Friday, September 19, 2014

Building Blocks: The NASW Code of Ethics

You can't construct your fortress of licensedness without some basic building blocks. ("Fortress of licensedness?" I don't even watch "Game of Thrones.") There are a handful of essential elements that go into social work licensing exam readiness. Let's take a look at a big one: the NASW Code of Ethics.

Think of how exam writers must approach coming up with exam questions. (And, by the way, once you're licensed, you can become an exam writer. The ASWB hires pretty regularly. They just announced new hiring on their Facebook page.) " work question...blank page...what am I supposed to ask?" They look at the ASWB's exam outlines (available to you on; that's another fortress-building element, come to think. Maybe mortar?). They see there's a big section on assessment and diagnosis. They see there's a big section on ethics. "Ethics!" they think. "I know exactly how to get started on those questions. Computer boot up!"

They open of the NASW Code and get started from the top. Section 1.01, "Social Workers Commitment to Clients." Here's what it says:
Social workers' primary responsibility is to promote the well-being of clients. In general, clients' interests are primary. However, social workers' responsibility to the larger society or specific legal obligations may on limited occasions supersede the loyalty owed clients, and clients should be so advised. (Examples include when a social worker is required by law to report that a client has abused a child or has threatened to harm self or others.)

Okay, so what question would arise from this? Easy! There's even an example ("Examples include..."). A question about reporting abuse and/or threats to self or others. They type. Something about a client situation that may or may not require a report. Something not too obvious. Answers are, in brief, A. Report, B. Report not necessary, plus two "distractors"--answers that are appealing, splitting the difference between the basic "yes" and "no" answers. Like this: C. Wait to see if client continues with behavior before making a report. (Would that ever be the right way to go? Either something's reportable or it's not.) D. Seek supervision (Sometimes this is the right way to go. But as a soon-to-be licensed social worker, you should probably have a handle on reportability questions--at least on the exam.)

And so a licensing exam question is born. You'll see one just like it on the real exam--be surprised if you don't! And now you're ready for it. Yay!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Social Work Exam Study Guides

You spend a lot of money preparing for the social work licensing exam. How much of that spending is actually necessary? Hard to tell. People spend upwards of $800 on exam prep packages and don't pass. People spend next to nothing and ace the test. It's not about what you spend. It's about how ready you are when you go in to take the exam. You're studying to be a licensed social worker, not a stock broker. The amount you spend shouldn't exceed what you expect to make in a fairly short amount of time.

So what's essential to have to prep? You probably don't need one of the expensive study guides. The ASWB publishes for free on their website content outlines for each of the exams (clinical, masters, etc.). This lays out what you can expect to see on the test. All the pricey study guides do is fill in the some of the info--info you can easily fill in yourself for free with the help of the machine you're reading right now. The outline includes ethics? Read the NASW Code of Ethics. It's free on the net. The outline includes diagnosis. Well, you've probably got a DSM handy somewhere. Or can borrow one. You don't need to pay someone to summarize DSM diagnoses for you.

Also, what about all those textbooks from school? They should come in handy too.

You get the idea. Save the money for a massage. Maybe some practice tests. Take care of yourself. Be realistic about how challenging the exam is. It's passable. You don't have to baby yourself. And you don't have to go broke passing it. All good news, I hope!