Charles D. Garvin, PhD, AM, Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan, is a scholar who has made pathbreaking contributions to social work practice and social innovation. His major scholarship impact has been in social group work, task-centered practice, socially just practice, and doctoral education for social work. This has been critical for the field since group work is the modality in which most social work interventions are delivered and the 1970s through 2000 was an era during which social work dramatically expanded its empirical knowledge base and well-educated scholars were in high demand in social work education. Garvin worked with William J. Reid at the University of Chicago and is known for developing the application of task- centered practice to group work.
Garvin built a theory of group work that drew on his settlement house and community organizing practice. His widely influential group work model integrated social goals, as well as reciprocal and remedial models of group interaction. This model was the intellectual foundation of his book, Contemporary Group Work, first published in 1981, with a second edition in 1987 and a third edition in 1993.
Garvin developed, with Paul Glasser, “an organizational and environmental model of group work,” and published articles on this in several editions of the Encyclopedia of Social Work. Subsequently he has co-authored with Maeda Galinsky the main articles on Social Work with Groups in several editions of the Encyclopedia including the newest volume in press in 2020.
His scholarship is notable in its responsiveness to social issues and contexts. As social work has turned to social justice, Garvin has focused explicitly on social justice in social work practice and published his thinking in Social Work and Social Justice with Michael Reisch in 2016, and in Social Justice and Work with Groups (2019) with Robert Ortega.
Garvin is an international group work practitioner and scholar. He has influenced the development of group work throughout the world and held many prestigious international positions. He was a founder, and first Chairperson of the Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups when it became a membership organization. In 1971-1972 he was a visiting scholar at the National Institute for Social Work in London, England helping to develop a group work curriculum there and presenting lectures on group work at numerous social work schools throughout Great Britain.
He spent a sabbatical year as a visiting scholar at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary helping their school of social work develop doctoral studies programming. He also served as a visiting scholar at the School of Social Work in Skopje, Macedonia and at the School of Social Work and Institute of Psychological Assistance in Zagreb, Croatia. Finally, he was part of a U.S. State Department project at the University of Michigan to develop internationally appropriate materials for population control and gave lectures on these materials in Karachi, Pakistan.
The social work profession recognized Professor Garvin’s outstanding scholarship in social work practice and group work and he was sought to serve on multiple editorial boards including the Journal of Social Work Education (1988- 992), the Journal of Social Work Education (1997-present), the Journal of Social Work Practice Research (1990-94) and as Co-Editor of Small Group Research (1989-2005). He also served on the board of the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research. He was the first President of what is now the International Association of Social Work with Groups (IASWG) and he helped to create this organization as a membership organization. The organization honored him in 2016 by naming him a lifetime member of the board and Co-Chair of its Practice Committee.
Garvin joined the University of Michigan faculty in 1965, rose to the rank of Associate Professor and then Professor, and retired in 2001. He was among the generation of scholars at Michigan who influenced the School to grow in the direction of research and science, building the School to its status as a recognized, leading school of social work today. He conducts scholarship on social group work practice to this day, and also headed the doctoral program and served as Chair of the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in 1987. Garvin was honored for his seminal influence as an educator, scholar, and mentor over the course of his distinguished career with the Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award by the Council on Social Work Education in 2012. He is now Professor Emeritus at University of Michigan.
Garvin took a lead role in developing task-centered practice in groups, resulting in major and influential publications, including the following: Garvin, C. "Task-Centered Group Work," Social Service Review, XLVIII (4), December, 1974, 494-507; Garvin, C., L. Epstein, and W. Reid., "A Task-Centered Approach," in Theories of Social Work with Groups, eds. R. Roberts and H. Northen, New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1976, 238-267; Garvin, C. "Strategies for Group Work with Adolescents," in Task-Centered Practice, W. Reid and L. Epstein, eds. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1977, 157-167.
Building on his career-long dedication to groups and community practice, Garvin became a major figure in group work intervention in social work. His work has had a deep and lasting impact in social work. He is one of the field’s primary experts in social work with groups and he has published several books on social group work, as well as key chapter references on social work with groups in major social work publications such as the Encyclopedia of Social Work, and other major references on social work practice including The Handbook of Clinical Social Work (Rosenblatt and Waldfogel, 1983), Individual Change Through Small Groups (Sundel et al, 1985), Task-Centered Practice with Groups and Families (Fortune, 1985), The Handbook of Brief Psychotherapies (1991), and The Handbook of Direct Social Work Practice (Garvin and Meares, 2000).
In 2001, Garvin became an Emeritus Professor and has continued to write prolifically since then, publishing seven books and more than a dozen articles and book chapter, mostly on social work with groups. His most recent publication is Ortega, R and C. Garvin "Socially Just Practice in Groups" (2019) published by Sage Publications. He has had a career-long deep and abiding commitment to social work practice and has been engaged in practice for most of his academic career as well as before he became an academic. In Ann Arbor he helped found the Ann Arbor Jewish Family Service and now serves as a lifetime member of its board. He was Ann Arbor mayoral appointee as a member of the Ann Arbor Model Cities Policy Board in the 1990s.
Garvin grew up in Chicago and attended Wright Junior College before attending the University of Chicago in 1949. Following this, he worked in several child and family-serving organizations including the Henry Booth House and Chapin Hall and at youth summer camps. He began graduate school and received his AM degree in Social Work from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago in 1951.
