKER IN PARENT GROUP EDUCATION An Examination of Social Yforkers1 Participation i n Parent Education through the Use of SGroup Methods. by MARJORIE VIVIEN SMITH Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of MASTER OF SOCIAL WORK in the School of Social Work Accepted as conforming to the standard required for the degree of Master of Social Work School of Social Work 1952 The University of British Columbia ABSTRACT Among the methods that have been developed to help parents i n their important task of raising mentally healthy children, parent group education i s of particular interest to social workers. This thesis examines the essentials of social workers' participation in parent education through the use of group methods. It i s based on the writer's training i n social work and experience i n adult education, and on research into the programmes of a number of social agencies, child guidance centres, children's treatment centres and hospitals, school social services and recreation centres. A range of examples was chosen to show the ways in which social workers were key figures i n the parent education projects. The development of parent education on this continent i s b r i e f l y outlined. Major principles of parent group education are stated, and an analysis i s made of the knowledge and s k i l l s necessary for professional leadership i n this f i e l d . It i s observed that parent education principles correspond closely to those of social work i t s e l f . A good deal of the knowledge and s k i l l required of parent education leaders i s actually acquired through social work training. Furthermore, parent group education and social work strive toward the common object-ive of higher standards of mental health. It would seem, therefore, that social work agencies and social workers should be able to make significant contributions to parent education both directly, through sponsoring such programmes in their own agencies, and indirectly, through co-operating with other similarly-interested organizations and individ-uals. The programmes selected for study support this assumpt-ion. They ill u s t r a t e the variety of settings in which social workers are participating i n parent group education programmes, and reveal similarities and differences in approach and methods. Specific questions relating to principles and methods are proposed as requiring further experimentation and study. The thesis emphasizes the need for coordination and co-operation amongst a l l professional and lay groups interested i n parent education as a method of promoting mental health, and suggests directions for development. It i s concluded that social workers can and should participate in parent education programmes, with certain stipulations: before mass programmes are undertaken, careful experimentation on small projects i s essential to augment the present limited knowledge of theory and practice, as well as to provide a basis for training workers. TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter 1. The Development of Parent Education Page The importance of parent education i n the mental hygiene movement. Development of parent education i n voluntary organizations, i n family agencies, i n play-group and pre-school programmes, and i n public agenc-ies. Use of mass media i n parent education. The need for research. The focus of this study 1. Chapter 2. An Analysis of Parent Group Education as a Field for  Social Workers Objectives of parent group education. Principles of parent group education. Knowledge and s k i l l s required by the parent group education worker. Parent group education - a f i e l d for social workers 17. Chapter 3« Directions Taken by Social Workers and Social Agencies Current parent education programmes with client groups: i n a family service agency; i n a social group-work agency; in child guidance clin i c s ; in treatment centres for children. Parent education with non-client groups: family service agencies; children's agencies; school guidance services. Trends indicated by these projects . h3. Chapter U. Implications and Needs The present situation i n parent education. Parent group education and the possible contribution of social workers. Parent education - a concern of many agencies and organizations. A suggested programme for co-operative action. The need for research 78. Appendices: A. Sample copy - "Enquiry re Parent Education Programmes" B. Bibliography. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS It is with pleasure that I express my appreciation to the Faculty -members of the School of Social Work whose teaching has made i t possible for me to attempt this thesis. I should particularly like to thank Dr. Leonard C. Marsh, for his continued encouragement, interest, and constructive criticism; Mrs. Helen Exner, Miss Elizabeth Thomas, Mr. T. L, Exner and Mr. Arthur C. Abrahamson, of the School, and Mrs. C. E. Woolgar, of the Canadian Home and School and Parent-Teacher Federation, for their helpful comments and suggestions, I am especially grateful to the staff members of the numerous agencies and institutions, who took the time to send me descriptions of their programs; not a l l are quoted in this study, but a l l contributed to the conclusions incorporated i n i t . Finally, I wish to thank the many parents who have given me the benefit of their thinking on this subject; may they continue to do so! THE SOCIAL WORKER IN PARENT GROUP EDUCATION Chapter 1 THE DEVELOPMENT OF PARENT EDUCATION The mental hygiene movement has come of age. It has emerged from the restricting confines of the mental hospital and the patient-physician relationship. It has advanced even beyond the child guidance clinic emphasis, 1 with the client-team focus. It has, in fact, made tentative steps into the home, the school, and the community, its principles no longer understandable only to psychiatrists, but made meaningful in everyday language that the man in the street can take in and digest. Since the man, and woman, in the street have star roles to play in the whole movement, remarkable advances may now perhaps be anticipated. Dynamic psychology and psychiatry have pointed out the importance of experiences in the early years of l i f e , in the development of healthy personalities. Children can be helped in different ways by different agencies. Pre-school centres, elementary and high schools, recreation and religious agencies a l l can contribute to healthy emotional and social growth. Child guidance clinics and similar institutions assist in cases where difficulties have already begun to appear. Of f i r s t importance, however, are the child's experiences with his own parents. It seems only logical, therefore, that no time should be lost in helping parents in particular, but also teachers and youth leaders to understand children's needs and to build the kinds of relation-ships with them that will promote healthy growth. In order to accomplish this purpose, i t is necessary to work on several "fronts": on the development of parent education; on the task of getting mental hygiene principles and teaching Psychiatrist-psychologist-social worker. - 2 -into the schools and pre-school centres; on the provision of pre-marital and marital counselling services; and on the expansion of group-work, casework and psychiatric services. It is with the f i r s t of these, parent education, that this study is concerned. Development of Parent Education in Voluntary Organizations 1 As Sidonie M. Gruenberg points out, parent education has many roots, but its greatest impetus has come from the desire of parents to help themselves, making use of whatever scientific knowledge and expert advice they could get, in the business of "child training11.. This interest in self-education has been one factor in the rapid development of parent-teacher organizations, both in Canada and in.the United States. From the f i r s t parents' club formed in Nova Scotia in 1895 by Dr. and Mrs. Alexander Graham Bell, the parent-teacher movement has spread across Canada, now counting-its membership in excess of 177 ,000. The Canadian Feder-ation of Home and School and Parent-Teacher Associations (the national organiz-ation) recommends in its official handbook that every local association have a committee to promote parent education, especially through the use of the dis-cussion method. Parent education is defined'; 6. as involving the study of human needs — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social — to enable parents to deal more effectively with a l l problems of home, school and community. It is the education of parents on the job. It is education for happy homes.^  The Handbook reinforces this with a statement of specific objectives: 1 Gruenberg, Sidonie M., "Parent Education and Child Development", Social Work  Year Book, 19hB, pp. 296-299, Russell Sage Foundation, NTTI ~ The Canadian Home and School and Parent-Teacher Federation, Handbook, 1951, p . lA , published by the Federation, Toronto. - 3 -To educate parents to a realization of the privileges and obligations of parenthood. To develop an understanding of the nature and needs of children. To develop attitudes that will bring about more satis-fying relationships between parents and children. To lay a foundation for personal growth through continued study.^ -•While, in practice, in many locals, any parent education attempted s t i l l takes the form of rather haphazard talks followed by a few questions, in others, discussion groups are encouraged apart from regular meetings, in a more systematic programme. Some of the provincial federations work with university extension departments or provincial education departments for the purpose of securing suitable discussion materials or of planning and offering leadership training programs for lay persons assisting groups. A good deal of experimental work is being done, with considerable differences as to emphases across the country, arising from the uncertainty in the whole fiel d as to the most effective methods not only of assisting parents to absorb mental health principles, but of making use of the leadership personnel (either potential or actual) at hand to function in the job. From the f i r s t small group of mothers sponsored by the Chicago Kindergarten College in lS>9h has grown a great movement: the National Congress of Parents and Teachers now has an impressive membership of more than six million. Like its Canadian counterpart, this organization considers parent education to be one of its major functions. More and more emphasis is being placed on discussion groups as an integral part of parent-teacher programs. In 19h9, the Congress hired five part-time professional regional consultants in parent education, to be responsible for the promotion of training of lay ^ The Canadian Home and School and Parent-Teacher Federation, Handbook. 1 9 5 1 , p. Ul. - h -leaders in their areas. These lay leaders then encourage the formation of "study discussion groups" using as source material the articles and prepared study outlines in the Congress monthly magazine, fine National Parent-Teacher. The National Congress of Coloured Parents and Teachers, a similar organization with a membership of 50,000 in States where there are separate schools for Negro children, also includes parent education study classes as part of its programme. On the international level, the World Federation of Home and School, organized in 1927, serves as a clearing-house for the various national parents* groups affiliated with i t . Another outstanding example of an organization originated by mothers is the present Child Study Association of America. The Association was incorporated in 192U, to replace the Federation for Child Study. As i t developed, i t began to include more professional persons, and was instrumental in bringing together in various conferences voluntary and government agencies concerned with parent education and child development, for the purpose of assessing programmes, resources, problems and needs. From this aspect of its activities came the formation of the National Council of Parent Education, which for ten years served as a central clearing-house and coordinating body, stimulated new projects, trained leaders and issued publications. Now known as the National Committee for Parent Education, this organization limits its membership to professional workers in the family relations and parent education field. It was, incidentally, responsible for the preparation of a special report on parent education for the Mid-century White House Conference on Children and Touth held in 1950. Kawin, Ethel, "Teachers and Parents United", Survey, Vol. 86, No.L April 1950. Many other voluntary organizations have developed in connection with the needs of parents for guidance in their relationships with each other and with their children. Influential at the present time is the National Council on Family Relations, established in 1938, and its regional bodies such as the Pacific Northwest Council on Family Relations, which has an active affiliate in the B.C. Council on Family Relations. Its membership drawn from many fields concerned with some aspect of family l i f e , the National Council's committees deal with such areas as education for marriage and the family, group dynamics, leadership training, and marriage and family counselling.1 The American Social Hygiene Association, formed in 19lU, now sees its function as the conduct of "a broad continuous programme for family l i f e education to 2 develop personal responsibility and guide character growth". Noteworthy among marriage counselling organizations is the American Institute of Family Relations, under the direction of Dr. Paul Popenoe. Engaged in marriage counselling since 1929, its activities also include the training of teachers and counsellors, summer institutes, lectures, and the publication of pamphlets and the Institute bulletin. The Association for Family Living in Chicago serves as a useful clearing-house for literature issued by many reputable organizations, in addit-ion to its other functions. Of somewhat broader scope than any of these is the National Association for Mental Health, (a consolidation in 1950 of the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, the National Mental Health Foundation, and the Psychiatric Foundation), which includes in its aims "the education and organization of citizens for work in the mental health field", and issues excellent literature 3 of value in parent and family l i f e education. Corresponding to this 1 Social Work Year Book, 1951." ' 2 ibid. 3 ibid., p.622. - 6 -organization is the Canadian Mental Health Association, which originated in 1918 as the National Committee for Mental Hygiene. Its purpose includes "promoting the development of positive mental health programmes in schools, health departments, social work agencies, industry, churches, parents' groups etc mental health educational activities; and preventive activities". 1 It is at present engaged in certain very interesting experimental projects designed, among other objectives, to evaluate methods of mental health educat-ion. Family Agencies and Parent Education In the casework field, the interest of the Family Service Association of America in parent and family l i f e education appears in a report issued in November, 19^6, by its Committee on Current and Future Planning. This committee recognized the major focus of family service agencies as diag-nosis and treatment of individual situations, but strongly recommended that 2 they move on into "generalized family l i f e education", working through dis-cussion groups, young couples' and mothers' clubs and parent-teacher associations. Dr. Marianne Kris, writing in the Journal of Social Case Work (May issue, 19l;8) pointed out the need for preventive measures in family casework agencies, and noted that this implied refining "the methods of our psychological family 3 counselling services". Dr. Kris proposed that group counselling should prove economical by eliminating the need for individual discussion of some problems, as well as by cutting down the number of cases seeking agency help, through improving the conditions of family l i f e . Several agencies reported on experim-ental projects in family l i f e education at the Biennial Meeting of the Family 1 Social Work Year Book, 19gl, p . 6 6 l . 2 Parker, Earl N., "Family Social Work", Social Work Year Book, 19i;7, p.181. 3 Kris, Dr. Marianne, "A Group Educational Approacn to unria uevelop-ment", Journal of Social Casework. Vol. 29, No.5., May, 19l|8, p.l67. Service Association of America held in Detroit in 19U8, evidence of progress-ion in interest from the pathological to the prophylactic, according to Ger-trude K. Pollak in her article, "The Contribution of Casework to Family Life Education".1 Finally, in 1951, the Family Service Association appointed "a new national committee to define the role of family l i f e education in the family service programme and also in allied fields, to analyze their current projects of this nature and to suggest certain guiding principles and required 2 skills for a sound programme of family l i f e education". Reference to the work of this committee is made elsewhere in this study. i Parent Education in Play-Group and Pre-School Programmes A different approach is demonstrated in the work of the Play Schools Association, organized in 1917, which operates educational play group programmes for children of school age. The Association teachers consider work with parents an integral part of their activities; observation, group discussions, individual conferences and participation in the play school programme are methods used. At a lower age level — the pre-school years, kindergartens, day nurseries and nursery schools have at times contributed to the education of the parents of the children served, though there is great variation in the recognit-ion given to this aspect of the work. Opportunity for progress in the whole area of research in child development came with the establishment of research centres at four American universities in 1923, on grants provided by the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial. The experimental nursery schools set up in 1 Pollak, Gertrude K., "The Contribution of Casework to Family Life Education", Journal of Social Casework, Vol.30, No.9, November 19U9, pp. o/£o ft 1 n" 2 Social Work Year Book, 1951 , p. 186. - 8 -connection with these provided impetus for the establishment of many others across the country, under both private and public auspices. In 1933, the WPA commenced its nursery school programme, and by 1936 there were 1,6^0 in operation under its jurisdiction. Casework services were introduced into some of these schools. In 19k2, under the stress of war conditions, the Lanham Act was passed, providing funds for day care in war industry communities. "Unfortunately, when the Lanham Act funds were discontinued in 19i|6, many pro-jects were unable to continue, although some cities and states continued to make public funds available. In Canada, the Institute of Child Study - s t i l l the only one in Canada - was established in Toronto in 1925-6 by Dr. W. E. Blatz. From its inception, the Institute has considered parent education an essential part of its programme, although its research programme has been the centre of its attention. In the words of one of its staff members, "The Institute's contribution to parent education lies mainly in its available veri-fied content. It has, of course, experimented with methods of presentation but these have been a secondary interest". 1 As in the United States, pre-school centres across Canada are operated under a variety of auspices, but the number is totally inadequate to meet the demand. Because of parents' realization of the need for group experience of their pre-school children, there is in increasing use another method of attacking the problem: the organization of co-operative play groups. While other pre-school centres frequently operate without attention to the possibili-ties inherent in their programme for parent education, a good co-operative play group implies parent participation and education. Like many projects that — ' - V . . : _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ • Northway, Mary L., "The Contribution of Research", Food for  Thought, Vol.12, No. 2, November 1951, pp.15-19, Canadian Association for Adult Education, Toronto. - 9 -contain great potentialities for good, however, the play group frequently finds itself faced with serious obstacles, both within and outside its own membership. So far, in Canada at least, parents themselves have borne the brunt of the struggle, without much professional assistance. A question discussed widely is whether or not the play groups are a stop-gap (albeit valuable) on the way to state-supported pre-school centres, or have the po-tentiality to become, with professional assistance, something even better than such publicly-supported centres as they are now conceived. Public Agencies and Parent Education The U.S. Children's Bureau is one of the best examples of the interest of Government agencies in parent education. Since its establish-ment in 1912, thousands of parents (both individually and in organized groups) have made use of its educational publications on child development and parent-child relationships. It has, in addition, served as a consultative and at times supervisory body for various parent education programmes in the United States, and i t acts as a clearing-house for information in the whole field of child and youth welfare. Another U.S. Government Department, the Office of Education, has had on its staff since 1913 home-education employees "to investi-gate methods of improving education in the home, and to bring about cooperation between the home and the schools so that they might work together for the wel-fare of the children"."1" The five White House Conferences have shown a steady progression of interest to include concern for children and parents generally, with the theme of the last, the Mid-century White House Conference on Children 1 Supervision of Parent Education as a Function of State  Departments of Education, U.S. Office of Education, Bulletin 19U0, No. 6, Monograph No. 13, Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D.C. - 10 -and Youth (1950) stated as follows: "how we can develop i n c h i l d r e n the mental, emotional, and s p i r i t u a l q u a l i t i e s e s s e n t i a l to i n d i v i d u a l happiness and to responsible c i t i z e n s h i p , and what p h y s i c a l , economic and s o c i a l con-d i t i o n s are deemed necessary to t h i s development". 1 The Canadian Federal Department of Health and Welfare has r e c e n t l y begun to issue and d i s t r i b u t e , through the corresponding p r o v i n c i a l departments, a t t r a c t i v e l i t e r a t u r e suitable f o r use i n parent groups. Certain p r o v i n c i a l , state, and c i t y departments are also showing some i n t e r e s t i n the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of parent education. Seattle, f o r example, maintains a f a m i l y l i f e education d i v i s i o n i n connection with i t s school programme, through which assistance i s given to an extensive co-operative play group development. Among others, the New York State and C a l i f o r n i a State Departments of Education conduct programmes i n parent education. Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan have government adult education departments ac t i v e i n t h i s f i e l d . Funds provided to states as grants-in-aid on a two-to-one bas i s by the United States National Mental Health Act (I9l|6) should eventually a s s i s t , e i t h e r d i r e c t l y or i n d i r e c t l y , the process of parent education i n mental health p r i n c i p l e s . As a r e s u l t of t h i s Act, a l l states now have mental health pro-grammes of some sort, as against only twenty-six i n 19^7, and the number of f u l l - t i m e mental health personnel has t r i p l e d i n three years. The purpose of the Act i s stated i n the S o c i a l Work Year Book (1951) as follows: To provide a method of financing research and t r a i n i n g programmes, and to a s s i s t states i n e s t a b l i s h -ing community mental health s e r v i c e s . ^ S o c i a l Work Year Book, 1951, p. 93. i b i d . p. 321;. - 11 -Also under public auspices is the development of school social services, exceedingly limited in scope in Canada, but somewhat more extensive in the United States. The U.S. Office of Education estimated that approximate-ly 1|50 cities had full-time service in 1950. In some centres, the school social worker assists parents' groups "to increase their knowledge concerning the motivations of human behaviour and development of personality". 1 As already mentioned, certain universities in both Canada and the United States conduct parent education programmes through their Extension, Agriculture, or Home Economics Departments; they work with parent-teacher assoc-iations and other interested groups, preparing pamphlets and discussion materials conducting training courses and offering consultant services, sometimes engaging in research projects in child development. During recent years even elementary and high school curricula have begun to feel the influence of mental hygiene teaching: home economics classes are including education for family living or for "responsible parenthood" as well as the more mechanical aspects of home-making; courses on human relation-ships are being introduced in some form or other - a forward step, though much remains to be done in the matter of selecting and training suitable teachers for such courses. Colleges, too, are offering courses on marriage and family living. There is considerable evidence to show that the discussion method has proven particularly helpful in both high school and college activities in this field. One wonders i f i t would be possible to utilize social workers to assist with in-service training programmes for teachers engaged in this important work. Use of Mass Media in Parent Education As a final point in this brief survey of activity in the parent Social Work Year Book, 1951, p. Ul9. - 12 -education field, the increasing use of mass media should be noted. The last few years have witnessed a remarkable increase in the number of sound and interesting articles on various aspects of mental health (including child development and family relationships) appearing in popular magazines and news-papers. Radio and movie programmes1 incorporating some aspect of mental hygiene, while not always wholly desirable, at least seem to indicate an increase in general interest in the field, and perhaps may be influenced to improve the quality of their product when necessary. Perhaps enough has been said to demonstrate the development of interest in the parent and family l i f e education field, and the variety of emphases and approaches resulting from the specific concerns of the many orga-nizations and groups which have entered i t . Through the diversity, however, there are evident certain broad trends in programme content and method that are of importance: at fir s t , the centre of interest was the child, with his pro-blems; this was in the behaviourist era, when habit training and discipline were all-important. Gradually i t has been realized that parents are part of the picture, and parents are citizens, so today the emphasis in up-to-date groups is on family relationships, with a recognition of the place of the family in the community. With greater understanding of the necessity for emotional as well as intellectual acceptance of mental health principles, the lecture method is giving way to others offering more opportunity for. involvement - group discussion, socio-drama and other techniques by which parents can participate actively in the programme. Methods providing opportunity for participation are 1 In this connection the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the National Film Board of Canada are to be commended for their initiative and interesting productions. - 13 -especially important now, since many parents have read so much mental hygiene literature — sometimes apparently contradictory in intent — that they suffer considerable anxiety about "what is right". Discussion and other participation techniques help them to sort out what they have absorbed through reading, and to make i t more meaningful through relating i t to their own and others' exper-iences. Possibly because the factors involved and the results attained in parent education are frequently intangible and therefore exceedingly dif f i c -ult to measure, comparatively l i t t l e research has been reported that goes beyond the purely descriptive. Jean Carter summed up the development of parent educat-ion in the United States and indicated important principles and methods in her thoughtful booklet, Parents in Perplexity, published in 1938. Dorothy Baruch described a parent education programme in connection with a nursery school in Parents and Children Go to School, 1939. A particularly helpful handbook, Leading Parents' Groups, appeared in 19l±6 under the joint authorship of Evelyn Millis Duvall and Sylvanus Milne Duvall. Descriptions of state and city parent education programmes have appeared from time to time, along with accounts in professional journals of experimental programmes undertaken by private welfare agencies. In Canada, the Canadian Association for Adult Education devoted the whole November, 1951, issue of its magazine, Food for Thought, to articles describing parent education projects in this country and dealing with such topics as the importance of parent education, the contribution of research, and leader-ship. There is, consequently, a real need for some co-operative thinking in the whole field, to work out research projects which could provide material on basic questions such as the following: - Iii -1. lhat are parents' needs in the field of mental health teaching applied to family living ? Research is necessary here to determine helpful content, and to evaluate methods by which this content can become meaningful in terms of everyday living. Further, what differentiation - i f any - in content and method would be advisable to meet the needs of various individuals and groups ? Yi/hat effect, for example, do socio-economic status, or education, or concern for particular difficulties such as specific handicaps have on desired content and method ? 2. What are effective ways of reaching parents ? 3. What professional resources can best be used to provide assistance to parents and others in education for family living ? This would include research as to the roles of the various agencies concerned with the family, and how best they can co-operate in meeting needs. h. What resources of lay leadership can be utilized in parent education pro-grammes ? What are effective training programmes for lay leaders, and how may they be implemented ? The Focus of This Study As evidenced in the foregoing material, many groups, both lay r and professional, are interested in parent education and in various kinds of individual, pre-marital, marital, and family counselling. This thesis is pri-marily concerned with the education of parents in groups, conducted personally by social workers, and using group discussion methods. Parent education may be simply defined as a process by which parents are helped to increase their understanding of their children, themselves, .1 - 15 -and their interpersonal relationships either within or outside their own families, for the purpose of enabling both parents and children to live more effectively as members of families and of communities. "Parent group education" implies that the educational process takes place with parents in groups. Some confusion exists as to where the line should be drawn between parent group education and group therapy. Parents' discussion groups, which place their emphasis on education, usually also have certain therapeutic values. However, in these groups, the focus is on the healthy elements in personalities; in therapy groups, i t is on the deviant aspects of personality structure. The group therapy/is conducted by a trained therapist and the members are selected so as to form a unit that is planned for its therapeutic possibilities. It is the primarily educational group with which this study is concerned. "Family l i f e education",1 another term frequently used to describe this type of programme, may be assumed to include programmes for children and young people not yet parents, as well as for parents themselves. Agencies conducting programmes described as family l i f e education in this investigation,' for the most part, are engaged in the education of parents, through the use of group discussion methods. On the basis of the writer's experience gained through parti-cipation in parent education programmes in an adult education setting, combined with training in social work, an analysis is made of the objectives and funda-mental principles of parent group education, and of the knowledge and skills 1 Defined as "a process by which people are helped, through group discussion, to broaden their understanding of family relationships... The aim of such education is the prevention of unhappy family relationships and the strengthening and enrichment of family l i f e " , by the Committee on Family Life Education of the F.S.A.A., in "Family Life Education", Highlights, Volume XII, No. 5, May 1951, Family Service Association of America, N.I. - 16 -necessary to a professional leader functioning in this field. The basic aims of the social worker, and what is applicable to parent group education in social work training and experience are then checked against this analysis, for the purpose of clarifying the advisability of social workers' undertaking leader-ship in parent education programmes either within or outside their agencies. This theoretical study is supplemented by an investigation of actual parent education activities carried on by fourteen agencies and institutions, programmes in which social workers assumed either total or partial responsibility for leadership. Information for this investigation was obtained either direct 1 from 2 the agencies included or from articles in current journals in which their pro-grammes were described. It is proposed to examine their experiences, to ascert-ain their opinions on the value of the participation of social workers in parent group education programmes, and to note similarities and differences in their methods. This study of social workers in action should suggest important questions which require further experimentation and research, in general, on the whole question of parent group education, and, in particular, on the parti-cipation of social workers in such programmes. 1 Appendix A provides a copy of the outline of questions which accompanied letters requesting information. 2 Social Casework, The Ame  Mental Hygiene, and The Child proved most helpful. erican Journal of Orthopsychiatry, i Chapter 2 AN ANALYSIS OF PARENT GROUP EDUCATION AS A FIELD FOR SOCIAL WORKERS Social workers are concerned with the welfare of the individual person, with helping him to become a more mature personality. They recognize the importance of the family unit and of other groups vital to the healthy development of the individual. Effective parent group education programmes assist parents to help their children achieve healthier social and emotional growth toward maturity, and frequently assist the parents themselves to get along more happily in their everyday relations in their families and communities. It would seem, therefore, that such programmes provide a legitimate and import-ant medium through which social workers can multiply their effectiveness in contributing to the welfare - specifically, the mental health - of parents and children. Furthermore, i t may be expected that much of the knowledge and s k i l l now considered to be required by the professional person engaged in parent education is already part of the social worker's equipment, through his training and experience. These assumptions are investigated in this chapter. Objectives of Parent Group Education The over-all objective of parent group education is to assist parents to help their children develop into mature, healthy adults. This object-ive carries a number of implications which may be stated in the form of sub-sidiary aims: 1. Parents need to know the characteristics of "normal" child development and how they can help to promote healthy growth; they should have some understanding of behaviour deviations. Parents usually are attracted to a group education - 18 -programme because of concern about their children's behaviour. Frequently, they want specific questions answered. The parent group leader should be able to assist parents to acquire the knowledge they need in relation to growth, personality development, and parent-child relationships. If they are relative-ly mature people themselves, parents can then clarify, test, and revise their ideas as to what is "normal" behaviour generally, what is normal for their particular child, and how to help him grow into healthy maturity. They can increase their awareness of the kinds of behaviour that reveal maladjustment and, when confronted with these, can take appropriate steps to right the situat-ion, with professional guidance, i f necessary. 2. Parents need help in fortifying their own morale - in finding enjoyment in parenthood, and in strengthening their own self-confidence, self-reliance, and faith in their ability to be good parents. Striking evidence of this has been noticed by Dr. Luther E. Woodward,1 in the replies which he receives in response to his radio programme, "Inquiring Parent". Hundreds of letters, he states, say with amazing consistency, three things: (1) We listen to the programmes consistently and like them because you never blame parents and i t is very good to be assured rather than blamed. So many people have blamed us for so many things. (2) The programmes help us to see through the eyes of our children and understand better why they do the things they do. (3) You never end a programme without giving two or three suggestions of things which we can do that will help. An attitude of interest in children and enjoyment in having them is essential x Woodward, Luther E., "Discussion of Miss Fraser's Paper", Pre-sented at National Conference of Social Work, Atlantic City, (1950) as a discussion of "Methods of Public Interpretation in the Psychiatric Social Work Field", Paper by Grace E. Fraser. - 19 -to emotional growth. Merely knowing the "right" techniques is not enough. Parents can find comfort in the idea that even though they make mistakes in handling problems at times, their children can weather a great deal i f the feeling is warm and friendly between them and their parents. If, through his acceptance, the leader can foster a feeling of confidence in themselves, parents are more likely to be relaxed and this often brings a direct response on the part of the children in the direction of more co-operative behaviour. With skilful guidance, this feeling of increasing competence on the part of parents has a further constructive effect: they are able to make more intelligent use of the findings and opinions of experts. Instead of attempting to apply indiscriminately an answer that may or may not f i t their case, parents can learn to think critically about what they read or hear and, in addition, to observe their own children both as a method of educating themselves and as a guide in dealing with specific behaviour. 3. Parents need help in learning to understand themselves and others. While they come to the group, generally, with their interest focussed on their child's problems, parents usually realize fairly quickly that they themselves have an important part in those problems. They recognize that i t may be necessary for them to change their own attitudes or behaviour in the family group so as to evoke more constructive reactions from their children and mates. In other words, they have to become more mature people themselves. The discussion group provides a somewhat less emotionally-charged atmosphere than does their own family group. In the discussion group, members can test out their ideas, have the benefit of other members' experience and suggestions, and learn that they can change their opinions and attitudes without "losing face". In addition, they have an opportunity to see the effect of their behaviour on other people - 20 -and, with wise leadership, to consider the causes of their behaviour in the group and ways in which they might improve. It may be possible for them to apply this learning in the family group. U. Also concerned with the necessity of helping parents to be more mature people themselves is the objective of assisting them to get a broader perspect-ive on their problems by helping them to become aware of the social setting in which they live, of the economic, social and psychological pressures to which they are subjected, and of the inter-relationships of their lives with those of other people in the community and in the outside world. It is largely parents who, by their own attitudes and behaviour, shape their children's values. The importance of constructive attitudes and behaviour in the rapidly-changing, present-day world cannot be overestimated. In addition, quite apart from the value to the community, of citizens who are interested in doing their share for the advancement of the common welfare, there is the advantage of diffusing the parents' interest somewhat so that their own personal family relationships are no longer the focal point of unhealthy preoccupation. 5. Parents need help in using and in building community resources. Through parent education programmes, parents can be assisted to learn more about the educational, health and welfare, and religious resources of their own community. For example, through satisfying experiences with social workers in parent education groups, parents not only become aware of the existence of agencies and of their function, but gain the feeling that the agency workers are approach-able as people to whom they can turn when they need casework help, or to whom they can refer their friends and acquaintances. Since early detection of mental health problems determines the degree of success of treatment, the import-ance of programmes which contribute to prompt referral is obvious. Furthermore, - 21 -as they become more aware of community needs and gaps i n resources, parents are more able to give strong support to the development of a d d i t i o n a l services or the improvement of e x i s t i n g f a c i l i t i e s . P r i n c i p l e s of Parent Group Education The following three p r i n c i p l e s may be considered b a s i c to any good parent group education programme: Respect f o r the i n d i v i d u a l parent, f o r h i s a b i l i t y and r i g h t to think and plan f o r himself, i s e s s e n t i a l . The parent group education worker recognizes that methods used i n the group should be governed by the f i n a l ob-j e c t i v e , i . e . the enhancement of the mental health of parents and c h i l d r e n within the democratic framework of our society. Since, i n addition, he recog-nizes the v a l i d i t y of the p r i n c i p l e of "learning by doing", the worker attempts to encourage i n parents* groups an increasing measure of democratic experience. This implies that he a s s i s t s group members to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the planning and conduct of t h e i r own programmes. Democratic p r a c t i c e i n t h e i r own group s e t t i n g becomes f a r more meaningful to members than merely l i s t e n i n g to l e c t u r e s emphas-i z i n g the importance of respecting c h i l d r e n or adults as i n d i v i d u a l persons i n t h e i r own r i g h t , e s p e c i a l l y i f such p r a c t i c e i s accompanied by s k i l f u l i n t e r -p retation by the worker or by h i s guidance i n helping members to see the s i m i l a -r i t y between a t t i t u d e s and r e l a t i o n s h i p s i n the group and a t t i t u d e s and r e l a t i o n s h i p s i n t h e i r own f a m i l i e s . Because of h i s basic respect f o r people, the worker i s c a r e f u l to encourage and a s s i s t both members, and the group as a whole to develop t h e i r own s k i l l s and to accept the utmost r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of which they are capable at t h e i r p a r t i c u l a r stage of development. For instance, when the group i s to continue through a s e r i e s of meetings, members can gain - 22 -valuable experience through participating in choosing the topics to be dealt with, on the basis of their own interests. Integrating their ideas in drawing up this tentative outline of topics may be the fi r s t real co-operative endeavour undertaken by the group. The worker's skilful leadership at this time can make this experience a stepping stone to the assumption of more responsibility in revising, carrying on, and evaluating their programme. Being aware of his own personal needs, the worker can, i f necessary, guard against a possible tendency to retard the development of members or of the group by keeping them dependent upon him through denying them the opportunity to grow in ability or to give to the group from their present resources of knowledge and experience. On the other hand, the worker knows when they need his help in order to make progress toward their goal. The parent group education worker recognizes that people have individual characteristics, that they come from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, that they have different needs which must be met in differ-ent ways. When working with a parents' group, the worker sets an example by accepting each member as he is. Gradually, the worker helps group members to appreciate and to accept differences in behaviour, opinions, standards, and values both within their own group and in the community. Interacting with this acceptance of differences in each other is an increased appreciation of the differences among individual children, even in the same family - a fact which many parents find i t difficult to believe. Related also is the acceptance of each child in the family as a person of value having an important place in his own right, instead of being compared to his detriment with others either in or outside the family. If one side of the coin is this acceptance of differences, - 23 -the other is the development of the parents' perception of likenesses, of the general need of human beings for affection and self-respect, for recognit-ion and a sense of enjoyment and worthwhileness in living. This again has several applications - in the group itself, in the family setting, and in the wider community: The third basic principle is the importance of relationship in the process of helping people. This concern for relationship is resulting in the favouring of work with small groups, of perhaps eight to fifteen people, over a series of about six to twelve meetings held weekly or fortnightly. In such a group, members and leader gradually develop meaningful relationships not only between the leader and each member, but amongst members themselves and in the group as a whole. It is within the supporting framework of these group relationships that members are able gradually to express fears and worries and to find comfort in the knowledge that their problems are common to others; with encouragement they are able to investigate causes and to seek ways of resolving their difficulties; frequently the group's support is crucial while a member struggles with new ideas. Through the use of "buzz sessions" or other methods of dividing large groups into smaller face-to-face units, some degree of relationship can be built as members become individualized through their parti-1 cipation. Some workers have found i t possible to develop a feeling of group 2 unity even with a comparatively large group; however, i t does seem as i f only a limited degree of relationship could be achieved with numbers in excess of twenty or so. 1 An interesting use of buzz sessions is described by Mrs. Elizabeth Reichert, Consultant on Family Life Education for the Family and Child-ren's Service of Minneapolis and Hennepin County, in "Family Life Education 'Buzz Sessions'", Highlights, Volume XIII, No.3, March, 1952, published by the Family Service Association of America. 