From the earliest
days of SWTP, here's a question that never got included in an exam.
It may have been too easy. We've toyed with it a little--made it a
little trickier--and present here as another in our long
series of free practice questions. Follow along
on Facebook to see what others are saying.
A client comes to a social worker for help with
recurring bouts of depression. She's new in town, but has received
therapy from a mental health clinic where she used to live. The
client is not sure whether she's comfortable having the old and new
clinicians communicating. In order to be MOST effective, the new
social worker should:
A. Explore the client's discomfort with the
communication before contacting the previous
B. Contact the client's previous therapist just once to
discuss general impressions of the client.
C. Explain to the client that it will be easier to make
progress with thorough information about prior
D. Ask the client to explain her reluctance to share
information about her prior treatment.
What do you say?
Let's take the answers one by one:
A. may be appealing since it involves checking in with the
client before reaching out to the prior clinician. But exploring
isn't the same as getting permission. Without written consent,
contacting the previous clinician violates the client's
B. has the same problem. Whether it's one contact or a thousand,
no consent means no contact allowed.
C. While it may be true that more information equals more
progress, the best, most effective of the choices offered here
D. Exploring the reluctance to share information about prior
treatment is the best choice. Don't be fooled by "MOST effective."
On the exam (as in practice!), abiding by the Code of Ethics is
always the first priority.
So, breaking confidentiality? No good. Trying to get to comply
and cooperate. Better, but still not great. Being where the client
is, discussing her feelings, exploring her history--that's doing
social work. The correct answer is D!
For more about client confidentiality, read up in the Code of
Ethics and then in these articles, which each present different
exam-like questions about client rights, records, and
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