Free Practice: The Red Carpet and the Social Work Exam

red carpet Seems like a good day for a free practice question. Here's one based upon the updated NASW Code of Ethics. For lots more questions about social work ethics and most everything else you might encounter on the ASWB exam, sign up and choose full-length exams here.

A somewhat grandiose client, a successful businessman, boasts that he has started dating an actress, "the most beautiful woman in the world." He reports with pride that the relationship has "been in all the tabloids." The social worker, not a regular reader of celebrity gossip, wants to find out whether or not the client is telling the truth. Which is true about conducting an internet search on the topic in this situation?

A) It would be ethical since it would assist the social worker in correctly diagnosing and treating the client.

B) It would be unethical unless the social worker first obtains consent from the client to conduct the search.

C) It would be ethical only if the client has exhibited additional delusional symptoms.

D) It would be ethical since gathering collateral information is an important part of the treatment process.

What do you think?

Let's get to the correct answer by narrowing down, starting from the bottom. D) is a little general to be the correct answer. Collateral information can be an important part of treatment, but that's not enough to justify a possibly-unethical electronic search. Probably not the answer. Let's move on.

C) is closer. However, if the client is making up his story, it's probably connected with narcissistic personality disorder, not with delusional disorder or another similar diagnosis. Boasting and surrounding oneself with well-regarded people is a hallmark of NPD. Keep on going.

B) sounds clunky--how would the social worker ask the client for consent? "Can I Google that to find out if you're lying?" Hmmm...

A) jumps into an area not addressed by the vignette. Is the client undiagnosed? We don't know that from the text of the question. Yes, it's valuable to have an accurate diagnosis. But there are ethical considerations that must first be weighed. Once you see any mention of ethics, it's a good bet that the question is Code of Ethics-based. That's not what's addressed here.

Which brings us back to our least objectionable, most textbooky answer: B. Get consent, maybe without being clunky. (Try something along these lines: "I'd like to see that. Is it okay with you if I take a look on the net?"_Bookish answers are often the best ones.  Even if you didn't remember that there are guidelines about internet searches in the Code of Ethics, you could get to the answer with this type of elimination process.

To save you some clicking, here's that part of the code, added in 2017:

1.03 Informed Consent--(i) Social workers should obtain client consent before conducting an electronic search on the client. Exceptions may arise when the search is for purposes of protecting the client or other people from serious, foreseeable, and imminent harm, or for other compelling professional reasons.

Now you're ready to face a question like this on the exam. There's nothing like practice to get you prepped for the big test. Happily, we've got lots of practice questions ready to help you out. Enjoy your studying and good luck on the exam!

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NASW Code of Ethics Update: Technology and Informed Consent

keyboardThe NASW Code of Ethics got an updating this year. You know that. But do you know what's different? Let's take a look. Take Section 1.03, Informed Consent. It's pretty much the same for a stretch, then comes these paragraphs. The boldfacing is ours, to give you a quick sense about what's new.

(e) Social workers should discuss with clients the social workers' policies concerning the use of technology in the provision of professional services.

(f) Social workers who use technology to provide social work services should obtain informed consent from the individuals using these services during the initial screening or interview and prior to initiating services. Social workers should assess clients' capacity to provide informed consent and, when using technology to communicate, verify the identity and location of clients.

(g) Social workers who use technology to provide social work services should assess the clients' suitability and capacity for electronic and remote services. Social workers should consider the clients' intellectual, emotional, and physical ability to use technology to receive services and the clients' ability to understand the potential benefits, risks, and limitations of such services. If clients do not wish to use services provided through technology, social workers should help them identify alternate methods of service.

(h) Social workers should obtain clients' informed consent before making audio or video recordings of clients or permitting observation of service provision by a third party.

(i) Social workers should obtain client consent before conducting an electronic search on the client. Exceptions may arise when the search is for purposes of protecting the client or other people from serious, foreseeable, and imminent harm, or for other compelling professional reasons.

Technology, technology, technology, recordings, electronic search. Social workers are expected to have ethical policies in place to deal with them all. The details of those policies are sort of up-for-grabs, though there's plenty elsewhere in the code to help guide their contents.

The newest piece here is the expectation that social workers get consent before Googling clients (paragraph i). This is a guideline ready made for practice test questions. Something like, A client boasts of once having been profiled in a popular online journal, but the details are sketchy. The social worker wants to confirm the client's claim. How should the social worker proceed?

You can imagine the suggested answers. And you know already the correct course of action.

One section down, many to go!

For questions about the updated NASW Code of Ethics and lots more, sign up for SWTP practice tests.

Happy studying and good luck with the exam!

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SWTP Practice Tests Updated for 2018!

2018 is the year i get licensedHappy New Year! It's 2018! It's the year you get licensed!

With the new year comes the new NASW Code of Ethics and the new ASWB content blueprints. Both kicked in for social workers and exam preppers on 1/1/18.

SWTP is ready for them both!

We've updated our exams to reflect the new categories and new category-to-category weighting in the ASWB outline ( has details, if you're curious). And we've updated and added new ethics questions to each exam and the Ethics Booster to reflect changes to the Code of Ethics.

