Strength in Numbers: Findings from a National Survey of Groupwork and Irish Social Work Practice




This article presents findings from a national survey of social workers in Ireland in which information was gathered on social work practice with groups. This article sets out the background to the survey, a review of relevant literature, the methodologies employed to conduct the national survey, and a selective set of findings from the research. The analysis reveals that groupwork is used across all practice fields in Ireland and is more widely used than previously recognised.


AASWG (Association for the Advancement of Social Work With Groups) (2010). Standards for social work practice with groups, 2nd edition. Retrieved from http://www. pdf

Abels, P. (2013) History of the Standards for Social Work Practice with Groups: A Partial View. Social Work with Groups, 36 (2-3), 259-269

Alissi, A. (2009) United States. in A. Gitterman and R. Salmon (eds.) Encyclopedia of Social Work with Groups New York: Routledge.

Andrews, J. (2001) Group Work’s Place in Social Work: A Historical Analysis, The Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 28(4), 45-65.

Benson, J. (1992) The Group Turned Inward: A Consideration of some Group Phenomena as Reflective of the Northern Irish Situation. Groupwork, 5 (3), 5-18

Bitel, M. (2014) Flipping the Equation: The Need for Context-Focused Group Work Education. Social Work with Groups, 37, 48-60

Breen, J. & Jenkinson, H. (2018) Supporting mothers through groupwork in a community setting: An exploration of a mothers’ groupwork programme. Groupwork, 28(3), 6-36

Butler, M. & Devenney, S. (2015) Draw on your emotions: creative arts groupwork with adolescents attending a mental health service. Irish Social Worker, Autumn 2015, 3-8.

Byrne, J. & Kirwan, G. (2018) Learning in Transition: Workplace Learning for Newly Qualified Social Workers. in L. Gómez Chova, A. López Martínez, I. Candel Torres (eds.), ICERI2018 Proceedings: 11th International Conference on Education, Research and Innovation, Seville, Spain, November 2018. IATED Academy. pp. 6676–6683

Cohen, C.S. & Olshever, A. (2013) IASWG Standards for Social Work Practice with Groups: Development, Application, and Evolution. Social Work with Groups, 36 (2-3), 111-129

Cohen, C.S., Macgowan, M.J., Garvin, C. & Muskat, B. (2013) From the Guest Editors. Social Work with Groups, 36 (2-3), 106-110.

Cohen, M.B. (2010) Using Student Task Groups to Teach Group Process and Development. Social Work with Groups, 34 (1), 51-60

CORU (2019) Social Work Registration Board: Standards of proficiency for Social Workers. Dublin: CORU. Retrieved from

Culhane, H. (2004) Groupwork with bereaved children. Bereavement Care, 23(2), 22-24,

Deasy, M. (2011) Groupwork with children from a disadvantaged community. Groupwork, 21(2), 9-21.

Dempsey, M. & Halton, C. (2017) Construction of peer support groups in child protection social work: Negotiating practicalities to enhance the professional self. Journal of Social Work Practice, 31(1), 3-19.

Doel, M. (2006) Using Groupwork. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge

Doel, M. & Sawdon, C. (1999) The Essential Groupworker: teaching and learning creative groupwork. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Fleming, T., Flood, S., Gumulka, S., Jacob, D., Parkinson, R. & Reilly, P. (2009) The role of social work in primary care in Ireland. Dublin: Social Workers in Primary Care Special Interest Group of the IASW. Accessed at:

Garvin, C.D., Gutiérrez, L.M. & Galinsky, M.J. (eds.) (2018) Handbook of Social Work with Groups. 3rd edition. New York: The Guildford Press.

Gibson, F. (1992) Reminiscence Groupwork with Older People. Groupwork 5 (3), 28-40

Gilligan, R. & Pinkerton, J. (eds.) (1992) Special Issue: Groupwork in Ireland. Groupwork, 5 (3), 3-92

Gitterman, A. & Salmon, R. (2009) Encyclopedia of Social Work with Groups. New York: Routledge.

