Free Practice: “A mother meets with a social worker because she is worried about her 16-year-old son's substance abuse…”

smokingA mother meets with a social worker because she is worried about her 16-year-old son's substance abuse. She reports catching him smoking marijuana several times. He says pot is "not a big deal" and is not interested in seeking help. What is the BEST suggestion the social worker can make to ensure the mother does not enable her son?

A. The social worker should advise the mother to kick her son out of the house immediately until he has quit using drugs.

B. The social worker should advise the mother to stop giving her son an allowance, since he might use the money to buy drugs.

C. The social worker should advise the mother to stop spending time with her son as punishment for his drug use.

D. The social worker should advise the mother to take her son to see a substance abuse counselor whether he wants to or not.

What's your answer?

Sometimes the social work exam is testing for common sense. You don't need an MSW to answer this question correctly. You're being asked about enabling. Find the answer the involves enabling.

Rule out A because the woman's son is a minor. The threat of less time with mom is not likely to be all that powerful to a sixteen-year-old, so scratch C. Counseling may be helpful, but what are the chances the teen would agree to participate? That eliminates D. And you're left with the best of the offered answers: B, stop paying out cash that's likely being used to purchase the pot.

An approach to teen MJ use that included more exploration about the son's functioning, family dynamics, etc., might have been nice to see here, but it's not one of your choices. And that wouldn't address enabling. On the ASWB exam, you're stuck with the questions and the answers that you're given. Take the best one, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and move on.

Happy studying and good luck on the exam.

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Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorders

angry teenLet's take a look at the Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorders chapter of the DSM. How do you distinguish the diagnosis from one another? This could come in handy on the licensing exam. 

First, the criteria. Then some quick practice questions.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

A pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness lasting at least 6 months.

Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Recurrent behavioral outbursts representing a failure to control aggressive impulses as manifested by either verbal or physical aggression for a period of 3 months or three outbursts involving damage or destruction to property or physical injury within a 12-month period.

Conduct Disorder

A repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major societal norms are violated in the past 12 months with criteria present in the last 6 months (aggression, destruction of property, deceitfulness or theft, serious violation of rules).

The other diagnoses in the chapter differentiate themselves: Pyromania (fire setting), kleptomania (stealing).

And then there's antisocial personality disorder, which requires a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since before age 15. Not diagnosed before age 18. all that? There are some basic ideas that are easy to memorize, and several numbers that, depending upon your memory, might get confused. How many months required? What ages?

Here are some quick practice questions to test how well you've absorbed the above info. The choices for each:

A. Oppositional defiant disorder

B. Intermittent explosive disorder

C. Conduct disorder

D. Antisocial personality disorder

and let's throw in another option (one more that you'll get on the ASWB exam)

E. Doesn't meet criteria for a DSM diagnosis.

Your practice questions:

A social worker sees a client who...

1. 17, has been caught torturing small animals with regularity since he was 14. He denies the behavior, even when caught in the act. He shows little remorse and has few friends.

2. 18 and a member of a gang. He has been participating in fights, vandalism, and some drug dealing since he joined last year.

3. 14 and refuses to listen to anything his parents ask him to do. When they insist that he do household chores, he covers his ears to avoid hearing, sometimes chanting or humming loudly to block them out.

4. 13 and, while generally well-behaved, ever since entering puberty a year ago, throws huge tantrums when she doesn't get her way, sometimes smashing a plate or punching the wall.

5. 15 and for the last year has skipped school regularly, instead smoking pot and hanging out in the local convenience store parking lot. Confronted by his mother, the moody teen demands to be left alone and sometimes has laughed when she begins to tear up.

What is the BEST diagnosis for these clients?

Scroll down for answers….


1. C. Conduct disorder. (Sounds like ADD, but ADD can't be diagnosed till age 18.)

2. C. Conduct disorder.

3. E. Doesn't meet criteria for a DSM diagnosis.

4. B. Intermittent explosive disorder.

5. A. Oppositional defiant disorder

How's you do?

If you found this helpful, please post and share. And just imagine how helpful complete practice exams will be. Smile

Happy studying and good luck on the exam!

