Bethany Vanderbilt

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Do you work for the VA or know someone who does? If so, check this out!

Posted by Bethany Vanderbilt

October 12, 2017 at 6:42 AM

Did you know? The Department of Veterans Affairs employs more than 12,000 social workers, marriage faVA Photo-2.jpgmily therapists and professional clinical counselors. The services these professionals provide are integral to helping veterans and their families. As part of Therapist Development Center’s (TDC) ongoing efforts to support our country’s veterans, and those who assist them, we are happy to announceTDC is now an approved vendor with the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

What does this mean for you? If you work for the Department of Veterans Affairs and are preparing to take your licensing exam or pursuing continuing education, it is possible to have the VA purchase your exam preparation materials and/or continuing education courses!

If you are interested in pursuing this option, talk with your supervisor and/or department representative. You may be able to work with them to complete a purchase order form with your information, including the fund number that will be utilized and TDC’s information, which can be provided upon request.

If you don't work for the VA but know someone who does, please pass this information along. We want to help! If you or your supervisor have any questions about this, please contact Bethany Vanderbilt, LCSW at [email protected]

TDC looks forward to helping you PASS your exams and pursue your professional goals with confidence!

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Topics: Exam Prep, LCSW Exam Prep, Continuing Education, Veterans, MFT Exam Prep, LMSW Exam Prep

Answer and Rationale for LCSW/LMSW Practice Question on Suicidal Clients

Posted by Bethany Vanderbilt

September 14, 2017 at 11:59 AM

Yesterday we posted the following question about suicidal clients, and today we have the answer and rationale for you!

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A 66-year-old man is referred to a social worker by his adult daughter. During the initial assessment, the man reports poor sleep, decreased appetite, and increased feelings of agitation and restlessness after being laid off from his job. He goes on to tell the social worker that “things just seem to keep going downhill since my wife died a year ago.” What action should the social worker take FIRST:

A. Refer the client to an MD to rule out any medical issues

B. Teach the client relaxation skills to help him sleep

C. Ask the client if he’s having any thoughts of suicide or self harm

D. Normalize the client’s feelings of grief and loss

After looking at the question and answer set yesterday, what did you think? This is a good example of an item that could show up on any of the ASWB exams, and one in which there are multiple answer options that look “right.” So, let’s go through the answer choices one at a time and think about them.

    • Answer A: does the client need a medical evaluation? Probably. He’s having symptoms (sleep disturbance, change in appetite, restlessness) that could indicate a medical problem, so we would want to rule that out. In many cases, this answer would take priority, but let’s see what else we have going on here.
    • Answer B: does the client need concrete coping skills to help address his stress and sleep issues? Probably. This would be something you would, in most cases, do with a client in this situation, but it wouldn’t be prioritized over an answer like A.
    • Answer C: should we ask this client if he’s having thoughts of suicide or self harm? ABSOLUTELY. He has a number of factors that put him at an extremely high risk: he’s an older male, he’s had multiple losses (spouse and job), he’s experiencing symptoms consistent with depression, and maybe most significantly, he’s expressing HOPELESSNESS (feeling like things are going downhill). This is the best answer, and would take priority over the medical referral because the suicidal risk is imminent (we want him to live to make it to the doctor’s office).
    • Answer D: should we respond to his feelings? Of course we would want to demonstrate empathy and compassion for this client. C is still a better answer to the question, though, as the social worker should feel comfortable directly addressing the potential for risk in this situation.

Do you want to be TDC’s next success story? Our exam prep materials provide you with everything you need to pass your exam and nothing you don’t. Once you pay for the program, we are with you until you pass: extensions are always free, materials are structured and comprehensive, and you have access to a coach for 1:1 support. We’ve taken the guess work out of studying so you can focus on the real task: PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.

You can find more information about our social work exam prep programs HERE.

Be sure to tune in next month for another practice question and discussion!

 

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Topics: Exam Prep, LCSW Exam Prep, Social Work Exam Prep, Suicide Prevention

LCSW/LMSW FREE Practice Question: Suicidal Clients

Posted by Bethany Vanderbilt

September 13, 2017 at 9:37 AM

As you all know, September is Suicide Prevention Month, and here at TDC, we are using the month as a platform to begin conversations around this often-taboo topic. If you’re studying for your licensure exam, whether a social work exam OR a MFT exam, you’ve probably found that this topic is front and center. There’s a good reason for that: at some point in our professional lives we will almost certainly work with at least one client who wants to end his or her life. Our state boards and licensing organizations want to ensure that as competent professionals we can recognize the signs and symptoms of potential suicide, assess for it accurately, and take the necessary steps to help our client’s stay safe.

