Combining a strengths-based approach and feminist theory in group work with persons ‘on the streets’

David E. Pollio, Sharon M. McDonald, Carol S North

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a series of propositions for the practice of group work and the development of community-based interventions derived from a combined strengths based/feminist perspective in working with the “street” population. These include: (1) development of ongoing groups based on incorporating and utilizing individual strengths; (2) development of a communal identity through genuine power-sharing within the agency; (3) commitment to ongoing relationships rather than following specific participation requirements; (4) focus on community membership rather than on achieving outcomes; and (5) focus not only on the individual, but also on the political ramifications of group and community membership. Five practice principles are derived from these propositions: (a) workers question worker privilege and strive to eliminate traditional barriers; (b) workers participate as members, not necessarily as leaders; (c) workers avoid enabling helplessness; (d) workers strive for non- judgmental attitudes toward individual and reference group social constructs; and (e) agencies pursue a genuine commitment to a philosophy of “putting themselves out of the homelessness business.” Illustrative examples from the authors’ experiences applying these principles to the street population are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-20
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Work with Groups
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Apr 5 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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