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A social worker meets with a man who has a gambling problem...

gambling Here's a free practice question to get you a little more ready to pass the ASWB exam:

A social worker meets with a man who has a gambling problem. The man acknowledges that he wants to stop gambling but states he frequently finds himself at the casino after work. The social worker encourages him to imagine losing a large sum of money that results in the loss of his car and his home, and the argument with his wife that would ensue. What techniques is the social worker MOST likely using?

A. A solution-focused approach.

B. Virtual reality therapy.

C Covert sensitization.

D. Operant conditioning.

What's your answer?

Oftentimes on the ASWB exam, you're just not going to recognize the concepts presented. This may be one of those times. How to approach such questions? Just like you do most others: process of elimination.

Let's take these one at a time.

A solution-focused approach encourages a client to identify behavioral changes that would help them live the sort of life they want. In this instance, the social worker might ask a client how his life would be different if he didn't have a gambling problem and what he would be doing with his time instead of gambling.

Not it.

Virtual reality therapy uses a computer to simulate a real-life situation exposing clients to the sources of their anxiety.

Not it.

Operant conditioning uses positive and negative consequences to change a person's behavior.

Hmmm...not really.

Which leaves us with one answer. The correct answer: C. Covert sensitization.

You didn't need to know what covert sensitization was to get the right answer here. And it's not likely to come up on the exam. But here, just in case you really, really want to know more, is a description from

Covert sensitization is a specific form of aversion therapy.  Also known as verbal aversion therapy, this behavior modification approach is often used in the treatment of various types of addiction as well as other undesirable or self-destructive behaviors, desires, and habits.  Overeating, alcohol and drug abuse, and smoking are good examples of the types of behaviors that can respond well to covert sensitization.

Covert sensitization was first introduced in the 1960s as a form of treatment for unwanted behaviors by American psychologist Dr. Joseph Cautela.

There you have it. A little piece of info that may come in handy. And also a review of all the other concepts covered in the answers. That's how practice questions work. You learn how to approach questions and you learn tons of content as you go. So...practice, practice, practice. SWTP's full-length exams await.

Happy studying and good luck on the exam!

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"ur study material is the truth"

shankeria passed the social work exam @socialworkprep
i used ur material when preparing for my LMSW & NOW for my LCSW....ur study material is the truth #LatePost #SheDidIt #LCSW #GoalAccomplished

ASWB Exam Practice - "You two are really good are arguing."

couple fightHere's a free practice question to help get you ready to pass the ASWB exam.

A couple has been meeting with a social worker for three weeks. They report wanting to work on their marriage. Despite the social worker's attempts to set rules, they argue constantly over small details. The social worker responds by saying, "You two are really good are arguing. Can you continue arguing for the next five minutes? I'll set a timer." The social worker's response is an example of:

A. A paradoxical intervention.

B. Solution focused therapy.

C. Functional family therapy.

D. Unethical behavior.

What's your answer?

Let's go from the bottom up.

Unethical behavior? Nah. If you thought the social worker is being sarcastic, you might be tempted by this answer. But sarcasm isn't unethical.

Functional family therapy. First of all, if you've never heard of it, it's probably not the right answer on the social work licensing exam. Here's what functional family therapy is, according to fftllcom:

[A] short-term treatment strategy that is built on a foundation of respect of individuals, families and cultures, but that includes powerful treatment strategies that pave the way for motivating individuals and families to become more adaptive and successful in their own lives.

TL; DR? It's not the correct answer here.

Solution focused therapy you probably have heard of.  Here's the approach nutshelled via

SFBT is future-focused, goal-directed, and focuses on solutions, rather than on the problems that brought clients to seek therapy.

Also not what's going on in this quick vignette.

Which leaves us with one answer. Let's hope it's a good one.

A paradoxical intervention. What's that? It's when a therapist prescribes the behavior that is the target of the intervention. "Smoke more." "Sleep less." Or, in this case, "fight for the next five minutes."

Asked. Answered. And now you're that much more ready to go pass the exam.

For lots more questions and explanations, sign up for SWTP's complete exams.

Happy studying and good luck!

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