Answer and Rationale on FREE Code of Ethics Privacy and Technology Question

Posted by Heidi Tobe

November 2, 2017 at 11:25 AM

Yesterday we began discussing the substantial revisions made to the NASW Code of Ethics. This was part one of a four part blog series reviewing these changes. We posed the following practice question to you, and today we have the answer and rationale!

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Question:

A social worker has been meeting with a 24 year old woman for the past two months. The client presented with issues of anxiety, depression, and “ongoing relational difficulties.” The client is closed off and shares very little in session and the social worker is struggling to get the necessary information to complete the client’s biopsychosocial assessment. What should the social worker do FIRST?

A. Continue meeting with the client and gather information as the client is ready to share

B. Address the client’s resistance in the next session

C. Do a google search of the client to gather pertinent information necessary to complete the assessment and continue meeting with the client and gathering information as she is ready to share it

D. Terminate services with the client as it is unethical to continue treating a client you are not making progress with

The best answer for this question is B.

  • The question specifies that the social worker has been meeting with the client for two months without making progress. It is unethical to continue meeting with her as is (A), assuming things will change without addressing her resistance. If this were the first session or two, answer A could be an option, but given that it has been two months, her resistance needs to be addressed.
  • The question is asking what we would do first, so you want to put the answers in order of operation. We want to begin by addressing the client’s resistance that is keeping therapy from progressing (B). Once we explore this dynamic with the client we would have a better sense of how to proceed.
  • This is a topic that was discussed during the NASW’s webinar last week. Doing a google search of a client without their consent is unethical, as it does not honor their right to privacy. If we plan to include a google search as part of our assessment of the client, this would need to be reviewed during the informed consent.
  • While we would not want to continue providing services to a client who is not progressing, there are several steps we would take before jumping to termination --premature termination would constitute client abandonment. There isn’t a reason to terminate yet! We would want to start by addressing the issues or consulting with colleagues before moving to termination.

Which answer did you choose? Does the rationale fit with your understanding, or did you learn something new with this scenario? If you have any further questions feel free to check in with a TDC coach. We are here to support you all along the way. And if you came up with the same answer-great job! You are right on the right track to getting licensed.

Still haven’t signed up for an exam preparation program? 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 or our our MFT licensing exam prep by clicking one of the links below. 

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Topics: Exam Prep, LCSW Exam Prep, Social Work Exam Prep, Professional Development, LMSW Exam Prep

Code of Ethics Revisions and FREE Practice question!

Posted by Heidi Tobe

October 31, 2017 at 12:45 PM

 

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We’ve been getting a lot of calls and emails about the upcoming changes to the ASWB exams beginning January 2, 2018. On August 4th, 2017 the NASW released the "most substantive revision to the NASW Code of Ethics since 1996" (NASW, 2017). These revisions focused mainly on social workers' use of technology and the subsequent ethical implications of such use. We have been in email communication with the ASWB about when these changes will impact the exam and our understanding is that the revised Code of Ethics will be implemented on the exams beginning January 2nd, 2018. We know there is a lot of fear and anxiety regarding these changes; the unknown can definitely be unnerving. Rest assured that 1. The overall changes are minor, and 2. TDC has you covered! We will be addressing the broader changes to the exams in greater detail later this month and next month, but want to take some time today to specifically review some of the Code of Ethics revisions and additions.

Personally, I am super excited about the revisions and additions made to the Code of Ethics. We are living in an increasingly technological world in which technology and social media inherently and inevitably impact us both personally and professionally as social workers. Social media is regularly utilized for the purposes of networking, marketing, professional development, and formal and informal communications. Many of us have both a public and personal presence on social media, and it can be difficult to know what is and is not appropriate when it comes to our roles as social workers and mental health professionals. These have been challenging topics to navigate through, especially without written standards to turn to. Until recently, our Code of Ethics provided little instruction on how to go about successfully and ethically navigating technology, which makes sense, as many of these issues were non-existent 10, 15, or 20 years ago. Previously, we didn’t have to think about how to ethically traverse the internet, social media, email, texting, chat rooms, and new technology, but now these are very real tasks we face. The NASW recognizes the unique challenges that come up in relation to confidentiality and informed consent, documentation and record keeping, boundaries, and more. The revised Code of Ethics has 19 new standards and revisions to address the ethical implications of technology use and we are excited to share them with you!

