This paper is about a group/family article focusing on summarizing as well as critiquing of a social work article describing practice with a small group or family. The article of choice in this case is using social justice group work with young mothers who experience homelessness authored by Coker, Meyer, Smith and Price in 2010. The choice of the article was based on the fact that it is practice-oriented and focuses on showing how the worker used group or family practice theory to help client system. The authors of the article, using social justice group work with young mothers who experience homelessness, address the problem of lack of shelter among children and women. Ideally, the critique focuses on identifying various features addressed in the article alongside and appraisal of the article with respect to two or three lessons from the article.
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Characteristics of the group or family discussed
In the article, the authors focus on discussing the facilitation of social justice principles in group work. The group discussed in the article was started for the purpose of assisting residents address the problem of homelessness especially in aspects of parenting and during pregnancy periods (Coker, Meyer, Smith, & Price, 2010). The article discusses two groups each comprising of six members. However, health reasons cost one of the members of the first group. The group members were Blacks, Indians and Whites and aged between 17 and 24 years. All the members shared similar experiences about episodic homelessness and all but one, had not been counselled or supported.
The client system problems or challenges and strengths
The article addresses the problem of homelessness in among children and women. According to Paquette and Bassuk (2009), the highest percentage of homeless individuals are women who care for children. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless (2008), some the major social problems associated with the increase in homelessness include sexual abuse, foster care placement, high poverty rate, mental health, substance abuse, and family problems. In spite of this, addressing the challenges noted above through a group can be quite effective due to the fact that group work is best for positive outcomes since it promotes human potential.
The worker’s theoretical orientation
The workers understand the significance of examining each one’s responsibility when it comes to finding effective solution for the problem of homelessness. Such an approach gives them the chance to establish suitable measures to advocate for social change.
The worker’s suggestions for group assessment
According to the article, a number of approaches can be used for group assessment. For example, the group can be asked to identify any challenges that they are facing with respect to a given social issue in the society. However, it is important to understand the challenges affecting the target group as well as visit them to develop trust. In addition, monitoring the growth and development of the group is important.
The worker’s description of group intervention
Description of group intervention as presented in the article is based on various important social justice principles coined by Crethar, Torres Rivera, and Nash (2008) which include equity in resources distribution and allocation, freedom to access power, services, and information, freedom to participate in decision making, and harmony.
Incorporation of evidence-based principles
The use of evidence-based principles in any social aspect helps to ensure that the particular aspect is addressed appropriately (Corey, Corey, & Corey, 2014). In the case of this article, the principles of social justice were applicable. As such, the women were allowed to make an exploration of their feelings, establish a few goals that they needed to achieve, encouraged to seek help and support whenever needed, as well as were empowered personally. Such approach can be said to align with the social justice principles of participation, harmony, and equity.
Diversity issues addressed by the worker
The group had a number of challenges attributable to diversity. First, there was the challenge of participation brought about by the fact that some residents had the feeling that the participation was mandatory. The worker addressed this problem by explaining that the members were free to exit the group at will and that they would not suffer any negative consequences (Coker et al., 2010). Additionally, the staff was also asked to offer their support as far as voluntary group members’ participation was concerned.
Secondly, there was the challenge of the group’s open structure. This was brought about by the fact that the initial number of members was fixed but there were some fears that the membership would change. To address this issue, and honor the principle of social justice and inclusivity, the membership was left to be open.
Two Saint Leo core values illustrated in the group process
The group process embraced a number of Saint Leo core values. For example, the group identified that during the process of the group members’ interaction, there was the development of some subgroups which led to cases of likes and dislikes. The group encouraged the members to be confidential and the need to respect one another. The group emphasized the use of respect which is a Saint Leo core value.
Secondly, another Saint Leo core value is community where the emphasis is on the development of societies founded on the idea of interdependence, unity, as well as a spirit of belongingness. In the case of the group, such value was witnessed in the core for each individual to have personal goals and work towards actualizing them, working as a team and be socially responsible by showing respect to one another.
Own appraisal of the article
A thorough review of the article shows that the problem of homeless has adverse effects on women and children. Here are some of the lessons from the article:
Lack of awareness on the significance of counselling
According to the article, even though women and children are affected by the problem of homelessness, the percentage of those who seek the necessary support and counselling is insignificant (Paquette & Bassuk, 2009). For example, as evident in the article, only one out of twelve group members had gone for counselling. The implication is that there is a need for thorough awareness about the need for counseling and social support following threat of homelessness.
Social class difference can affect the success of group work
The group faced some challenges as far as its facilitation is concerned especially in the development of own skill. There were high expectations that the Black authors would interact well with the group given that the majority of them were blacks but instead, the group had challenges connecting with some members due to differences in social class lines.
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Coker, A. D., Meyer, D., Smith, R., & Price, A. (2010). Using social justice group work with young mothers who experience homelessness. The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 35(3), 220-229.
Corey, M.S., Corey, G., & Corey, C. (2014). Groups: Process and practice (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Crethar, H. C., Torres Rivera, E., & Nash, S. (2008). In search of common threads linking multicultural, feminist, and social justice counseling paradigms. Journal of Counseling & Development, 86, 269–278.
National Coalition for the Homeless. (2008). Why are people homeless? Web.
Paquette, K., & Bassuk, E. (2009). Parenting and homelessness: Overview and introduction to the special section. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 79, 292– 298.