2 Dreikurs, Rudolf, "Family Group Therapy in the Chicago Commu-nity Child Guidance Centres", Mental Hygiene, Volume XXXV, No.2, April 1951, p.296. - 24 -Knowledge Required by the Parent Group Education Worker The worker's democratic conduct of the parents' group depends on his thorough familiarity with current knowledge about child development and on his understanding of individual and group behaviour, including his ability to recognize ego defences and to treat these appropriately. The worker who is conversant with "content" is free to put his attention to the best method of helping the group at any specific moment. He is able to introduce information when i t is required, or advice as to where the information may be found; he can help the group to see a logical order in its plan of topics; he can suggest an interesting method of presenting a problem; perhaps of most importance, he can keep silent while members think through a question, in the confidence that he can, i f necessary, help them out at the appropriate time. In short, the worker is able to encourage maximum member participation and responsibility and yet is capable of drawing contributions together, pointing up relationships in situat-ions, and suggesting thought-provoking questions, ,so that a sense of direction is maintained and the group has a feeling of accomplishment. Furthermore, the worker can respond immediately to questions or interests, i f immediate response is desirable. He does not have to postpone discussion in order to do some research on the topic. (This is not to say that he may never do this, or pro-pose that i t be done by members). This point is of special importance i f he is working with a group that is as yet unaccustomed to planning its programme, and thus looking ahead, since in this group i t is best to catch questions while they are "hot", i f they are of interest to most of the members. The range of knowledge necessary to the worker engaging in 1 parent group education may be suggested by the following headings: 1 Examples of titles of discussion topics are given in "Summary of Data on Family Life Education Activities of 81 Private Member Agencies, from July^ 19kQ Questionnaire", mimeographed report by Family Service Association of America Information Service, dated September 23, 19u8. - 2$ -Child Development, at the infant, pre-school, school-age, and adolescent levels; Parent-Child Relationships, through a l l stages of the child's develop-ment; Family Relationships; Husband-Wife Relationships, throughout marriage; Problems of Special Concern to Specific Groups, e.g. pre-natal problems, pro-blems connected with handicapped children. Though not technically parent education, topics coming under the general heading of Preparing for Marriage are closely related and may be considered in this connection. In addition, in order to be able to assist in extending the horizon of members' interests, the worker will need some knowledge of economic, social and psychological forces operating in our society, and of human relationships in the wider community outside the family. Familiarity with the dynamics of individual and group be-haviour is essential to the group leader, in order that he may help members to understand their children, themselves, and their family relationships, and also so that he may utilize to the f u l l the inter-relationships in the discussion group itself. At a l l times, the worker must be ready to use his knowledge of the symptoms of emotional disturbance. He must be able to judge, for instance, when a child's difficulty or a family problem is too complicated to be handled advantageously in the group, and how best to help the member concerned. He must be sensitive to signs that the discussion is becoming too threatening to a member, and know how to dilute or otherwise relieve the pressure. The import-ance of the leader's support on occasion is evident in the following excerpt from an actual record; the group was discussing adolescents: Mrs. H. then said that there was another aspect too to this matter of adolescence. People tend to over-protect their children and try to hang on to them. She referred to the fact that she is living in with her mother after having lived on her own for a year. It's plenty rough. She hastened to explain that her - 26 -mother i s very good and she gets along with her w e l l , but her mother i s always t e l l i n g her, do t h i s , don't do t h i s , or the baby i s going to get cold, cover her up, feed her now, and that s o r t of thing. A f t e r she s a i d t h i s , there was some g u i l t and the group played into i t . Some of them sai d that they wished that they had mothers that would be there to take care of t h e i r c h i l d r e n and give them a chance to get out occasionally. Wait u n t i l you are r e a l l y t i e d to them and no one to turn to. I i n j e c t e d the remark at t h i s point that t h i s was a p r e t t y important point that she was bringing out. She added that some parents never r e a l l y develop the f e e l i n g that t h e i r c h i l d i s capable and then at adolescence when c h i l d r e n do t r y to e s t a b l i s h themselves, the parent and c h i l d are thrown in t o a good deal of c o n f l i c t . The parent thinks the c h i l d i s not capable and the c h i l d needs to think that he i s capable. He must work towards more management of h i s own a f f a i r s . 1 Knowledge of the p r i n c i p l e s of learning i s an important q u a l i f i c a t i o n of the leader of a parents' group. Such p r i n c i p l e s as "beginning where the members are", r e l a t i n g new learning to present experience and under-standing, a n t i c i p a t i n g resistance to new concepts, presenting new le a r n i n g i n appropriate amounts that parents can absorb without being overwhelmed by the r e s u l t i n g d i s e q u i l i b r i u m they s u f f e r , providing opportunity f o r i n t e g r a t i o n , frequent t e s t i n g and r e i t e r a t i o n of new ideas and, f i n a l l y , putting the new learning into p r a c t i c e i n everyday l i v i n g , i n the group, the home and the commu-n i t y — a l l of these may be a p p l i e d i n parent group education. The worker's knowledge of community resources i s a r e a l asset i n h i s a c t i v i t i e s with parents' groups. Members are u s u a l l y i n t e r e s t e d i n educational resources and frequently are concerned about treatment resources a v a i l a b l e to themselves or to others i n the community. Knowledge of the area 1 Record of a Settlement House group conducted by a s t a f f member of the Family Society of Greater Boston. - 27 -of various s p e c i a l i s t s - doctors, nurses, ministers, s o c i a l workers, teachers, psychologists, p s y c h i a t r i s t s and others - as w e l l as acquaintance with the p a r t i c u l a r representatives of those professions who are a v a i l a b l e to the group, enable the worker to help the members s e l e c t the r i g h t person f o r the job to be done. F a m i l i a r i t y with relevant and r e l i a b l e books, pamphlets, f i l m s and f i l m - s t r i p s also increases the worker's a b i l i t y to serve the group. Likewise, the worker's awareness of the various community agencies concerned with health and welfare, t h e i r organization, function and operation, i s of value to the group not only i n broadening t h e i r knowledge of community resources but also i n providing guidance f o r members wishing to use these resources. S k i l l s Required i n Parent Group Education Although the p r i n c i p l e s , knowledge and s k i l l s applied i n e f f e c t i v e parent group education are thoroughly integrated, f o r the sake of c l a r i t y i n discussion they have been dea l t with separately. Furthermore, since i t i s possible to have an understanding of p r i n c i p l e s and the necessary knowledge without automatically having the s k i l l to put such p r i n c i p l e s and knowledge in t o p r a c t i c e , a separate treatment of the a p p l i c a t i o n of s k i l l s i n parents' groups seems advisable, even at the r i s k of apparent d u p l i c a t i o n of c e r t a i n m a terial i n the previous two sections. Much of the parent group leader's s k i l l i s bound up with h i s a b i l i t y to work with people i n a helping r o l e . This a b i l i t y has several con-s t i t u e n t s which are common to both s o c i a l work and adult education s k i l l s , and a few which w i l l be recognized as s p e c i f i c a l l y belonging to s o c i a l work. Related to the p r i n c i p l e of i n d i v i d u a l i z a t i o n i s the worker's s k i l l i n f i n d i n g out where each member i s , i n h i s understanding of the concepts - 28 -in which he is interested. The reason that so many man-hours are wasted by the lecture method is that usually the lecturer has no way of finding out what the listener knows, what he wants to know, what he is capable of learning, and what he needs to know in connection with the particular problem confronting him. Provided that the worker is skilful in promoting a permissive, accepting atmos-phere in the group, in which relationships can begin to grow, he will be able, in the beginning, to encourage members to verbalize their interests and problems. He can thus find out what, at least, are some of their concerns. (They may very likely- not verbalize the problems that worry them most, in the early stages of the group, much as clients may take time to test a caseworker before entrusting to him their intimate fears). The worker can also get some impression of members' attitudes, knowledge and general understanding of the subject area, by encouraging their participation. In this way, he learns more about individual members, not only about their families, their socio-economic status and other environmental details, but also about what they know, understand and practice; about what they know intellectually but do not practice, and about what they misunderstand or simply do not know. As he becomes thus acquainted with the members, he is better equipped to give them the specific kind and quantity of assistance they need in planning and conducting the programme, taking into account such factors as their similarity or diversity as to interests (assumed, expressed, or implied), age, maturity, socio-economic background and status, education, and previous experience in groups. Throughout the series, the worker uses his s k i l l to help members identify their problems and needs. At first, they may not be conscious of their real problems and, as these appear, the programme will require revision to accommodate the new interests involved. Like clients, parents frequently - 29 -come to groups to f i n d out what to do about t h e i r c h i l d ' s behaviour, or t h e i r mate's lack of co-operation, only to r e a l i z e sooner or l a t e r that they them-selves have a large share of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the problem. I t i s the s p e c i a l contribution of the worker to help the group concentrate on problems about which they can do something constructive, and to avoid the p o s s i b i l i t y of arousing un-productive anxiety by discussing s i t u a t i o n s r e q u i r i n g expert i n d i v i d u a l a t t e n t i o n . Assuming, however, that the problem i s appropriate f o r discussion i n the group, the worker then uses h i s s k i l l to help members analyze and understand i t . He encourages them to look back i n t o the h i s t o r y of the d i f f i c u l t y , to recognize possible causes, to note the importance of f e e l i n g s and to develop t h e i r capacity to i d e n t i f y with the various persons involved, thus seeing the problem from d i f f e r e n t points of view. (Socio-drama, plays and f i l m s are u s e f u l f o r t h i s purpose). The worker a s s i s t s the group to think through the pros and cons of various ways of solving the problem, to evolve new ways i n the l i g h t of t h e i r increased understanding of the d i f f i c u l t y , and to propound possible ways of t e s t -ing out the solutions they consider most desirable i n p a r t i c u l a r cases. Later, i t may be i n order to help the group evaluate these solutions i n the l i g h t o f subsequent developments. The worker's functioning i n helping a group to think through a problem i s i l l u s t r a t e d i n the following excerpt from a r e c o r d . 1 The worker had started the group thinking i n terms of parents' concern when chi l d r e n do not meet t h e i r expectations, and the d i f f i c u l t i e s e n t a i l e d by t h i s . One member immediately launched into a d e s c r i p t i o n of the non-conforming behaviour of her 1 Record of a Settlement House group conducted by a s t a f f member of the Family Society of Greater Boston. This was the f i r s t meeting of the group following the introductory meeting when the discussion procedure was i l l u s t r a t e d . - 30 -two-year-old. "She was afraid that her child was going to grow up and be this way in l i f e " . The leader questioned i f we expect too much from children and there was a good deal of agreement on this from the group. He led the members on to consider how they felt about children showing resentment against parents for making them conform, and related this to their own feelings. Did they themselves get angry ? They picked this up and there was a good deal of joking about i t ; they certainly did get angry and they also had resentment. One mother brought out that we expect children to be loving cherubs most of the time, lie forget that they too have feelings and can get mad. I wondered i f we were bowled over when we received anger from children. They went along on this and the mother who had brought this up said, should children show anger directed at their parents. I asked the group how they felt about i t and a few of them jumped in and said that i t was inevitable, that in the relationship parents live with children, there is bound to be resentment. Through more discussion, the group became aware that children, like they them-selves, might displace onto others (e.g. siblings) the anger they feel toward the parents. The mother who had brought this up didn't go along too much and she said that she felt i f this.were not curbed in her child, she would grow up and become a selfish and undiscplined person who wouldn't follow the rules. Some-one at this point introduced the matter of, should children be permitted to strike their parents ? I wondered how they felt about this and they generally agreed that i t was not a good thing for youngsters, that they become guilty when they can do this; then I went into the fact that there was a difference between accepting a child's feeling of anger and letting him act i t out toward another person. Someone asked i f I believed in freedom of expression and I waited the person out; then she brought out that at one time there was a l l of this emphasis of letting the child express himself completely. They took this up and within the group themselves worked out that freedom didn't mean lack of limitations. Tfe spoke of the fact that children are comfortable when they have defined limits. I brought i t down to the group itself and asked them i f i t was one of the things that we were looking for here today — to - 31 -define l i m i t a t i o n s . How f a r can you go ? How much can you bring up i n t h i s group ? There were some knowing smiles about t h i s . The mother who had brought up the question gave f u r t h e r examples of her c h i l d ' s a c t i v i t i e s — playing with l i p s t i c k , etc. "The group took t h i s very l i g h t l y and spoke of t h e i r own c h i l d r e n doing t h i s and Mrs. F. seemed to rela x a good deal". There followed considerable discussion about whether or not things of value should be put out of reach of small c h i l d r e n , and what should be the ru l e s . The leader enlarged t h e i r thinking on t h i s by reminding them that at t h i s age chi l d r e n are f i r s t s t a r t i n g to reach out, to inv e s t i g a t e , and to l e a r n ; so often they are punished f o r a t t i t u d e s that they w i l l be expected to have l a t e r , i n school .' He also encouraged the parents to express how they f e l t about rules and they s a i d they didn't mind when the rules were r e a l , but when there were too many of them, they resented i t . I went on at t h i s .point as to vihy d i d we worry so much about c h i l d r e n i n terms of r u l e s , and i n terms of the need to d i s c i p l i n e them. I wondered i f a l l the way through i n a sense, we were i n d i c a t i n g that we are a f r a i d that c h i l d r e n don't have the capacity to grow up. In a sense, we depreciate c h i l d r e n . I went on and brought out that the thing that was so important with youngsters was t h e i r capacity to grow, to master themselves and t h e i r environment Do we expect tremendous conformity at t h i s age of two because of our f e a r that a c h i l d i s not, i n the process of growing up, going to l e a r n how to conform and how to develop a sense of s e l f - d i s c i p l i n e ? The mother s a i d that she thought she perhaps had been a l i t t l e too s t r i c t at t h i s point and that she hadn't faced these d i f f i c u l t i e s with her older c h i l d . At t h i s point another mother broke i n to apply the discussion to her teen-ager. Through h i s understanding of the members and t h e i r needs, the worker i s more able to help them meet t h e i r needs at any s p e c i f i c time during the discussion. He can d i s t i n g u i s h , f o r example, asto whether a member who - 32 -appears to be t a l k a t i v e i s gaining r e l i e f or strength through v e r b a l i z a t i o n or whether she i s indulging h e r s e l f i n "acting out" her problem at the expense of the other members with no b e n e f i t to h e r s e l f . In the l a t t e r case, he uses h i s leadership s k i l l to a s s i s t the person to terminate t h i s useless a c t i v i t y ; i n the former, he has to decide whether the group i s w i l l i n g to "go along" f o r the sake of the member, or i s becoming too r e s t l e s s and impatient, n e c e s s i t a t -ing i ntervention and the p r o v i s i o n of other avenues to the member i n question. The worker may be able to judge when the group i s ready to use information on the t o p i c under consideration. He can increase the effectiveness of information "aids" (experts, books, pamphlets and other p r i n t e d material, f i l m s and f i l m -s t r i p s , etc.) by s k i l f u l use: he can a s s i s t the group i n deciding exactly what i s t h e i r need and which a i d i s most appropriate to meet i t ; he can help them plan the method of using the person or material they s e l e c t . For example, too often a doctor or other expert i s i n v i t e d to a group and given the t o p i c , on which he proceeds to t a l k f o r f o r t y minutes, when i t would be much more valuable to the group and more s a t i s f y i n g to him i f he were asked to s i t i n on the d i s -cussion and contribute only at points where h i s knowledge i s needed during the meeting. Films are also often badly used: the group should be prepared f o r what they are to see and should have plenty of opportunity to c l a r i f y points and discuss t h e i r ideas following the showing. Printed materials have value i f members are helped to put them to good use. At times, the worker may see that information would be of no value to some members because r e a l understanding i s blocked by emotional problems. I f the problems are not too serious, f u r t h e r discussion may c l a r i f y d i f f i c u l t i e s and point up causes. As mentioned previously, socio-drama i s often u s e f u l i n t h i s connection. Generally speaking, i t seems inadvisable to have a -member play her own real-life role as in psychodrama, in this type of group; she can learn by watching others or by taking a different role. If the worker becomes aware that casework or psychiatric treatment is required, he may then use his s k i l l in limited individual interviews -rath the member concerned, in an effort to assist her to seek appropriate treatment. Sometimes another member will suggest application to an agency, and the group will give support. Often in parents' groups, workers need to apply their s k i l l in meeting resistance to new concepts. Some parents become quite hostile i f they feel their ideas are questioned or disapproved. The worker may find i t necessary to protect a member who is considered too reactionary (or too pro-gressive) by the others, by pointing out that member's right to his own opinion. Like clients, group members are lost i f attendance brings too much discomfort. Like clients, too, they need to feel that the worker can accept their hostility and s t i l l care enough about them to provide a sustaining relationship during the period of anxiety while new ideas are being integrated. The process of changing attitudes usually involves considerable struggle. Sympathetic under-standing on the part of the leader can do much to keep group members moving to new levels of achievement. The worker's success in developing the potentialities inherent in the small informal group is dependent upon not only his understand-ing of individual and group behaviour but his actual s k i l l in guiding the group process. Gertrude Wilson's statement with reference to the dynamics of group relationships can be directly applied to parent education groups and is relevant here: "The individuals interacting within the group create an experience which because of their relationships to each other is different from anything else each of them has".1 These relationships are guided by the skilful worker in 1 Wilson. Gertrude. Group Work and Casework, Family Welfare Association of America, 1Q1|1. - 3k -such a way as to make participation in the group process itself a constructive and educational experience. That this can be accomplished is evident in the comments of parents who have had this kind of experience.1 Early in the devel-opment of the group, for