Practice with Individuals, Groups and Families (IGF) is the advanced practice method through which individual clients, family and group members are helped to improve the level of fit between personal and environmental strengths and limitations; empower themselves personally and politically to meet their needs, ensure their rights and entitlements; maintain, restore or enhance their social functioning; or resolve life stressors as these arise at all points in the life course. This may be achieved through work with individuals, with groups, or with clients in families. The family and group are viewed as a mutual support system in which the social worker’s role is to convey the belief that individuals have the potential for helping each other and to facilitate the group processes that create conditions in which mutual aid can occur. In all of these modalities, the social worker views the person and the social and physical environments as a unitary system within cultural contexts.
Practice with Individuals, Groups and Families teaches students knowledge and skills in mobilizing, sustaining and creating personal, interpersonal, and environmental resources. In all modalities, the use of a professional relationship to nurture and release the personal potential of those being served is emphasized. Clients are helped to understand and cope with specific life situations or stressors, to influence their physical and social environments, and to find effective forms of expression to influence large social systems. In the group and family modalities, students also learn to help members to support each other, to develop positive interpersonal relationships, and to utilize the group experiences to affiliate with others.
IGF social workers are involved in preventive activity at practice and program levels, in both urban and rural settings, and in activity to improve access to social services and enhance their quality. IGF social workers find career opportunities in child welfare agencies, family service agencies, schools, mental health clinics and hospitals, health care settings, youth and children’s services agencies, community and neighborhood centers, criminal justice settings, senior citizen centers and facilities, neighborhood development and citizen action programs, and other private and public settings. Student field education experiences are within one of these settings with populations that include racial, ethnic and socioeconomically diverse people of all ages, religious backgrounds, and sexual orientations, with an emphasis on marginalized populations. We prepare students to work with diverse and oppressed populations including the poor; the elderly; women; children and youth; persons with lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender orientations; refugees and migrants; and persons with physical and developmental disabilities.
IGF students are required to take a minimum of three method concentration courses, one concurrently with each of the last three semesters of field education: Practice with Individuals, Groups and Families (PIGF 5301), Advanced Practice with Individuals, Groups and Families: Theoretical Approaches (PIGF 5302), and Advanced Practice with Individuals, Groups and Families across Settings and Populations (PIGF 5303). In addition to, and concurrent with, these method concentration courses, students are also required to take one of the following four courses: Clinical Conditions with Children and Adolescents, Clinical Conditions with Adults and Older Adults, Group Work in Clinical Settings, or Clinical Assessment and Interventions with Families.