Help with Test Anxiety

relaxed SWTP has a long article about getting through social work licensing exam anxiety posted at the New Social Worker Online. What's the best way to tackle test anxiety?

Think of it as a test question:

A social worker sees a client who is struggling with anxiety regarding a licensing exam she has to take in a few months. She reports difficulty focusing on test preparation and ruminating about failure. What type of therapy is MOST likely to be helpful in this situation?

A. Psychodynamic psychotherapy

B. Dialectical behavior therapy

C. Gestalt therapy

D. Cognitive behavioral therapy

The answer--at least according to most exam writers--is included in the article. Also there, a way to walk yourself through some of the basics of that therapy. (Stumped? Hint: it's not psychodynamic, not designed for BPD, and doesn't focus on awareness and empty chair work. That one!)

See if it helps. Good luck!

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Self-Care for Social Workers (and Others)

keep calm social work exam To get to and through the social work licensing exam takes managing a pile of content and a bunch of exam-taking know-how. It also requires getting a handle lots of potential anxiety and overwork. So if you're a social worker preparing for the big test, all the more reason to try out this Self-Care Starter Kit from the University of Buffalo Department of Social Work. Like they say on the page, "Professional self-care is an essential social work survival skill." Have at it. Good luck!

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Success Story: KC

VictoryFrom my inbox--KC, recent CA exam passer.  Thanks and congratulations!

Thanks for your website--really helpful for me in passing the California Written Clinical. Here's what worked for me (and what didn't). I am a pretty anxious person in general, so even under the best circumstances I can get sidetracked by worries that I am "not doing this right," or "what if" type of thinking. I had put off studying and taking the exam several times in the past year due to other factors (major life changes, work, health, etc.), so now my anxiety was really amped up and I had practically developed a test phobia.

Lesson learned: avoidance = increased anxiety. What finally worked for me, along with using the AATBS program, was doing some self-CBT (identifying and evaluating negative automatic thoughts and distortions, gradually exposing/desensitizing myself to the anxiety of studying and getting prep test questions wrong so that towards the end I was spending 2-5 hrs a day studying or taking practice exams, and building in rewards--eg, study one hour, read "Harry Potter" or watch "Mad Men" thirty min.)

I also went for a session of hypnosis in which the hypnotherapist (who had experience working with people taking licensing exams) guided me through relaxation and visualization exercises and gave me a recording of the session to use on my own, which I did frequently. I also cut down on sugar, took a homeopathic supplement called "Calms Forte" to sleep at night, and was moderate with caffeine.

In short, I had to do a lot to get through the first exam, and others may not need to go to such lengths to manage their anxiety. Also, I was lucky to be able to budget in the AATBS and the hypnosis session, but I think I could have found another way to relax (free online guided meditations, write/record my own guided visualization, etc.) had I needed to. Good luck! KC

Made it through the exam?  What worked for you?  Send in your success story or comment below.

Social Work Exam Procrastination

Procrastination TimerDifficulty getting down to it and studying?  You're in the good company of just about everyone attempting to prepare for the exam.  People get overwhelmed by it all and...just do something else.  Here, from sister site Therapy Worksheets, a few worksheets/infosheets about procrastination.  Go ahead and put off studying for a little while longer and give them a look.


Acceptance and Test Anxiety

SerenityOne route through test (or other) anxiety: accepting it. Worry is just part of the package. For acceptance assistance, check out the guided meditations and other ACT-based mindfulness materials at Live Mindfully. Just tried this this twelve-minute anxiety meditation and liked it (link goes to mp3). Enjoy...or don't. Either way's fine.
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