Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Free ASWB Exam Practice Question

Missed us? We're back. Here's a quick practice question based upon new material in the 2018 NASW Code of Ethics. With enough practice, you'll be ready to pass the ASWB exam faster than you may think! So answer this:

A client tells a social worker that she's being stalked online by an ex-boyfriend and asks the social worker to add her on Facebook so the social worker can see for herself. How should the social worker proceed?

A. Temporarily add the client on Facebook for the time it takes to witness the harassment.

B. Explain to the client that it's not ethical for social workers to collect collateral information on clients via social media. 

C. Refuse the Facebook request, and instead ask the client to print out evidence of harassment.

D. Politely refuse the Facebook friend request and ask the client to describe the harassment in detail. 

What do you think?

Scroll down for our answer.

The updated code has some guidance here. This is from the Conflicts of Interest section:

(h) Social workers should avoid accepting requests from or engaging in personal relationships with clients on social networking sites or other electronic media to prevent boundary confusion, inappropriate dual relationships, or harm to clients.

Given that, let's take the answers one at a time:

A. Temporarily add the client on Facebook for the time it takes to witness the harassment.

Adding the client on Facebook, even temporarily and for clinically defensible reasons, risks changing the nature of the social worker-client relationship--it's also unnecessary here.

B. Explain to the client that it's not ethical for social workers to collect collateral information on clients via social media. 

The Code of Ethics states:

Social workers should avoid searching or gathering client information electronically unless there are compelling professional reasons, and when appropriate, with the client’s informed consent.

Avoid mean avoid; it doesn't mean never, ever do it. It is ethical in some cases to collect collateral information about clients on the net.

C. Refuse the Facebook request, and instead ask the client to print out evidence of harassment.

This is an old-fashioned solution. Why not just ask the client to show the social worker on her phone (assuming she has one)? But old-fashioned or not, it's the best of the offered answers here. C is correct.

D. Politely refuse the Facebook friend request and ask the client to describe the harassment in detail. 

For whatever reason, it is important to the client for the social worker to see the harassment, not just hear about it. Refusing the Facebook request and refusing to look at the harassment altogether is unnecessary and risks rupturing the client-social worker relationship.

How'd you do? We'll have more practice here in the future. And, of course, there's lots and lots (and lots) of practice available elsewhere (check out SWTP).

Good luck with the exam!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Code of Ethics Changes

The new NASW Code of Ethics is up. It replaces the previous guide on January 1st, 2018. What's new in it? Mostly--almost completely--technology-related guidelines, especially with regards to informed consent and confidentiality. When is okay to Google a client? What are the ethical ways to handle electronic communication? The new Code weighs in.

Here are two good summaries of the changes penned by social work ethics notables:

Eye on Ethics: New NASW Code of Ethics Standards for the Digital Age, by Frederic G. Reamer.

Ethics Alive! The 2017 NASW Code of Ethics: What's New?, by Allan Barsky

If you find an additional or more useful round-up of Code changes, please let us know. In the meantime, let those two be your guide to the guide. Suffice it to say, there's nothing mindblowing or even surprising in the new Code text. If you're facing licensing exam questions that cover the new areas of the Code of Ethics, you're already prepped to narrow down to the correct answer using your hard-earned, common-sense, social work know-how.

Should you, a social worker, be posting publicly about your wild partying life on social media? The Code (and common sense) say no.

Should you be Googling clients to dig up collateral information about them? The Code (and common sense) say no, not without the client's consent.

And so on.

Happy social working. Thanks for all you do!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

We're Rooting for You

Breaking today from the usual quick quiz and exam update to give you a little encouragement. The exam is a big one. It's long, it can be annoying, the vignettes can be depressing. You've got to get through 170 questions before you finally hit the end of the thing. And then you hit the submit button.

If you hadn't already broken a sweat, that'll do it. You might've had all the content down. You might've taken enough practice tests to feel completely confident going in. Still, when you hit that button, you're going to wonder, "Was it enough?...Did I pass?"

We want you to know that we're rooting for you. We're rooting for you before you ever get started with social work exam prep. As you're getting your education, choosing social work, deciding to work toward a license. As you're putting off getting started, as you're getting started, as you're knee deep in balancing studying and work and family and whatever else. And we're rooting for you as you walk into that exam center, take your deep breath and get started on the real thing.

And of course we're rooting for you as you wait the machine's answer that last licensing exam question: Did I pass?

Who is "we" doing the rooting? It's not just us here at the blog. It's all your clients, past and future. And their family members and loved ones. Plus your family and friends, past and future. Helping one person, you're helping a whole system--there's no knowing how much impact your focus and kindness and professionalism may have. You're a social worker and the world needs more social workers, licensed or not.

