Defining diversity in groupwork: A relational exploration
Keywords:grounded theory, mixed methods, groupwork, direct practice, intersectionality, relationality, diversity, macro practice, group work
One of the basic assumptions underlying all traditional definitions is that diversity is a characteristic of an individual or a group, which is a problematic to groupwork. This paper explores Phases 1 and 2 of a multi-method research project exploring groupworkers’ understandings of diversity and how their perceptions impact their approach to group processes, with implications for group practice advancement. The project consists of sequential phases following a mixed-methods design. In the initial phase, in-depth semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted individually with 24 groupworkers. While the second phase (phase two) consisted of 4 focus groups involving theoretical and criterion sampling strategies to interview experienced therapeutically-oriented groupworkers in Western and Eastern Canada. The analysis was guided by Glaser and Strauss’s (1967) constant comparative method involving open-coding, followed by axial coding, and concluded with selective coding.
Groupworkers reported feeling overwhelmed and, in some cases, “paralyzed” by the complex diversity present in their groups. These findings suggest attention to group diversity renders it potentially more relevant and salient. We also found the levels and complexity of diversity increased as the reflection by groupworkers deepened. In keeping with the traditional aims of groupwork, attending to diversity goes beyond the group to include responses to diversity in the organizational and community contexts. Dialogue and change in organizational responses to diversity is important in the areas of organizational climate, allocation of resources, and agency policy and procedures. Accordingly, offering groupworkers and members tools to attend and navigate diversity in situ is a first step towards recognizing its presence and importance. A critical step in moving forward is to examine the nuances of diversity and move beyond thinking of diversity in terms of demographic variables.
- 2021-12-10 (2)
- 2021-12-03 (1)