Last Wednesday we participated in a free webinar the NASW hosted covering these revisions. For the next four weeks, we will feature a weekly blog covering the revisions to the Code of Ethics. This week we will be doing a broad overview, including a practice question on privacy and confidentiality. Next week we will dive into the topic of Informed Consent. The following week we will look at Competence, Cultural Awareness and Social Diversity, and we will wrap up our final week with Conflicts of Interest. Each week will feature a FREE practice question relating to one of these topics. We encourage you to find some time to read through the revised Code of Ethics in its entirety. Whether you are preparing for your exam or are a seasoned clinician, these changes impact us all.

During the webinar, the NASW pointed out that whether directly addressing technology or not, the Code of Ethics standards are applicable to the communication, interactions, and relationships we have in person and online. That is to say, we shouldn’t necessarily be thinking about whether or not something is okay to do online. We should be asking ourselves, “would this be okay in person?” If it’s not okay in person, it’s not okay online either. See last week’s practice question and answer/rationale for more information.

Some of the minor revisions to the Code of Ethics include:

  • Acknowledging that sexual relationships via technology with clients, students, or supervisees are unethical (2.06a)
  • Acknowledging that sexual harassment can occur in written and electronic form as well (2.07)
  • Specifying that we should avoid unwarranted negative criticism in verbal, written, and electronic communication (2.01b)
  • Specifying that we should take adequate measures to discourage, prevent, expose, and correct the unethical conduct of colleagues, including unethical conduct using technology (2.10a)
  • Specifying that as social workers functioning as educators or field instructors should not engage in dual or multiple relationships with students where there is risk of exploitation or harm to the student, including dual relationships that may arise while using social networking sites or other electronic media (3.02d)

And lastly for today is one of my favorites, and the topic for today’s practice question: 

“1.07 Privacy and Confidentiality

(a) Social workers should respect clients’ right to privacy. Social workers should not solicit private information from or about clients except for compelling professional reasons” (revisions in italics).

 QUESTION:

A social worker has been meeting with a 24 year old woman for the past two months. The client presented with issues of anxiety, depression, and “ongoing relational difficulties.” The client is closed off and shares very little in session and the social worker is struggling to get the necessary information to complete the client’s biopsychosocial assessment. What should the social worker do FIRST?

A. Continue meeting with the client and gather information as the client is ready to share

B. Address the client’s resistance in the next session

C. Do a google search of the client to gather pertinent information necessary to complete the assessment and continue meeting with the client and gathering information as she is ready to share it

D. Terminate services with the client as it is unethical to continue treating a client you are not making progress with

So, what do you think? Leave your answer in the comments below and be sure to tune in on THURSDAY for the answer and a discussion of the rationale! Next week we will tackle the topic of Informed Consent with another FREE practice question.

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References:

National Association of Social Workers. (2017). Code of ethics of the national association of social workers. Retrieved from: https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English

   

 

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Professional Boundaries in Psychotherapy

Posted by Ivan Perkins, JD

October 30, 2017 at 8:24 AM

bigstock-Risk-Management-6814519.jpgThere is one ridiculously easy trick to avoiding a malpractice lawsuit, a board investigation, and the loss of your license. (And it is making law and ethics advisors FURIOUS!!!)

Ready? Ok, here it is. Don’t have sex with a client.

In terms of sheer risk reduction, those six words carry the density of a neutron star. Roughly half of all malpractice lawsuits against therapists, according to one estimate, allege sexual abuse.

And when this happens, it can be professionally catastrophic for a therapist. You can be convicted of criminal sexual exploitation, spend time in prison, and find yourself publicly registered as a sex offender. Your license and your profession would evaporate, forever. At best, you may simply face a demand for hundreds of thousands of dollars from your client’s attorney—and be forced to settle.

Sex is just one of the many ways that you can have an illegal or unethical “dual relationship.” The basic idea is that a therapist should just be a therapist for any particular client. If a therapist is also the client’s business partner, employee, employer, close friend, family member, creditor, debtor, or colleague in a professional, social, philanthropic, or other group, things start to get messy. Legitimate questions arise about the therapist’s judgment, motivations, and treatment. You could be sued—or more likely, disciplined by your board—for engaging in any dual relationship.

