Loving Kindness Meditation

Posted by Asya Mourraille

October 20, 2017 at 8:06 AM

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Welcome back to our monthly 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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Topics: Marriage Therapy, MFT, Family Therapy, Exam Prep, Practice Questions

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 FREE Question on Record Keeping

Posted by Robin Gluck

October 6, 2017 at 11:59 AM

In honor of TDC's launch of our new continuing education courses, yesterday's practice question explored the legal issue of record keeping. Today we have the answer and rationale for you!

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QUESTION:

A therapist worked with a couple for several years following mutual infidelity. The couple separated after two years in treatment and is in the midst of divorce proceedings. The husband requests access to his records. What actions should the therapist take to address the legal issues presented in this case?

a. Inform the husband that the records belong to both the husband and wife and would require a release of information from both.

b. Request a written release from the husband and turn over all of the records, but redact information deemed detrimental to the wife’s well-being or therapeutic relationship.

c. Determine how access to records would affect the therapeutic relationship and the well being of the husband and wife.

d. Inform the husband that records belong to both the husband and wife and request the wife sign a release.

Answer:

  • The best answer to this question is A. The husband is requesting records, but the client is the couple and the therapist would need both members of the treatment unit to authorize release of records before doing so.
  • Answer B is too limiting in what would be redacted. Without a release from her, the therapist would need to redact all information for the wife, not just information that could be detrimental.
  • Answer C would be an option if an individual were requesting records, but that is not the scenario provided in this question.
  • Answer D is incorrect because the therapist is requesting the wife sign a release, which is inappropriate. Answer D would be better if the answer had the therapist asking the wife what she would like to do in response to the request, but the therapist should not request the wife sign a release.

This topic is explored in much greater detail in our second CE course and our social work and MFT programs prepare you for all of the legal and ethical questions that could show up on your exams!

Which answer did you choose? Does the rationale fit with your understanding of the law and how you would apply it 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 HERE, our MFT licensing exam prep HERE, and continuing education courses 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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Topics: MFT, Exam Prep, Professional Development, Continuing Education

Announcement: BBS ESL Accommodations Are Back!

Posted by Robin Gluck

October 6, 2017 at 8:12 AM

 

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It’s official! After many years of advocacy from professional associations and practitioners in the field, the California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) once again offers accommodations for English as a Second Language (ESL) test takers!

To qualify for this accommodation, the BBS requires you to meet one of the following criteria and to provide accompanying documentation:

1. Score of 85 or below on the Test of English as a Foreign Language, Internet-Based Test (TOEFL-iBT), taken within the two (2) years prior to application

· Required Documentation: Your TOEFL-iBT scores must be sent directly to the Board from the Educational Testing Service (ETS), or you may attach them in an envelope that has been SEALED BY ETS.

2. Prior ESL accommodation granted by your qualifying degree program

· Required Documentation: Attach a letter from the chair of the degree program or from the school’s chief academic officer.

3. Degree program that qualified you for licensure was obtained from a school outside of the United States AND at least 50% of the coursework was presented in a language other than English

· Attach a letter from the chair of the degree program or from the school’s chief academic officer.

The BBS form can be found here:

http://www.bbs.ca.gov/pdf/forms/esl_specaccom.pdf

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Topics: MFT, Exam Prep, LCSW Exam Prep

FREE Practice Question: Record Keeping

Posted by Robin Gluck

October 5, 2017 at 11:59 AM

This week, we are excited to expand TDC’s professional development opportunities for therapists with the launch of our first continuing education courses. This first set of courses focuses on the laws and ethics of our profession. In honor of these courses, this week’s free MFT practice question will explore the legal issue of record keeping. More specifically, we will examine who has the right to access client records.

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When it comes to working with couples, record keeping is more complex than working with individuals. Some therapists try to simplify the process by maintaining separate files for each member of the treatment unit, with one record for partner A and another for partner B. However, this may not be advisable since the client is the couple and all treatment goals and case notes will pertain to the dynamics within the treatment unit. Thus, it would make more sense to keep a single file for the client (the couple) with this file containing information regarding both partners. It is important during the informed consent process to make this policy clear to your clients.