example, parents feel the reassurance that comes from discovering that they are not alone in their difficulty - not by being told this by an expert, but by hearing from other parents the story of similar pro-blems. After possible i n i t i a l resentment at not being given a formula by the worker to apply to their "case", members frequently find unexpected satisfaction and new self-confidence as they are helped to use their own knowledge and understanding and to work together on problems. Following the worker's example of acceptance, they may arrive at a greater appreciation of each other's ability and experience, in spite of (or perhaps because of) external differences of cultural backgrounds or socio-economic status. The reactions of other members may provide a support which a parent badly needs and receives nowhere else at the time. A sharp comment from a fellow member may jar the complacency of one who thought he knew i t a l l , and result in a re-examination of his position on the question at issue. As the group continues to meet, different members may "move" at different rates in their perception of their children's needs, their ability to identify with children or mates, and their capacity for looking beyond their immediate interests. Frequently sub-groups may develop on the basis of these differences. The leader has to use his own judgement in helping the members to grow past this stage to a higher level of ability to co-operate for Chapter 3, especially p.6Q, contains evidence. - 35 -the benefit of the whole group. Some leaders, by analyzing with the members what has happened in the group, increase the parents 1 awareness of the effect of their own behaviour on other people. Relationships i n the discussion group are compared with those i n family groups, and new perceptions may result which affect both the members' participation i n the group and their behaviour i n the family setting. .In actuality, the group process provides a medium in which members learn, by experience, to get along better with themselves and with others both within and outside the discussion group. A worker's effectiveness in parent education groups i s determined not only by the knowledge and s k i l l s at his command, but by his own personality and his attitude to people. Of primary importance i s his genuine respect for parents and his confidence i n their a b i l i t y generally to learn how to handle their own problems. His success i n parent group education w i l l be as markedly influenced by his interest in learning from parents and children, as by his s k i l l i n inspiring i n the members of the group a desire to grow — intellectually, socially and emotionally. Parent group education i s s t i l l i n i t s infancy. The knowledge and s k i l l s suggested i n the preceding pages mark the present stage in i t s development. The professional leader has a real responsi-b i l i t y to use his i n i t i a t i v e to add to this meagre knowledge through experimental work planned often i n co-operation with parents themselves, evaluated and recorded so that others may learn from his experience. Parent Group Education - A Field for Social Workers There i s nothing new to social workers in the objectives 1 An interesting analysis of group development i s given i n "Group Work with Mothers i n a Child-Development Centre", by Wilma Lloyd, i n Mental Hygiene, Volume 3k, No. h, October 19i>0, pp. 620-61;0. - 36 -of parent group education. Those who deal with families work toward these objectives, to the extent of their clients' capabilities. Likewise, the basic principles of parent education are fundamental i n social work: respect for the person, for his a b i l i t y and right to plan and make decisions for himself within the limits of his capacity, recognition of individual differences as well as of common human needs, u t i l i z a t i o n of relationship as a medium through which to help people to better adjustment within themselves and i n the environ-ment in which they li v e — these are principles that should underlie the practice of every social worker. There remain to be considered the knowledge and s k i l l s required for work in parent group education. What part of these do social workers already have as a result of their training and experience, how can they gain what they lack, i n order to be more effective parent education workers ? The experienced social worker may be assumed to have at his fingertips a knowledge of child development and personality growth, as well as an understanding of individual behaviour. Some of this knowledge and understand-ing i s acquired i n social work training; experience i n practice adds greatly to i t s extent and to f a c i l i t y in i t s use. Since, as pointed out previously, i t i s important for the worker to be thoroughly familiar with the content he w i l l need, i t would seem advisable for only experienced social workers to undertake parent group education ac t i v i t i e s . Furthermore, i t may be necessary for workers to supplement the knowledge they already have by a study of certain age-groups or of special groups, such as children with cerebral palsy or other handicaps. A period of training and experience i n casework would be valuable to group workers engaging in parent education, while training i n group work principles and methods plus experience imder supervision would assist caseworkers to gain some - 37 -understanding of the dynamics of inter-relationships in groups and a measure of s k i l l in assisting in the group process. Without this familiarity with the principles and methods of group work, the social worker may f a i l to realize the potentialities inherent in the group situation, potentialities which make possible to parent group education much of its essential value. Caseworkers, and probably most group workers, would benefit by training and supervised ex-perience in the special field of discussion leadership in parents' groups. Fostering and using constructive relationships with people should be one of the social worker's special skills. In the parents' group, this is extended to include inter-relationships within and outside the group: training in group work should enable the caseworker to develop his s k i l l in utilizing the relationships between members and the dynamics of the total group for the benefit of the individual members as well as the group-as-a-whole. He should, for example, be able to accept the hostility of members and to help the group grow through the crisis situations that may arise. Casework training should help him to judge how much strain a member can profitably endure, and how and when pressure must be alleviated. Skill in group work should assist him to help group members develop sensitivity to each other's needs and to ways of meeting those needs in the group. The fundamental skills involved in "finding out" where the client is and how he sees his problem, helping him to identify his problems and needs, assisting him to find constructive ways of satisfying his needs — a l l of these can be adapted to use in parent education groups. The worker's effective-ness will be enormously increased i f he is skilful enough to make these group  tasks, so that members together identify their problems, seek causes and find appropriate ways of resolving their difficulties or of meeting their needs. - 38 -Many social workers are already familiar with the basic principles of learning; supervisors, especially, make continuous use of these in supervision. Others, however, might benefit from an opportunity to observe and practise the application of these laws in parent education discussion groups. Some social workers may also need to extend their knowledge of the resources of audio-visual aids that are of value in parent group education, and to increase their s k i l l in the use of various educational aids and techniques: films, film-strips, socio-drama or informal dramatizations, panel discussions and other methods of presenting material — a l l of these have their place. Social workers should already be acquainted with community educational, health and welfare, and religious resources, and have the s k i l l to assist members as individuals to make use of these. They may, however, benefit by training as to effective ways of enabling the group to make good use of these resources. Presumably social workers would not be in their profession i f they were not personally interested in people. However, there is considerable difference between casework and parent group education and i t is likely that some caseworkers would not be happy in the latter field. Since the worker's attitude is of particular importance, i t is essential that only those social workers who are interested in the possibilities of parent group education, and enjoy taking part in i t , be encouraged to undertake i t . Furthermore, they should be experimentally-minded, ready to examine and try out new ideas, able to con-sider themselves as partners in a new venture with the parents, lay leaders and other professional people who are similarly interested; and, finally, they should be keen to apply- their training in the use of scientific method to thinking and practice in this new field. - 39 -Social workers at present engaged in parent group education appear to have acquired their special skills for this ?rork in a variety of ways: through the school of experience; by attending in-service seminars or courses in group dynamics; by participating in group therapy training programmes; or by joining with adult educationists in leadership training courses under various auspices. Perhaps, in time, schools of social work will provide train-ing opportunities that will specifically prepare workers for participation in this type of programme. . In the meantime, much could be accomplished through in-service training courses. Here, again, the need is for initiative and prof-essional "know-how" in experimenting with different types of in-training courses in order to discover methods that accomplish most in the limited time available. In addition, such courses might themselves provide a medium for adding to exist-ing knowledge of the theory and practice of parent group education. Actual ex-perience in a group under expert leadership, exemplifying the principles and methods of group work, practice in leadership of a parents' group with the help of a supervisor, and development of skills in the use of resources would seem to be essential elements in a training programme. The view that social workers have a contribution to. make through participation in parent group education, is supported by the F.S.A.A. Committee on Family Life Education, with a note of caution: Complete and uncompromising recognition should be given to the principle that i t is unsound for a family agency to embark on a programme of family l i f e education until its casework services are on a sound and solid footing. A programme of family l i f e education is closely related to existing casework services but is distinctly an addition in terms of time and staff requirements. Given these latter assurances, agencies should not hesitate to - Uo -assume this new function. The Committee then proceeds to propose certain principles and guides for the development of family l i f e education programmes which wil l 2 be helpful for agencies entering this area of activity. It is true that participation in parent education programmes would take up staff time which normally would be given to casework or other group work services. Some agencies may object that they are hard pressed and cannot now meet the demands made upon them. Assuredly, i t is for each agency to judge its own capabilities; better not to attempt any new effort thaji to enter upon i t half-heartedly. However, i t would seem that the devotion by established agencies of at least a small portion of staff time to the development of this preventive work would in the end pay dividends in terms of improved mental health in the communities served, and could eventually result in a general expansion of pre-ventive services more in keeping with the theoretical knowledge even now available. It is assumed that staff engaging in 1 parent education should be given the necess-ary time for preparation, attending meetings, recording, and evaluating, as well as for reading, sharing experiences, and thinking, with others interested in the field. Too often, in the past, workers have contributed to programmes on their own time, with a resultant loss of value because of lack of opportunity to do l i t t l e more than meet with groups after a minimum of preparation. An objection that may be raised by persons outside the social work profession to caseworkers, in particular, undertaking work with parents' groups, is that social caseworkers, being accustomed to dealing with maladjusted individuals and problem situations, are not the best people to parti-1 F.S.A.A. Committee on Family Life Education, "Family Life Education", Highlights, Volume XII, No. 5, May 1951, p. 71. 2 ibid., pp. 70-73. - i l l -cipate in programmes for "normal" parents concerned about the everyday d i f f i -culties of family l i f e . This concept of a clear distinction between normal and abnormal persons i s erroneous. The division between the two i s blurred. Social workers are keenly aware of the broad range of normality. They know that "normal" parents often have potential or actual personality d i f f i c u l t i e s which seriously impair their functioning as parents. Furthermore, qualified workers are equipped to assist such parents. True, i n group discussion the emphasis w i l l be on normal behaviour rather than on serious deviations. It enhances the value of social workers as group leaders that they can distinguish between problems amenable to being dealt with i n the group, from those requiring individual casework or psychiatric treatment. There seems l i t t l e question that social workers should have a v i t a l interest i n parent group education programmes. Such programmes offer an important avenue for positive action toward improved mental health. The same basic philosophic principles underlie parent education and social work practice. Social workers should have no reluctance i n subscribing to the object-ives of parent group!education since these parallel the objectives of social work i t s e l f . Furthermore, by their training and experience, both group and caseworkers already possess much of the knowledge and s k i l l desirable in a prof-essional leader in parents' groups. Already a beginning has been made in the matter of determining what additional knowledge and s k i l l s are needed, and how these may best be acquired. As in other f i e l d s , emphasis is increasingly placed on positive and preventive services, similarly in the mental health f i e l d , i t i s logical that parent education services w i l l eventually occupy an important place. Well-established social work agencies, equipped as they are to contribute so - U2 -much to this development, would be wise to begin now careful experimental projects on a limited scale which could provide a sound foundation for their future participation in parent group education on a more extensive basis. Already, a number of agencies have recognized this and are undertaking acti-vities in parent education as part of their regular programme. In Chapter 3, brief descriptions of selected projects are given. These descriptions i l l u s t r -ate the variety of agencies under whose auspices social workers are engaging in parent group education, as well as the similarities and differences as to approach and methods to be found in this comparatively new area of activity. They also point up some of the problems facing workers in this field. Chapter 3 DIRECTIONS TAKEN BY SOCIAL WORKERS AND SOCIAL AGENCIES The Committee on Family L i f e Education of the Family Service Association of America, set up to study the place of family l i f e education i n family service programmes, found that a considerable number of agencies ( f o r t y -eight out of eighty-one reporting) were already g i v i n g leadership to discussion groups i n t e r e s t e d i n t h i s f i e l d . 1 Replies to enquiries made f o r the present study and recent a r t i c l e s i n s o c i a l work journals i n d i c a t e that many family agen-ci e s are now in c l u d i n g i n t h e i r services the leadership of groups concerned with family l i f e education t o p i c s . Occasionally such discussion groups are composed of c l i e n t s of the agency; more frequently they c o n s i s t of persons who belong to voluntary organizations such as parent-teacher associations, or persons who have come together f o r the s p e c i f i c purpose of discussing c e r t a i n t o p i c s of common i n t e r e s t . S o c i a l workers i n other settings are also p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n parent group education. Psychologists and p s y c h i a t r i s t s i n c h i l d guidance centres are using s o c i a l workers i n conducting discussions with groups of parents using the agency. Programmes are being conducted i n co-operation with doctors and nurses, with the parents of handicapped chi l d r e n . A few children's a i d so c i e -t i e s are experimenting with discussion groups f o r t h e i r f o s t e r mothers, with case-workers as leaders. Some s o c i a l workers i n nursery school p r o j e c t s recognize i n group discussion an exce l l e n t medium f o r the parent education that should be a x F.S.A.A., "Family L i f e Education", Highlights,' Volume XII, No. 5, May, 1951, p.66., New York. - kh -part of every good pre-school programme. A few school social workers are accepting work with parents in groups as a means of multiplying their effect-iveness. In group work settings, too, tentative attempts are under way to encourage parents to use agency workers to assist with the discussion of family relationships. In order to make more concrete the picture of the social worker in action, selected projects illustrating parent education with both client and non-client groups in various settings are briefly described in this chapter. (a) Parent Education with Client Groups t In a Family Service Agency Family l i f e institutes conducted by the Jewish Family Service, New York, are described by Jerome D. Diamond in a recent issue of Social Case- work.1 These consist of four to eight weekly meetings conducted by a caseworker, with a group of not more than twenty-five husbands and wives. Broad family l i f e topics are selected for discussion on the basis of the worker's experience as a family counsellor and his knowledge of the children of the parents concerned. Topics include "How the Child Sees the Parent", "The Parent Discovers his Child", and "The Place of Feelings in Family Living". These titles allow scope for the parents to bring up their own specific problems and interests, and they are en-couraged to do so. The schedule followed during the hour-and-a-half meetings is planned to provide fifteen minutes for orientation and continuity, twenty minutes 1 Diamond, Jerome D., "Group Counselling in the Family Agency", Social Casework, Volume 32, No. 5, May 1951, pp.207-21u, Family Service Association of America, Albany, New York. - a* -for the presentation of content by the leader, forty minutes for the discussion period, and ten minutes for summing up arid giving assignments. Selected parents are invited to attend the group, and no new families are allowed to join after the institute begins. Emphasis is placed upon both partners attending, since i t has been found that their relationship is strengthened when both participate. Mr. Diamond's use of the group method is based on his con-viction that "an intelfectually accepted concept is not truly a part of a parent's equipment until he has resolved his feeling about i t sufficiently to try out his new knowledge".^ The group provides support and protection as the parent tries to apply the content of the discussion to his own situation. < In a Social Group Work Agency An interesting account of the development of a parents' group in a Y.W.C.A. setting is given by Helen Northen, in an article entitled, 2 "Parents Can Be Helped to Do a Better Job". With the assistance of a social group worker, a few young married women who had been "Y" members in their teens, gathered a number of their friends and formed the Y-Actives Club. A l l fourteen members were of Polish or Irish background, were in their twenties, and most of them had children. They came together once a week, originally for recreation, "to have some l i f e of our own" and "to do more things". The worker helped them to have fun, in basketball, dancing, playing cards and eating. Then they began making rag dolls for children who had no toys. They enjoyed their meetings so much they decided their husbands should have fun too, so they had monthly parties to which husbands were invited, with dancing and other activities enjoyed by everybody. Interest in handicrafts was the next stage, and the mothers gained much satis-1 Diamond, Jerome D., "Group Counselling in the Family Agency", Social Casework. Volume 32 , No. 5 , May 1 9 5 l , pp.207-21U, F.S.A.A., Albany, New York. 2 Northen, Helen, "Parents Can be Helped to Do a Better Job", The Child, April, 1951, Children's Bureau, Federal Security Agency, Wash-ington, UbA. - k6 -f a c t i o n from making small g i f t s or a r t i c l e s f o r t h e i r homes. Gradually, i n the relaxed atmosphere of the group, they began to discuss problems — low-cost vacation t r i p s , b a b y - s i t t e r s , the care of ch i l d r e n , and d i f f i c u l t i e s with " i n -laws". At t h i s time, the group worker helped them to make use of resources i n the community that could a s s i s t i n t h e i r thinking — f i l m s , and p r i n t e d material, a s t a f f member from the c h i l d guidance c l i n i c , and a nurse. F i n a l l y , when the group was ready, the worker helped them to see that t h e i r problems were r e l a t e d to broader concerns a f f e c t i n g the whole community, and they discussed housing, the roles of the family and the school i n sex education, and the p r o v i s i o n of child-guidance services through the community chest. The worker's r o l e with t h i s group was to strengthen f r i e n d l i -ness among members, and to encourage an atmosphere of mutual appreciation and support. She helped the members face up to t h e i r r e a l f e e l i n g s and desires, to recognize t h e i r needs and to do something about s a t i s f y i n g them. While, f o r the most part, the i n t e r - r e l a t i o n s h i p s i n the group brought about support f o r members and growth i n adequacy as mothers and wives, the worker took advantage of i n d i v i d -ual interviews to help c e r t a i n members who needed t h i s s p e c i a l a t t e n t i o n . In addition, she a s s i s t e d two members, i n pr i v a t e appointments, to come to the point of seeking a i d i n a fa m i l y agency and a c h i l d guidance c l i n i c . Miss Northen concludes, "Thus, s o c i a l group workers can use t h e i r s k i l l s — based on an understanding of how human beings behave and why, on the dynamics of group l i f e , and on knowing about other services i n the community that may be c a l l e d on f o r co-operation — to a s s i s t young married couples i n such a way that the q u a l i t y of t h e i r f a m i l y l i f e brings s a t i s f a c t i o n to themselves and - U7 -provides a home atmosphere in which their children may develop healthy persona-1 l i t i e s " . In Child Guidance Clinics During the past several months, the Judge Baker Guidance Centre in Boston, Massachusetts, has conducted a pilot discussion group with parents in an effort to determine the effectiveness of such groups with clients 2 in treatment at the Centre. The staff social workers were asked to submit names of the mothers in their case-load who in their opinion would be able to benefit by group experience. The group members were selected from these names on the basis of their ability to participate in and contribute to the discussions, and the probability of the group experience meeting their specific needs. For instance, several had difficulty in relating to other persons in outside groups, and several needed first-hand reassurance that other mothers shared their pro-blems. This group was conducted by a psychiatrist, with a psychiatric social worker serving as observer and recorder; future groups may be conducted by the social workers. The group began with eight members, but two dropped out soon after the meetings began. The women ranged in age from 33 to i\6 years, and came from middle-class families. One had finished only a few grades in grammar school, one was a registered nurse, another was a high-school graduate and three were college graduates. Goals of the leader and the observer in undertaking the pro-ject were (l) "to further understanding of sound principles of child development 1 Northen, Helen, "Parents Can be Helped to Do a Better Job", The Child, April 1951 2 From letter dated December 28, 1951, from Mrs.Eleanor Rosen-blum, Psychiatric Social Worker, Judge Baker Guidance Centre for Childhood and Youth, Boston, Mass. - U8 -and training" and (2) "to help therapeutically with the mothers' own problems". The validity of these goals was confirmed in the mothers' spontaneous comments and statements of their needs. No prepared material was used as a stimulant to discussion, except brief summaries of the topics discussed at the previous meet-ing. Subjects included both generalized and specific problems of child-parent relationships, with the mothers frequently contributing from memories of their own childhood experiences as well as from incidents in their current relation-ships. In addition, the group provided a medium in which some worked out their feelings towards parents and siblings in a transference situation. The leader participated quite actively in the discussions, helped to clarify issues, dealt with intense feelings i f they seemed intolerable to a particular member and, at appropriate times, offered theoretical material about child development and train-ing. Even in the three months during which the group had been in process at the time of reporting, the agency staff was of the opinion that the group discussion method was a valuable supplement to individual case work: "new material heretofore unknown has been brought up in the individual sessions, and there has seemed to be marked momentum in the mothers' progress due to the in-fluence of the group".1 Frequent conferences between the group leader and indi-vidual case workers correlated the two services. It was evident that the dis-cussion group made possible the following values: "reassurance of other persons' being in' the same boat, the first-hand transference situation with siblings as well as with the parent figure, and the driving home emotionally of ideas that 2 were only grasped intellectually previously". 