According to statistics obtained through the Department of Veterans Affairs, ”About 6 of every 10 men (or 60%) and 5 of every 10 women (or 50%) experience at least one trauma in their lives.” Not every person who experiences a traumatic event will develop symptoms linked to a trauma-related disorder. However, the prevalence of PTSD and Acute Stress Disorder is high enough that you will likely encounter it in your clinical practice. You are also guaranteed to see this topic tested in a variety of ways on your MFT Clinical licensing exam. How could trauma-related disorders appear on your MFT licensing exam?
You could be tested on:
- Determining appropriate diagnosis
- Utilizing trauma-informed care
- Identifying and developing appropriate goals
- Utilizing effective interventions based on theoretical orientation
- Identifying and connecting client to adjunct services
As you can see above, there are many ways that trauma-related disorders could appear on your licensing exam. So, let’s hone in on one topic I get asked about quite often; trauma-informed care.
What is trauma-informed care?
Trauma-informed care is a strength-based approach to therapy, developed in response to the pervasiveness of trauma in our society and a recognition of its effects on clients seeking access to treatment. Trauma-informed care sets about to consider the potential of any and all client’s exposure to trauma, how it affects client engagement in mental health care, as well as trauma’s effect on presenting issues.
Key components to working from this approach include:
- providing a safe environment
- thoroughly assessing for a history of trauma
- collaborating and empowering the client
- viewing presenting symptoms through positive lens
- assisting client in understanding the intention behind faulty coping skills and develop healthier ones
- developing a comprehensive support system through collaboration with other professionals
Let’s test your knowledge of this subject with the following FREE MFT exam question.
Free Practice Question
A therapist working in a mental health agency schedules an appointment with a new client. When the client presents for the first session, he shares that he recently returned from a deployment in Iraq and is having a difficult time with re-entry to civilian life. In addition to providing a safe environment for the client, how should the therapist proceed when using a trauma-informed care model?
A. Assess for PTSD by asking the client about injuries sustained during deployment.
B. Ask the client what support systems he has available to him while home.
C. Validate client’s experiences and provide psychoeducation regarding PTSD.
D. Assess for PTSD and identify adjunctive resources for the client.
scroll down for answer and rationale…..
The correct answer is D.
The vignette offers very little information about the client, his biopsychosocial history, or his potential diagnosis. Therefore, it would be important to further assess before determining how to proceed. Answer A, includes assessment, but is too narrowly focused to determine if the client may be experiencing symptoms of PTSD. Remember, PTSD is an anxiety disorder that results from a traumatic event, which could include an injury to self. However, it could also be a consequence of experiencing non-injurious traumatic events as well as traumatic events not directly affecting the person.
Answer B is likely something the therapist will do, but this would not be the priority. Answer C is premature, as we would need to gather additional information before we validate PTSD or provide psychoeducation about PTSD.
The strongest answer to this question is answer D. In trauma-informed care, we start by providing a safe environment for the client and then assess for a history of trauma and PTSD. We do not assume when, where, or how the trauma occurred. In addition, trauma-informed therapy understands the importance of a holistic approach to working with clients. It is important for therapists to link clients to services and resources outside of therapy.
To learn all about trauma-related disorders evaluation, treatment planning, treatment, crisis management, and more, sign up for one of TDC’s MFT exam study guides to help you prepare for your exam today! Amanda Rowan has helped thousands of Marriage and Family Therapists pass their MFT exams-are you our next success story?