If you maintain a single client file, what happens if one member of the treatment unit wants to access the records? Since the records include information about more than one person, you would need to take steps to ensure confidentiality is being protected adequately for all members of the treatment unit. There are two options available to a therapist in this case. To meet the legal requirements of confidentiality, you would either want to set a policy that requires each member of the treatment unit to sign an authorization of release before sharing records with either party OR you can provide records to one member of the treatment unit with only an authorization of release from that member, but you must then redact (black out) all information related to the other member(s).

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the question.

QUESTION:

A therapist worked with a couple for several years following mutual infidelity. The couple separated after two years in treatment and is in the midst of divorce proceedings. The husband requests access to his records. What actions should the therapist take to address the legal issues presented in this case?

a. Inform the husband that the records belong to both the husband and wife and would require a release of information from both.

b. Request a written release from the husband and turn over all of the records, but redact information deemed detrimental to the wife’s well-being or therapeutic relationship.

c. Determine how access to records would affect the therapeutic relationship and the well being of the husband and wife.

d. Inform the husband that records belong to both the husband and wife and request the wife sign a release.

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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Topics: MFT, Exam Prep, Professional Development, Continuing Education

Answer and Rationale for FREE Practice Question on Self-Harm

Posted by Heidi Tobe

September 28, 2017 at 11:59 AM

 

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Yesterday we posted the following question on self-harm, and today we have the answer and rationale for you!

Question:

A 25-year-old woman has been working with a social worker for two years around issues of anxiety, depression, and non suicidal self-injury. For the past 18 months, the client has abstained from cutting herself, but came into the most recent session wearing long sleeves on a hot summer day. The social worker inquired about this and the client lifted her sleeves to reveal several shallow cuts on her forearms that appeared to be healing. The client stated that she got into a fight with her best friend a few nights ago and in a moment of intense emotion engaged in cutting. What should the social worker do FIRST?

A. Discuss voluntary hospitalization with the client

B. Teach the client coping skills to utilize in moments of intense emotion

C. Explore the thoughts and feelings that preceded the client’s self-injury

D. Refer the client to an MD to take care of the client’s injuries

Answer:

After reading through the question and possible answers for this question, what answer did you come up with? This is a good example of a question that could show up on either of the ASWB practice exams to determine whether you are able to differentiate between the steps you would take with a client engaging in self-harm versus one who is actively suicidal. Let’s go through each of the answer options one at a time and think about them.

  • Answer A: does the client need to be hospitalized? Not at this time. Nothing in the question stem indicates that the client is having suicidal thoughts or is a risk to herself. The question stem specifies that the client engages in non suicidal self injury, meaning, she is engaging in self harm without the intent of killing herself. Further, the cuts are on her forearm and are described as shallow and healing normally, so there is no medical emergency that would indicate a need for hospitalization. Especially for therapists inexperienced with self-injury, seeing a client’s self-inflicted injuries can be alarming and upsetting. From a place of concern and wanting to make sure our clients are safe, we can jump to too extreme of interventions, such as unnecessary hospitalization.
  • Answer B: does the client need concrete coping skills to help her cope during moments of intense emotion? Definitely. This is something you would want to do, but is not necessarily what you would do.
  • Answer C: should we explore the thoughts and feelings the client had before engaging in self-injury? Yes! This answer option allows us to stay in the moment and respond to what the client has shared. Exploring her thoughts and feelings leading up to her self-injury will help us gain a better understanding of the precipitating factors and triggers for this behavior. From there we could discuss various coping skills for the thoughts and emotions that triggered this behavior (B).
  • Answer D: does the client need a medical evaluation? Probably not. The question indicates that the cuts were shallow and healing normally. Nothing else in the question stem indicates a need to seek medical attention.