1 ibid. ^ ibid. - k9 -Group discussions of a special type form an important part of the counselling programme conducted by the Chicago Community Child-Guidance Centres. Dr. Rudolf Dreikurs, Medical Director, describes the group therapy i n these centres as a unique combination of group dynamics, with the group approach taking place at various levels: the family  group, i n which we deal with the entire family i n each case rather than with the mother or the child alone; the children's group i n the game room, where we supple-ment play with psycho-drama as a further group approach; the parents' group, composed of parents enrolled for therapy, who participate i n group discussions; the community group, composed of vis i t i n g parents, teachers, students, and others interested i n problems of child guidance, who likewise participate i n the discussion; children among the adults, being interviewed i n the counselling room i n the presence of adults — one of the most interesting, and perhaps most controversial, aspects of our group therapy. Parents who seek help at the Centres are encouraged to bring other members of the family who have contact with the child i n treatment, and are required to bring a l l the children i n the family. The only limitation i s the upper age level of fourteen years for children accepted for treatment. Families and other adults participating i n the counselling sessions represent a mixture of economic, r e l i -gious and racial backgrounds. Dr. .Dreikurs believes that their meeting together increases awareness of the similarity of their problems, regardless of external differences; thus, indirectly, the human relationships of the whole community are affected and improved. Parents enroll at the Centre and immediately begin attending the weekly group sessions. Before their own case i s taken up, they w i l l probably 1 Dreikurs, Rudolf, "Family Group Therapy i n the Chicago Community Child Guidance Centres", Mental Hygiene, Volume XXXV, Wo. 2 , A p r i l , 1 9 5 1 , p. 2 9 1 , The National Association for Mental Health, Albany, New York. - 5 o -have taken part in several sessions and will be familiar with the procedure. The parents and adults involved in a case are interviewed by the counsellor and the social worker in the counselling room, while the children are being observed by the group vrorker in the game room. Other parents and interested adults — possibly up to 100 people — sit two or three rows deep in a solid semi-circle around the counsellor. They are encouraged to make comments, ask questions and offer suggestions during the interview. Sometimes their spontan-eous reaction to a parent's statement or attitude is an important factor in causing him to re-examine his behaviour and eventually to revise his thinking and practice. At the end of this interview, the parent leaves the counselling room, the children are brought in, and the problem is talked over with them. The parent (or both parents i f they are present) may be brought back and a dis-cussion carried on with the whole family group, or the parent may be interviewed again without the children. The parent's case may require these personal inter-views every two or four weeks; in addition, he or she is expected to attend a l l the weekly sessions. It is Dr. Dreikurs' experience that, contrary to common expectation, parents do not seem to be inhibited by the presence of others while they are being interviewed. He feels, in fact, that frequently a parent can accept group pressure more readily than the opinion of the counsellor. At times, when distinctly personal matters which cannot be discussed publicly are important in a case, parents have an opportunity for private interviews with the social worker or counsellor. For the most part, however, problems are taken up before the whole group. Having participated in the discussion prior to his own case, the parent realizes that his problem is shared by many others and consequently - 51 -feelings of shame, humiliation, guilt, and inadequacy are diminished or removed. Frequently some parent in the group volunteers an instance from his own exper-ience, his way of meeting the problem, and the results achieved. This may be directly helpful to the parent whose problem is being discussed; in any case he may be able to view the example with more objectivity than his own difficulty, and eventually be able to transfer to his own l i f e situation the understanding he thereby achieves. By interviewing children and parents together, the counsellor demonstrates for the whole group the idea of the "family council" in action, and he encourages an atmosphere of calm rationality in which to work out the d i f f i -culty. Obviously the success of this programme depends on the^  s k i l l of the counsellor, who must be sensitive not only to the "clients", but also to the whole group. The seating plan must be conducive to group unity and so planned that the counsellor can see everybody, "not only to catch any indi-cation of desire to participate, but also to recognize and deal with emotional 1 reactions, confusion, objection, or criticism". ¥hile counselling one parent, he is simultaneously dealing with each member in the whole group. The counsellor in the Chicago Centres may be a psychiatrist, or a psychologist or social worker with specialized training. The Lasker Mental Hygiene and Child Guidance Centre of Hadassah, Jerusalem, co-operates with four infant welfare centres, each of which 2 has an ante-natal clinic. Expectant mothers visit the clinics every two weeks for physical examinations, and they are invited to attend also a group meeting 1 ibid., p. 296. 2 Caplan, Gerald, "Mental-Hygiene Work with Expectant Mothers -A Group Psychotherapeutic Approach", Mental Hygiene, Volume 35, Wo. 1, January 1951, The National Association for Mental Health, Albany, New York. - 5 2 -held once a month. Usually each mother attends the group meeting five or six times during the period of her pregnancy. The total number in the group varies from four to fif t y , with an average of fifteen to twenty. Groups of ten to twenty have been found to develop a feeling of unity which has resulted in the most effective discussion. Great variety in economic status and nationality backgrounds seems to present no hindrance to participation, because the discuss-ion is concerned more with feelings than with knowledge, and is focussed upon a common experience. The aim of the group leader (a psychiatrist or a psychiat-ric social worker) is to stimulate a reassuring and permissive atmosphere in which members can discuss freely their doubts and fears, knowing that they will not be scoffed at, but understood and helped to deal with these destructive feelings. Group members sit around a table, or gather in the clinic hall. The leader is prepared to give an informal, fifteen-minute talk on some topic known to be of interest to the group, as a stimulus to discussion. The topic may be chosen because i t involves information needed by the mothers, because i t is re-lated to probable causes of worry, shame or guilt, or because i t 'may provoke fruitful discussion. Sometimes only a part of the talk is given before i t is interrupted by questions or discussion, and the leader is always alert in following up points of particular interest to members. The leader's role in the discussion is not directly to lead, but to help clarify the contributions of different mem-bers and to relate these ideas. The leader does not interest himself in the problem of any individual as such, except insofar as he accepts i t as a contribution of one member of the group to be related to the group as a whole. He makes use of the remarks of various members in relation - 53 -to the group much as a psychotherapist i n i n d i -vidual treatment deals with the separate associat-ions of his patient. Whereas in the lecture his main technique has been suggestion, i n the dis-cussion he changesto an analytic orientation, and his role i s mostly interpretative. He points out evidences of anxiety and guilt, and in the main leaves i t to the group to undertake the task of reassurance.-'- " The Centre staff has found that the mothers i n these small groups resemble patients in therapy groups who, perhaps because they are strangers to each other, are more willing to speak freely about their intimate feelings than when alone with a therapist. These expectant mothers find the greatest reassurance i n hearing each other talk; they discover that many of them have "similar guilty 2 ' secrets and irrational anxieties". Mothers revealing serious disturbances are helped to seek individual treatment. The intention i s to i n i t i a t e the use of small, closed weekly group therapy meetings with these women. Requests for post-natal discussion groups from the mothers who have attended the pre-natal meetings have resulted i n plans for series of meetings in which a more intensive technique w i l l be possible because the membership w i l l be selected. These requests te s t i f y to the success of the pro-gramme, which the Clinic staff considers of value also because, by their attend-ance, large numbers of mothers become accustomed to the workers at the Centre and find i t natural to turn to them later for help i n dealing with their family problems. In Treatment Centres for Children Group discussion i s used by the Department of Psychiatry ibid, p. 1+7. i b i d , p. 1+8. - 5ii -as one method of helping parents of c h i l d r e n undergoing treatment at the 1 Children's Memorial Hospital i n Montreal. Recruitment i s done on the basis of the c h i l d ' s diagnosis. There have been groups f o r mothers of neurotic children and f o r those of c h i l d r e n s u f f e r i n g from cerebral palsy, also f o r parents of c h i l d r e n attending the speech therapy c l i n i c . Other groups f o r parents ,of schizophrenic c h i l d r e n , retarded c h i l d r e n and asthmatic c h i l d r e n are being planned. No other l i m i t a t i o n i s placed on the composition of the groups. Both groups of mothers only, and mixed groups of fathers and mothers, have been t r i e d . In t h i s connection, Dr. Statten reports that the mixing of sexes i n a group seems to a f f e c t the choice of topics discussed. He has noticed some difference also depending on the sex of the p s y c h i a t r i s t i n charge of the group; mothers apparently f e e l much f r e e r to discuss sexual and gynaecological problems with a female t h e r a p i s t . Groups consist of eight to ten members. The discussion leader, a p s y c h i a t r i s t at the Children's Memorial Hospital, "plays a r e l a t i v e l y passive r o l e and leaves the parents to 2 i n i t i a t e the discussion" a f t e r the f i r s t one or two meetings, i n which he may 3 have to take a " s l i g h t l y more d i r e c t i v e " r o l e . An observer i s u s u a l l y present who takes no part i n the discussion, but i s a v a i l a b l e to take the leadership r o l e (and i s accepted by the group) i f the regular leader has to be absent. The observer may be a trainee i n psychiatry, psychology, or s o c i a l work. U t i l i z a t i o n by another agency of a caseworker's services as discussion leader i s described by Regina Elkes i n an a r t i c l e e n t i t l e d , "Group-Casework Experiment with Mothers of Children with Cerebral Palsy".^ 1 From l e t t e r dated January 16, 1952, from Dr. Taylor S t a t t -en, Director, Department of Psychiatry, The Children's Memorial Hospital, Montreal. 2 & 3 i b i d . . k Elkes, Regina, "Group-Casework Experiment m t h Mothers of Children with Cerebral Palsy", Journal of S o c i a l Casework, March 19U7, pp.95-101, Family Service A s s o c i a t i o n of America, Albany, New York. - 5* -The Brooklyn Visiting Nurse Association enlisted the caseworker's help with a group of ten mothers whose children were attending the Association's treatment centre for children with cerebral palsy. Subjects discussed grew out of the mothers' own requests, and the four meetings were concerned mainly with (1) the acceptance by the mothers of their ambivalent feelings towards their handicapped children; ventilation of their resentment towards their husbands' failure to share responsibility with regard to these children; (2) discipline problems; their own guilt feelings and their tendency to "take i t out on" other members of the family; difficulties with relatives; (3) problems connected with school and social adjustment; (1+) community services; and a pot-pourri period, in which any questions were discussed. Even such a short series was considered to have real values. The informal participation of a Visiting Nurse Association nurse made i t possible for mothers to get the information they wanted about cerebral palsy and to clari-fy their understanding of the treatment carried on at the Centre. Through talk-ing about their problems and experiences with others in similar situations, they found a certain relief — the emotional burden seemed to become lighter as i t was shared with the group. By keeping the focus on subjects desired, however, the worker was also able to keep within manageable limits the therapeutic aspects of the meetings. One mother was referred to a family agency when i t became evident that individual treatment was needed. Finally, the caseworker's method encouraged the mothers to plan their own meetings, thus enhancing their sense of adequacy, competence and self-respect. In addition to the immediate advantages to the group served, this type of co-operation between social work and other agencies produces a means of bringing casework services into touch with people who need help but do not - 56 -u s u a l l y seek i t of t h e i r own v o l i t i o n , (b) Parent Education with Non-Client Groups  Family Service Agencies The family l i f e education programme of the Family So-c i e t y of Greater Boston began on an organized ba s i s i n 191+7,1 with the d i s t r i b u t -i on of a c i r c u l a r s t a t i n g that the s t a f f of the Society was a v a i l a b l e to give t a l k s on t o p i c s r e l a t i n g to marriage, children's behaviour, and s i m i l a r subjects. The immediate response of about f i f t y requests was evidence of the i n t e r e s t i n , and need f o r , t h i s type of service. During the f i v e years since 19h7, the agency has t r i e d out d i f f e r e n t types of programmes. Though sing l e t a l k s to large aud-iences are s t i l l offered, t a l k s to smaller groups with extended discussion are considered a preferable method by the agency s t a f f , and discussion s e r i e s are r e -garded as the most e f f e c t i v e type of programme. Topics suggested i n the agency's p u b l i c i t y l e a f l e t as possible areas of i n t e r e s t f o r groups include, "The Pre-school C h i l d " , "The Tears Six to Ten", "Parent-Child Relationships", "The Teen-2 Ager", "Looking toward Marriage", and "You're Younger than You Think". Most of the discussion s e r i e s have been c a r r i e d on with mothers' groups which u s u a l l y are a f f i l i a t e d with parent-teacher associations, nursery schools, or settlement houses, but sometimes are groups which have organ-i z e d themselves expressly f o r the s e r i e s . Teen-agers, too, under the auspices of a church or settlement house, c a l l upon the agency f o r leadership. While middle-income groups have made most use of the service, some groups i n both the. low- and 1 From l e t t e r dated December 21, 1951, from Edward J . Power, J r . , Assistant to the Executive, Family Society of Greater Boston, Boston, M a s s ' 2 "Perhaps Someone Can Help.'" p u b l i c i t y l e a f l e t on services of the Family Society of Greater Boston. . - 57 -high-income districts have received assistance. Usually, a preliminary meeting takes place between the staff member i n charge of the family l i f e education programme and a sub-committee from the group, to consider i n broad terms what the members want, the manner of conducting the meetings, and such mechanics as the time and frequency of meetings and the payment of a fee. This preliminary meeting provides an opportunity for both the agency and the group to c l a r i f y their ideas as to the value of working together on this educational project. If the arrangements are completed, the discussion leader at his f i r s t meeting goes over a l l of these matters again with the whole group. He covers such questions as, "What does each member of the group expect and want i n this series ?", "What topics are to be discussed ?", "How often shall we meet ?", "How long w i l l meetings be ?". The leader goes carefully into what he can do to help the members gain their expectations; he c l a r i f i e s his role — he i s to help the members achieve their goal of understand-ing specified phases of children's development and behaviour, and their own part i n these. He emphasizes that he cannot give quick answers, but that the real value of the series w i l l come as the group shares experiences, ideas and knowledge, and that he w i l l participate ?;hen he has something to contribute. This agency has found that i t i s a good plan to start with about twelve members in a group, since usually eight to ten of these w i l l attend regularly throughout the series. Experience also indicates that groups consist-ing of fifteen to twenty persons are too large for "the intimate sort of give-and-take that i s necessary for a successful series"."1" On the basis of experiments, the staff tends to the conclusion that longer series of ten to twelve meetings 1 From le t t e r dated December 21, 1951, from Edward J. Power, Jr., Assistant to the Executive, Family Society of Greater Boston, Boston, Massachusetts. are more satisfying to group members than shorter series of six to eight meetings, which frequently seem to end just when the members are becoming free enough to participate comfortably. In addition, groups in which members a l -ready know each other before beginning the series are found able to move into freer and more meaningful discussion more quickly than groups in which members are strangers to each other and consequently require time to develop group feeling. Staff caseworkers serving as group leaders promote in the groups a permissive atmosphere in which members bring* up any questions or problems connected with the topic they have chosen for the particular meeting. Problems concerned with their own families form the major content of their dis-cussions. The leader encourages participation of the members, drawing out their ideas and opinions, helping them to look for causes of behaviour, to see connect-ions between their children's reactions and their own feelings and actions, and to become aware of the meaning of behaviour. From their examples and the ensuing discussion, the leader points up mental hygiene principles which are now meaning-ful to them and which they may henceforth be better able to apply in everyday living. At times, the leader'srole is to protect from the group some member who draws upon herself more criticism or hostility than she can profitably endure. The leader is also on the watch for evidences of need for individual consultation, and for ways of assisting such members to seek the help they require. An inter-esting change has taken place in the method of dealing with this problem: "In the beginning stages of this programme we became quite alarmed about the person in the group who needed casework help. Our procedure at that time was to speak to the person outside the group, suggesting referral to one of the agencies for - 59 -help. Today, by facing an issue squarely i n the group we find that often the 1 group i t s e l f w i l l recommend an application to one of the social agencies". Obviously, discussion leadership as practised by the staff of the Family Society of Greater Boston demands a thorough knowledge of mental hygiene principles, as well as s k i l l i n working with groups. Caseworkers who participate i n the family l i f e education programme of this agency may be presumed to have the former qualification as part of their professional equipment. They are assisted i n gaining the l a t t e r by participating in a special seminar given in the agency, and i n courses on group dynamics conducted by analysts on the staff of the Boston State Hospital. The objective of the courses i n group dynamics i s "to learn the dynamics of the group by analysis and study of the group in which the person is participating, moving then to the study of the tech-niques, characteristics of the group, and the role of the leader as applied to 2 groups generally". As one method of evaluating the benefits that members obtain from taking part i n the discussion group, the Family Society asks them to answer a questionnaire at the conclusion of their series of meetings. Questions asked include, "How did the discussion help you ?", "In what way didn't the discussion help you ?", "Do you f e e l differently i n any way about your children as a result of the discussions ?", "What'new ideas did you pick up ?" Such answers as the following are frequently given: "It made me understand my daughter a l i t t l e more. I believed i n discipline at that age and now I f e e l that i t isn't everything. My child seems more normal to me now". "I learned to use tact with the children and a l i t t l e psychology".