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The caseworker as a change agent in working with groups : a study of how the caseworker uses himself as a change agent in a group of clients, or relatives of clients, in ten groups in the Greater Vancouver area Pawson, Geoffrey Leslie


A previous thesis by Kerr and Kirkham (I963) indicated the extent to which caseworkers worked with groups in Vancouver. The present study continues this investigation, focussing on how caseworkers use themselves as change agents in such groups. An interview schedule was used to obtain from the workers the necessary data. This information was then classified according to the purpose and goals of the group, and the role of the worker, using the conceptual framework of Dr. J. Klein as model. The study revealed that each of the groups could be placed in one or the other of Klein's three categories: group education, social group treatment, or group psychotherapy. It was found that lack of clarity of purpose resulted in conflicting goals, with a consequent confusion in worker role. Most frequently, inexperience on the part of the agency or worker was the cause for confusion of purpose. It was seen that a written statement of purpose contributed to a clear perception of goal and role. The need for caseworkers to set conscious goals for each meeting was established. Particular attention was given the goals established in the first and final meetings: planned goals were common for the first meeting, inconsistency of appropriate goals common in the final meeting. Analysis of the difficulties on the part of most workers in their role in the group, suggest the following as possible causes: (1) lack of clarity of purpose; (2) lack of clarity of goals; (3) lack of knowledge of group process; (4) lack of necessary skills; and (5) confusion in professional identity. It is important that workers in the psychotherapy groups should have a clear perception of purpose and understanding of appropriate role. Some findings in relation to "open-ended groups" appear which agencies should take into consideration when planning such a group. Knowledge and training in social group work is obviously valuable for caseworkers if they are to work with groups; and the need is clear for further study to be undertaken of caseworkers working with groups.

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