Our study systems help prepare you for this topic in a number of ways: we provide concrete information on danger to self and others, risk factors, signs, behaviors, how to evaluate the level of risk, and a spectrum of interventions that will be reflected on the exam. We also provide numerous practice questions with rationales that help you think about this topic from all angles.

Let’s get into a practice question that looks at this topic:

SAMPLE QUESTION: 

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A 66-year-old man is referred to a social worker by his adult daughter. During the initial assessment, the man reports poor sleep, decreased appetite, and increased feelings of agitation and restlessness after being laid off from his job. He goes on to tell the social worker that “things just seem to keep going downhill since my wife died a year ago.” What action should the social worker take FIRST:

A. Refer the client to an MD to rule out any medical issues

B. Teach the client relaxation skills to help him sleep

C. Ask the client if he’s having any thoughts of suicide or self harm

D. Normalize the client’s feelings of grief and loss

So, what would we do here? Try to help him with concrete issues? Address the potential for medical problems? Leave your answer in the comments below and be sure to tune in tomorrow for the answer and a discussion of the rationale.

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Topics: MFT, Exam Prep, LCSW Exam Prep, Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention Month

Posted by Bethany Vanderbilt

September 7, 2017 at 10:24 AM

 

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It’s a week into Suicide Prevention Month and I haven’t heard it mentioned once. Not on social media, where I’m fairly well surrounded by mental health providers and people who are well versed in mental health issues...not on the news...not anywhere. There are other, extraordinarily important things going on right now (hurricanes, wildfires, the rollback of DACA).

And yet…

If we know anything about suicide, it’s that people are suffering all the time. Any of us might be one of them. Suicide does not discriminate.

Some statistics, courtesy of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Project Semicolon (www.afsp.org and projectsemicolon.com):

  • Each day, an average of 121 people die by suicide.
  • Of those, 22 are veterans of the US Military.
  • That totals over 44,000 people per year, 8,000 of whom served our country.
  • The rate of suicide has increased in the last 10 years.

This is an issue that touches all of us, both personally and professionally. As mental health providers, if we haven’t dealt with it directly yet, we will. Here at TDC, we want to create a space for open conversation and make suicide prevention something we are actively and regularly preparing for and educating ourselves about, so we’ll be devoting the rest of month (with a few small exceptions) to opening up a conversation about suicide. We’ll be featuring organizations that provide assistance to those in need (a couple of them have been mentioned above), identifying how this issue might show up on the exams, and hopefully getting you to think about ways you can help- help yourself, your family, your friends, or your clients.

One of the statistics that stood out most to me:

  • FOR EVERY PERSON THAT DIES BY SUICIDE, THERE ARE 25 OTHERS WHO ATTEMPT AND DO NOT COMPLETE THE ACT. That’s over a million people who need help, caring, support, love, compassion, and understanding. We are in a unique position as helping professionals to make a difference in people's lives- a difference that can truly be a matter of life or death. We hope you will join us on this journey and delve into these challenging, but vitally important, conversations with us.
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Topics: Professional Development, Suicide Prevention

2017 Veterans Service Scholarship Winners

Posted by Bethany Vanderbilt

August 16, 2017 at 1:47 PM

Congratulations to the 5 winners of the 2017 Veterans Service Scholarship:

1. Fernando Chavarria of Michigan

2. Jonathan Gill of Ohio

3. Kelli Hatzenbuehler of Nebraska

4. Kevin Rumley of North Carolina

5. Shayne Wiggins of New Mexico

We would like to thank everyone who participated in our 1st annual Veterans Service Scholarship for 2nd year MSW students. We had more than 50 applicants from 21 states and 29 schools! Our entire scholarship committee was impressed by the service and quality of our applicants and it was extremely difficult to select our winners. We are inspired by each of your stories and hopeful for the positive impact you will have on this field and the world. Stay tuned for a piece featuring each of our scholarship winners.

We at the Therapist Development Center believe that more can and should be done by every civilian American to support our troops and veterans, so we are now offering our programs FREE for any veteran or active duty military, including each of our scholarship applicants. To learn more about how to obtain this offer, click HERE. To learn more about our social work exam preparation programs, click HERE.

On behalf of the Therapist Development Center team, we wish you the best in your careers as clinical social workers and we know the world will be a better place with your contributions to the field.