^ "One, patience with children. Two, 1 & 2 ibid. - 60 -understanding why they do things. Three, each c h i l d i s an i n d i v i d u a l " . "Not to expect so much of my youngsters". " I t helped me to r e a l i z e that everyone besides myself had other problems too". "That people can be helped i f they want to be". 1 Such comments provide encouraging evidence of the effectiveness of the small discussion group as a means of promoting mental health and sounder fami l y l i f e . 2 In Minneapolis, the Family and Children's Service decided, i n A p r i l , 19lt9, to put i t s work i n famil y l i f e education on an organized b a s i s , with one s t a f f member i n charge of t h i s aspect of i t s programme. Requests hence-f o r t h were c e n t r a l i z e d , records kept of a c t i v i t i e s , and experimental work c a r r i e d on both with respect to discussion i n small groups i n s e r i e s of meetings and to the improved use of s i n g l e meetings. Groups were helped to evaluate t h e i r ex-perience and the workers recorded s e l f - c r i t i c i s m . In addition, studies were made of movies, pamphlets, plays and bibl i o g r a p h i e s to obtain information and suggest-ions regarding content and method i n family l i f e education. In another phase of the programme, the community was explored to asce r t a i n what a c t i v i t i e s were being c a r r i e d on by other agencies also i n t e r e s t e d i n the prevention of family problems. I t was found that there was "a serious lack of coordination and co-operation — 3 a contrast to the long h i s t o r y of coordinated community s o c i a l s ervices". Records f o r family l i f e education a c t i v i t i e s during the 19U9-50 season show a t o t a l of 3k single-session meetings, i n which the worker met only once with a group, and I4.8 meetings i n 7 s e r i e s of 6 to 8 meetings each. 1 From Record of Settlement House Discussion Series, p.39, Family Society of Great Boston. 2 Reichert, Mrs. Elizabeth, "Report on Family L i f e Educat-ion, 19l;9-50", Family and Children's Service, Minneapolis, Minn. ( M u l t i l i t h e d ) "Outline f o r a Report on Family L i f e Education]' " family and Children's Service, Minneapolis, dated 2-19-52, unpublished. - 61 -A tentative policy of charging a ten-dollar fee for a single meeting or $i|0 for a discussion series was frequently modified to meet the individual circum-stances of the various groups; the fee most commonly paid by groups was $20 for 6 to 8 meetings. Requests for leadership for the single-session meetings came from parent-teacher associations, groups i n settlement houses, church groups and nursery school parent groups. Content of the meetings included topics con-cerned with the mental hygiene of family relations, parent-child relationships, and (with young people) boy-girl relationships and preparation for marriage. Frequently the worker was asked to lead a discussion after the showing of a suit-able film. Even i n these single sessions, emphasis was placed on encouraging participation through total group discussion, i n the conviction that lectures were not an effective method of meeting the needs of a group interested i n family l i f e education. Material brought out by the group members was used to il l u s t r a t e the general principles of mental hygiene which the worker was interested i n pre-senting. When connected with their own experiences, problems and questions, these principles were much more meaningful than they would have been i f presented in a lecture. The discussion series were arranged not only with mem-bers of parent-teacher associations, but with groups from a Business and Profess-ional Gir l s ' Club, and Industrial Gir l s ' Club, and a group of advanced student nurses. Topics chosen by the groups were developed under the headings, "Persona-l i t y " , "Psychology", "Parent-Child Relationships", "Mental Hygiene and Family Relations", and "Changes i n Family Relationships". The staff worker also conduct-ed one session on "changes in family relations as related to women pregnant for the f i r s t time" i n a series planned by a mental health nurse for a class of - 62 -expectant mothers. In these discussion series, the worker began with the apparent interest which brought each parent to the group! Her task was then to weave this into a meaningful consideration of inner and outer pressures operating on the individual family member and the family as a whole. Such sharing of individual experience and knowledge with a group may be reassuring and anxiety relieving; as would also be the universalizing by the group (including the worker) of the feelings inherent i n problem situations. At every opportunity offered by the group, worker planned to stress the basic principles of human relationships, such as (1) behaviour i s emotionally determined, (2) strain i s norm-a l since growth means change, (3) behaviour i s specific, (k) social pressures can become psychological pressures, etc. In this way emphasis i s on integrating knowledge within the group with content given i n small doses supplementing what i s already there. Recording and evaluation of group meetings were considered an important part of the programme, even though evaluation — i n particular — was d i f f i c u l t . In attempting to arrive at a more reliable evaluation, the following factors were taken into account: "(l) The worker's own impressions about the individuals in the group, their changing relations to each other and to the worker, their contributions, and their reactions to material under dis-cussion, (2) The group members' spontaneous and/or written comments, (3) The 2 group chairmen's judgement". > An article in a recent issue of Highlights reveals that three years of careful experimenting have strengthened the belief of the Family and Children's Service in the value of member participation i n family l i f e education. We have been convinced that material about family relations i s so personal, and so laden with feeling, • 1 "Family Life Education", (Hollis PTA Record) Family and Children's Service, Minneapolis, Minn., multilithed a r t i c l e dated ll-29-l|9. 2 Report on Family Life Education, op.cit. p.i;. that didactic lectures are not an effective way of individualizing a group and of meeting in some measure its needs and interests. A group that is participating in family l i f e education needs to be activated to communicate within itself. Only after this occurs can the reassurance the group experience offers be used, creatively. 1 Because of this conviction, the agency staff has continued to encourage the use of the discussion series as a medium, and has more recently been experimenting 2 successfully with the use of "buzz" groups in large, single-session meetings. In either setting, this informal discussion method sets a pattern of participation; i t allows face-to-face experience, with consequent improved group identification; i t permits the worker to integrate contributions made by members of the group and to add only what seems relevant and necessary, at the same time using their examples, their language, and their ideas; and i t .avoids making the leader the "know-it-all expert" who can easily be put on the spot with difficult or im-possible-to-answer questions.3 For some years, the staff of the Family Service of Philadel-phia has made voluntary contributions of staff time to the various city organiz-ations which requested speakers and discussion leaders for family l i f e education groups. Sharing the general, increasing concern about the prevention of family breakdown, the Family Service decided to set up in October, 1951, an organized programme in Family Life Education, with an experienced caseworker in charge. Although in existence only four months when reported on, this programme was a l -ready taking definite shape. In addition to contacts with key persons for the 1 Reichert, Elizabeth, "Family Life Education 'Buzz Sessions' Highlights, Volume XIII, No. 3, March 1952, pp. 35-36, Family Service Association of America, Albany, N.Y. 2 ibid. 3 ibid., pp. 37-38. k From letter dated January 28, 1952, from Mrs. Gertrude K. Pollak, Director, Family Life Education, Family Service of Philadelphia. - 6h -purpose of interpreting the service, several single meetings with groups and one series of discussion meetings had already been completed, while others were planned for succeeding months. The discussions series vary in length from four to six sessions. Attendance is from twelve to eighteen participants. (The group leader prefers to have ten to twelve members present, to achieve good discussion). Requests for discussion leadership have come from such groups as mothers of pre-school children, senior high-school girls, and nurses. Topics discussed differ according to the interests of the group and have inclu-ded, "The Pre-School Child and His Family", "Improving Your Date Quotient", and "Family Living". The amount of the fee for a discussion series is determined during preliminary planning, and is based on the group's ability to pay. Fees have varied from $25 to $80. The fee-charging policy has been generally accepted, although service would not be denied to a group which could not pay any fee. During the past several years, staff members of the Family Welfare Bureau of Greater Vancouver have given talks on family l i f e education topics in single-session meetings, at the request of various organizations. More recently, certain caseworkers have also participated in a few parents' discussion groups and in a pre-marital counselling course. A caseworker was assigned to lead the parents' discussion series at the request of the local parent-teacher associations, under whose aus-pices the groups were organized. Groups consisted usually of about lk members, who met in each other's homes. The content of the discussion was based on the parents' requests. Encouraged by the group leader, they brought up the topics in which they were interested, moving freely from one to the next, with the leader's assistance, when they were ready. The leader's role, in addition to - 65 -helping members engage i n productive discussion, included intervening — when necessary — to prevent the presentation of material that could not be advanta-geously dealt with i n the group. The pre-marital counselling course, arranged i n co-operation with a nearby neighbourhood house, was planned by a committee of doctors, caseworkers, and group workers. The course consisted of f i v e two-hour meetings. I t was attended by a group of eighteen young people associated with a number of Protestant and C a t h o l i c churches. In order to provide f o r c o n t i n u i t y , a l l meet-ings were under the supervision of a t r a i n e d s o c i a l worker, who introduced the speakers and acted as chairman during the question-and-discussion periods following the t a l k s . Topics, which were selected i n advance by the planning committee, were, "The Meaning of Maturity", "The Meaning of Engagement", "Under-standing Our Bodies", and "Relationships i n Marriage"; the l a s t meeting was attended by a l l the speakers, who answered members' questions i n a round-table session. Agency workers are of the opinion that the s e r i e s of informally-conducted discussions with small groups of parents who p r e f e r a b l y a l -ready know each other provides f o r a use of r e l a t i o n s h i p between group leader and members, as well as between the members themselves, that d i s t i n c t l y enhances the value of the meetings. Lectures (even when followed by a question period), as provided i n the pre-marital counselling course, may supply information which some members can use, but on the whole f a i l to provide opportunity f o r i n d i v i d u a l needs to be met. In the informal group, since much of the m a t e r i a l comes from the members themselves, the group leader i s able to determine what i s r e a l l y r e -levant to t h e i r p a r t i c u l a r needs. Such a group, under good leadership, also pro-vides a s e t t i n g i n which the l e s s aggressive members gradually become, able to - 66 -express themselves. Furthermore, material which i s disturbing to certain members can be diluted or interpreted so that i t can be used constructively. Children's Agencies The ways in which group methods have been used with foster parents are illustrated by two quite different developments. The Children's Aid Society of Montreal conducts a parent education programme "for the dual purpose of giving foster parents basic con-cepts which are essential to their adequate functioning as' parents, and to give them the knowledge that they are sharing with other families the problems that are essentially typical of the foster home situation". 1 Invitations to the courses are included in a monthly bulletin that goes out to a l l foster parents, but attendance i s voluntary. Group members of both sexes, ranging i n numbers from 75 to 15>0, meet together for the presentation of topical material, then divide into groups of about 20 each, for discussion under trained leadership. The small groups reconvene at the end of the evening to present their conclusions to the total group. Topics dealt with recently have been: "The Role of Own Parents in Children's Lives", "Sex Education", and "Spending Money". The "specialist" speaker has been found to be the least successful medium for the presentation of material. ,Films followed by discussion i n small groups have been stimulating, but the most effective method discovered to date has been discussion following the presentation by a local repertory company of three plays prepared by the U.S. National Committee for Mental Hygiene. Committees of foster parents plan the programmes, with considerable assistance from three workers re-presenting the agency staff. The small discussion group leaders are agency 1 From letter dated December 31, 1951, from Mrs. M. B. McCrea, Executive Director, The Children's Aid Society of Montreal. - 67 -caseworkers specially trained in group discussion leadership courses provided by the Mental Hygiene Institute of Montreal. In Miami, Florida, foster mothers of the Children's Service Bureau organized their own club, with voluntary membership, and their own by-laws and statement of purpose.1 The latter included, in addition to sharing problems and educating themselves to become more effective foster parents, the responsibility of interpreting their work to the community and of enlisting the interest of prospective foster parents. At the time of reporting, the club mem-bers had already participated in community educational programmes and were trans-lating into practice their conception of their role as leaders in a programme designed to produce more and better foster parents. In addition to their dis-cussion activities, members sponsored parties for foster parents and children. They sometimes invited to their meetings members of the agency Board and staff, as well as potential foster mothers. Though of varied economic, social and educational backgrounds, there was a strong feeling of unity among club members, based on their common interest in foster children. Even the agency representative met with the group as a member of the club. For her, the club provided an excellent opportunity to observe the mothers in a group setting. Preferably she was kept informed by other staff members on what was going on between each foster mother and the agen-cy, in order to enter into the discussion with relevant points when necessary. With her help, the group was able to become identified with the agency. Through discussion, anxieties were relieved and new mothers got reassurance. A l l bene-fited from the friendly relationships and growth in personal security they found 1 Harnett, Margaret, "Casework Implications of a Foster Mothers' Club", Child Welfare, Volume 29, Wo. 8, October 1950, Child Welfare League of America, New York. - 68 -through participation in the club. Through sharing problems and experiences, they increased their understanding of their children's needs. There is also something about expression in general in a group that relieves the burdensome feeling of personal responsibility. It leaves people freer to express them-selves and freer to accept criticism. There isn't the need to be defensive and thus block on learning or accept-ance. There is.less emotional interference to insight i f there is this diffusion, i f people can say, 'This is not being said just to me, but to a l l of us'.^ Miss Harnett concludes: "In the Foster Mothers' Club, I believe that casework and group work have merged in providing mutual benefits for the child, the foster 2 mother, the agency, and the community". School Guidance Services Set up as a division of the Board of Education of the City of New York, the Bureau of Child Guidance provides clinical services for New York school children who have special educational, social or emotional problems: this is its primary responsibility. Closely related to this function, however, is its concern with teacher education. Through special courses for teachers, clinical conferences on specific children, and individual interpretation, the Bureau aids in promoting among teachers and others concerned, mutual understanding and co-operation in the interests of better standards of mental health throughout the community. As its third function, the Bureau recognizes its responsibility for the spread of mental hygiene principles among parents and other adults in the area and, despite the priority given to the f i r s t two objectives, a considerable 3 amount of work has been done relative to the third — parent education. The programme is carried on under the broad direction of a 1 ibid, p . l U . 2 ibid, p.I4. 3 From letter dated March k, 1952, from James N. Rinaldi,, School Psychiatric Social Worker, Committee on Parent Education, Bureau of Child Guidance, Board of Education, New York City. -69 -Committee on Parent Education which brings to the attention of the administrat-ive staff any policies and practices that would increase the effectiveness of parent education activities engaged in by the Bureau's staff. Rotation of member-ship on the Committee has the advantage of providing experience and stimulus to more staff members as well as the opportunity for the introduction of new ideas into the programme. Committee administration of the programme has also disad-vantages; since committee members carry the responsibility for parent education in addition to their other duties, they are frequently pressed for time and un-able to devote the amount of attention to this programme that they consider desirable. The parent education programme began as part of the Bureau's plan of interpreting its work to the community. Gradually, parent-teacher association United Parent organizations, and other groups began requesting spea-kers on various topics in the fields of child development and parent-child relations, and eventually the Bureau was asked to supply leaders for discussion groups or short courses. Talks, discussion, films and plays have a l l beenuused to advantage in the single-session meetings. However, feeling some doubt as to the value of single talks except as a means of stimulating interest in further study, the Committee on Parent Education has been favouring the use of the dis-cussion method in a series of meetings with the same group. Recently, in a series of ten weekly meetings with a parent-teacher group, discussion was used exclusively, the leader taking the responsibility for organizing and conducting the discussion in the areas of interest that the parents themselves raised for consideration. These interests included discipline, sex, adjustment, sibling adjustment, social adjustment, effect of television on children, and fears. In common wi th many other organizations engaged in parent education, the Bureau staff recognizes the d i f f i c u l t y of evaluating re-sults in this f i e l d but considers that certain signs point to the value of discussion group projects as a means for promoting mental health: "We do feel that there has been value i n interpreting our c l i n i c a l programme to the community, in stimulating interest in mental hygiene and i n helping some parents seek addit-ional casework or c l i n i c a l service". 1 Continued attendance of parents at meetings, the degree of parent participation i n discussion, and evaluative remarks by the parents a l l seem to indicate the benefits to them of increased understand-ing of children's needs and a b i l i t y to meet problems: i n short, i t i s f e l t that definite educational gains are made. School social workers in other cities are also recognizing the importance of their participation i n parent group education programmes as a means of increasing their own effectiveness in promoting mental health i n the 2 community. Mrs. Mary Thomson, who conducted a study of the social worker i n the 3 school i n 19U8, advanced the opinion that by serving as a "resource person" — giving leadership as speaker, consultant, or discussion chairman — the school social worker could make a significant contribution to the programmes of parent and other adult groups. Indeed, Mrs. Thomson points out the opportunity provided by actual participation i n various community groups, for social workers to foster an understanding of mental health principles, an understanding which w i l l become evident i n improved community services. In support of this recommendation, Mrs. Thomson quotes Florence Poole: Visiting teachers now, beside the basic s k i l l of i n d i -vidual therapy, must take their places i n the school 1 i b i d . 2 E.g. i n Colorado Springs, Colo., and San Diego, California. 