But the profession does not speak with a unified voice on this issue. Not everyone agrees that multiple relationships or boundary-crossing acts in themselves, apart from the potential exploitation and impaired judgment that often go with them, are always unethical.

In some cases, pushing a relationship beyond conventional parameters clearly serves a therapeutic purpose. A young woman in New York City, for example, was hospitalized during a psychotic episode. At the hospital, she continually vented bitter feelings against her therapist for not “caring” about her. Then, she escaped from the hospital. Her therapist went out searching for her client immediately, combing through the bars and clubs of Greenwich Village. At midnight, the therapist found her, and drove her back to the hospital. The client proceeded to make great strides in treatment, and after making a major recovery, credited the “midnight rescue mission” for demonstrating the depth of the therapist’s concern.[1]

Some authors contend that this type of benefit can, in some cases, extend to attending a client’s wedding or graduation ceremony, attending the funeral of someone close to the client, helping the client in a situation of need, etc.[2] The argument in favor of such boundary-crossing focuses on the support that the client may feel in having a therapist who cares and is willing to “go the extra mile.”

If you do employ caring “boundary-blurring” acts with particular clients, realize that doing so heightens your ethical obligations. The AAMFT Code of Ethics, for example, provides that MFTs should “make every effort to avoid conditions and multiple relationships with clients that could impair professional judgment or increase the risk of exploitation.” When there is any risk of impairment or exploitation, “therapists document the appropriate precautions taken.”

Such precautions can include the following.

  • Consultation. Seek the guidance of a trusted and thoughtful colleague.
  • Informed consent. Explain the potential risks of such boundary-blurring acts with the client, and involve them in the decision.
  • Document the rationale. In your notes, explain the rationale for crossing a particular boundary, including the potential benefits as well as risks. Describe your process: what documents (such as ethical code provisions) did you consider, with whom did you consult (and what did they say), and what discussions did you have with the client.

If something does go awry, such that there is now a reasonable likelihood that the multiple relationships or boundary-crossing will exploit the client or impair your professional judgment, you may need to refer the client to another therapist.

As many have noted, multiple relationships are basically unavoidable in many small towns, rural communities, or certain subcultures. It may be impossible to treat someone who is not connected to you already, directly or through family or friends. If this is the case, your rationale for treating that client anyway may reflect upon the absence or weakness of other treatment options.

The bottom line, as in many other areas of medical ethics, is that the client’s needs and well-being come first. Ensure that any multiple relationships or boundary-blurring activities do not place the client, or the quality of your treatment, at risk. Carefully document your process, and your rationale, for any deviations from conventional professional parameters. We discuss professional boundaries in psychotherapy in greater depth in CE No. 1, Minimizing Legal-Ethical Risk in Psychotherapy.

And, of course, don’t have sex with a client.

If you purchase any of our CE courses during the month of October, you'll receive a special introductory discount of 20% off! Just enter CEBLOG20 in the coupon code box at checkout. This code can be used one time per user. This offer will only last through October 31st, though, so act now for a great discount! You will have access to the courses for a year!

 

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References:
[1] Kenneth S. Pope & Melba J.T. Vasquez, Ethics in Psychotherapy and Counseling: A Practical Guide, 4th ed. (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2011), page 238.

[2] Pope & Vasquez, Ethics in Psychotherapy and Counseling, 4th ed., pages 235-41.

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Topics: Professional Development, Continuing Education

Answer/Rationale for FREE Question on Technology and the Code of Ethics

Posted by Heidi Tobe

October 26, 2017 at 12:52 PM

The NASW has recently released changes to the Code of Ethics inspired in large part by the need to address the ethics of technology use, both personally and professionally. While these changes to the Code of Ethics are not yet reflected on the exam, we decided to make this week’s practice question about the use of technology and social media. From our TDC Social Work Exam Facebook Study Group, to our public Facebook page, and the blog itself, we saw people choose a variety of answer options. We are excited to share the answer and rationale with you today!

