Why treat a person in a group rather than in individual therapy? The answer to this question lies with interpersonal dynamics. If members are especially invested in the group and the health of others, they can exert influence and even challenge one another, in a way that the social worker may not be able to do on their own through individual therapy.

Social workers, then, must be able to observe dynamics so they can better understand the forces at play and, through leadership, steer the group forward. Such action harnesses the power of the group. However, dynamics such as sense of cohesion may be subtle at times and come out through nonverbal means. Some things are overt (clearly stated), while others are covert (hidden). So, how exactly does a social worker assess group dynamics? In this Discussion, you examine this question while observing the interplay of people within a fictional group.


Required Readings

  • Toseland, R. W., & Rivas, R. F. (2017). An introduction to group work practice(8th ed.). Pearson.
    • Chapter 3, “Understanding Group Dynamics” (pp. 67–97)
  • Davies, P. T., & Coe, J. L. (2019). Family relationship dynamics: A developmental perspectiveLinks to an external site.. In B. H. Fiese, M. Celano, K. Deater-Deckard, E. N. Jouriles, & M. A. Whisman (Eds.), APA handbook of contemporary family psychology: Foundations, methods, and contemporary issues across the lifespan, Vol. 1(pp. 165–185). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/0000099-010
  • the lifespan, Vol. 1(pp. 165–185). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/0000099-010

Required Media

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 14 minutes.

  • Family Therapy


While group and family social work may seem similar—as both relate to treating multiple people within the same intervention framework and setting—the characteristics are different. Families spend a much greater amount of time together and have a shared history that can date back many years; they also have a natural hierarchy and power differential between parents and children. In groups, power may be distributed by seniority in the group rather than generationally, or through dominant personality or perceived authority.

For this Assignment, you assess family dynamics based on a video clip and compare this to the experience of assessing group dynamics.


Be sure to review the Learning Resources before completing this activity.
Click the weekly resources link to access the resources.



  • Review the Learning Resources on family dynamics.
  • Access the Family Therapy video in the Learning Resources. Pay close attention to the ways in which family members communicate, the level of cohesion among members, and who holds power.
  • Consider how assessing the dynamics of a family is different from assessing the dynamics of a group.


Submit a 2-page paper on the Family Therapy video:

  • Evaluate the family dynamics from a systems perspective as seen in the video.
  • Explain how principles of group dynamicswould apply to this family vignette.
  • Compare the process of assessing dynamics in a family with assessing dynamics in a group. Draw on your Discussion response this week to highlight the similarities and differences.

Use the Learning Resources to support your Assignment. Make sure to provide APA citations and a reference list.


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