Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Exam DSM: Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF)

Have you had to "GAF" someone in your clinical work? If so, great, you're ready for an Axis V question if it comes up on the social work licensing exam. If  not, you can get up to speed very quickly.  Just take a look at the scale, posted and explained on these sites and others

What number would you give yourself today? When you were at your worst? At your best? How about someone you know or know of who is really struggling--no work, few friends, addiction... Where would they land if you were called to assign them a number on the Global Assessment of Functioning scale.

It can feel odd for social workers to have to label a client with such a definitive-sounding measure. Social workers are generally looking to remove labels and to avoid pathologizing clients. But the GAF is part of the DSM and part of clinical social work practice, especially when insurance companies are involved. And so it's part of the knowledge you might reasonably be expected to have as you arrive at exam day. You probably won't be expected to know exactly what a given number means, but just to have a general sense of how the GAF works, what's high, what's low, what's what. If you've read through once, now you do!

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