Gisela Konopka


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(1910–2003) Gisela Konopka was a social justice advocate and humanitarian who became nationally and internationally famous as an expert in group work—particularly work targeted to troubled youth—and in research on delinquent adolescent girls. Born in Berlin, Germany, in 1910, she joined the resistance movement when the Nazis came to power and in 1936 was imprisoned in a concentration camp for six weeks. She earned her master's degree in social work at the University of Pittsburgh and in 1957 received her doctorate in social work at Columbia University. She served as a member of the University of Minnesota School of Social Work faculty from 1947 to 1978. Inspired by her roots in the resistance and her experiences during WWII, particularly the Holocaust, Gisela was foremost a humanitarian who brought a philosophy of love and practice that integrates work with the individual and the group with political action. In much of her later writing she emphasized the importance of philosophy over technique and method. She published hundreds of articles and several books. One work of particular importance was Therapeutic Group Work with Children, published in 1949. Another important book that had great influence on practice was Social Group Work: A Helping Process (1963).


From Encyclopedia of Social Work in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Social Work.

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