UNC School of Social Work faculty members Anne Jones and Marilyn Ghezzi, along with NC State professor Willa Casstevens, organized a group work conference held Saturday, March 22, 2104, in Raleigh. The event focused on experiential engagement techniques and was the second conference this year sponsored by the new North Carolina International Association for Social Work with Groups (NC-IASWG) chapter.
The conference featured two workshops. First, Rob Schooley, a behavior specialist at Chatham County Schools, led participants through a number of experiential techniques he uses to engage children and adolescents in groups he leads in the schools. Schooley demonstrated and involved participants in the use of drumming, photo-voice, acting, and computer-based interactive activities.
The second workshop was led by Carol McClelland, director of outpatient services for the UNC Horizons Program, and Elizabeth Johnson, director of health services at Horizons. It focused on creative engagement techniques they use 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 using expressive modalities including drawing, movement, and play.
“These conferences have exceeded our expectations,” said Jones. “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.”