When you get to that submit button, you've already conquered so much. Here's hoping you can take pride in that accomplishment regardless of the answer that comes back. We're rooting for you!

And, if not this time, at some point, the answer that you're holding your breath for will pop up on the screen: PASS

Congratulations in advance! We knew you could do it! We know you can do it! Good luck!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

ASWB Outline and NASW Code of Ethics Changes

To pass the ASWB exam, it's a good idea to know what's on the ASWB exam. And what's on the ASWB is about to change...a little. Starting January 2nd, 2018, exams will reflect new exam blueprints. The changes aren't all that significant. Category names get reworked. The balance between categories is shifted some. A few new items are added (e.g., don't think there was anything specifically about working with trans clients in the previous clinical outline).  SWTP's quick round-up is here

Also new--and maybe a little bit more impactful to you, the social work licensing exam prepper--an updated edition of the NASW Code of Ethics, which becomes available online on November 1, 2017 and goes into effect for social workers in January 1, 2018. The NASW's blog is the best place to go for details about the changes. For instance:

Q: What educational resources are available to explain the latest revisions to the NASW Code 
of Ethics?
A: Several resources will be available, including an online training, an NASW chat, a blog, code 
revision consults, and a posting of the changes with the explanations on the NASW Web site.
Your natural question: will this be on the exam? Answer: always expect to see lots of questions based upon the NASW Code of Ethics on the social work exam. Will the ASWB try to spring gotcha questions to see if you've been studying the correct version of the Code? Highly unlikely. The exam isn't, in principle, written to deceive. It's purpose is to assess basic social work knowledge from beginning social workers. As new exam versions are written, expect to see new Code material reflected with increasing regularity. big. That's the one future social workers will be studying. 
In other words, don't sweat any of this. Whether you're taking the exam in December or in January, it's all going to be just fine. Proceed as planned.

Happy studying!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Quick Quiz: Cognitive Distortions

Here's a quick quiz from the world of cognitive behavioral therapy. It's a list of fifteen common cognitive distortions taken from PsychCentral. (Some lists have fewer--ten is typical--others may have more.) Can you name the cognitive distortion for each definition or example?

If you're stumped, we've included an alphabetical list at the bottom of the post, which turns this into a matching game.

Don't expect to get all 15. If you can get just a handful of them right, walk tall!

Here are those (edited) definitions and examples:

1. _______________.
Ex: A person may pick out a single, unpleasant detail and dwell on it exclusively so that their vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted.

2. _______________.
Ex: You place people or situations in “either/or” categories, with no shades of gray or allowing for the complexity of most people and situations. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.

3. _______________.
Coming to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. If something bad happens only once, we expect it to happen over and over again. A person may see a single, unpleasant event as part of a never-ending pattern of defeat.

4. _______________.
We assume we know what they are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, we are able to determine how people are feeling toward us. For example, a person may conclude that someone is reacting negatively toward them but doesn’t actually bother to find out if they are correct. Another example is a person may anticipate that things will turn out badly, and will feel convinced that their prediction is already an established fact.

5. _______________.
We expect disaster to strike, no matter what. Ex: We hear about a problem and use what if questions (e.g., “What if tragedy strikes?” “What if it happens to me?”).

6. _______________.
Believing that what others do or say is in response to us. We also compare ourselves to others trying to determine who is smarter, better looking, etc. An semi-extreme example, “We were late to the dinner party and caused the hostess to overcook the meal. If I had only pushed my husband to leave on time, this wouldn’t have happened.”

7. _______________.
This distortion has us assuming responsibility for the pain and happiness of everyone around us. For example, “Why aren’t you happy? Is it because of something I did?”

8. _______________.
We feel resentful because we think we know what is fair, but other people won’t agree with us. With this distortion, we apply a measuring ruler against many situations judging its “fairness.” .

9. _______________.
We hold other people responsible for our pain. For example, “Stop making me feel bad about myself!” 

10. _______________.
We have a list of ironclad rules about how people are supposed to behave--especially ourselves.

11. _______________.
We believe that what we feel must be true automatically. If we feel stupid and boring, then we must be stupid and boring — “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”

12. _______________.
We expect that other people will alter their behavior to suit us if we just pressure or cajole them enough. We need to alter others because our hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.

13. _______________.
Instead of describing an error in context of a specific situation, a person will attach an unhealthy descriptor to themselves. For example, they may say, “I’m a loser” in a situation where they failed at a specific task. 

14. _______________.
We are continually on trial to prove that our opinions and actions are correct. Being right often is more important than the feelings of others around a person who engages in this cognitive distortion, even loved ones.

15. _______________.
We expect our sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if someone is keeping score. We are bitter when the reward doesn’t come.