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QUESTION:

A social worker has been meeting with a 15 year old female for the past two years around issues of anxiety and depression. The social worker learns that her client’s mother, who suffered from Bipolar Disorder and saw her own therapist, recently committed suicide. The social worker posts on a public Facebook group for social workers, “A teenage client lost her mother, Cassandra, to suicide on October 21st. Cassandra suffered from Bipolar Disorder and saw a counselor herself. This serves as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done to prevent these tragedies. My heart is heavy today.” This use of technology is:

A. Both legal and ethical

B. Illegal and unethical

C. Legal, but unethical

D. Illegal, but ethical

Answer:

The correct answer is B, both illegal and unethical. There are several legal and ethical issues presented in this scenario that are of concern. First, this is posted in a public Facebook group, so anyone could see it, including the client and her family. Second, the social worker provided a good bit of identifying information: the mother’s first name and the date of her death. That, coupled with the likely ability to identify what state the social worker practices in, is enough to do a google search and identify the person. On top of that, we know the person saw a therapist and suffered from Bipolar Disorder. This is private information, which is not the public Facebook world’s business! Further, once you identify who the mother is, it would be fairly simple to find out who the client is as well (especially given that most obituaries list the deceased’s surviving children by name).

In the real life scenario that inspired this question, the former TDC user who shared this story was able to identify the person the social worker posted about in less than a minute. Pretty scary. This is clearly an ethical breach of client privacy and confidentiality. What may surprise some of you is that this is not only unethical, it is also illegal. Why? Since anyone reading this post can identify the mother and therefore the client based on the information posted by the social worker, this constitutes a legal breach of the client’s private health information. It is now public knowledge that she 1. sees a social worker and 2. suffers from anxiety and depression. If the social worker is covered under HIPAA, they could be facing some hefty fines, not to mention discipline (and possible license revocation) from their state licensing board.

Yesterday we were on a webinar with the NASW (which we will post more about in tomorrow’s blog!). Something they brought up many times throughout the two hour session was this: if you are wondering whether it is okay to post something online, ask yourself if it would be okay to do so in person? So in this case, would it be okay to share this information in a public forum that anyone could hear? Of course not! So why would it be okay to post online? The answer is that it is not.

We are incredibly excited and grateful that the NASW has put out these new standards. There are many discussions that need to be had amongst us as professionals. These are not easy things to navigate and they pose many challenging questions that need to be addressed. As you figure out what these new standards mean for you personally and professionally, be sure to surround yourself with trusted colleagues and supervisors who you can dialogue with.

Which answer did you choose? Does the rationale fit with your understanding of the code of ethics, the law, and how you would apply those in a clinical setting? Or did you learn something new with this scenario? If you have any further questions feel free to check in with a TDC coach. We are here to support you all along the way. And if you came up with the same answer-great job! You are on the right track to getting licensed.

Still haven’t signed up for an exam preparation program? Or have you already passed the exam and need to complete your continuing education requirements? Our structured, straightforward approach will provide you with exactly what you need! You can learn more about our social work licensing exam prep, MFT licensing exam prep, and continuing education courses by clicking the links below! 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/LMSW Practice Question: NEW Code of Ethics!

Posted by Heidi Tobe

October 25, 2017 at 10:16 AM

With rapidly increasing usage of social media for purposes of networking, marketing, professional development, and formal and informal communications, we are living in interesting (and challenging) times as mental health professionals. As social workers, these are some murky waters we have to figure out how to navigate through, and until recently, our Code of Ethics provided little instruction on how to go about this successfully (and ethically). Fifteen years ago, identifying how to ethically traverse the Facebook world was not something we as social workers had to consider, but now, it is a very real task we face.

As some of you may know, the NASW has recently released an updated Code of Ethics with 19 new standards and revisions that address technology! Thank you NASW! In a few minutes we will be hopping on a webinar with the ASWB and will be putting out a blog next week talking through how these changes will impact the exam (if at all). We thought it appropriate to give you a technology related practice question for you to mull over today. One of our former TDC users recently brought a similar real-life situation to us, and it seemed timely in light of the Code of Ethics changes. We are eager to hear your thoughts on this one and will post the answer and rationale tomorrow!

