Group Work Practice as Demonstrated in “The Work” Movie

After watching The Work, share openly your reactions and insights. What does this film demonstrate about group work practice?


The Work: Group Therapy with Folsom Prison Inmates (Video Length: 90 minutes)

Aldous, G. & McLeary, J. (Directors). (2017). The work: Group therapy with Folsom Prison inmates [Documentary]. Blanketfort Media.


Group Therapy as Demonstrated in “The Work” Movie

“The Work” illustrates that group therapies are marred with hesitant, emotional, and judgmental moments before group members can embrace support, safety, and encouragement as expected by social workers or counselors. Group therapy aims to allow people to receive the required support and encouragement as they share ways of coping with negative experiences. However, the film “The Work” illustrates that people who subscribe to group therapies go through hostile stages before they can avoid being judgmental and accommodate one another. “The Work” illustrates group therapy members’ hostile and judgmental nature before they can support, listen, and encourage one another.

Group therapy aims to provide a safe space for people undergoing mental health conditions to share their negative experiences and how they can cope with their challenges. However, “The Work” paints a different picture of group therapy as they are marred with hostility, fights, negative attitudes, hesitance in sharing experiences, and judgmental clients (Aldous & McLeary, 2017). The statement, “Is that what you do…sit there and judge me?” showcases the hostile nature of group therapy at the Folsom Prison and how group therapies can escalate into violence. After high emotions and hostility, group therapy members begin to understand and embrace one another, making the sessions supportive, safe, and encouraging (Aldous & McLeary, 2017). Consequently, group therapy members should be patient with one another and understand the initial challenges associated with the process because, eventually, they are worthwhile.

Overall, group therapies could be safer, more encouraging, and more supportive during the initial stages because people are judgmental and hesitant to share their experiences. “The Work” illustrates that, eventually, group therapies embrace elements such as normalization of experiences, social support, interpersonal learning, socialization, safety, and mutual respect. Social workers should be willing to control the group during the intense initial stages. After understanding one another, group members collaborate and help one another cope with their negative experiences.


Aldous, G. & McLeary, J. (Directors). (2017). The work: Group therapy with Folsom Prison inmates [Documentary]. Blanketfort Media.

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