These are probably not at your fingertips--why would they be? Even CBT therapists will disagree on some of this terminology.  So, here's the complete list (not in order) to match with the above definitions:

Always Being Right.
Control Fallacies.
Emotional Reasoning.
Fallacy of Change.
Fallacy of Fairness.
Global Labeling (or just "Labeling").
Heaven’s Reward Fallacy.
Jumping to Conclusions (or "Mind Reading")--sometimes listed as separate items.
Overgeneralization. (or "Generalizing").
Polarized Thinking (or “Black and White” or "All or Nothing" thinking).
Shoulds (or "Shoulding").

How's you do? Check your answers on the original list.

These quizzes are good for brushing up, but nothing prepares you for the real exam, like exam questions in the same format as the real thing. The link takes you to SWTP--there are lots of realistic exam questions there--hundreds of them--waiting to help prep you for the big test.

However you study, enjoy. And good luck!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Quick Quiz: Psychoanalytic Terminology

Smile, you're learning about psychoanalysis!

How well are you versed in psychoanalytic lingo? Are you ready to face question about the topic on the social work licensing exam? Well, try filling in the blanks below. You'll be still readier afterwards. Text is drawn from this Wikipedia page (the title of which is one of the answers--don't peek!).

Freud's psychic structures:

________ is the unconscious reservoir of the libido, the psychic energy that fuels instincts and psychic processes. It is a selfish, childish, pleasure-oriented part of the personality with no ability to delay gratification.

________ contains internalized societal and parental standards of "good" and "bad", "right" and "wrong" behavior. They include conscious appreciations of rules and regulations as well as those incorporated unconsciously.

________ acts as a moderator between the pleasure sought by the above two, seeking compromises to pacify both. It can be viewed as the individual's "sense of time and place".

Examples of _________________ (title of Wiki page):

_________: when a feeling is hidden and forced from the consciousness to the unconscious because it is seen as socially unacceptable.

_________: falling back into an early state of mental/physical development seen as "less demanding and safer".

_________: possessing a feeling that is deigned as socially unacceptable and instead of facing it, that feeling or "unconscious urge" is seen in the actions of other people.

_________: acting the opposite way that the unconscious instructs a person to behave, "often exaggerated and obsessive". For example, if a wife is infatuated with a man who is not her husband, reaction formation may cause her to – rather than cheat – become obsessed with showing her husband signs of love and affection.

_________: seen as the most acceptable of the mechanisms, an expression of anxiety in socially acceptable ways

_________: shifts sexual or aggressive impulses to a more acceptable or less threatening target; redirecting emotion to a safer outlet; separation of emotion from its real object and redirection of the intense emotion toward someone or something that is less offensive or threatening in order to avoid dealing directly with what is frightening or threatening. For example, a mother may yell at her child because she is angry with her husband.

_________:  Temporary drastic modification of one's personal identity or character to avoid emotional distress; separation or postponement of a feeling that normally would accompany a situation or thought.

_________: A form of isolation; concentrating on the intellectual components of a situation so as to distance oneself from the associated anxiety-provoking emotions; separation of emotion from ideas; thinking about wishes in formal, affectively bland terms and not acting on them; avoiding unacceptable emotions by focusing on the intellectual aspects (isolation, rationalization, ritual, undoing, compensation, and magical thinking).

Okay, that's enough for one post. How'd you do?

There're more of these on the Wiki page.

Looking for realistic exam practice about psychoanalytic theory (and everything else that may show up on the licensing exam)? Try SWTP!

Good luck on the exam!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Changes to the NASW Code of Ethics are Coming

Changes are coming to the NASW Code of Ethics. Announced on the NASW Blog, changes will go into effect on January 1st, 2018. From the post: 
After careful and charged deliberation, the Delegate Assembly voted to accept proposed revisions to the Code that focused largely on the use of technology and the implications for ethical practice.

The list of sections that have changed:

The Purpose of the Code 1.03 Informed Consent 
1.04 Competence 
1.05 Cultural Competence and Social 
1.06 Conflicts of Interest 
1.07 Privacy and Confidentiality 
1.08 Access to Records 
1.09 Sexual Relationships 
1.11 Sexual Harassment 
1.15 Interruption of Services 
1.16 Referral for Services 
2.01 Respect 
2.06 Sexual Relationships 
2.07 Sexual Harassment 
2.10 Unethical Conduct of Colleagues 
3.01 Supervision and Consultation 
3.02 Education and Training 
3.04 Client Records 
5.02 Evaluation and Research 
6.04 Social and Political Action

Stay tuned for updates--we're as eager as you to see what's what. The new edition drops November 1st. Expect practice tests to reflect the changes shortly after that.