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QUESTION:

A social worker has been meeting with a 15 year old female for the past two years around issues of anxiety and depression. The social worker learns that her client’s mother, who suffered from Bipolar Disorder and saw her own therapist, recently committed suicide. The social worker posts on a public Facebook group for social workers, “A teenage client lost her mother, Cassandra, to suicide on October 21st. Cassandra suffered from Bipolar Disorder and saw a counselor herself. This serves as a reminder of the work that still needs to be done to prevent these tragedies. My heart is heavy today.” This use of technology is:

A. Both legal and ethical

B. Illegal and unethical

C. Legal, but unethical

D. Illegal, but ethical

So, what do you think? 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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Exciting Announcement: Our Private TDC Facebook Group is now LIVE!

Posted by Heidi Tobe

October 24, 2017 at 2:01 PM

We are excited to announce that starting today, we are piloting a private TDC user Facebook group for anyone currently signed up for one of our social work exam prep programs! This is an idea our TDC team has been working on for several months after many discussions surrounding the pros and cons of social media exam support. We want to create a space that fosters positive (and ethical) peer support for our TDC family as they are preparing for their social work licensing exams. This will be a place where you can come to discuss specific TDC practice questions, encourage one another in your study process, discuss anxiety management and self-care strategies, and engage in discussions on some of those trickier topics that you are looking for some extra support with.

coaching

We recognize the positive impact peer support can have on your study process, so we want to create a positive space for you, our TDC family, to come together and discuss questions and topics as you go through our program. We regularly receive calls and emails from our users about their experiences on other social media Facebook groups and hear three primary concerns expressed: 1. they seem to increase our user’s anxiety rather than help it. 2. copyrighted materials are regularly (and illegally) shared, both breaking the law and violating our code of ethics and 3. there are some really bad practice questions posted that do not accurately reflect what is actually on the exam (which circles back to #1: increased anxiety). This group is for active TDC users only. Once you pass your exam (whoo hoo!) we are considering the creation of an an alumni group for continuing clinical and professional development support if there is interest!

Here is a link to join the group!

Join our private Facebook group!

This is a private Facebook group for active TDC users only. To be added, click the link above and request to be added. An admin will message you (be sure to check your Facebook spam folder!) asking for the email address associated with your Facebook account to verify you are a TDC user.

We are always looking for ways to improve the studying experience for our users and are excited to pilot this new aspect of our study system! Joining is, of course, completely optional.We encourage you to contact your coach with questions and you are always welcome to like and follow us at our public Facebook page!

If you have any questions about the group or any difficulty joining, please contact Heidi at heidi@therapistdevelopmentcenter.com.

Not already a TDC user? Sign up today for the opportunity to join our private study group!

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Nontraditional Modalities of Psychotherapy and the Standard of Care

Posted by Ivan Perkins, JD

October 23, 2017 at 11:59 AM

 

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Are all modalities of psychotherapy equal under the law?

Well, not exactly. The general “standard of care” is the reasonable care that would be taken, under the circumstances, by a practitioner trained and experienced in the particular school of therapy being practiced—as long as that school of therapy is recognized by a “respectable minority” within the profession.

If the school of therapy does not even have a “respectable minority” behind it, you are truly going out on a legal-ethical limb. This also goes for one-time interventions—for example, giving a “far out” homework assignment like telling a client to go skinny-dipping or attend a shamanic ritual. Just recognize that in the event of a lawsuit or board complaint, your treatment might be deemed below the standard of care.

But even for those therapeutic modalities supported by a “respectable minority,” you incur greater risk to the extent they are outside the mainstream. Non-traditional therapies include, for example, aromatherapy, light therapy, and animal-assisted therapy. The solution, other than avoiding non-traditional modalities, is to consult with a colleague, document the consultation, and document the client’s fully informed consent. We address informed consent in depth in our CE Course: Minimizing Legal-Ethical Risk in Psychotherapy, which provides a template informed consent form.

What should this documentation look like? Consider the arguments you would need to make, later on, if anyone alleged that your treatment was negligent. The documentation should support these arguments:

  1. you carefully considered the use of this modality for this particular client;
  2. you consulted with a capable and qualified colleague;
  3. you and the colleague reasonably believed the modality would not entail serious or undue risks for this client;
  4. you and the colleague reasonably believed the modality could benefit this client; and
  5. you fully explained the risks, limitations, benefits, and potential alternatives to the client, who voluntarily consented to this treatment.

