Group Work with Older Individuals: Imagine the Possibilities

Willa J. Casstevens. PhDRegister Now for CE programs

Fri, September 29, 2023
9:30 am – 4:00 pm
5 CECs

Registration Fee -$125
10% discount for UConn SSW Alumni and current SSW Field Instructors

Classroom location will be in your confirmation email.

The population of older adults in the USA is growing rapidly. Moreover, older adults have been and continue to be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, now endemic among us. The global pandemic threatened individual and familial economic security, increased social isolation, and negatively affected individual physical and mental health, as well as social well-being. For many older adults this has led to increased anxiety and depression, and ongoing grief due to the loss of loved ones.

Recommended interventions have included physical activity, human touch, an increase in economic support policies, programs to address mental health concerns, and training on mindfulness and self-help skills, such as meditation. Group work stands out as a treatment modality that can be used effectively in all these contexts.

Social group work is a non-hierarchical and strengths-based practice incorporating purposeful activity and mutual aid. Joanne Sulman, a social group worker of over 50 years working with older adults, notes that social group work provides connection, a space for sharing of experience, and feelings of inclusion in a community of people. Active engagement, very effective when working with older adults, is an important part of this process.

Imagine the possibilities – how can you use social group work in your practice with older individuals?

Group work with older adults can include fitness programs, craft groups, choirs, bridge clubs, etc. In the context of mental health, social group work can offer peer support, help navigating losses, and the opportunity to learn and/or improve coping strategies. This approach also fits well with both occupational and recreational therapy.

This workshop includes both didactic and experiential activities. Space is included for group discussion, as well as group work activities and reflection. We will conduct group activities, reflect on experiences, and consider ways to apply this material and these shared experiences in practice settings.

This workshop will enable you to:

  • gain an understanding of major life challenges older adults face and explore how social group work can be utilized to support individuals in coping with aging-related issues
  • explore factors that contribute to healthy aging and creatively consider ways social group work can be a valuable resource in supporting and enhancing this process
  • learn how to incorporate connectedness, active participation, and independence within group work sessions for older adults, fostering a sense of community and empowerment
  • enhance skills needed to develop and implement purposeful group activities tailored to the needs of older individuals in order to improve overall well-being and quality of life.