Qualitative Social Work
Group work is a key modality in social work practice. In this study, we sought to explore how the growing trend toward body-oriented psychotherapy is being integrated into group work, and to identify the potential significance of this trend for social work practice with groups. We conducted in-depth interviews with 20 practitioners engaged in developing this emerging form of practice across the United States, and used thematic analysis to identify how integrating body-oriented psychotherapy may impact the nature and practice of group work from their perspectives. The overarching theme identified was that using body-oriented psychotherapy serves to Deepen the Group Process and Enhance the Therapeutic Potential of Group. This overarching theme was supported by four subthemes that describe how participants used body-oriented psychotherapy to enrich their group work. These subthemes include Coming into the Present Moment, Accessing the Body’s Unconscious Knowing, Regulating Affect and Facilitating Working Through, and Enhancing Interpersonal Connection. We discuss how these findings fit with existing research on group work and body-oriented psychotherapy, and describe how they reflect recent neurobiological models of therapeutic change. We also identify potential benefits and limitations to using body-oriented psychotherapy in group work, and outline key considerations for responding to this emerging trend in the profession at large.
Body, group, social work practice, thematic analysis, therapy
© The Author(s) 20172
Kimmel, Alissa and Gockel, Annemarie, "Embodied Connections: Engaging the Body in Group Work" (2018). School for Social Work: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.