Most studies of family group conferences (FGCs) have been conducted within the child welfare context. The aim of this study was to explore which psycho-social processes and outcomes this network intervention generates for long-term social assistance recipients. Fifteen Norwegian social assistance recipients who had arranged FGCs were interviewed. Five FGCs were observed. Informants were recruited at social service offices of the two largest cities in Norway. A main finding was that the informants’ motivations for arranging an FGC were relation-based and, correspondingly, that the most important outcome was improved relations. A particularly important interpersonal experience was being met with confirming and respectful communication. An efficacious process of FGCs in this context thus seems to be the exchange of appraisal support. The findings indicate that the FGC may have the potential to strengthen the sense of community and self-worth among social assistance recipients. This extended empirical and theoretical understanding will inform both social workers and researchers about how FGCs function in the social service context.
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