Census Day & Social Work Ethics

census 2020Hey, it's Census Day! Consider making part of your macro social work practice, helping empower yourself and your clients, by all filling it out. It goes really fast. Here's the abstract of a paper about why:

Census data are used to determine how approximately $675 billion is allocated to states and localities through over 132 federal programs; provide demographic information on which voting maps are drawn; apportion 435 congressional representatives; and provide accurate data on which many human service and social programs are designed, and grant funding is pursued. Social work and human service leaders and managers should inform themselves of the scope of the census and become engaged to ensure that all people are counted.

Will this be on the social work licensing exam? Not likely. But don't be surprised to see questions derived from this crucial part of the Code Of Ethics:

Social Workers' Ethical Responsibilities to the Broader Society
6.01 Social Welfare

Social workers should promote the general welfare of society, from local to global levels, and the development of people, their communities, and their environments. Social workers should advocate for living conditions conducive to the fulfillment of basic human needs and should promote social, economic, political, and cultural values and institutions that are compatible with the realization of social justice.

6.02 Public Participation

Social workers should facilitate informed participation by the public in shaping social policies and institutions.

6.03 Public Emergencies

Social workers should provide appropriate professional services in public emergencies to the greatest extent possible.

6.04 Social and Political Action

(a) Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice.

(b) Social workers should act to expand choice and opportunity for all people, with special regard for vulnerable, disadvantaged, oppressed, and exploited people and groups.

(c) Social workers should promote conditions that encourage respect for cultural and social diversity within the United States and globally. Social workers should promote policies and practices that demonstrate respect for difference, support the expansion of cultural knowledge and resources, advocate for programs and institutions that demonstrate cultural competence, and promote policies that safeguard the rights of and confirm equity and social justice for all people.

(d) Social workers should act to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical ability.

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Exam Cancellations

mona lisa facemaskThe coronavirus pandemic has shut down social work exam testing just like it's shut down everything else. When will you be able to finally take the exam? There are lots of guesses out there, but the answer is that no one knows for sure.

Here's exam administrator Pearson's page of FAQs regarding the current situation. Included:

Q.My window to certify is expiring soon. What should I do?

A.We understand you may be on a deadline to take your exam. If you cannot find seat availability due to significant scheduling changes in response to COVID-19, please reach out to your university or exam sponsor about next steps. Please keep the exam cancellation email you received from Pearson VUE.

That is, contact your state board. But don't expect to hear from them any time soon. They're also likely on lock-down.

That all is to say: stay safe and patient. And, if you find yourself with some extra time, practice, practice, practice. Here's a coupon code that will save you an additional 20% through the crisis: STUDYSAFE20

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Social Work Exam Practice: When You Don’t Know the Content

harville-and-helen-home-hero-mobileHere's one from the discard pile, an exam question that requires some knowledge of Imago Therapy. Imago Therapy will not be on the exam. Even so, try the practice question and see if you can use your deduction techniques to get the right answer. Sometimes it's the how-to process, not content knowledge, that plays the essential part in reaching a correct answer. Here's the question:

In a an intake with a social worker, a couple reports experiencing high conflict and difficulty communicating. The social worker plans to use Imago therapy with the couple. What are techniques the social worker would MOST likely use?

A. Recommend each person attend individual therapy to help them discover what they are gaining from participating in the conflict.

B. Teach the couple techniques to improve their communication and identify productive conflict-resolution strategies.

C. Use a variety of techniques to help the couple uncover the unconscious reasons they became attracted to one another.

D. Help the couple learn how their thoughts contribute to their maladaptive behaviors and negative feelings toward one another.

What do you think?

So here's the how-to: You don't have to know Imago Therapy. You just have to know what isn't Imago Therapy. That is, can you identify what theory or technique each answer identifies. Let's take 'em one at a time:

A. Individual therapy instead. This doesn't sound like any theory in particular (though it may not be a bad idea). Imago therapy doesn't explicitly recommend separate individual therapy in place of couples counseling.

B. Teach conflict resolution. A very practical answer. And therefore probably not the right one. The word "Imago" evokes internal images, object relations, etc.  Something more psychodynamic. Pass on this for the time being.

C. Uncover unconscious motivations. Ah-ah, now we're getting somewhere. Mark this as a possibility and power through.

D. Address thoughts. You know what that is, right? CBT. So scratch that answer.

Really just one good answer is left standing. The correct answer: C. And, sure enough (if you want to look it up), Imago Therapy views conflict as a symptom of deeper relationship issues originating in childhood wounds, and uses a variety of behavioral and spiritual techniques to help people address those unmet needs.

Hope that helps. The moral of the story is that you can learn more from each practice ASWB exam question than just the content covered in the question stem.  That's why we've got thorough rationales for each answer of each question of the full-length SWTP practice tests. If you haven't already, check 'em out.

Happy studying, stay safe, and good luck with the exam!

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Pandemic Giving

Social workers aren't generally loaded with lots of extra cash. But in case you have a little to give, here's a good list of places you might consider donating to. All help people especially hard hit by the coronavirus crisis. Links and descriptions come from this fund which covers everyone included with one click. If you have other orgs you'd like to see us spotlight, just let us know (or add them in comments).

Thanks for all you're doing. Stay safe!


Feeding America: A nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that feed more than 46 million people through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other community-based agencies.

Meals on Wheels: Delivers nutritious meals and safety checks to seniors, who are especially at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. They operate in 5000 communities across the country.

No Kid Hungry: Aims to ensure that the 22 million low-income kids who rely on the free and reduced-price meals they receive at school are fed while schools are closed.


National Domestic Workers Alliance: Supports in-home care workers, nannies, and house cleaners during this crisis as they are encouraged to stay home.

Restaurant Workers Community Foundation: Supports restaurant workers facing hardships or illness in the wake of COVID-19, as restaurants around the country close to the public and struggle to pay employees as a result. It also bolsters restaurants to be able to reopen once the crisis has passed.

One Fair Wage: Provides cash assistance to tipped workers and other service workers who are being fired, seeing shifts cut, and/or are staying home for health and the safety of others.


CDC Foundation: Helps communities prevent, detect and respond to COVID-19, deploys skilled emergency staff to the front lines at the state and local level, fund and deploy critical home essentials to quarantined individuals, build the infrastructure and capacity we need immediately, and develop education and awareness campaigns.

Direct Relief: Mobilizes and provides essential medical resources needed to help people in all 50 states and 80+ countries around the world.


People who are homeless are also especially at risk. To help those in your community, you can look up shelters near you here and donate directly to your neighborhood shelters:

Mutual Aid Map

mutual aid mapCrisis can bring out the best and worst of people, as social workers know all too well. Here's a new map of mutual aid sites, places to volunteer time and send clients in need of resources.

If you've got other helpful links and tips, please write us. We'll keep posting.

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