New heights: Adventure-based group work in social work education & practice


Training in groupwork in social work education is a critical aspect of promoting the continued use of groupwork in social work practice. Groupwork courses in social work education should integrate theory and practice; emphasize the processes that make groups effective; and train group leaders by providing experiential learning opportunities for how to lead groups. Likewise, groupwork in social work education should keep up with practice trends in the field of social work. According to Tucker and Norton’s (2009) research, current trends in social work practice with groups in the United States include the use of adventure-based practices with clients to effect positive change. Research also shows the increased use of adventure-based practices in the U.K. and other parts of the world. This practice trend is not new; however, Tucker and Norton found that very few social workers in the United States ever receive hands-on training in challenge and adventure activities while they are in school. The lack of experiential training in challenge and adventure activities in groupwork may lead to professional incompetence and poor programming, or the absence of challenge and adventure programming in social work practice with groups altogether. This study addressed the issue of groupwork training in social work education by providing social work students with an opportunity to participate in adventure-based groupwork. Pre- and post- survey research measured the impact of adventure-based groupwork on student’s self-concept and perception of competence in major life skills, group cohesion, and level of knowledge regarding application of challenge and adventure activities with social work clients. Data analysis revealed statistically significant improvements in all areas.


Social Work

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Whiting & Birch

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