Let's hop to the
Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders chapter of the DSM. It's
stressful out there, so questions from this chapter may seem
especially pertinent. Today's free social work licensing exam prep
is about posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD):
A client reports intrusive distressing memories
and recurring nightmares for the last month, ever since hearing
about the sexual assault of a close friend. The client says she has
had trouble talking to the friend since the reported events--"It's
just too disturbing." When diagnosing the client, the social worker
should keep in mind:
A. PTSD can only be diagnosed with three or more
intrusion symptoms present (e.g., memories, dreams,
B. The diagnosis cannot be PTSD because the trauma was
only reported, not experienced or witnessed.
C. PTSD can only be diagnosed when avoidance of
trauma-associated stimuli is present (e.g., not talking to the
D. PTSD can only be diagnosed after symptoms have been
present for three months.
What do you say?
Items like this take a fair amount of focus and close reading
(in addition to familiarity with PTSD criteria). But that's exactly
what you're practicing for, right?
Let's eliminate the answers one by one.
A...isn't right. PTSD requires the presence of one or
more intrusion symptoms, not three or more.
B...isn't right. PTSD can be diagnosed whether the trauma
(exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual
violence) was experienced, witnessed, or involved close family or a
close friend. Repeated or extreme exposure to trauma (as
experienced by EMTs, police...social workers) also counts.
D...isn't right. PTSD symptoms need to be present for
one month, not three.
That leaves one answer, the correct answer, answer C! PTSD
can only be diagnosed when the avoidance of
trauma-associated stimuli is present, and, in this vignette it's
present. The client reports difficulty talking to the friend.
You may have had other diagnoses in mind, but since they weren't
offered, they can't be the right answer, no matter how correct they
All make sense? If not, let us know!
With each practice question, you're more and more prepped for
the real thing--the ASWB exam. Good luck!
For more details about PTSD criteria and symptoms, take a look
at these sites:
For more questions about PTSD and lots, lots more, try SWTP's full-length, real-time practice