3 Thomson, Mary, The Social Worker in the School, Master of Social Work Thesis, 19U8, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. - 71 -and i n the community as persons aware of p o s s i b i l i t i e s inherent in good group work or the group approach, as well as the individual approach. They must be able to interpret social and economic changes and, as relation-ships among community agencies are better recognized, they must play an effective part not only i n f a c i l i t a t -ing the interchange between schools and other agencies interested in children, but participate also i n creative social planning for the continued development of a l l agencies designed to improve the level of citizenship. Trends Indicated by These Projects The fourteen projects just described, while admittedly a very small sampling, serve to i l l u s t r a t e the variety of agencies in which social workers are assisting with parent education programmes; they include family service agencies, child guidance centres, children's hospitals, a group work agency, children's aid societies, a mental hygiene c l i n i c , and school child guidance bureau^ Similarities i n the conduct of these projects give some in d i -cation of directions i n current thought and practice in the f i e l d , on the part of social workers. Many questions are suggested which require further study, and these are augmented by those arising from the points of difference in practice in even these few projects. In general, parent education programmes with client groups are found in the agencies i n which the work i s under the direction or supervision of a psychiatrist. The "clients" are parents whose children are undergoing treat-ment of some kind. A notable exception i s the group work agency, in which the clients are parents-using the agency's f a c i l i t i e s and the worker for a recreation-al-educational purpose. The family service agencies, with one exception, prefer to make their leadership services available to organized groups such as parent-1. Poole, Florence, "National-wide Developments i n School Social Work", The Bulletin of the National Association of School Social Workers, March 19^7, Volume XXII, No. 3. - 72 -teacher associations, who recruit interested persons from their membership. Among those agencies working with client groups, the method of recruiting groups members varies widely, from very careful selection based on group therapy considerations, to a policy of accepting a l l who register for an advertised service or "course". Group members in the projects represent different levels of age, socio-economic status, and racial, religious and educational background; they are of both sexes, though women are in the majority. Attitude of the professional workers toward the homogeneity of membership in regard to these factors varies: some are of the opinion that the group process is aided by similarities in age, socio-economic status, and cultural and educational back-ground; others believe that differences in these factors can be advantageous to group development and member growth. The latter point out that a common interest in human relations and the fact that the content of the discussion is emotional rather than purely intellectual over-ride differences; in fact, differences add interest and result in broadening of viewpoints. There is general agreement among a l l the agencies on the importance of using discussion as a medium rather than the lecture method, and of providing for some continuity over a series of meetings. There is much variat-ion in the number of meetings preferred in a series; several agencies favour four or six, but others find that the group is just getting under way at that point and requires ten to twelve meetings. While most of the agencies favour work with small groups — about eight to fourteen members is the most popular range — some handle larger^ numbers, even up to one hundred. Two agencies are adapting the large meeting for discussion by means of a break-down of the "audience" into small groups for a portion of the time. Another reports good results even with - 73 -a large group, given a s u i t a b l e p h y s i c a l set-up and a h i g h l y - s k i l l e d leader. In a l l cases, group members p a r t i c i p a t e i n planning t h e i r own programme, though as a s t a r t i n g point f o r t h e i r thinking they may use broad topics proposed by the leader on the b a s i s of assumed i n t e r e s t s . When groups are kept small, free discussion a r i s i n g from the members' needs and i n t e r e s t s i s the usual mode of procedure, although i n a few instances a short t a l k on the t o p i c i s given by the leader or some other method of introducing the subject i s provided. In most of the groups, therapy of the parents' own problems i s subordinated to the p r i -marily educational purpose but i t i s always an important element and i s given c a r e f u l a t t e n t i o n by the leader. In evaluating t h e i r programmes, the leaders emphasize most of a l l the b e n e f i c i a l r e s u l t s attendant upon the use of the group discussion method. They r e f e r to the r e l i e f f e l t by parents as a r e s u l t of expressing t h e i r fears and worries i n a group and f i n d i n g that others have s i m i l a r fears and worries. They mention the economy of e f f o r t that i s made' possible by the opport-unity afforded the leader to f i n d out i n discussion what are the needs of members, and to provide the r i g h t assistance to meet those needs. They point out the value of the parents' questioning, bringing out t h e i r objections and thinking through problems themselves, i n the process of i n t e g r a t i n g new ideas emotionally as w e l l as i n t e l l e c t u a l l y , and i n changing a t t i t u d e s . Several workers comment on the b e n e f i t to the parents of t h e i r f e e l i n g of greater adequacy as people, gained through t h e i r p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the group. Several agencies report favourable comments from the parents themselves, mentioning increased understanding of t h e i r children, greater enjoyment i n fa m i l y l i f e , and l e s s anxiety about r e l a t i v e l y un-important d i f f i c u l t i e s . ..Workers i n the Agency which gives p a r t i c u l a r a t t e n t i o n to the mothers' own problems comment that the group experience proves a valuable supplement to casework treatment. Many questions regarding purpose, group membership, the group process, and the role of the leader are suggested by the projects described. The different methods of recruiting membership for the groups, and or.- ". , . >-! of handling other organizational details, for example, points to a need for much more specific knowledge about the influence of various factors involved, lhat effect does the purpose of the group have i n determining membership ? For example, Row does the stress on educative or therapeutic elements affect the selection of members ? Are there more advantages i n having a f a i r l y homogeneous group as to age, sex, socio-economic status, cultural and racial background, or are there kinds of groups i n which differences i n certain of these factors carry special benefits ? YJhat are the effects on the group process of bringing together strangers, or people who already know each other ? Is there an optimum number for a discussion group, or are there factors -which operate to make different sizes of group advisable for various purposes ? What can be achieved i n groups of various sizes and what are the most effective methods of working with them ? (This question has pertinence especially from the viewpoint of the effective use of leadership). What are the factors determining the length of a series of meetings ? What i s the effect on the group of constant or changing membership, and how may the d i f f i c u l t i e s caused by changing membership be mitigated ? Much more specific knowledge i s needed about the group process particularly as to the roles of the leader and of the members i n groups of different sizes, of varying economic status, educational level, and group exper-ience, and i n groups with different emphasis as to purpose — educational, recreat-ional, or therapeutic. What factors determine the leader's activity, for example, in being permissive, giving direction, giving support, or permitting frustration ? - 75 -Under what circumstances does participation in a small group assist or retard the member's learning process ? What value has actual verbalization by a member, in the group ? Does the value of verbalization differ for different individuals, or in relation to different problems ? What are the advantages of dealing in the group with specific problems brought by various members, as against using these problems only as spring-boards for a discussion of more generalized con-cepts of difficulties, meaning of behaviour, and possible ways of dealing with problems ? While many social workers favour the latter method, and are supported by the F.S.A.A. Committee on Family Life Education,"1" some prefer to deal directly 2 with the problems proposed by the members, Are both of these views valid, in different circumstances, and, i f so, in what circumstances ? Is there a danger of making some parents too self-conscious in their relationships with children and mates ? If so, what factors are involved and how can the danger be avoided or mitigated ? What are the values and the disadvantages of helping group mem-bers to become more conscious of the group process and of individual behaviour in their own group ? What factors determine when this procedure might be beneficial to a group ? What affects the development of group unity and what influence has this on the members' capacity to learn and to grow ? What are the potentialities for constructive and destructive development in group crises ? Can any generali-zations be made as to the leader's role in such situations, in specific kinds of groups or in groups at varying levels of development ? In order to find answers to the above and other essential questions, more attention will have to be paid to the development of evaluative techniques which can be used to study the development of groups and the growth 1 F.S.A.A., "Family Life Education", Highlights, Volume XII, No. 5, May 1951, p. 70. 2 E.g. as described in the account of the Chicago Community Child Guidance Centres, p.£Q. - 76 -of individual members. The task of measuring change in the intangibles — feelings and attitudes toward the self and others — presents complicated pro-blems. To date, in parent group education in the projects described and, for the most part, in other programmes as well, evaluation has been based on the subjective judgements and reactions of the parents and leaders taking part and, occasionally, on the observations of trained persons sitting in with the groups or.on the perceptions of specialists working with the children of the parents concerned. Comments of parents and group leaders tend to focus around the following points: evidence of increased knowledge and understanding of children; evidence of change in the parents' feelings about themselves in their parental role; happier relationships with children and mates resulting from more co-operative attitudes generally as a consequence of changes in the members' own reaction to behaviour in the family group; and evidence of increased perception of, and participation in, events in their communities. There is a serious need for experimental work to test in parents' groups the feasibility, and validity, and to increase the effectiveness, of various tools and techniques of evaluation and measurement, such as verbatim recording methods (stenographic and mechanical), reporting of observers, and methods of testing changes in attitudes, growth in understanding, and advancement in the integration of knowledge and understanding with practice. The possibility of adapting individual interviews for the purpose of evaluation — timing these to come before the discussion series begins, possibly during the series, and at different points in time after the series — should be investigated. Such inter-views could also serve an important educative purpose as well. In this problem of evaluation as well as in other aspects of parent education, experience from other professions should be helpful. Adult education, psychology and group dynamics, for instance, have contributions which would save much waste of time and duplication of effort. Rich variety in approach and method, so essential to the development of new knowledge and sk i l l , proves more valuable i f the resulting experiences are made known, shared and integrated with the experiences of others working in the same or similar fields. The need for advancing the range of knowledge in parent education is urgent. The importance of co-operation among interested lay and professional groups cannot be overestimated. In Chapter U, though i t is primarily a summary chapter, a number of suggestions are offered regarding possible ways of promoting such co-operation. Chapter k IMPLICATIONS AND NEEDS Much has been written about the increasing complexity of modern c i v i l i z a t i o n and the demands i t makes on i t s citizens — demands which prove too arduous i n some cases. World-shaking economic and p o l i t i c a l develop-ments, and technological advances appear to the "average man" more and more to take plaps beyond his reach and control. Events which once did not disturb his peace of mind because he was ignorant of their existence now threaten him, periodically, with disaster or even annihilation. Two world wars have speeded sci e n t i f i c discoveries with awesome potentiality for good and e v i l , but have also brought about a tremendous upheaval i n the system of values prevalent i n western countries at least. Emphasis on the possession of material things as a measure of success at times seems to over-ride the emulation of mature qualities of character. The apparent controversy between religion and science has stimulated the thinking of some people, but has thrown others into anxiety and uncertainty. Recent years have brought a striking change i n social relationships — not only among formerly stable classes i n society, but also between the sexes, a change that carries with i t opportunities for healthier development and more sincere li v i n g , but i s at present often seriously disturbing to those involved i n i t . Small wonder that people are proving subject to emotional illnesses under such conditions J But with the recognition of the i l l effects of modern li v i n g , there i s growing an interest i n ways of combatting and of prevent-ing them and, more recently, of building strong and mature personalities which - 79 -w i l l be able not only to meet the demands of c i v i l i z a t i o n but to shape i t s development along constructive lines. Action toward these ends takes place on many fronts: i n provision for economic and social welfare through public and private act i v i t i e s ; i n the improvement of school systems through educational^re-forms; i n the strengthening of moral and spiritual values through religious teaching that accords with present-day needs; i n the provision of satisfying opportunities for recreation; and, f i n a l l y , i n the spread of mental health prin-ciples through a l l of the above as well as the development of specific mental health services on positive, preventive, and curative levels based on research. There are many facets to each of these fronts. This study has been concerned with only one facet of the mental health programme — parent education and, i n fact, with one particular kind of parent education, that conducted i n groups using the discussion method, under the leadership of a suitably qualified person. Research has shown that "the emotional interchange and re-lationship between the young child and his parents i s an important i f not nuclear factor i n the mental health of that child, determining early i n l i f e his future mental health". 1 It seems sensible, therefore, to do everything possible to en-sure that this emotional interchange shall be conducive to healthy growth. Parent education offers one approach. Much has yet to be done, however, to determine the answers to basic questions and to overcome d i f f i c u l t i e s . For instance, i n some circumstances i t may be preferable to work on improving the parents' condit-ions of l i v i n g and building up their mental health rather than attempting to interest them in more direct parent education programmes. Some parents lack the time and energy to' take part i n discussion groups or li s t e n to talks. Others 1 G r i f f i n , J.D.M., and Reva Gerstein, "Parent Education and the Mental Health of the Community", Food for Thought, November 1951, Canadian Association for Adult Education, Toronto. - 80 -feel no need to do so. Some are confused by the varying points of view that are inevitable i n growing disciplines l i k e psychology and psychiatry, and have a tendency to reject anything labelled psychology or education. Others try to apply new precepts i n ways never intended. Nevertheless, by their daily a c t i v i -ties with their children, a l l of these parents are influencing, for good or i l l , future citizens. Society i s interested, even i n cases where they are not, i n helping to ensure that their influence shall be for good. The problem of getting mental hygiene teaching across to these various groups deserves careful attention. Many parents, on the other hand, are not only already interested, they are eager and able to learn. They would seem to- be the most responsive clientele at this stage and might well be the f i r s t concern of parent educationists: such parents ask only for leadership to help them i n their educational activities. Through their own efforts they have developed, or caused to be developed, numerous•methods and programmes of parent education. Experts give talks on radio, on T.V., and i n person. Newspapers and magazines print advice columns and articles of varying degrees of value. Pamphlets, books, and study courses have been turned out i n considerable quantity during recent years. Even films and film-strips are i n -creasingly available on mental health topics. Lay and professional groups hold institutes and workshops on family relationships, discussion leadership, and child development. They use speakers, panels, symposiums, dramatizations, socio-drama. People meet in groups of a l l sizes to li s t e n , think, discuss and decide. They serve on committees which may turn out to be a valuable learning experience in human relations. They attend evening classes and take short courses. But a l l this activity has developed with too l i t t l e attention to evaluation. There i s an urgent need for a study to be made of methods of parent education, to determine - b l -under what circumstances they are most suitable, how difficulties met in each can be overcome, and how they can be generally improved so as to contribute more effectively to creative living. Parent group education and the possible contribution of social workers The over-all objective of parent group education is to assist parents to help their children grow up into healthy, mature adults. To accomplish this end, parent educationists try to assist parents to gain the know-ledge they need about child development and the meaning and purposive nature of behaviour, together with an understanding of the influence of parents' own attit-udes and behaviour on their'children and on family relationships. Parent group leaders, by accepting parents as people, whatever their status and whatever their "mistakes" in handling their family problems, help them to feel free to express anxieties and to examine new ideas. They recognize the ability and right of each individual to think and plan for himself and apply this principle in their con-duct of parents' groups. They also take into account individual differences and assist parents to cultivate attitudes of respect for other human beings, with their likenesses and their differences and to apply this in parent-child relations. Parent educationists understand the importance of relationship in working with parents; they encourage parents and build on their strengths for the purpose of increasing their enjoyment in their job as parents, their ability to handle the problems they meet, and their acceptance - when necessary - of their need to seek expert aid. Leaders are concerned to help parents to understand themselves and to see the connection between their lives and those of others in their community and in the outside vrorld. - 82 -Emphasis in this study has been placed on parent group educat-ion because i t has particular values: the group i t s e l f becomes a medium in which members develop helpful relationships with each other; the support provided by other members encourages the expression of fears and of feelings toward their children and their role as parents, the offering of suggestions, the interpretat-ion of behaviour, the working out together of new syntheses of understanding of the topics; knowledge can be emotionally integrated as parents have opportunity to question, to test out, and chew over, new concepts in relation to their own experiences and that of other group members; participation i n the group provides experience in a way of co-operating on a matter of common interest, experience that may be carried over into everyday l i v i n g i n the family and the community; furthermore, the status gained as a member of a democratically-conducted group adds greatly to the parents' own feelings of adequacy. Parent group education, therefore, given good leadership, helps to meet the parents' own needs as people i n their own right, as well as assisting them in achieving increased understanding of, and better relationships with, their children and mates. It i s distinct from group therapy i n that i t "is oriented toward the healthy factors of the personality, and appeals to the a b i l i t y to judge, to learn by experience, to gain understanding, to plan, to make choices, to adapt to changing circumstances", whereas therapy "directs i t s e l f to the deviant aspects of personality, the sympt-oms of the character disturbance, with a view toward effecting change in individ-ual pathology". 1 To say this i s not to deny that educational experience i n a group cannot be therapeutic experience. 1 Parent Group Education and Leadership Training, "The Technique of Parent Group Education: Some Basic Concepts - Summary of Material Presented by Peter B. Weubauer, M.D. in a Training Programme for Parent Group Leaders Given by the Child Study Association of America, Spring 1951", p.10, Child Study Association of America, Chicago, 111. - 83 -When compared with t h i s b r i e f summary of the objectives, p r i n c i p l e s , and values of parent group education, a few excerpts from a generally-accepted statement^ of the basic assumptions and s k i l l s underlying s o c i a l work pract i c e i l l u s t r a t e c l e a r l y the close s i m i l a r i t y of outlook and approach i n the two f i e l d s , and the a p p l i c a b i l i t y of the s o c i a l worker's s k i l l to parent group education. The s o c i a l worker, i t i s stated, helps i n d i v i d u a l s and groups through: His respect f o r human beings and t h e i r s o c i a l organizations and h i s b e l i e f i n t h e i r r i g h t to manage t h e i r own l i v e s . His acceptance of each i n d i v i d u a l and group as unique, and of the r i g h t of each to be d i f f e r e n t from every other. His a b i l i t y to f e e l with i n d i v i d u a l s and groups without f e e l i n g l i k e them. His a b i l i t y to accept the h o s t i l i t y and aggression as w e l l as the love and a f f e c t i o n of i n d i v i d u a l s and groups with whom he works as normal reactions of human beings toward one another. His a b i l i t y to understand the language of behaviour and to use h i s own behaviour to the best i n t e r e s t s of the i n d i v i d u a l s and groups with whom he i s working. His a b i l i t y to accept the concept that a l l behaviour i s pur-posive and that the a c t i v i t y of i n d i v i d u a l s and groups i s s i g n i f i c a n t to the people involved even i f i t seems meaning-l e s s to the observer. His a b i l i t y to accept i n d i v i d u a l s and groups even i f he must disapprove of t h e i r behaviour His a b i l i t y to be permissive and to widen horizons where i n d i v i d u a l s and groups need to be supported i n assuming greater personal and c o l l e c t i v e r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . His a b i l i t y to support i n d i v i d u a l s and groups i n f a c t o r i n g out the issues i n problems f a c i n g them, yet to r e f r a i n from i n d i c a t i n g the solutions. His a b i l i t y to support i n d i v i d u a l s and groups i n making and carrying out t h e i r own decisions. 