Gitterman, A. & Knight, C. (2016) Curriculum and Psychoeducational Groups: Opportunities and Challenges. Social Work, 61 (2), 103-110

Goodman, H., Knight, C. & Khudododov, K. (2014) Graduate Social Work Students’ Experiences with Group Work in the Field and the Classroom. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 34, 60-78.

Goodman, H. & Munoz, M. (2004) Developing Social Group Skilss for Contemporary Agency Practice. Social Work with Groups, 27(1), 17-33

Guerin, S, Devitt, C. & Redmond, B. (2010). Experiences of early-career social workers in Ireland. British Journal of Social Work, 40(8), 2467-2484.

Harmey, N. & Price, B. (1992) Groupwork with Bereaved Children. Groupwork, 5 (3), 19-27

Holt, S., Kirwan, G. & Ngo, J. (2015) Groupwork interventions for women and children experiencing domestic abuse: Do they work and do they last? Groupwork, 25(1), 8-33.

Hyde, B. (2013) Mutual Aid Group Work: Social Work Leading the Way to Recovery-Focused Mental Health Practice. Social Work With Groups, 36(1), 43-58.

IASWG (2019) Standards for Social Work Practice with Groups IASWG

[Accessed 7 July 2019 at]

Jenkinson, H. (2016) The value of peer support and a strengths-based approach in a groupwork programme for fathers in a family support setting. Groupwork, 25(3), 25-40.

Jenkinson, H., Casey, D., Monahan, L., & Magee, D. (2016). Just for Dads: a groupwork programme for fathers. Cork: School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork and Springboard Knocknaheeny/Farranree Family Support Project.

Kirwan, G. (2013) The Group Values of Educational Encounters: Working with Service Users and Students in a Participatory Classroom Environment. Social Work with Groups, 36 (2-3), 191-207.

Kirwan, G. and Byrne, J. (2019) Educating Professionals: The Role of Regulatory Standards in Programme Development. in L. Gómez Chova, A. López Martínez, I. Candel Torres (eds.), 12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation, ICERI2019 Proceedings, Seville, Spain11-13 November 2019. IATED. pp. 8302-8307

Kirwan, G. & Kirby, M. (2002) Social Work and the Changes in Mental Health Legislation in Ireland. Social Work in Europe, 9(2), 53-55

Kurland, R. & Salmon, R. (1992) Group work vs. casework in a group: Principles and implications for teaching and practice. Social Work with Groups, 15(4): 3-14.

LaRocque, S.E. (2017) Group Work Education in Social Work: A Review of the Literature Reveals Possible Solutions. Journal of Social Work Education, 53(2), 276-285

Lindsay, T. & Orton, S. (2014) Groupwork Practice in Social Work (3rd ed) Exeter, U.K.: Learning Matters

Loumpa, V. (2012) Promoting Recovery Through Peer Support: Possibilities for Social Work Practice. Social Work in Health Care, 51 (1), 53-65.

Macgowan, M.J. (2013) Development and Application of a Standards-Based Inventory of Foundation Competencies in Social Work with Groups. Social Work with Groups, 36(2-3), 160-173.

Madden, S. (2011) The Parent to Parent Group. Groupwork, 21(2), 35-49.

Malekoff, A. (2014) Group Work with Adolescents: Principles and Practice. 3rd edition. New York: The Guildford Press.

Mannion, N. (2004) Schizophrenia: Why Family Intervention and Support are Important. Irish Social Worker, Autumn 2004, 27-28.

Martin, N. & O’Neill, E. (1992) Groupwork with Teenage Cancer Patients. Groupwork, 5(3), 62-73

McGuinness, B., Finucane, N., & Roberts, A. (2015). A hospice-based bereavement support group using creative arts: An exploratory study. Illness, Crisis & Loss, 23(4), 323-342.

