Friday, March 21, 2014

Psychotherapy and the Social Work Exam

Psychotherapy is a big part of social work practice and will show up on the social work licensing exam. But which psychotherapy? There are lots and lots of therapies out there--just take a gander at this giant Wikipedia list, which goes from Abreaction Therapy to Wilderness Therapy (X, Y, and Z are wide open). Will either of those show up on the exam? No, not as correct answers at least. The examiners are looking to see if you're familiar with mainstream, clinically-validated therapy. This shrinks the list down considerably!

Take a look at this Psychotherapies page from NIMH. It includes the very types of psychotherapy likely to show up on the exam: CBT, DBT, Interpersonal Therapy, Family Therapy. Note that Psychodynamic Psychotherapy shows up in the "Other Types of Therapy" section, alongside Light Therapy. The lesson here: know your CBT, know your DBT. Focus less on the other stuff, however much you may be drawn to it personally and professionally.

When a question asks what is the BEST treatment for a particular disorder, say OCD, the answer is very likely to be CBT, or some specific type of CBT (e.g., Exposure Therapy). When a question asks what a therapist should do FIRST with a client who has childhood trauma informing maladaptive coping now, the answer most often is the here-and-now one. Help with resources, social support, etc. For social workers, plumbing psychic depths is supposed to come later.

This doesn't mean you won't benefit--on the exam and in practice--by getting familiar with a wider range of therapies than those included on the NIMH list. Check out the early episodes of the Social Work Podcast for chirpy, concise summaries of Gestalt Therapy and others. Good listening, good to know. Just keep in mind the FIRST and BEST option for you on the exam isn't likely going to stray from the short list.

Good luck on the exam!

No comments:

Post a Comment