Possible selves: Group work with young people in a South African township

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Social workers often work with the most marginalised and deprived segments of society. This paper addresses such a segment in South Africa - a group of 10 orphaned or vulnerable young people, living in group foster care in a township. In such contexts, hope for the future becomes frayed as these children have few opportunities of escaping the trap of poverty. The author introduces and mobilises the theory of possible selves developed by Markus and Nurius. This theory argues that our visual pictures of who we could become in the future significantly motivate current behaviour. Based on this theory, the author developed a group work programme with these young people, called the 'Futures Group', which aimed to stimulate their possible selves and to help them determine what they needed to be doing in the present to achieve their future possible selves. The paper outlines the theory of possible selves, the Futures Group intervention and reflections for practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-192
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010


  • Group work
  • Hope
  • Possible selves
  • Resilience
  • South Africa
  • Young people

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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