McNicoll, P. & Lindsay, J. (2002) Group work in social work education: The Canadian experience. Canadian Social Work Review, 19(1), 153-166

Morrissey, M. & Schonfeld, H. (1991) Discovering abilities through groupwork. Irish Social Worker, 10(2), 6-9

Morrissey, M. & Schonfeld, H. (1992) Social Workers and Psychologists as Groupwork Facilitators. Groupwork, 5 (3), 41-61

Ní Raghallaigh, M., Allen, M., Cunniffe, R., & Quin, S. (2013). Experiences of social workers in primary care in Ireland. Social work in health care, 52(10), 930-946.

Nolan, D. (2004) The Development in Ireland of Social Work in Psychiatry of Old Age. Irish Social Worker, Autumn 2004, 19-22

O’Connor, I. (1992) Bereaved by Suicide: Setting Up an “Ideal” Therapy Group in a Real World. Groupwork 5 (3), 74-86

O’Driscoll, P. (2011) The CLAP Group: A group for children with cleft lip and palate. Groupwork, 21(2), 22-34.

Peet, S. (2011) The Men’s Group. Groupwork, 21(2), pp. 50-60

Preston-Shoot, M. (1987) Effective Groupwork. Hampshire, UK: Macmillan Education Ltd.

Pugh, J. (1995) Groupwork with HIV positive drug misusers in prison. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 12(1), 12-16

Schopler, J. & Galinsky, M. (2014) Support Groups: Current Perspectives on Theory and Practice. New York: Routledge

Schwartz, W. (2006) The Group Work Tradition and Social Work Practice. Social Work with Groups, 28(3-4), 69-89

Sharry, J.J. (1999). Toward solution groupwork: Brief solution-focused ideas in group parent training. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 18(2), 77-91.

Shera, W., Muskat, B., Delay, D., Quinn, A. & Tufford, L. (2013) using a Group Practice Standards Inventory to Assess the Impact of a “Social Work Practice with Groups” Course. Social Work with Groups, 36 (2-3), 174-190.

Simon, S.R. & Kilbane, T. (2014) The Current State of Group Work Education in U.S. Graduate Schools of Social Work. Social Work with Groups, 37(3), 243-258

Social Workers in Disability SIG (2010) Social Work in Disability Social Workers in Disability SIG of the IASW. [Accessed 5th May 2020 at]

Supiano, K. & Berry, P. (2013) Developing Interdisciplinary Skills and Professional Confidence in Palliative Care Social Work Students. Journal of Social Work Education, 49 (3), 387-396

Sweifach, J. (2014) Group work Education Today: A Content Analysis of MSW Group Work Course Syllabi. Social Work with Groups, 37(1), 8-22

Sweifach, J.S. (2015) Has Group Work Education Lost its Social Group Work Essence? A Content Analysis of MSW Syllabi in Search of Mutual Aid and Group Conflict Content. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 35(3), 279-295.

Toseland, R.W. & McClive-Reed, K. (2009) Social Group Work: International and Global Perspectives, Social Work With Groups, 32(1), 5–13.

Toseland, R.W. & Rivas, R.F. (2017) An Introduction to Group Work Practice, 8th Edition. Pearson.

Trevithick, P. (2005) The knowledge base of groupwork and its importance within social work. Groupwork, 15(2), 80-107.

Trevithick, P. (2012) Groupwork Theory and Practice. in P. Stepney and D. Ford (Eds.) Social Work Models, Methods and Theories, 2nd edn. London: Russell House, (pp. 236-254.)

TUSLA, (2019) Tulsa to host first ever open day to recruit social workers TUSLA [Accessed 24th April 2020 at]

Walsh, T., Foreman, M., Curry, P., O'Driscoll, S., & McCormack, M. (2008). Bereavement support in an acute hospital: an Irish model. Death Studies, 32(8), 768-786.

Wilson, G. & Kirwan, G. (2007) Mental health social work in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland: challenges and opportunities for developing practice. European Journal of Social Work, 10(2), 175-191.

Wilson, M., Quirke, D., McCarthy, Y., O’Driscoll, M., Tierney, C. & Burke, R, (2004) Funzone. Groupwork, 14(1), 9-29.



How to Cite

Holt, S. (2021). Strength in Numbers: Findings from a National Survey of Groupwork and Irish Social Work Practice. Groupwork, 29(2).