Principles of Groupwork practice


While working with groups the social worker needs to follow certain guiding principles to provide the best Group Work experience. Here we will elaborate on the principles of group work as given by H B Trecker.

Trecker has explained the following principles of social group work:

The principle of planned group formation

A group in social work practice is different from a social group. For group  work practice the formation of a group requires meticulous planning in terms of the needs and characteristics of individual members or specific interventions and group experiences to be provided, type of evaluation of the intervention, progress made etc. It is with this planning that a group for social work intervention/treatment is formed.


A group of alcoholics is formed for intervention. Before forming the group the group worker plans whether the group would include male and female members or only male or only female. It is planned beforehand whether it would consist of only alcoholics or include drug addicts.  The duration of intervention and size of the group is planned beforehand, and so on. 

The principle of specific objectives

This guiding principle calls for the group worker to form specific objectives to be achieved by the group work process. The group worker forms the group with a purpose and to fulfil that purpose specific objectives, both short term and long term, need to be specified. This principle helps the group worker to keep track of the progress made by the group towards achieving the results.


In the above stated example the group worker should define certain objectives to be achieved like introduction of individual members with each other within a specified time, knowing more about each other, achieving a helping group dynamics, members quitting addiction within a specified time etc.

The principle of purposeful worker-group relationship

The group in group work practice is formed to achieve a specific purpose and the group worker is associated with the group till the completion of the intervention. The group worker builds a relation of trust and understanding with the group members for the achievement of specific tasks. The worker should accept the group members as they are and the group members should accept the worker’s help and support to achieve the purpose.


In a group work setting the group worker should refrain from giving extra attention to one individual member and keep the relationship focused on the purpose of the group.

The principle of continuous individualization 

The worker recognises that each group formed for Group Work practice is different from another group having its own uniqueness. The individual members use the group experience in their own ways for their progress and growth. The worker should not expect the same pace of progress in various groups. The group worker should also develop his/her skills to understand each members uniqueness and utilise it for the member’s personal as well as groups growth.


One group may take 6months for all members to quit addiction while in another group only 70% of the members quit addiction in 8 months.

The principle of guided group interaction

The group worker is the facilitator for the group’s activities and following this principle helps the worker in facilitating interaction among group members. The worker  guides  and gives direction to the group interaction as per the objectives and purpose of the group. 


During a group session the worker asks the members to identify any 5negativr impact of addiction in their life. Then the worker asks each member to tell this to the whole group so each member narrates this one by one; and each member comes to know about the impact of  other members

The principle of democratic group self-determination

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Based on the value that  individuals as a group have the inherent capacity to change and take decisions for their progress; the principle of democratic group self-determination calls for giving the group members freedom to make their own decisions for their development. The worker acts as a facilitator to promote positive group dynamics so that the members can come together for decision making. 


In a group setting  the worker has to conduct some activities which can be indoors as well as outdoors. The worker gives the group members the opportunity to decide whether they would like to have outdoor activities or they prefer indoor activities.

The principle of flexible functional organisation

The worker recognizes that as the group progresses, there should be scope of flexibility in terms of functioning of the group. The way the group is organised should not be rigid but flexible as per the changing needs of the members. These needs differ during different stages of the group and the group worker should accordingly provide flexibility to the members.

The principle of progressive programme experience

The group worker should facilitate the group work in a way that it continuously enhances the capacities and capabilities of the group members. At the same time bonding among the group members should also develop so that the members develop as a group. By the end of the intervention the group members should feel that they have progressed  and developed by being part of the group.

The principle of resource utilization

The group worker should strive to utilize the resources in the environment to it’s maximum capacity, for the development of the group. These may be in terms of material or human resources within the agency or outside the agency.  


The group worker may invite an expert within the agency to  conduct a workshop with the group.

The principle of evaluation

The group worker should continuously evaluate the progress of the group and bring about necessary changes in the program if required. The group worker should record the progress and development of the group as a whole as well of individual members.


If during the group work process the worker feels that the group members are unable to take democratic decisions then the worker should include activities which would boost the decision making capacity as a group.


These principles are guidelines which help the worker in his/her practice . There are other principles given by different authors based on values of Group Work but these are the commonly practiced principles.

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