"I cannot even begin to express how anxious I was."

swtp extremely helpfulCongratulations to new LCSW, Darlene! Her email details here exam prepping process:

Subj: I PASSED!!!!!!

I want to THANK YOU for the material that you offer to help prepare for licensing exams.  I moved to Florida several months ago.  Despite being licensed in PA for the last 14 years, I had to take the exam again to become licensed here.  I have not looked at this material for 14 - 15 years and cannot even begin to express how anxious I was to have to learn it all over again. 

I initially purchased one of your exams and went through it in study mode where I was able to read the answers to each question as well as the justification of the answer.  It was also extremely helpful to have the information that was provided with each incorrect answer as well, again, along with a clarification as to why the answer was not correct.  After taking an exam in the study mode, I purchased another exam and took it in exam mode (and passed it). 

After taking both, I have to admit that although still nervous, I felt much more prepared to take the LCSW exam.  I took it in October and I PASSED! 

I cannot thank you enough for the wonderful prep tests that you offer and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND your material to anyone who is preparing for any of the exams (LCSW, LPC, LMFT, etc.) I would also suggest purchasing at least two from the start to save a few dollars. I was hesitant to do this at first because I was not sure how helpful they would be, however, after taking one, I regretted not purchasing the package and ended up purchasing one more which was very much worth the money!

Thank you again, and GOOD LUCK to anyone/everyone else that is going through this process!

Darlene Holan, LCSW

Congratulations, Darlene, and all recently licensed social workers!

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Sexual Harassment and the Social Work Exam

sexual harassment social work examNext up, a section of the NASW Code of Ethics that's just a concise two sentences, 1.11 Sexual Harassment. In order not make this trickier than if would be if you read the section first, here's a definition-based question (you'll see these from time to time on the exam--rarely):

According to the NASW Code of Ethics, sexual harassment includes:

A) Verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

B) Sexual advances and requests for sexual favors.

C) Unwanted sexual advances and requests for sexual favors.

D) Sexual advances, sexual solicitation, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Have an answer? Great. Reading the code makes it impossible to miss. It goes like this:

Social workers should not sexually harass clients. Sexual harassment includes sexual advances, sexual solicitation, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Simple. Don't sexually harass clients...and here's what that means. This section poses a challenge to exam item writers. How do you come up with something that isn't completely obvious? For that reason, don't be shocked if this section doesn't make regular appearances on the ASWB exam. But there are vignette-like ways to pose what are essential definition questions.

A social worker is accused of sexual harassment by a client. Which of the following constitute sexual harassment according to the NASW Code of Ethics?

Same answer options, same correct answer (it's D). Any questions? Probably not. You're prepped.

For reading up on sexual harassment in the workplace (by social worker and others), here's the NASW:

For realistic exam questions and thorough rationales from the NASW Code of Ethics and much more, try SWTP practice tests. Sign up to get started!

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Physical Contact and the Social Work Exam

physical contact social work ethicsAs we continue working our way through the NASW Code of Ethics, we next come to 1.10 Physical Contact. This is a short one. Here it is in full:

Social workers should not engage in physical contact with clients when there is a possibility of psychological harm to the client as a result of the contact (such as cradling or caressing clients). Social workers who engage in appropriate physical contact with clients are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries that govern such physical contact.

Simple enough. But there's vagueness enough to open the way for a lot of possible exam questions. Most of them would likely be about hugging. When is it okay to hug a client? When should a client's request for a hug be refused? How is hugging seen differently from culture to culture? From person to person?

You probably have the answers at hand to most of these (Sometimes; when sexualized/boundary-breaking; lots of different ways; lots of different ways.)  So now apply that to an exam question:

A client reports feeling like he's had a breakthrough in an emotional session with a social worker and asks for a hug at the end of the session. How should the social worker respond?

A) Hug the client and discuss boundaries in the next session.

B) Hug the client as requested.

C) Refuse the hug and discuss boundaries in the next session.

D) Offer a handshake instead of a hug.

What'd you get? There's not a whole lot of information about the players here. You don't know the therapist's gender; you don't know the client's sexual orientation; you don't have cultural information or a diagnosis. What all that means is, you don't really have a reason that the social worker shouldn't hug the client. There's no indication that this particular instance of physical contact between therapist and client risks harm. So our answer is B.

If the hug lingered awkwardly, a discussion of boundaries would probably be called for in the next session. If the client was diagnosed with BPD or had a history of boundary violations or intense transference, maybe the hug would be unwise. But this seems to be a non-awkward, non-boundary violating request from a generic client of a generic social worker. Refusing the hug, in that scenario, is more likely to be hurtful than hugging as requested. Hug away.

Some reading on the topic:

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"I passed my LCSW exam today!"

sara jane passed the social work exam"I passed my LCSW exam today! Your practice tests definitely helped me out a lot. Thank you!"

Congratulations, Sarah Jane, and all recently licensed social workers!

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Sexual Relationships and the Social Work Exam

sexual relationships ethics and the social work examIf you've found your way to this post in search of something saucy regarding the social work exam, we hate to disappoint. We're merely continuing our question-per-section tour of the NASW Code of Ethics. Next up is 1.09, Sexual Relationships.

Different states have different regulations about the when and what of sexual relationships before, during, and after treatment, so it's wise to pay attention here. An ASWB exam question will say, "According to the NASW Code of Ethics…" not "According to the guidelines in your state…"

1.09 breaks down like this:

  • No sexual relationships with clients ever.
  • And not with clients' family or friends
  • And not with former clients
  • And don't provide clinical services to exes.

The why is simple: All of the above have the potential to be harmful to the client. Simple as that.

Note that regarding rxs with former clients, the code states, "If social workers engage in conduct contrary to this prohibition or claim that an exception to this prohibition is warranted because of extraordinary circumstances…" Which means that it's not all the way ruled out. But, " is social workers--not their clients--who assume the full burden of demonstrating that the former client has not been exploited, coerced, or manipulated, intentionally or unintentionally."

Given the clarity of the code, it's not easy to write a challenging question about this section. Here's a try. But it will only get those who've skipped everything above:

A social worker has been dating a man for a month when both realize that years ago, the man once sat in on a CBT group the social worker ran at a local clinic--he is a former client. According to the NASW Code of Ethics, what should the social worker do?

A) Since the relationship is not yet sexual, continue the relationship.

B) Since the social worker and man don't remember the prior contact, continue the relationship.

C) Since sexual relationships with former clients are prohibited, end the relationship.

D) End the relationship, but continue being friends.

This appears to be an instance when the social worker will be able to establish that "the former client has not been exploited, coerced, or manipulated, intentionally or unintentionally." She didn't remember that he'd once sat in the group. He didn't remember that she'd been the facilitator. Why it took them a month to figure it out is between them. Our answer is B.

Questions on the ASWB exam are not likely to do quite such a close reading of the fine print in the Code of Ethics. But if they do on this section, you'll be ready! Most sexual relationship question answers are easy: don't.

Here's a related Eye on Ethics column:

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