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Group Work Conference Focuses on Experiential Techniques

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Social work faculty members from NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill organized a group work conference  that focused on experiential engagement techniques. The March 2014 event was the second conference of the 2013-14 academic year sponsored by the new NC-IASWG chapter.

The conference included two workshops. The first was led by Rob Schooley, licensed clinical social worker and behavior specialist for the Chatham County schools. Schooley led participants through a number of experiential techniques to engage children and adolescents in groups in school settings. He demonstrated and involved participants in the use of drumming, photo-voice, acting, and computer-based activities.

Carol McClelland, Director of Outpatient Services for the UNC Horizons Program and Elizabeth Johnson, Director of Health Services at UNC Horizons, led the second workshop. It focused on creative engagement techniques in groups for individuals with substance abuse disorders. McClelland and Johnson emphasized the importance of integrating visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning principles into groups and noted that although 70 percent of adult learners remember best through direct experiential learning, many groups still rely on talking, which is not as effective for many people. McClelland and Johnson involved conference participants in the use of expressive modalities that included drawing, movement and play. Participants enjoyed the various experiential aspects of the conference.

“These conferences have exceeded our expectations,” said Anne Jones, the NC chapter chairperson and a faculty member in the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work. “Practitioners and students are really eager to learn new and more effective ways of facilitating groups and are much more aware of the need to engage young and old in more creative ways.”

For more information on NC-IASWG, contact social work faculty organizers Willa Casstevens at NC State’s Department of Social Work, or  Anne Jones or Marilyn Ghezzi at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work.

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