Sincerely,

Bethany Vanderbilt, LCSW

Executive Director

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Topics: Exam Prep, Social Justice, LCSW Exam Prep, Social Work Exam Prep

Veterans Get TDC for FREE

Posted by Bethany Vanderbilt

July 19, 2017 at 3:52 PM

When I met Amanda Rowan eight years ago, one of the things that stood out to me immediately was her courage and commitment to serve others -- to stand up when she saw injustice or inefficiency, to challenge the status quo even when it wasn’t popular to do so, and most importantly to extend herself in order to help others.

When she brought me on at the Therapist Development Center six years ago, it became clear that her commitment to making the world a better place was the thread that ran through the heart of the company. Early on with TDC, we started seeing requests from veterans of the US Armed Services who had turned to social work and marriage and family therapy as a second career, and Amanda met each one with gratitude and a willingness to provide the materials at a significant discount. “It’s the least we can do,” she would say, often clearly wishing she could do more. Together we would reflect with awe that everyday brave men and women selflessly protect and defend our nation while we go about our lives in peace.

A few months ago we discussed the fact that we shouldn’t wait for Vets to ask. We should let them know that we are WITH THEM UNTIL THEY PASS at no charge. The Therapist Development Center wants to acknowledge their service because we believe more can and should be done by every civilian American to support our troops and veterans.

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As a team we've decided that if you are a Veteran of the US Armed Services, you can use our study materials and coaching support for FREE. You’ve dedicated your life in service to our country, and now you’ve chosen a career in mental health -- we are humbled by and grateful for your commitment to service. It would be our honor to help you PASS your social work or marriage and family licensing exams with confidence.Just send us an email with verification of your service and we’ll set you up with the program that you need FOR FREE. You can use the materials until you PASS. Let’s do this.

 

To receive materials, please provide proof of veteran status and verification of test registration. 

You can reach me directly at: [email protected]

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LCSW Practice Question: Child Abuse and Neglect

Posted by Bethany Vanderbilt

July 5, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Hello! When Amanda Rowan helped me pass my licensing exams in California 8 years ago, I would never have dreamed that I would be writing this blog today. It’s been quite a journey! It all started with practice questions: Amanda helped me read them effectively, understand what the test and question were asking, and make sense of how to evaluate answer choices strategically. Good practice questions have always been our goal at TDC, and I’m excited to be using the blog to share some of that with you again.

We’re going to start with a topic that is certain to come up on your exam, whether you’re studying for the LCSW Exam, the LMSW Exam, the BSW Exam, or any of the MFT Exams: child abuse and neglect. Why is this so likely to show up? The ASWB knows that your state licensing board wants to confirm you are able to recognize the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect and respond appropriately.

 

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Here’s a sample question to get us going:

During an initial assessment with a 7-year-old boy, a therapist observes that the boy is small in stature and appears listless and gaunt. He is difficult to engage in play and mostly unresponsive to questions about school and friends. The therapist notices that the boy is trying to sneak candy from a dish into his pockets. What should the therapist do NEXT?

A. Comment on the child's behavior

B. Call in the boy's mother to gather additional information

C. Assess for further signs of child neglect

D. Document the observations in the child’s assessment

According to the Social Work Dictionary, child neglect is defined as “The failure of those responsible for the care of a minor to provide the resources needed for healthy physical, emotional, and social development. Child neglect is seen as an act of omission by caregivers because of limited abilities or resources or other circumstances; it is differentiated from child abuse, which is seen as more willful” (Barker, 2003).

So, what are some indicators of child neglect? In a test question, we would be looking for developmental indicators, like a delay in social or motor development; physical indicators, such as poor weight gain, failure to thrive, or a protruding abdomen; or emotional/behavioral indicators, such as self-stimulatory behaviors (instead of seeking out adults for comfort), chronic drowsiness, hoarding or stealing food, social withdrawal or awkward peer relationships.

Answer:

The best answer choice is, in this case, C since the child in the question is presenting with several indicators of possible child neglect. Answer A does not address the potential seriousness of the situation; answer B may be included in your assessment, but is not enough by itself. Answer D would be appropriate, but isn’t as strong as C as a NEXT step.

Our structured, straightforward approach to exam prep will provide you with exactly what you need to pass your social work exam or MFT exam and nothing you don’t. You can learn more about our social work licensing exam prep HERE and more about our MFT licensing exam prep HERE. If you’d like to connect directly with one of our coaches, you can do that HERE.

We look forward to helping you PASS your exam with confidence!

