Is the group under threat as a therapeutic milieu? An analysis of the views of group workers in residential youth care


  • Hans Grietens University of Groningen


residential care, group care, group worker, therapeutic milieu


In spite of the many changes that have taken place in residential youth care in recent decades, the group continues to play a key role. The basic care children receive in everyday life strongly influences the quality of the care process and the outcomes of care. But can the group still achieve its potential? And what factors could improve group work? We put up these questions to eighteen group workers from six residential youth care facilities in Flanders in a qualitative multiple case study. The answers show a varied picture. Workers recognize the value of group work and try to achieve its potential as best they can. But this can no longer be taken for granted; it is undermined by heavy workloads and lack of time. The size of the group can be an obstacle. Workers indicate they have a substantial need for support and professional development. In the discussion, we reflect on the impact of these findings and how the group can be used more effectively as an instrument for change, from the point of view of both practice and policy.

Author Biography

Hans Grietens, University of Groningen

Department of Special Needs Education and Youth Care, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.