Choosing a Groupwork Approach: an Inclusive Stance

By Oded Manor.

Jessica Kingsley


ISBN 1 85302 870 3

The question of stages and phases in groupwork practice has long
been dominated by Tuckman’s forming, storming, performing,
adjourning mnemonic. The author is rightly critical of models which
delineate “prescribed” stages and this book aims to show that
groups develop through different stages, described as signposts for
the group.

Manor considers the problem of the eclectic fragmentation of
groupwork and aims to present “an inclusive blueprint” which draws
on systems theory and focuses equally on process, structure and
content in groups.

Acknowledging the difficulties in developing a model which fits
all, the focus is on the choices open to workers with time-limited
groups which concentrate on interpersonal needs, and which include
increasing awareness of communication in the group and a focus on
changing role relationships.

The second part of the book is dedicated to the application of
the blueprint and looks, in turn, at forming the group and the
engagement phase; the authority crisis and the empowerment phase;
the intimacy crisis and the mutuality phase; and the separation
crisis and the termination phase. Three kinds of skill
(stabilising, amplifying, clarifying) are explained and
demonstrated by using helpful transcripts of dialogue from a group
for parents who want to “learn to avoid hurting their children and
develop better relationships with them”.

The book is generally written in an engaging fashion. However,
it is not a book to dip into, since the reader needs to have
various terms explained. For example, the meaning of “from a
systems point of view, the containing social level emphasises the
completing aspect of the paradox of talk” is not self-evident.

The central theme is about choice. The transcripts from the
example group enable readers to consider these choices at a
detailed and specific level to become “intentional” rather than
merely confirm established habits.

Mark Doel is professor of social work, head of School of
Social Work and RNIB rehabilitation studies, University of Central



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