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Free LCSW Practice Exam

Posted by Bethany Vanderbilt

April 7, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Free LCSW Practice Exam

No one wants to think about malpractice...I know I don't!  But we have to -- it's a risk that we take when we choose to enter a profession whose focus is helping others.  One of the most important ways you can protect yourself against malpractice is through the process of informed consent.  Of equal importance, this process also (hopefully) protects the client from inadvertently or unknowingly entering into a situation that could lead to uncomfortable emotions, pain, regression, etc.

Obtaining informed consent is a crucial part of the therapeutic relationship.

Test-makers and licensing bodies want to ensure that you will protect your clients -- and this protection begins at the first moment of contact, often through the process of informed consent. So let's get started with today's free LCSW practice exam question:

Sample:

A therapist has been working with a client with Borderline Personality Disorder for several months with minimal progress; the client has had periods of suicidal ideation, erratic and intense personal relationships, and is in danger of being fired at work due to an all-or-nothing attitude.  The therapist is considering terminating with the client and referring the client to a new therapist, but would like to use her monthly consultation group to process the case.  What should the therapist do FIRST?

A. Tell the client at the next session that the case will be discussed by the consultation group

B. Ensure that the informed consent provides for this disclosure

C. Proceed with the consultation while keeping identifying details of the client's identity confidential

D. Explore the potential benefits of the consultation with the client at the next session

The NASW Code of Ethics gives the following guidelines regarding informed consent (this is not the entire text -- for the entire text, visit: http://www.naswdc.org/pubs/code/code.asp): "Social workers should provide services to clients only in the context of a professional relationship based, when appropriate, on valid informed consent. Social workers should use clear and understandable language to inform clients of the purpose of the services, risks related to the services, limits to services because of the requirements of a third­party payer, relevant costs, reasonable alternatives, clients’ right to refuse or withdraw consent, and the time frame covered by the consent. Social workers should provide clients with an opportunity to ask questions." Similarly, in an article for CAMFT, Michael Griffin, J.D., LCSW, discusses the standards in the AAMFT's Code of Ethics: “Marriage and family therapists obtain appropriate informed consent to therapy or related procedures as early as feasible in the therapeutic relationship, and use language that is reasonably understandable to clients. The content of informed consent may vary depending upon the client and treatment plan; however, informed consent generally necessitates that the client: (a) has the capacity to consent; (b) has been adequately informed of significant information concerning treatment processes and procedures; (c) has been adequately informed of potential risks and benefits of treatments for which generally recognized standards do not yet exist; (d) has freely and without undue influence expressed consent; and (e) has provided consent that is appropriately documented. When persons, due to age or mental status, are legally incapable of giving informed consent, marriage and family therapists obtain informed permission from a legally authorized person, if such substitute consent is legally permissible.” The full text of this article can be found here:http://www.camft.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Michael_Griffin&CONTENTID=10497&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm

Answer:

I'm going to admit here that I kind of agonized over this question -- whether or not it really represented what I wanted it to, and whether or not I got the answer right myself!  The best answer here, though, is B: ensure that the informed consent provides for this disclosure.  In many cases, the section of the informed consent that deals with treatment processes and procedures (or the purpose of the services) contains a subsection that deals with supervision and/or consultation.  Before the therapist takes any other step, she should ensure that the informed consent covers the consultation.  If it does, then the therapist could proceed with A or D (D is probably a better option).  If it doesn't, the therapist would have to obtain consent to proceed with the consultation; C is not a good answer choice in either case. Whether you're a social worker or a marriage and family therapist, whether you live in California or in another state, understanding your professional code of ethics is extremely important.  TDC has incredible materials that go beyond reading the Code of Ethics -- we actually focus on the application of the ethical standards to clinical situations.  Preparing for licensure is, ahem, professional development!

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your social work exam or MFT exam? If you're preparing for the social work exam click here- Social Work Exam Prep; if you're preparing for the MFT exam, click here MFT Exam Prep. Learn more about our exam prep at the The Therapist Development Center home page.

Want more free LCSW Practice Exam Questions? Download our LCSW Guide below:

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Coming up next week: Confidentiality  
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MFT Exam Free Practice Question

Posted by Bethany Vanderbilt

February 19, 2014 at 9:00 AM

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Okay, so a couple of weeks ago, my colleague Emily Pellegrino did an excellent blog post on defense mechanisms (if you haven't seen it yet, and are studying for the MFT exam, check it out!).  We're going to be looking at them again tonight as our attention turns to psychological phenomena.  It may seem redundant, but defense mechanisms come up repeatedly on exams, and you, the test-taker, need to understand not only what purpose they serve, but also how to identify major defense mechanisms when they are described in a stem.

