ASWB Exam Practice: Family Systems

familyNew, free practice question.

A family meets with a social worker following a teenage daughter's breakup with her boyfriend. The mother states that she really liked the boyfriend and has felt very depressed since the breakup. The father has tried to contact the boy in hopes of repairing the relationship. According to a family systems theory-based approach, what is MOST LIKELY happening in this family?

A. The family has connected relationships.

B. It is a disengaged family system.

C. It is an enmeshed family system.

D. It is a separated family system.

What's your answer?

Let's take 'em one at a time:

A. A connected family enjoys time together but also have separate friendships and interests. This family appears too involved in one another's business to be truly connected.

B. Disengaged families have very little emotional connection, usually don't spend much time together, and aren't impacted by one another's activities.

C. The mother's depression following the breakup, and the father's attempt to repair the relationship, are signs that this family is enmeshed. Let's keep going though!

D. Separated family systems don't have a lot of shared connections, though they do have a few activities they enjoy doing together.

Okay, that leaves just one clear answer: C, enmeshed.

Family systems lingo changes from theorist to theorist, practitioner to practitioner, but the core concepts are fairly stable. Here's a good page about Bowenian concepts which sort-of function as mini social work exam vignettes.

Ready to get serious about your ASWB exam prep? Sign up to start with full-length exams! Not just one question at a time; 170 questions at a time. Each with thorough rationales and suggested study links. Have some extra time on your hands? Use it.

Happy studying and good luck on the exam.

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Free Social Work Exam Question: Encopresis

mountain toilet

A mother and her twleve-year-old son meet with a social worker after the child was referred by his primary care physician, who has diagnosed the boy with encopresis. The boy makes it clear he doesn't want to talk about the condition and doesn't want to meet with the social worker. What treatment goal is likely to be MOST effective in reducing symptoms of encopresis?

A. The child will learn to identify and replace cognitive distortions that contribute to his feelings of shame.

B. The child's mother will establish a behavior plan that rewards him for using the toilet at regular intervals.

C. The child will learn to talk to his mother about his feelings about encopresis in family therapy.

D. The child will learn to talk openly about the encopresis to reduce his shame and embarrassment.


What do you think?

Let's take the answers one at a time. Remember you're looking for a treatment goal, not an intervention.

A. Identify cognitive distortions (intervention: CBT). Replacing cognitive distortions might be effective in reducing the child's shame but won't likely reduce his behavioral symptoms. So, no.

B. Behavior modification--rewarding the child for regular toilet habits--is likely to reduce the child's symptoms. This one's in the running. But always read through all answers. There may be a still better answer in the bunch.

C. Voice feelings. While there may be a psychodynamic route to symptom reduction in this case, having the child talk about his feelings about encopresis in family therapy isn't likely to reduce his symptoms.

D. More talking. Talking about his symptoms might help reduce this child's embarrassment but won't likely resolve his encopresis.

So, really only one contender this time. Which makes it easier than many questions on the ASWB exam, which often have two decent answers doing battle. This time, provided you aren't drawn to the CBT and talk-therapy options, you've got your answer without too much difficulty: B, behavior mod.

To read up about encopresis symtpoms and treatment, here's a good resource. To keep preparing for the social work licensing exam, you're already in the right place. Sign up to get started with full-length exams.

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

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COVID-19 Info for Social Workers

coronavirus Here's a helpful page from the NASW all about understanding and handling the coronavirus pandemic. Items covered include:

  • Find Reliable Information About COVID-19
  • Supporting Clients
  • Preparing Your Practice
  • Preventive Measures

And on from there. The CDC is the go-to place for basics, but it's good to have the NASW weighing in questions specific to social workers.

As you settle in to a new, social-distance-based routine, hope to see you here for some social work exam prep.

Stay safe, y'all. Best wishes.

ASWB Exam Practice: Risk Assessment

office talkHere's a free social work exam practice question to keep you sharp:

On an initial intake with a community clinic social worker, a client reports that he made a threat to a co-worker and was given a leave of absence from work as a result. He says that he needs a note from the social worker stating he is able to perform the duties of his job so he can return to work. How should the social worker proceed?   

A. Describe the criteria the client will need to meet in order to receive the requested note.   

B. Tell the client that the social worker cannot help with the requested note to his employer.   

C. Seek consultation regarding the social worker's ability to write the requested note.   

D. Tell the client he must attend an anger management group before the note can be written.

What do you think…? Are you sure…?

Let's take the answers one a time.

A. This is great if you know all that material. But what are the chances the social worker has the full picture here? It's premature to start spelling out criteria for a note.

B. Social workers can write notes just like the one requested. A hard "no" isn't necessarily appropriate here.

C. When you don't know, ask. This answer is a contender.

D. This answer tries to lure you in to making hasty conclusions about what's going on. Rely on the evidence presented. In this case, a client report about a threat isn't enough to take decisive action on. Avoid answers that assume information not clearly spelled out in the question. Pass on this.

Which leaves us with a best of the offered answers: C, consult.

Did you get it right?

Generally speaking, conducting a risk assessment that determines if the client should return to work is a specialized skill. The social worker (who we're not led to believe has these special skills) should seek consultation to discuss whether or not writing the note is within the social worker's scope of practice and expertise.

And remember, the very best answer may not be offered in the multiple choice question. Where's "seek collateral information"? Not included here. You're tasked with picking the best of the offered answers, whether it's the very best course of action or not.

The ASWB is a gatekeeper. The org's job is to ensure that license social workers know how to operate safely and ethically within the scope of social work practice. Don't expect to see many questions about obscure theories on the ASWB exam. The test is designed to assess whether you have the essentials understood:  what's ethical, what's safe, and what's a social worker's job.

Know that Code of Ethics. Have common sense. And keep taking practice tests to make sure you're reading closely, carefully, and with ever-increasing wisdom about how the exam works and how to pass it.  Sign up up with us to get started.

Happy studying and good luck on the exam!

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Birth Order and the ASWB Exam

alfred adler Here's a rejected question from the SWTP archives. Why didn't we include it in a practice exam? It's just not the type of material that generally appears on the social work licensing exam. The ASWB is looking for beginning knowledge, skills, and abilities, a solid understanding of social work ethics, and a good understanding of social work scope of practice--preventing harm with FIRST/BEST/NEXT choices. Not specifics of anything but the most central theories utilized in social work practice.

That said, if you know this, hat's off to you.

According to Alfred Adler's birth order theory, an only child is likely to:   

A. Enjoy exclusive adult attention, have difficulty sharing, and may be spoiled.   

B. Act like a "baby" and remain immature throughout his development.   

C. Have serious identity problems.   

D. Be competitive and rebellious toward his parents.

How do you answer a question like this if you no clue about what Alfred Adler was about? Like with the rest of the exam, when in doubt, use common sense. Go with your gut.

How do you think birth order affects children? What's your best guess at how a theorist from a ways back may have thought about only children?

Taking the answers from the bottom:

D. Competitive and rebellious. According to Adler, these characteristics are truest of second children.

C. Identity problems. According to Adler, identity problems are typical of twins.

B. Immature. According to Adler, this behavior is typical of the youngest child.

Which leaves

A. Spoiled. According to Adler, since only children don't need to share attention and tend to spend time with adults, they may become spoiled.

That's your answer. Didn't know? Now you do.

Again, this isn't content that's likely to appear on the ASWB exam. But the process--how you arrive at the correct answer--is something to try out again and again. Our full-length exams are a great place to do just that. Sign up to get started!

For more on Alfred Adler's birth order theories (for you, pure procrastination), try this site.

Happy studying and good luck on the exam!

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