Get Alert
Please Wait... Processing your request... Please Wait.
You must sign in to sign-up for alerts.

Please confirm that your email address is correct, so you can successfully receive this alert.

Book Review   |    
Group Work With Overwhelmed Clients: How the Power of Groups Can Help People Transform Their Lives
Patricia M. Hackett, M.S.W.
Psychiatric Services 2000; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.51.12.1580
View Author and Article Information

by June Gary Hopps, Ph.D., and Elaine Pinderhughes, M.S.W.; New York City, Free Press, 1999, 205 pages, $29.95

text A A A

Group Work With Overwhelmed Clients is a practical, thoughtful how-to manual. It explores the importance of groups in the lives of clients overwhelmed by life circumstances both within their control and beyond it.

The first chapters review the rationale for using groups in work with these clients. They address the dynamics and the dimensions of power in both clients and practitioners and the theories that support the potential power of groups as change agents. Racism and "class-ism" are also examined, and practitioners are challenged to be mindful of these issues in their work and to realize how they affect the helping relationship. Practitioners need to consider all aspects of a client's life and how a particular issue is caught up in that context. Factors that must be considered are housing, social support, financial and health issues, educational and employment histories, and other potential sources of stress.

The next chapters use extensive descriptive vignettes to explore how the concepts described in the earlier section were used in group settings to help several types of overwhelmed clients. The authors first examine parenting groups for recovering mothers and fathers. Later chapters look at groups for older Vietnamese women, children whose parents are affected by AIDS, black university women, mixed recovery groups, and gang groups.

The chapters follow these groups from recruitment and formation through the evolving process and, in some cases, to dissolution. The vignettes engage us in the ongoing struggles and growth of clients, and the authors reflect on the dignity and strengths of the clients. Reading these chapters, many practitioners will be reminded of clients with whom they have worked in both group and individual settings, and this similarity of experiences will make the book relevant to their work.

The book's practical aspect appears in the final chapter. Vignettes are used to highlight and review all the different group approaches and techniques. The authors point out that although empowerment theory is the central guiding force, other approaches also use cognitive-behavioral theories, family system theories, and problem-solving methods. These approaches are supported by social learning and communication theories. The flexibility in approaches within the basic structure and goals of the groups is shown to be critical in helping clients move on.

Group Work With Overwhelmed Clients is a reference and a resource that is invaluable for anyone working with clients facing the challenges of addiction, parenting under extreme stress, adjusting to a new culture in maturity, living with a critically ill family member, or resisting the temptations of gang involvement. However, its use is not limited to these populations or to inpatient or outpatient mental health settings. For example, it could be useful in rehabilitation settings or with families who have children with disabilities.

The authors remind and challenge us to be aware of our own issues related to racism and personal use of power and to share our own personal and professional strengths to empower our clients. This is a practical and timely book grounded in the reality of what life is like for many families and human and social service agencies today.

Ms. Hackett is clinical social worker and developmentalist in the early intervention and family support program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.




CME Activity

There is currently no quiz available for this resource. Please click here to go to the CME page to find another.
Submit a Comments
Please read the other comments before you post yours. Contributors must reveal any conflict of interest.
Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discertion of APA editorial staff.

* = Required Field
(if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
Example: John Doe

Related Content
Gabbard's Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders, 4th Edition > Chapter 22.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 30.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 30.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 30.  >
Dulcan's Textbook of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry > Chapter 30.  >
Topic Collections
Psychiatric News
PubMed Articles