Practice Tips: Icebreakers

 “I’m five minutes to group and I don’t have an icebreaker!”

This post is part of an experiment to bring together what IASWG members in the field have told us they want most, time and again. Icebreakers are a pivotal part of the opening ritual of many good groups (especially with kids and teens).

Although groups may form an opening ritual of their own devising over the course of the group lifecycle, icebreakers can provide that extra support that fledgling groups may need to get there. Sometimes icebreakers, also called “warm ups”, become incorporated into the group ritual and become a part of group culture. Whatever the case, they’re important and they seem to be available in abundance only when we don’t need them. IASWG Massachusetts is hoping to gather links to different activities that are available freely on the web. We hope that you will bookmark this page and keep in on your phone or desk computer for those moments when you’re five minutes away from blast off and don’t have a ship, so to speak.

If you have ideas for absolute favorite icebreakers, please let me know here. Put “icebreaker” in the message body, and you may find it up on our many social media feeds.

While initiatives are rolling to aggregate icebreakers and practice tips from members and practitioners around the world on the IASWG wesbite, we at Mass Chapter have decided to start the ball rolling using Pinterest. If you are unfamiliar with Pinterest, just click on any of the pictures in the box below, they will take you to the IASWG MA Pinterest board.

Cheers and Happy New Year 2014!

Follow International Association for Social Work with Groups – Massachusetts Chapter’s board Activity ideas on Pinterest.


A Message from IASWG South Africa on the passing of Nelson Mandela

It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela. Mandela’s legacy has something to offer for people operating in all spheres of life; for social workers committed to the struggle for human rights, equality, and the worth and dignity of all persons, it would be difficult to imagine a brighter beacon to look to as a guide.

Earlier this week, the following letter circulated amongst the board, written by IASWG South Africa Chapter Representative Reineth Prinsloo. Reineth writes:

Dear all-

Since Nelson Mandela (Tata Madiba) passed away I have been thinking about our social work values and principles, and the way that he lived every day of his life. He respected all, judged nobody, did not discriminate, believed in human worth and dignity, pleaded for 
equity, lobbied for children and the elderly and their rights. He stood for peace and reconciliation. He acted as mediator, he calmed emotions, and he facilitated change. He was everything that a father should be. He led by example.

Even if I never personally shook his hand, he touched my hands in what they should do; he touched my feet in where they should go; he touched 
my heart in what it should feel; he touched my mind in what it should think; he touched my spirit in how I should practice what he stood for. 

We are blessed to live in his era. May we continue to not only as human beings, but as social workers, pursue to be passionate about bringing about change and to hold all equal. We say: “Ke a leboga Madiba”

Reineth Prinsloo, Representative for the IASWG South Africa Chapter


Please join us in honoring the memory of this incredible human being and the immeasurable legacy he leaves behind. Please visit IASWG here to share your reflections on Reineth’s letter.

Nelson Mandela, 2000 (5)

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

– Nelson Mandela




President’s letter, December 2013

The following letter first appeared in our newsletter - 
click here to see the full text

Dear IASWG MA Chapter Members and Friends,


The Massachusetts Chapter has had a very busy couple of years! I hope that you were able to enjoy the comraderie and sharing that occurred at the 35th Annual IASWG Symposium which happened last June at Simmons College, was hosted by our Chapter. The International Board and IASWG community said that it was one of the best Symposiums yet. Thank you to Donna McLaughlin, Mark Gianino, and Dana Grossman Leeman for leading that effort.

We are so lucky to have such a vibrant, active, and passionate group of board members, practitioners, educators, and students participating in our organization. Together we share our group work experiences, support each other, and create opportunities for networking.

This year we had five Board members step down: Donna McLaughlin, Mark Gianino, Lucy Mograss, Lindsay Morin and Nate Bae Kupel. Thank you for your service to IASGW MA Chapter! We are thrilled to have new members join our Board: Kyle Ganson, David Carpenter, Megan Knoster, and Liz Hudson. Please visit our website to find out more about all our board members

The work of our Board is to reach out to you, our membership, and provide information, education, and support. This year we have many exciting initiatives that we are planning including free group work peer supervision groups, in-service trainings on group work, writing workshops for aspiring authors, and our annual MA Chapter Conference. Please let us know if you have any interest in getting involved or would like to take advantage of the opportunities for in-service trainings, supervision, and networking.
Happy Holidays,

Patty Underwood, LICSW
MA Chapter Board President
December 2013