Practice Exercise II: Observation of a Group Meeting

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Getting Started

In this culminating activity, you will search the Internet for a video example of support, self-help, prevention, or educational groups. Watch your selection. You will use your observations to support your answers for the Reflections assignment in this activity.

Upon successful completion of this assignment, you will be able to:

  • Explore the impact diversity and difference have in shaping life in mezzo social work practice. (PO 2)
  • Facilitate empathic engagement that leads to empowerment, resiliency, and growth of client systems.
  • Apply social work theories to client system engagement, assessment, and intervention at the mezzo practice level. (PO 6, 7, 8)


  • Textbook: Social Work with Groups: Comprehensive Practice and Self-Care
  • Article: “Alcoholics Anonymous and Spiritual Recovery: A Cultural Perspective”
  • NASW Code of Ethics

Background Information

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was founded by Bill Wilson (Bill W.) and Dr. Bob Smith (Dr. Bob) in Ohio in the 1930s with the primary purpose of helping alcoholics to “stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety” (Chappel, Dupont, 1999). The founders of AA created a twelve-step program that integrates spiritual components into a new way of living for its members. This program is one of the most commonly recognized uses of spirituality in group practice. It has been adapted to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) for people with other substance abuse issues. You can attend either type of meeting for this activity.


  1. Review the rubric to make sure you understand the criteria for earning your grade.
  2. In your textbook: Social Work with Groups: Comprehensive Practice and Self-Care, read Chapter 10 “Organizations, Communities, and Groups”, Chapter 12 “Treatment Groups”, and Chapter 13 “Treatment Groups with Diverse and Vulnerable Populations.”
  3. Read the article Alcoholics Anonymous and Spiritual Recovery: A Cultural Perspective,” by Joseph Westermeyer.pdf.
  4. Observe at least one full group recovery meeting in your community, either Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). In many communities, AA and NA groups are held on a weekly or even daily basis. Most groups are open and available to the public, with days and times posted online. You are encouraged to make contact with the meeting coordinator to explain your presence beforehand, who may share with the group about who you are and the purpose of your attendance. Contact your instructor immediately if you are having difficulty locating a group to attend.
  5. Take notes, particularly specific examples, about the following subjects during or after your observation:
    1. What group dynamics did you observe? For example, what did you observe about cohesion, mutual support, collaboration, and communication in the group?
    2. What group facilitation skills did the group leader(s) use? For example, how did they validate members’ experiences and needs, support members who are having difficulty, and encourage members who are doing well?
    3. What benefits do group members experience through group attendance? Are there are any risks or drawbacks to attendance?
    4. How was spirituality integrated into the group experience? In what specific ways does the use of spirituality benefit members? Does it present any challenges?
  6. Review and consider the application of the NASW Code of Ethics to the Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous group environment. How could a social worker’s involvement in a meeting involve ethical practice? How could it create ethical dilemmas?
  7. Write an academic paper that includes two sections:
    1. A description of your observation that responds to all four questions above (a-d in Step 4). Be sure to include specific examples, such as interactions or stories shared by group members, in a confidential manner. Do not include the location, name of the group, or group members’ names.
    2. An analysis of the effectiveness of AA or NA groups. Incorporate course material about group dynamics, spiritual integration, theoretical models, evaluation and evidence, and ethical practice, as well as at least three additional relevant and scholarly references.
  8. Use in-text citations and APA format for direct quotes and references
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