"Very Much Like the Actual Test!"

like the actual testWe've been asking SWTP users a simple question, "What do you like most about the site? What have you found most helpful?" Some answers:

"The links to look further at the information. And the explanations given."

"The questions were great and made me study areas that I needed to work on."

"I loved how easy the site was to use and navigate and how easy it was to access multiple tests and review responses."

"Very much like the actual test! Grateful I used this website! Thank You!"

So, the best thing about SWTP is, depending who you are, the suggested study links...the rationales...the questions...the layout...the actual-test-ness. Sign up and decide for yourself!

Good luck with the exam!

California Law and Ethics Exam

california dreamin'California social workers heading toward licensure have at this point probably gotten word of changes that are coming to the California LCSW licensing process. Here are the basics: California has long had a two exams--the Standard Written and Clinical Vignette. Starting on January 1st, 2016, that changes. There will still be two exams, yes. One will be a 75-question California Law and Ethics exam. The other will be the exam familiar to social workers across the rest of the country, the ASWB Clinical Exam. Details about the L&E exam are somewhat hazy. The ASWB exam is well-known. It's like a shorter, CA-specific law & ethics-free version of the CA Standard Written. There are details for days on and multiple practice tests for it right here at SWTP. Here's that info as delivered by the BBS on their site:

Effective January 1, 2016 the Board's examination process will be restructured...A California Law and Ethics Exam will replace the Standard Written Exam for LMFT and LCSW applicants. For LPCC applicants this exam will not change. It is designed to assess the applicant's knowledge of and ability to apply legal and ethical standards relating to clinical practice. This will consist of 75 multiple-choice items administered over a two-hour period. The re-exam waiting period for the exam is 90 days.

Curious about what the L&E exam will cover in those 75 questions? Take a look at the outline at the end of the LPCC Candidate Handbook. What's there is unsurprising--it's the very material that was covered in questions that appeared on the old exams: Confidentiality and Privilege, Limits of Confidentiality, Professional Conduct, Informed Consent, Standards of Practice, Scope of Competence, and Therapeutic Relationship. To help you get prepped, we'll have a practice exam (or two) up toward the end of the year. In the meantime, your Code of Ethics and select sections of the California legal code are your friends.

An additional heads-up:  no exams will be administered in California between December 1 and 31st, 2015. From the BBS:

In order to ensure a successful transition, the Board will be implementing an examination blackout period for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) examinations to ensure the integrity of examination candidate data during the transition. The Examination Blackout Period provides more information as to what this means for you.

Keep an eye on the SWTP blog for more California exam news as it comes.

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Autism Spectrum Disorder

what's asdNext up in our survey of things to know from DSM-5: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As ever, the net provides the essentials.  The change, from Wikipedia:

The new diagnosis encompasses previous diagnoses of autistic disorder, Asperger's disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and PDD-NOS. Rather than categorizing these diagnoses, the DSM-5 [adopts] a dimensional approach to diagnosing disorders that fall underneath the autism spectrum umbrella. It is thought that individuals with ASDs are best represented as a single diagnostic category because they demonstrate similar types of symptoms and are better differentiated by clinical specifiers (i.e., dimensions of severity) and associated features (i.e., known genetic disorders, epilepsy and intellectual disability).

The complete diagnostic criteria are posted at Autism Speaks. Here are the bullets:

A.      Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as manifested by the following, currently or by history

B.      Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, as manifested by at least two of the following, currently or by history

C.      Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities, or may be masked by learned strategies in later life).

D.      Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.

E.       These disturbances are not better explained by intellectual disability (intellectual developmental disorder) or global developmental delay. Intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder frequently co-occur; to make comorbid diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability, social communication should be below that expected for general developmental level.

Don't be surprised to find ASD questions on the social work licensing exam. Imagine a straightforward symptom vignette and "What is the BEST diagnosis?" It's not going to be any of the DSM-IV-TR diagnoses that've disappeared, right? If you're seeing A-E above, the diagnosis--the right answer--is ASD. For still more detail, try these sites:


To practice with realistic exam questions about ASD, the DSM-5, and much more, sign up!

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Alcohol Use Disorder

what's aud Continuing our series of quick posts highlighting big diagnostic changes that appear in DSM-5. Up next: Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). Again, let's let the net do what it does and answer the question. What is AUD? How is it different from what appeared in DSM-IV-TR?

From NIH:

Changes Disorder Terminology

DSM-IV described two distinct disorders, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, with specific criteria for each.

DSM-5 integrates the two DSM-IV disorders, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, into a single disorder called alcohol use disorder (AUD) with mild, moderate, and severe sub-classifications.

Changes Diagnostic Thresholds

Under DSM-IV, the diagnostic criteria for abuse and dependence were distinct: anyone meeting one or more of the "abuse" criteria...would receive the "abuse" diagnosis. Anyone with three or more of the "dependence" criteria during the same 12-month period would receive a "dependence" diagnosis.

Under DSM-5, anyone meeting any two of the 11 criteria during the same 12-month period would receive a diagnosis of AUD. The severity of an AUD-mild, moderate, or severe-is based on the number of criteria met.

Here are those 11 criteria and how to score them, also from NIH:

Scoring for symptoms  1 through 11. The presence of at least 2 of these symptoms indicates an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

The severity of the AUD is defined as: Mild: The presence of 2 to 3 symptoms; Moderate: The presence of 4 to 5 symptoms; Severe: The presence of 6 or more symptoms

In the past year, have you:

1 Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?

2 More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn't?

3 A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.

4 Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over other aftereffects? (**This is new to DSM-5**)

5 Found that drinking-or being sick from drinking-often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?

6 Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?

7 Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?

8 More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?

9 Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?

10 Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?

11 Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?

And there are the basics. If an exam answer specifies "alcohol dependence"  or "alcohol abuse," be wary. With DSM-5, it's alcohol use disorder.

More reading:

For questions about AUD and much more, sign up for SWTP practice exams.

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Meet the Tutor: Ray Batista, LMSW

ray batista lmswLooking for help passing the social work licensing exam? There's a new tutor in town--Ray Batista, LMSW. Here's a little about him:

Ray obtained his Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Marist College in 2009, and his Master of Social Work degree from Fordham University in 2012. Ray draws from his work with diverse populations across different practice settings including older adults, co-occurring disorders/addictions, mental health, work with the Hispanic/Latino community, and private group practice. He uses these experiences to tailor studying for the licensing exam in a way that succinctly ties practice theory with real world experience.

Tutoring, offered in both individual and/or group format, aims to target your strengths and areas of needed growth. Tutoring can reinforce your level of confidence in the skills you gained in school and help you pass the exam. Ultimately--and more importantly--Ray aims to foster confidence in your ability to succeed in your emerging career.

When not traveling between different boroughs for work in two private group practices, Ray spends most of his time in Brooklyn writing, attempting to learn guitar, and exploring new hangout venues for self-care.

Get ready to pass the LMSW exam. Write to get in touch with Ray. Speed things along by writing "Tutoring with Ray" in the subject line. Good luck on the exam!

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