From 1952-1954, Garvin served in the U.S. Army and met NASW Social Work Pioneer® William J. Reid there, also an MSW social worker at the time—a meeting that would come to have deep influence on Garvin’s professional career. After the conclusion of his service, he returned to working with children and families at the Henry Booth House (1954-1956) where he worked as a group worker for adolescents, and where he rose through the ranks to become director of social services. He also worked at the Chicago Jewish Community Centers (1956-1964) where he became Program Director.
He earned a Certificate in Child Therapy from the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis in 1962, and his PhD from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration in 1968, where he worked with William J. Reid. Garvin was a founding member of the NASW in 1955 and has been a member ever since. He joined the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Social Work in 1965 and worked there until his retirement in 2001.
Significant Achievements and Awards
Garvin has been recognized for his distinguished career with several awards:
- Significant Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award, given by the Council on Social Work Education, in honor of his seminal influence as an educator, scholar, and mentor over the course of his distinguished career (2012);
- Named Lifetime member of the board of the Ann Arbor Jewish Family Services; and,
- Named Lifetime member of the board and Co-Chair of the Practice Committee of the International Association of Social Work in Groups, in rcognition of his role in founding and advancing the association.
- Glasser, P., and C. Garvin, Social Group Work: A Rehabilitation Approach, in Encyclopedia of Social Work, New York: National Association of Social Workers, 1971; also published in Individual Change Through Small Groups, 34-49.
- Cox, F., and C. Garvin, Community Organization Practice:1865-1973, in Strategies of Community
- Organization 2nd Edition, eds. F. Cox, et al. Itaska: Peacock, 1974, 39-58.
- Garvin, C. Task-Centered Group Work, in Social Service Review, XLVIII (4), December 1974, 494-507.
- Garvin, C., L. Epstein, and W. Reid., A Task-Centered Approach, in Theories of Social Work with Groups, eds. R. Roberts and H, Northen, New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1976, 238-267.
- Garvin, C. Strategies for Group Work with Adolescents, in Task-Centered Practice, eds. W. Reid and L. Epstein, New York: Columbia University Press, 1977, 157-167.
- Garvin, C. Education for Generalist Practice: A Comparative Analysis of Current Modalities, in Teaching for Competence in the Delivery of Direct Services, New York: Council on Social Work Education, 1976, 1830.
- Garvin, C., W. Reid, and A. Smith, A User's View of the Work Incentive Program, in Public Welfare, XXXIV (4), Fall, 1976, 36-45.
- Glasser, P., and C. Garvin, Group Work: An Organizational and Environmental Model, in Encyclopedia of Social Work, 1977, 1338-1350.
- Garvin, C. Contemporary Group Work. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1981. (2nd Edition, 1987; 3rd Edition, 1996).
- Garvin, C. Theory for Social Work with Groups, in Handbook of Clinical Social Work, eds. A. Rosenblatt and D. Waldfogel, San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass, 1983, 155-175.
- Garvin, C. and B. Seabury, Interpersonal Practice in Social Work. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1984.
- Garvin, C. The Changing Contexts of Social Group Work Practice, in Social Work with Groups, VII (1) 1984.
- Garvin, C. Task-Centered Group Work, in Task-Centered Practice with Groups and Families, ed. A. Fortune, New York: Springer, 1985.
- Garvin, C. Group Theory and Research, in Encyclopedia of Social Work, 18th Edition. New York: National Association of Social Workers, I, 682-696, 1987. Papers based on this article were presented at the 1985 Annual Symposium on Social Work with Groups and the 1985 Biannual Symposium of the National Association of Social Workers.
- Garvin, C. Short Term Group Therapy, in Handbook of the Brief Psychotherapies, ed. R. Wells, New York: Plenum, 1991.
- Garvin, C., and J. Tropman, Social Work in Contemporary Society. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1992. (2nd edition 1998).
- Tolson, E., W. Reid, and C. Garvin, Generalist Practice: A Task-Centered Approach. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994. (2nd edition, 2003).
- Tucker, D.J., C. Garvin and R. Sarri, eds. Integrating Knowledge and Practice: The Case of Social Work and Social Science, Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1997.
- Garvin, C., and P. Meares, eds. Handbook of Social Work Direct Practice, Thousand Oaks, California: Sage, 2000.
- Garvin, C., L. Gutierrez, and M. Galinsky, eds. Handbook of Social Work with Groups, New York: Guilford, 2004.
- Garvin, C. Group Work: Emphasis on the Role of Gender, in Paradigms of Clinical Social Work: Emphasis on Diversity, eds. R.A. Dorfman, P. Meyer, and M.L. Morgan, New York: Brunner-Routledge, 2004, 145-166.
- Garvin, C., and M. Galinsky, Groups, in Encyclopedia of Social Work, 20th Edition. eds. T. Mizrahi and L.E. Davis, New York: Oxford University Press and NASW, (I) 2008, 287-298.
- Garvin, C. Task-Centered Group Work, in Encyclopedia of Social Work with Groups, eds. A. Gitterman and R. Salmon, New York: Routledge, 2009, 55-58
- Seabury, B.A., B.H. Seabury, and C, Garvin, Interpersonal Practice in Social Work: Promoting Competence in Generalist Practice, 3rd Edition, California: Sage, 2011.
- Garvin, C., R. Tolman, and M.J. Macgowan, Group Work Research, New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
- Garvin, C., L. Guiterrez, and M. Galinsky, eds. Handbook of Social Work with Groups, 2nd Edition., New York: Guilford, 2017.
- Reisch, M., and C. Garvin, Social Work and Social Justice: Concepts, Challenges, and Strength, New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
- Ortega, R., and C. Garvin, Socially Just Practice in Groups, California: Sage Publications, 2019