1 Wilson, Gertrude, and Gladys Ryland, S o c i a l Group Work  Prac t i c e . Houghton M i f f l i n Company, New York, 19^9, pp. 2 2 - 2 3 H - 8U -In short, i t would appear that social workers should be particularly well qualified to undertake parent group education 1 and that social work agencies should take a v i t a l interest i n such programmes. Social work's basic regard for the integrity of people and. concern for helping them to help themselves i s essential to the leader i n parent group education. The social worker's training and experience i n understanding the meaning of behaviour, i f i t includes orientation to group work principles and practice, enables him to help group members gain the utmost from their group experience, as well as to assist them to gain knowledge and understanding of their children, themselves, and family relationships. Basically, both social agencies and parent education are concerned with improving mental health i n the community. True, the primary purpose of social agencies at present i s to assist with d i f f i c u l t i e s in family or human relationships apart from family affairs, when those d i f f i c u l t i e s are serious enough to warrant intervention by the public authority or to cause the prospective clients to seek help. As i n other fi e l d s , however, i n mental health increasing attention i s being turned to prevention. It i s not suggested that social agencies should launch immediately large-scale efforts i n parent education, but i t i s recommended that those which are well established in their services should consider carefully the possibility of i n i t i a t i n g experimental projects with either client groups within the agency, or non-client groups i n the communi-ty. Already, many agencies have undertaken such programmes. The reports from those selected as samples for this study indicate that the agencies i n question are finding these programmes well worth the time and effort expended upon them. The Family Service Association of America has expressed i t s approval of expansion With the proviso that they have gained an orientation to group work principles and methods. - 85 -into this f i e l d and i t s Committee on Family Life Education has set forth suggest-ions as to the organization and conduct of family l i f e education programmes."1" In addition to participating i n parent education activities themselves, agencies might undertake research, possibly planned in conjunction with regional or national professional organizations, so that experimental pro-grammes could be made to y i e l d new knowledge for future application i n the f i e l d . Furthermore, there i s also a need to work toward the inclusion of training for parent education, particularly group education, i n schools of social work. The F.S.A.A. Committee on Family Life Education comments: If family agencies are to develop s k i l l i n the use of family l i f e education as a method of helping people, there w i l l have to be more concentration i n schools of social work (the source of family agency personnel) on normal personality development and group dynamics.2 In this connection, i t would be helpful i f experience gained i n experimental pro-grammes such as those conducted by the Child Study Association of America were taken into account. Their monograph, Parent Group Education and Leadership  Training, published in 1952, i s based on their work with parents' groups and with a leadership training group of social workers, conducted during 1951. The mono-graph consists of three reports, "Parent Discussion Groups: Their Role in Parent Education", "The Technique of Parent Group Education: Some Basic Concepts", and "Training for Parent Group Leadership", -whose t i t l e s indicate their subject matter. Until the time when training i n parent group education becomes part of the social work curriculum, and even when this i s established, 1 "Family Life Education", Highlights, Volume XII, No. 5 , May 1951, pp. 68-73^ Family Service Association of America, Albany, New York. 2 i b i d . , p. 75. - 86 -agencies might co-operate i n holding their own in-service training programmes or joint workshops among several agencies, or programmes with other community groups. Those workers who are already trained and experienced i n social casework should have an opportunity to gain special additional training i n group methods of parent education. Group workers and specialists i n community organization would profit by additional training in casework as well as by acquaintance with specific parent education methods. Parent Education - a Concern of Many Agencies and Organizations Social workers and social work agencies have i n the past co-operated with other professional and lay organizations to different degrees, i n various community projects. To date, however, there seems to have been only l i m i t -ed effort on the part of many agencies and lay groups to work together toward a more effective use of personnel and other resources i n the f i e l d of parent educ-ation. Parent education programmes are sponsored by many agencies and i n s t i t u t -ions other than social work agencies, including such diverse organizations as children's hospitals, the Victorian Order of Nurses, government departments of adult education and health, and university extension departments. Many of these use their own staff members i n a leadership capacity for these programmes; others c a l l upon representatives from other professions. Many voluntary community organ-izations, as well as some professional agencies, include in their programmes at least certain elements of parent group education. As mentioned in the f i r s t chapt-er, parent-teacher associations and similar groups consider the encouragement of parent education act i v i t i e s one of their major functions. Such organizations provide excellent entrees to large numbers of parents. Another "natural" group of growing importance i s the co-operative play group, in which parents come together - 87 -to plan for their children and (hopefully) find that they need to educate themselves as well. Other organizations whose interests are more diverse, such as women's university clubs or church groups, frequently sponsor a parents' dis-cussion group or pre-marital group as one of their a c t i v i t i e s . Recently, the idea of groups for parents of children with various handicaps seems to be growing in favour; some of these groups are organized on the i n i t i a t i v e of an interested agency (an institute for the blind, or a cerebral palsy treatment centre), others are "grass-roots" developments, organized by the parents themselves; associations for the advancement of mentally retarded children may be examples of this type. For the most part, parents' groups under the auspices of lay organizations are staffed by lay leaders, possessed of varying degrees' of competence, some highly skilled, some lacking in both training and experience. (It i s a hazard suffered by voluntary organizations that too often promising lay leaders are lost as a result of discouragement through lack of self-confidence and absence of assistance when they need i t , also as a result of their discontinuance as members). At times, professional personnel from education, social work and other professions are employed as discussion leaders, speakers, or resource persons for particular meetings. Lay leaders, themselves, have achieved remarkable results i n terms of self-education in the organization and conduct of groups for parent education, to the point where they have much to offer the professional workers from various disciplines now entering the f i e l d . The time seems ripe for those interested i n parent group education to come together for careful assessment of what i s going on, of ways of improving current programmes, and of the gaps i n parent education services that require attention. The task i n each community i s to try out ways of coordinating - 88 -efforts among lay and professional groups and of making co-operative work possible, to conduct research programmes to add to present knowledge, and to provide for the integration of new knowledge into existing programmes through opportunity for special training at various levels. This task i s commented upon by the F.S.A.A. Committee on Family Life Education: Mot only i s the need for family l i f e education i n most communities greater than a single agency can meet, but also a wide range of effort, emanating from different f i e l d s , i s being expended on this particular need. I t would be well for communities, through their community organization machinery, to develop central planning commit-tees and information exchanges to carry out this shared educational effort on an orderly basis. This would result not only i n better u t i l i z a t i o n of a b i l i t i e s but also i n greater understanding of existing f a c i l i t i e s . In this planning, many different disciplines and agencies such as education, casework, group work, psychology, psychiatry,and religion have important roles to play. Each discipline should be encouraged to make available and develop further i t s own specialized knowledge and competence.^ Careful thought should be given to the setting up of co-ordinating machinery. One advantage in the present situation i s the complete freedom enjoyed by agencies or groups to plan according to their own perception of their own function or needs. Coordination and co-operation should bring about the advantages resulting from a planned use of resources, a sharing of experience, and a concerted effort to extend the area of knowledge, with the least possible diminution of individual responsibility and i n i t i a t i v e . Since communities differ, the co-operative machinery set up may well vary to suit the particular circumstances and needs of each. Nevertheless, one community might learn from another i f there could be some means of exchanging information and accounts of experiences. Specially-trained, travelling consultants might be of assistance. Committee on Family Life Education, "Family Life Educat-ion", Highlights. Volume XII, No. May 1951, pp. 70-71, Family Service Assoc-iation of America, New York. - 89 -Joint conferences of several centres might provide opportunity for discussion of problems and the working out of solutions. Plans and programmes for parent education could be made known through lay and professional magazines and journals. A Suggested Programme for Co-operative Action The following four aspects of a parent education pro-gramme might receive the attention of co-operative effort in any community: (l) the provision of qualified personnel to serve groups i n various ways i n leader-ship capacity; (2) the provision of counselling services to groups, regarding programme planning, leadership personnel, and resource materials; (3) the provis-ion of personnel and/or counselling services to assist i n the conduct of leader-ship training programmes for both lay and professional personnel; and (J4) the conduct of a research programme in the f i e l d of parent education. These points deserve more detailed consideration than can be given here; however, some suggest-ions regarding each can be stated br i e f l y . In any community there are numerous persons — both lay and professional — whose training or experience enable them to make a special contribution to parent education groups, as discussion leaders, as speakers, or as resource consultants on specific topics. Frequently, one or two of these people are discovered by groups, and are kept so busy that they f i n a l l y withdraw i n self-defence from a l l such activity. Others, with equally valuable qualifications, may either not be discovered at a l l , or they are used a few times and then, i f their particular specialty i s not needed for a while, they may be forgotten and thus lost to community use. One answer to this problem of finding and making the best use of personnel might be the establishment, by a qualified committee representing both lay and professional organizations, of a f i l e of names c l a s s i -- 90 -f i e d as to the i n d i v i d u a l s ' subject s p e c i a l t y or q u a l i f i c a t i o n , t h e i r p a r t i c u l a r competence i n parent education a c t i v i t i e s , and the terms under which they are w i l l i n g to serve. Obviously, only persons who i n d i c a t e d t h e i r w illingness to p a r t i c i p a t e i n community programmes would be included i n the l i s t . An i n t e l l i g e n t and informed person i n charge, with the help of the committee, could make a valuable contribution to community groups as w e l l as to resource personnel, by managing recommendations to enquiring groups so that there was a more even d i s t r i -bution of opportunity f o r community service among the various persons q u a l i f i e d to give i t . S i m i l a r l y , there i s a need f o r centres which could supply counselling services to groups, to a s s i s t them i n planning programmes to meet t h e i r needs, (discussion s e r i e s , conferences, workshops, e t c ) . , to c l a r i f y with them the kind of leadership that would help them to do what they wished to accomp-l i s h , and to guide them i n s e l e c t i n g programme materials. I t would be desirable f o r the counsellors to be able to meet with the groups themselves, or with r e -presentative committees, so that i n a d d i t i o n to providing the immediate assistance required, the counsellor could make the occasion an education^experience f o r the groups and, i n c i d e n t a l l y , himself. I f there were several centres of t h i s kind, — as would be desirable i n a community of f a i r s i z e , frequent conferences between the counsellors and other s t a f f could be a means of increasing t h e i r s k i l l , sharing the task of keeping up-to-date on new materials and new thinking on programme p r i n c i p l e s and methods, and generally providing the support and incentive that ensures good service. Special committees might undertake projects such as the i n v e s t i g a t i o n of resource materials and the production of new materials to meet needs not now s a t i s f i e d . The whole problem of providing s p e c i a l i z e d t r a i n i n g f o r - 91 -leadership i n parent group education programmes, to both l a y and p r o f e s s i o n a l personnel, requires much study, planning, and experimentation. Comment already has been made regarding the t r a i n i n g of s o c i a l workers. Representatives of other professions should also have opportunities to increase t h e i r s k i l l i n adapting t h e i r knowledge f o r use i n parents' groups: f o r example, i n leading discussions, p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n workshops as consultants, speaking on panels f o r an audience of parents. ' Some communities have experimented with short courses i n counselling which have brought recently-acquired knowledge i n that f i e l d to the attention, of intereste d m i n isters, teachers, s o c i a l workers, and club leaders. S i m i l a r l y , a concerted e f f o r t through conferences, workshops, and other t r a i n i n g programmes might g r e a t l y increase the effectiveness of various p r o f e s s i o n a l persons who have much to o f f e r to parent education. Lay leadership t r a i n i n g i s also i n the e a r l y stages of i t s development. Some professionals look askance at the very idea of using l a y leader-ship i n parent education programmes. Nevertheless, since people are i n f a c t serv-ing as l a y leaders, and since even q u a l i f i e d p r o f e s s i o n a l persons engaged i n l a y leadership programmes t e s t i f y to the value of work being accomplished by l a y l e a d e r s , 1 t h i s aspect of the subject merits c a r e f u l a t t e n t i o n . Already, some ex-perience i s being accumulated i n various centres on the problem of the in t e g r a t i o n , i n a t r a i n i n g course, of "content" with group experience providing p r a c t i c e i n applying the p r i n c i p l e s and methods of group discussion. A major problem i s that of helping l a y leaders to work wit h i n the l i m i t a t i o n s of t h e i r competence; but perhaps t h i s i s somewhat s i m i l a r to that of t r a i n i n g s o c i a l workers to recognize the l i m i t s of t h e i r competence. With c a r e f u l planning and the co-operation of 1 For example, i n the programmes being conducted by the University of the State of New York, C h i l d Development and Parent Education Bureau; and by the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, under the leadership of Miss E t h e l Kawin, well-known educationist. - 92 -interested social workers from agency staffs, i t might be possible to arrange for lay leaders to have the benefit of individual supervision as well as group supervisory sessions as part of their training course. A further advantage of such a plan would be that i t might provide a means of helping those leaders who were unsuited to activity i n parent education programmes to move into other fie l d s , or to make use of casework or psychiatric services i f these were necess-ary. Assuredly, i f effective training programmes can be devised which can develop the latent s k i l l s of the many intelligent lay persons interested i n this f i e l d , the leadership potential of professionals w i l l be enormously multiplied. Need for Research Experimentation and research are essential i f parent educat-ionists are ever to be able to proceed with more certainty than they now have as to the effectiveness of their principles and methods. Given co-operative action on the part of the various lay groups, agencies and professionals concerned, research could be based on actual programmes i n operation — programmes planned, executed and evaluated with a view to meeting research requirements. Some aspects of parent education that would benefit by careful experimental study have been mentioned at other points i n this study. Mrs. Aline Auerbach, of the Child Study Association, sums up her thinking as to basic questions needing furth-er study as follows: In parent group education, as i n the entire f i e l d of human relations, examination of the effectiveness of tech-niques designed to modify attitudes and influence behaviour i s relatively new. This report! has pointed up the need to 1 Auerbach, Aline, B., "Analysis of the Experience of Parents Participating i n a Programme of Group Education: A Report of Three Parent Discuss-ion Groups Carried on within the Framework of a Leadership Training Programme" (Prepared for the Annual Meeting of the American Orthopsychiatric Association i n Atlantic City, February 1952) Mimeographed, Child Study Association of America, New York. , . - 93 -develop methods which w i l l effectively measure the growth of parents toward more adequate functioning i n the parent-child relationship. We need also to know much more about the healthy growth processes themselves, for a l l people and for parents i n particular. We need to know much more clearly, for example, how parents can learn to extend capacities to reach a new level of response i n which feelings and understanding become integrated and can be translated into action. Group education as a method seems valid i n i t s economy of services, since i t reaches a number of people at one time; i t also seems meaningful by virtue of i t s very nature. We need to know much more clearly how parents gain from the group experience. We need to explore, for example, such specific questions as the relation of the development of group cohesiveness to the growth of individual members, and the significance of the role the members play i n the group i n relation to their own role within their families. We need also to study the many ways i n which group education can be made more meaningful to parents, by means of richer content, more effective leadership s k i l l s and better organizational planning and structure. Mrs. Auerbach's statement i s at once a tribute and a challenge: a tribute, i n i t s implication of present accomplishment; a challenge, i n i t s indication of new knowledge to be gained. Parent education i s i n the beginning stages of i t s development. Sound progress w i l l depend upon the co-operative efforts of parents themselves, together with those of lay and professional organizations and workers whose interests link their a c t i v i t i e s directly or indirectly with this comparati-vely new f i e l d . Social workers have much to contribute to i t s development; they can assume a share of responsibility with assurance, knowing that i n this way they are helping to build healthier personalities and thus, eventually, a happier world. Appendix A. ENQUIRY RE PARENT EDUCATION PROGRAMMES 1. Purpose and extent of the programme since i t s inception. 2. Description of groups served: how recruited composition (sex, age, socio-economic status, educational background) usual number per group 3. Description of group programme: how planned (by the worker, joi n t l y by worker and group, by group with worker as consultant) typical content conduct of programme (use of talks, discussion, films, pre-pared study material, pamphlets etc.) the role of the worker i n the group k. Evaluation of discussion group projects as a method of promoting mental health. 5. Correlation with regular casework services. 6. Training by agency personnel of lay leadership for work with parent education groups: methods of training i n content, and i n the principles and techniques of group discussion extent of use of lay leadership; supervision evaluation of success of lay leadership 7. Training of caseworkers for work with discussion groups. Appendix B. BIBLIOGRAPHY Baruch, Dorothy W., Parents and Children Go to School, Scott, Foresman and Company, New York, 1939. Committee on Family Life Education, "Family Life Education", Highlights, Volume XII, No. 5, May 19 5 l , Family Service Association of America, Albany, New York. Duvall, Evelyn M i l l i s and Sylvanus Milne Duvall, Leading Parents  Groups, Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, New York, 19U6. Hamilton, Gordon, Theory and Practice of Social Case Work, Columbia University Press, New York, 1951. Midcentury White House Conference on Children and Youth, A Healthy  Personality for Every Child, Health Publications Institute, Inc., Raleigh, N.C., 1951. "Parent Education i n Canada", Food For Thought, Volume 12, No. 2, November, 1951, Canadian Association for Adult Education, Toronto. Strauss, Bert and Frances, New Ways to Better Meetings, Viking Press, New York, 193>T^  The Group Dynamics viewpoint. Wilson, Gertrude, and Gladys Ryland, Social Group Work Practice, Houghton M i f f l i n Company, New York, 19U9. 


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