Wednesday, June 29, 2016

KSA of the Day: The Effects of Trauma

Here is a cluster of bullet points from the Human Behavior in the Environment section of the ASWB Clinical Outline to take a look at as you prepare for the social work exam:
  • The effects of abuse and neglect on victims
  • The effects of trauma on behavior
  • The effects of trauma on self-image
All are addressed at some length in on this page from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). At the start:
The majority of abused or neglected children have difficulty developing a strong healthy attachment to a caregiver. Children who do not have healthy attachments have been shown to be more vulnerable to stress. They have trouble controlling and expressing emotions, and may react violently or inappropriately to situations. Our ability to develop healthy, supportive relationships with friends and significant others depends on our having first developed those kinds of relationships in our families. A child with a complex trauma history may have problems in romantic relationships, in friendships, and with authority figures, such as teachers or police officers.
Trauma and abuse can be experienced at all ages, of course, but the effects of trauma are somewhat universal. Covered on the page, trauma's impact on:
Attachment and Relationships
Physical Health: Body and Brain
Emotional Responses
Self-Concept & Future Orientation
Long-Term Health Consequences
Economic Impact
Assessing for and helping with trauma is one of the central features of what social workers do. Do not be surprised to see the ASWB exam touching upon the topic.

For more reading about the effects of trauma, try:

Monday, June 20, 2016

KSA of the Day: Psychological Defense Mechanisms

Take a look at the ASWB Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities outline, section 1B, Human Behavior in the Environment. You'll find a bunch of basic social work stuff that you've probably learned at some point during social work school, working, or even in an undergraduate Psych 101 course. This bullet pointed item may have shown up in all three: "Psychological Defense Mechanisms." "Psychological" as opposed to swords and shields, we guess.

Getting prepared for defense mechanism questions on the social work licensing exam is simple. Just look over a list of defense mechanisms and some examples. We're not going to retype it all for you but are happy to provide some helpful links and this chart via Simply Psychology. First, a few of the the most common defense mechanisms:

Next, lists and explanation aplenty:
Happy brushing up and good luck on the exam!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Free DSM Questions

Free questions. What's better? SWTP's been running a series of free DSM-5 questions on their blog. The focus lately has been anxiety disorders. Once you've run through these questions, you'll be able to stare down anxiety questions on the ASWB exam without breaking a sweat.

Still better than the questions alone are the explanations in each post, which walk you through the process of elimination. Sometimes you have to know the info to get to the right answer. Sometimes you have to know how to approach the test. Any good set of practice questions will give you exposure to both content and test-taking know-how.

The idea on these is "come for the free practice questions, stay for the full-length practice tests." This week SWTP made practice test purchasing a little friendlier. You pick and choose which of their tests you want to study. The bundle savings (and the price) are tallied instantly as you select and deselect exams on the account page. Neat.

Want more DSM questions? Try the Google Books preview of DSM-5 Self-Exam Questions, by Philip Muskin. "Come for the preview, stay for the whole book," in this case. Enjoy! And good luck on the exam!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

KSA of the Day: Child Development

Only a small portion of those who sit for the social work licensing exam have had the opportunity to do clinical work with children. That leaves some studying to do. On the ASWB exam, it's not wildly uncommon to find questions that test your ability to understand the basics of what to expect of children at different stages and how to assess problems. Those are the questions covered in the simple, two-word KSA item: child development.

Child development is a topic that can't be even close to adequately covered in a single blog post. Happily, many others have written at length about the topic, leaving you with lots to read and digest. Here are a few stand-outs. If you find others, please don't hesitate to post them in comments. It takes a village of social workers to help each social worker pass the ASWB exam!

Links like these (from one gov't website to another) can start to get you up to speed:

  • Normal growth and development

  • Preschoolers

  • School age children

  • Stages of Adolescence

  • Adolescents

  • Check out these info-rich sites for lots and lots and lots and lots and lots more:

    Don't stop there. Search engines are your friend. Happy learning and good luck on the exam!

    Thursday, May 5, 2016

    Quick Quiz: Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development

    Quick quiz. Finish the Erikson stage of psychosocial development (vs. what?) and put them all in order from birth through old age (right now, they're alphabetical). Got it? Great. Good luck!

    Autonomy vs.
    Ego Integrity vs.
    Generativity vs.
    Identity vs.
    Industry vs.
    Initiative vs.
    Intimacy vs.
    Trust vs.

    Filled blanks and correct order are in comments. Once you've got that down, test yourself again with this Sporcle quiz.

    For more reading about Erikson's stages:
    Consider yourself prepped on the topic. Good luck with the exam!

    Tuesday, April 26, 2016

    KSA of the Day: The Concept of Attachment and Bonding

    Attachment and bonding may or may not come up on the social work licensing exam. But they'll come up every day you're a living and breathing social worker (and person). Preparing for the exam is a good excuse to gain a better, deeper understanding of the thinking and theorizing on the subject.

    What springs to mind when you hear "attachment and bonding"? How about John Bowlby? How about Mary Ainsworth? How about Harlow's monkey?

    Let's start with the monkey.

    Harlow's monkey gets milk from a fake wire monkey, but clings to the cozier fake cloth monkey. Attachment and bonding!

    Attachment theory can't be summed up quite as quickly. But how's this: Attachment theory posits that attachment isn't a byproduct of other psychological drives, but an essential drive in and of itself. Attachment is so crucial that the quality of early attachments affects the way a person relates to others for their entire lifetime. Attachment researchers have identified several typical patterns of attachment between infants and caregivers--some secure and some insecure--and witnessed their longterm stickiness. Young children with a certain attachment pattern grow into adults with that same attachment pattern.

    But don't just take it from this blog. Read up. Here are some places to get smart and smarter about attachment:
    That should do it to get your prepared for attachment and bonding questions on the ASWB exam.
    Stay cozy and good luck!

    Tuesday, April 12, 2016

    Motivational Interviewing and the ASWB Exam

    Motivational interviewing comes up in regular social work practice all the time, even if people don't always refer to what they're doing as motivational interview. Same goes for the ASWB exam. Knowing motivational interviewing basics will help you in your practice and help you pass the test. So get learning!. Here are some basics via Wikipedia:

    Motivational interviewing (MI) refers to a counseling approach in part developed by clinical psychologists Professor William R Miller, Ph.D. and Professor Stephen Rollnick, Ph.D. Motivational Interviewing is a method that works on facilitating and engaging intrinsic motivation within the client in order to change behavior.[2] MI is a goal-oriented, client-centered counseling style for eliciting behavior change by helping clients to explore and resolve ambivalence. Compared with non-directive counseling, it's more focused and goal-directed. It departs from traditional Rogerian client-centered therapy through this use of direction, in which therapists attempt to influence clients to consider making changes, rather than non-directively explore themselves. The examination and resolution of ambivalence is a central purpose, and the counselor is intentionally directive in pursuing this goal.

    A few key points in MI (also via Wikipedia):
    1. Motivation to change is elicited from the client, and is not imposed from outside forces.
    2. It is the client's task, not the counselor's, to articulate and resolve the client's ambivalence.
    3. Direct persuasion is not an effective method for resolving ambivalence.
    4. The counseling style is generally quiet and elicits information from the client.
    5. The counselor is directive, in that they help the client to examine and resolve ambivalence.
    6. Readiness to change is not a trait of the client, but a fluctuating result of interpersonal interaction.
    7. The therapeutic relationship resembles a partnership or companionship.
    Sound familiar?

    Here's MI summed up in a 17 minute video:

    For more motivational interviewing wisdom from around the web, try:
    Happy studying. Happy exam-passing!