To read more about the changes to the Code (the more vital of the two updates for all social workers), read the new version of the code linked above, and/or take a look at these two helpful summaries:

Most of the significant additions are related to the use of tech for social workers. Email, Googling clients, etc.  We'll post a free new-code question or two on these pages soon--stay tuned!  With the articles above, you'll have everything new you need to know to be ready for practice (and real) ethics questions. Remember, there's a lot of ethics on the exam. Be ready. Practice tests will help.

While we were updating, we also checked every single suggested study link to ensure you're getting the best possible additional information on all of the topics covered on the exams. (If you find a better one for any question, please don't hesitate to let us know.)

If you want to get licensed in 2018, we want to help you! One way to get started: Make a public pledge to pass the exam this year: Retweet SWTP here or share via SWTP on Facebook.  "This year I get licensed!"

Ready to start? Get underway with real-time, realistic SWTP exam practice by choosing exams here.

Happy studying, good luck, and congratulations in advance!

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Coming Soon: NASW Code of Ethics Changes

Layout 1Changes are coming to the NASW Code of Ethics. This NASW blog post goes into some details. Essential dates: Nov 1, 2017, copies become available. Jan 1, 2018, the new edition of the code goes into effect.

SWTP will of course be modifying practice to reflect all changes--stay tuned for details!

More from FAQs on the NASW post:

Q: Which sections of the NASW Code of Ethics were updated?

A: The sections of the NASW Code of Ethics that were revised include:

The Purpose of the Code
1.03 Informed Consent
1.04 Competence
1.05 Cultural Competence and Social
1.06 Conflicts of Interest
1.07 Privacy and Confidentiality
1.08 Access to Records
1.09 Sexual Relationships
1.11 Sexual Harassment
1.15 Interruption of Services
1.16 Referral for Services
2.01 Respect
2.06 Sexual Relationships
2.07 Sexual Harassment
2.10 Unethical Conduct of Colleagues
3.01 Supervision and Consultation
3.02 Education and Training
3.04 Client Records
5.02 Evaluation and Research
6.04 Social and Political Action

Q: Which social workers are accountable to the NASW Code of Ethics?

A: Most social workers are held accountable to the NASW Code of Ethics, including NASW
members, licensed social workers, employed social workers, and students.

Q: Do these changes affect social workers who aren't members of NASW?

A: Yes. The NASW Code of Ethics sets forth the values, principles, and standards that guide the
profession as a whole, not just NASW members.

Q: Who was responsible for revising the NASW Code of Ethics?

A: An NASW Code of Ethics Review Task Force was appointed by the NASW President and approved by the
NASW Board of Directors.

Q: How am I held accountable if I do not implement these changes by the effective date?

A: If you are a member of NASW, you may be held accountable through the NASW Office of Ethics
and Professional Review process, if someone files an ethics complaint against you. You may also
be held accountable by a state licensing board if a licensing board complaint is filed against you.
Furthermore, you may be held accountable by your employer or your university, which may
take disciplinary actions for not implementing the changes. Finally, you may be held
accountable through a court of law that looks to the NASW Code of Ethics to establish the
standard for professional ethical social work practice.

Not asked: Will this be on the test? Answer: Count on it. Perhaps not right away--the ASWB exam-writing process can be a slow one.  We'll stay tuned and relay information as we hear it.

Don't worry! The bedrock principles of the Code are not going to change. You already know the essentials of social work ethics as they apply to the exam. It's just a question of putting them into practice.

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Social and Political Action and the Social Work Exam

justiceIt's easy to get distracted as a social worker preparing for the licensing exam by material that seems like it will definitely be on the exam. Privacy and confidentiality, suicide assessment, basic diagnoses--that sort of stuff. No thorough exam prep ignores the NASW Code of Ethics. But will it cover all of the code? Here's an essential piece for social work exam prep and social work practice worth revisiting. It's the final section, 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 disability.

Lots of social workers have recently been putting these principles action more than they may have in the past. Exam writers are no different. Don't be surprised if they visit this section with increasing frequency as new editions of the exam emerge. Exam writers are like you, only they've been licensed for some time. They read headlines, the watch the news, and, while you do your exam prep, they write exam questions.

Imagine questions like these pulled directly from the code.

A client's access to [some important resource] is limited by [a systemic obstacle]. What should the social worker do?

A client reports experiencing racial discrimination in her hunt for an apartment. What should the social worker do?

A supervisor promotes a social worker over her more qualified colleague who has a disability. What should the social worker do?


Look the code. The social worker "should engage in social and political action," "should act to expand choice and opportunity," "should promote conditions that encourage respect," "should act to prevent and eliminate domination, exploitation, and discrimination." That's all pulled directly from the language of section 6.04. That's the stuff that'll be included in the correct response. Watch out for distractors that involve more mild interventions; "Explore the client's reactions..." "Discuss in supervision..." "Research the problem..." The code wants real action. That's your answer.

Some additional reading on the topic, including a long slide show pdf from Columbia U.:

For exam questions about social justice, the Code of Ethics, and the entire range of likely exam content, get started with SWTP's exams and boosters now!

Happy studying and good luck on the exam!

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