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Introducing social work: a starter kit
Introducing social work: a starter kit

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4.1 Group processes

Whatever the specific task or ‘reason’ for the group’s existence, for people to become able to work constructively together in a group usually takes time. These developmental aspects of group life are known as ‘group process’. A popular and useful way of describing this was formulated by Tuckman (1965) in the sequence of stages known as ‘forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning’. For example, group members must at first get used to one another (forming); then they usually test the boundaries of power in the group (storming); then they need to establish ground rules that work for them (norming); then they actually do the ‘work’ of the group (performing); and finally, they must negotiate the group’s end (adjourning). Rarely does this happen in a neat and simple sequence, and often a number of stages are revisited and re-negotiated throughout. But as a conceptual framework, Tuckman’s ideas have proved durable for describing the background and the often unconscious processes that occur in many groups. For the group leader, anticipating these stages can help support group members navigate through the various stages and transitions.