Happy February to everyone getting ready to PASS their ASWB social work licensing exams. Today we are covering a topic (including a FREE practice question) that we can say with near certainty will show up on your LCSW and LMSW exams: Danger to Others.
Danger to Others
As social workers, we not only have a responsibility to honor our client’s self determination, but also to protect society (hence why we are mandated reporters for children, the elderly, and dependent adults and why we have a duty to warn). Here are a few helpful pieces of information you want to keep in mind about danger to others before we jump into this week’s practice question:
When to Report/Not Report Threats of Violence
- If a client makes a threat of serious physical violence towards an identifiable person, we have a duty to warn that person and notify proper authorities.
- If a client makes a vague statement (for example, “I’m just so mad at my boss, I could kill him” or “I’ll show him a thing or two!”), we FIRST want to clarify what they mean by these statements. Sometimes our clients are blowing off steam with no real intent to harm anyone, so we always want to explore whether there is an actual threat of violence before jumping to action.
- We do not have a duty to warn if a client threatens violence against an object or property (for example, if someone threatens to smash the windows out of someone’s car, we do not report this).
- There must be an identifiable victim in order for us to have a duty to warn. If we don’t know who to warn, then there is no way to warn them (we of course want to do our best to obtain this information from our client).
Danger to Others Practice Question
A social worker has been meeting with a 30-year-old female client for a year. The client enters her most recent session visibly upset. Clenching her fists, the client angrily reports that she found out her boyfriend has been cheating on her with her best friend for the past several months. She states, “Honestly, I could just kill them both right now.” What should the social worker do FIRST?
A. Inform the client that she must warn the boyfriend and best friend and notify the proper authorities
B. Immediately stop the session and call the police.
C. Discuss voluntary hospitalization
D. Explore whether the client plans to kill them
(scroll below to view the answer and rationale)
The Correct Answer is D
In the question stem, the client made a concerning statement that warrants further exploration. Immediately contacting the boyfriend, best friend, and proper authorities (A) or stopping the session to contact the police (B) is jumping a step too far ahead. We do not yet know if the client actually plans to harm them in any way, or is simply upset about the infidelity. We do not want to jump to action without gathering information first. Nothing indicates a need to hospitalize the client (C). What we want to do FIRST is figure out whether the client actually intends to cause any serious physical harm to her boyfriend or best friend (D). If she does, then we can go ahead and do A.
Clinical Exam Preparation
How did you do on this practice question? Did the answer and rationale line up with your understanding of this nuanced topic? Therapist Development Center has helped THOUSANDS of social workers across the country pass their exams with CONFIDENCE. Have you been considering signing up for one of our ASWB exam preparation programs? There’s no time like the present! Our structured, straightforward approach to exam prep gives you everything you need to PASS your exams and nothing you don’t. Make 2019 your year to conquer this exam!