Let's take a look at a sample question.

Sample:

A 35 year-old woman seeks the services of a therapist in private practice.  She tells the therapist in the initial appointment that she is recently divorced and has been feeling "down" since her husband left.  She goes on to say that while she misses her husband, she knows that "we're much better at being friends than we were at being married -- this is the best thing that could have happened."  The client's response represents:

A. Denial

B. Cognitive Dissonance

C. Rationalization

D. Repression

Even though it will give the answer away, I'm going to go through a brief definition for each of the answers above.  Denial refers to a process of refusing to acknowledge an emotion that is uncomfortable, often through a distortion of reality.  Cognitive Dissonance refers to the discomfort that results from holding conflicting cognitions (ideas, beliefs, feelings, values) simultaneously.  Rationalization refers to a process in which plausible reasons are used to justify a feeling or action, or a process in which disappointments are blamed or explained by external circumstances to decrease feelings of discomfort.  Repression refers to a process in which unacceptable feelings or impulses are kept out of conscious awareness, but continue to influence behavior on an unconscious level.  Knowing these definitions is helpful, but it's even more helpful to understand what the terms look like in a real-life situation -- what does it look and sound like when a person is using denial as a defense mechanism?  How about reaction formation (this is one that always trips me up)?

Answer: Hopefully it's no surprise that the correct answer is C, rationalization.  The client is demonstrating this process by saying things that intellectually make sense: "we're better as friends" and "this is the best thing that could have happened" instead of talking about why she's feeling "down" after the end of her marriage.  Rationalization is a defense mechanism that is associated with a higher level of functioning.

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your social work exam or MFT exam? If you're preparing for the social work exam click here- Social Work Exam Prep; if you're preparing for the MFT exam, click here MFT Exam Prep. Learn more about our exam prep at the The Therapist Development Center home page.

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Coming up next week: Consent for Treatment  
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LCSW Exam: Free Practice Question

Posted by Bethany Vanderbilt

February 18, 2014 at 2:42 PM

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Okay folks, this week to help you prep for the LCSW exam we're turning to the topic of therapy theories. This is one of the topics in which there's a pretty significant difference in the amount of information that you might need to know, and it all depends on your discipline.  MFT's, as I understand it, are tested on minute details of various therapy theories; they must know history, different schools within the same theory, etc.  LCSW's, on the other hand, in most cases need only  to know the major concepts of the theory and how they might apply to a clinical situation.  I'll apologize in advance to all the MFT's out there if this blog post doesn't go into enough depth for you -- hopefully it will still be useful! Okay, here's a sample test item:    

Sample:

All of the following intervention strategies are associated with Strategic Family Therapy EXCEPT:

A. Detriangulation

B. Restraining

C. Positioning

D. Paradoxical Directives

Strategic Therapy, in my humble opinion, is a BEAST.  There are 3 schools within this theory, and they have similarities, but there are some distinct differences, too.  Fair warning: I'm just going to go over the basics.  According to this theory, change occurs as the family learns new communication and interaction patterns.  The therapist's role is to provide directives that encourages these alterations -- it requires a very active stance.  The therapist begins by joining with the family and gaining an understanding of the family's current state of homeostasis and hierarchical structure.  The therapist then works with the family in a prescriptive and often manipulative way to change communication and interaction patterns, which then changes the family's overall functioning (homeostasis and hierarchy).  Some terms or concepts that you may want to know: family homeostasis, circular causality, feedback loops (both positive and negative), first order change, second order change, reframing, therapeutic paradox, prescribing the symptom, restraining. A big THANK YOU to Nicolle Osequeda, another member of the TDC team, who provided all of information above (and more -- we've got a great Quick Study sheet on Strategic Therapy).

Answer:

The answer to the question above is A: detriangulation is a therapeutic intervention used in Bowenian family therapy (also referred to as Extended Family Systems Therapy or Bowen Family Systems Theory).  B, C, and D are all intervention techniques that are associated with Strategic Therapy.  Here's my trick to remembering some of them: when I think of strategy, I think of something active, something that requires doing, and a fair number of the interventions associated with Strategic Therapy are "-ing" words that imply movement or activity.

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your social work exam or MFT exam? If you're preparing for the social work exam click here- Social Work Exam Prep; if you're preparing for the MFT exam, click here MFT Exam Prep. Learn more about our exam prep at the The Therapist Development Center home page.

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Coming up next week: Psychological Phenomena
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