Don’t be afraid to use this particular language in your notes, while fleshing them out in concrete detail. For example, specify why you think the modality does not entail serious risks, who your colleague is, and why you consulted with him or her.

The more “non-traditional” the therapy you are considering, the more it makes sense to provide an abundance of information, such as books or websites on the topic. You may also ask the client to sign a confirmation sheet that you have provided extensive information, they understand the nature of the treatment, and they are comfortable with the techniques you will use. This will show that their consent to treatment was truly “informed.” You could include all this information on your standard informed consent form.

Also, review your malpractice policy—and/or contact the insurer or an insurance agent—to find out if a particular treatment modality is covered. Insurance policies contain exclusions, and you want to avoid, if possible, a mismatch between your policy and your practice. See our guide to malpractice insurance contained within our CE Course: Minimizing Legal-Ethical Risk in Psychotherapy.

If you purchase any of our CE courses during the month of October, you'll receive a special introductory discount of 20% off! Just enter CEBLOG20 in the coupon code box at checkout. This code can be used one time per user. This offer will only last through October 31st, though, so act now for a great discount! You will have access to the courses for a year!

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Loving Kindness Meditation

Posted by Asya Mourraille

October 20, 2017 at 8:06 AM

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Welcome to our Loving Kindness Meditation blog. My name is Asya Mourraille, LMFT 51838. Many of you would agree that our communities have been hurting quite a bit recently. Between the divisive politics our country has witnessed, destructive hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, deadly earthquakes in Mexico, unprecedented fires in California, and tragic mass shootings, our hearts have been rather heavy lately.

Of course, we need to pay attention to what is going on around us. Of course, we need to lend a helping hand where we can. We need to speak up against the injustices, act to prevent future destruction, and do what we can to help our communities heal. Yet, I feel it is also important to counterbalance all the anxiety, heaviness and anger with kindness. Otherwise, negativity multiplies and leads to more destruction.

Plus, we are in the healing profession. People come to us seeking tools in helping them find ways to restore their hearts, homes and communities. We are the greatest therapeutic tool we have and must take care of ourselves. The impact of the pain we have all been living through is, by and large, a dysregulated nervous system, and it is our job to help our clients calm down and regain clarity. And for that we ought to find our inner balance first. We should calibrate the tool that is our body and soul, so we are able to help other do the same.

Thus, with this blog I want to invite you to meditate on all the goodness that exists in this world, for there is plenty. The very fact that we are alive today speaks of love our mothers have given us. Their bodies have hosted us, nourished us, enveloped us with warmth and protection. They went through months of discomfort that culminated in childbirth, often while being supported by their partners, families and friends, all so that we can get the food, shelter and love that we need to survive.

In addition to our friends and family, we receive enormous love from people we have never even met. All of the people who build roads that keep us safe, work in hospitals that help us when we are ill, teach in schools that we attend to gain knowledge, grow the food we eat, and make the clothes we wear, they all give us their love and support. The list of ways in which we are all interconnected goes on and on forever. Simply think of generations of people who developed the language we use to so quickly and easily speak to and understand each other. All of those who contribute to our well-being in both direct and indirect ways deserve our gratitude and regard.

So please join me here as we sit to cultivate loving kindness towards all beings. We will first start by wishing happiness to ourselves. We will then move on to wishing well to our friends and family. Then to a neutral person. And then to someone we find hard to love. We will complete the meditation by extending our love to all living beings. To listen to the guided meditation, click HERE.

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Topics: Exam Prep, Self Care

Answer and Rationale for FREE Practice Question on Treatment Planning

Posted by Robin Gluck

October 19, 2017 at 10:26 AM

Yesterday's FREE practice question featured the topic of treatment planning. Today we have the answer and rationale for you!