Which answer did you choose? Does the rationale fit with your understanding of self-injury, or did you learn something new with this scenario? If you have any further questions, we encourage you to check in with a TDC Coach. We are here to support you! 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? We look forward to helping you PASS your exam with confidence! 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. . 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. 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

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

LCSW/LMSW FREE Practice Question: Self-Harm

Posted by Heidi Tobe

September 27, 2017 at 1:56 PM

September is Suicide Prevention Month, and here at TDC we’ve been using our blog to begin conversations around this often-taboo topic. On both the social work and MFT licensing exams, this topic is sure to show up in several forms. We have focused our free practice questions this month on suicide and today we explore the topic of self-injury. These topics are highlighted on licensing exams because our licensing organizations want to ensure that we are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to recognize the signs and symptoms of risk to self, distinguish between life threatening and non life threatening behaviors, and take the appropriate steps based on the level of risk.

TDC’s 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 explores this topic.

SAMPLE QUESTION:

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A 25-year-old woman has been working with a social worker for two years around issues of anxiety, depression, and non suicidal self-injury. For the past 18 months, the client has abstained from cutting herself, but came into the most recent session wearing long sleeves on a hot summer day. The social worker inquired about this and the client lifted her sleeves to reveal several shallow cuts on her forearms that appeared to be healing. The client stated that she got into a fight with her best friend a few nights ago and in a moment of intense emotion engaged in cutting. What should the social worker do FIRST?

A. Discuss voluntary hospitalization with the client

B. Teach the client coping skills to utilize in moments of intense emotion

C. Explore the thoughts and feelings that preceded the client’s self-injury

D. Refer the client to an MD to take care of the client’s injuries

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

Answer and Rationale for Practice Question on Assessment

Posted by Robin Gluck

September 23, 2017 at 11:59 AM

 

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On Friday we posted the following question on assessments, and today we have the answer and rationale for you!

A 50-year-old male client meets with a therapist on the advice of his husband. The client shares that he has been out of work for almost a year, losing his job after his company completed mass layoffs. He reports feeling discouraged by his job prospects, feels lost without a place to go each day, and feels increasing hopelessness with each passing month he is unemployed. He states, “I feel completely useless and am questioning the point of it all. I feel completely dependent on my husband and I know he’s sick of being the sole breadwinner.” Which of the following actions should the therapist take to assess this client?

A. Explore job history, identify existence of somatic concerns, identify familial coping patterns

B. Explore job history, determine current risk of self-harm, explore support systems

C. Explore mental health history, identify existence of somatic concerns, explore coping mechanisms

D. Explore mental health history, determine current risk of self-harm, explore coping mechanisms

This question provides information that should raise a red flag regarding the client’s safety and influence the therapist’s priorities for assessment. First, the client reports he is feeling hopeless and helpless, and makes the alarming statement, “I feel completely useless and am questioning the point of it all.” With this in mind, let’s look at the answer choices and evaluate which answer choice is the best.

Answer:

The best answer for this question is D.

The question is asking which actions the therapist should take to assess this client. With this type of question, it’s possible several answer options include items we would want to assess, but we need to prioritize what is most important in this case. We’ve already noted that the client’s expressions of hopelessness and helplessness should raise red flags regarding danger to self. The client is expressing thoughts and feelings that are indicators of potential suicidality. Client safety is our priority and we must immediately assess for risk of harm to self. If an answer does not include a focus on the client’s risk of self-harm or suicidality, we can eliminate it. Therefore, answers A and C can be ruled out. This leaves us with answer B) Explore job history, determine current risk of self-harm, explore support systems, and D) Explore mental health history, determine current risk of self-harm, explore coping mechanisms.

A strong consideration when assessing risk is the client’s prior mental health as well as the coping mechanisms available to the client. These two items included in answer D would help the therapist better understand the client’s level of risk based on prior mental health AND help the therapist identify strategies to manage safety. While there is nothing inherently wrong with answer B, the client’s job history is not as important a factor to consider, making it the weaker answer choice between B and D.

Which answer did you choose? Does the rationale fit with your understanding of assessment, 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? 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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Topics: MFT, Exam Prep, Practice Questions, Suicide Prevention