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QUESTION:

A therapist meets with the parents of a 16-year-old boy who was recently suspended from school after being caught with alcohol on campus. The parents share that their son has been fighting and abusing alcohol for several years. The father cries as he expresses his sadness and frustration, noting his son’s behavior has caused a serious strain in his relationship with his wife and that is why they are seeking therapy. The wife nods in agreement, sharing their lack of intimacy and constant arguing that she hopes to address through therapy. The wife states, “our son had a difficult childhood because his sister was constantly sick and he didn’t get the attention he needed. My husband is too hard on him, he treats our son terribly.” Which of the following goals should be included in the treatment plan for this case?

A.Improve problem solving and conflict resolution between parents; Refer parents to Al Anon; Increase intimacy between parents

B.Improve problem solving and conflict resolution between parents; Refer son to Alcoholics Anonymous; Increase levels of empathy between parents

C. Increase positive communication within the family; Refer son to Alcoholics Anonymous; Increase levels of empathy between parents

D. Increase positive communication within the family; Refer parents to Al Anon; Increase intimacy between parents

The best answer for this question is A.

The question is asking which goals should be included in the treatment plan for this case. This question is not only testing your ability to identify appropriate goals for therapy, but also is ensuring you are able to understand who comprises the treatment unit. The parents are in the room and although they are having problems with their son, he is not part of the therapy and thus goals should not focus on him. The issues presented by the parents include arguing, lack of intimacy, and conflict due to their son’s behaviors. Answer A directly addresses the parents expressed concerns about their relationship and a referral to Al Anon, a support group for family members coping with loved ones abusing alcohol, would help them to understand how alcohol abuse affects their family and their relationship. Answer B and C both include referrals for the son, which is inappropriate since the son is not part of the treatment unit. Answer D includes a focus on improving communication within the family, but again this is incorrect because the entire family is not working with the therapist.

Which answer did you choose? Does the rationale fit with your understanding of treatment planning and how you would work in the clinical setting? Or did you learn something new with this scenario? If you have any further questions feel free to check in with a TDC coach. We are here to support you all along the way. And if you came up with the same answer-great job! You are right on the right track to getting licensed.

Still haven’t signed up for an exam preparation program? 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 or our our MFT licensing exam prep by clicking one of the links below. 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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Topics: MFT, Exam Prep, Practice Questions, MFT Exam Prep

FREE Practice Question: What to Include in a Treatment Plan?

Posted by Robin Gluck

October 18, 2017 at 9:23 AM

Our practice question blog a few weeks ago explored the topic of assessment. As we discussed then, therapists must conduct thorough assessments at the onset of therapy to understand why their clients are seeking treatment and what they hope to achieve in addition to managing potential crises. Armed with the information obtained through a thorough assessment, therapists are able to collaborate with their clients to develop comprehensive treatment plans, the subject of this week’s free practice question. Similar to assessment, treatment planning is an ongoing and dynamic process. What appears to be indicated at the start of therapy may change as clients’ needs change and treatment moves in unanticipated directions.

Treatment planning is a broad category, which includes identifying the treatment unit, developing short and long-term goals, identifying, accessing and collaborating with adjunctive services and community resources, and takes into account the therapist’s theoretical orientation. When taking your licensing exam, you can expect to encounter a large number of questions testing your ability to address the various components of treatment planning based on the information provided in the vignette/question stem.

With all this in mind, let’s look at this week’s practice question.

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QUESTION:

A therapist meets with the parents of a 16-year-old boy who was recently suspended from school after being caught with alcohol on campus. The parents share that their son has been fighting and abusing alcohol for several years. The father cries as he expresses his sadness and frustration, noting his son’s behavior has caused a serious strain in his relationship with his wife and that is why they are seeking therapy. The wife nods in agreement, sharing their lack of intimacy and constant arguing that she hopes to address through therapy. The wife states, “our son had a difficult childhood because his sister was constantly sick and he didn’t get the attention he needed. My husband is too hard on him, he treats our son terribly.” Which of the following goals should be included in the treatment plan for this case?

A.Improve problem solving and conflict resolution between parents; Refer parents to Al Anon; Increase intimacy between parents

B.Improve problem solving and conflict resolution between parents; Refer son to Alcoholics Anonymous; Increase levels of empathy between parents

C. Increase positive communication within the family; Refer son to Alcoholics Anonymous; Increase levels of empathy between parents

D. Increase positive communication within the family; Refer parents to Al Anon; Increase intimacy between parents

So, what would we do here? 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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