LCSW & MFT Exam Prep: Understanding Danger to Others

By Bethany Vanderbilt on February 15, 2012

I know, I know, it’s Valentine’s Day, who wants to hear about Danger to Others?  BUT, the Therapist Development Center loves all of the therapists out there who are making the commitment to grow professionally by becoming licensed! Danger to Others is another topic that test-makerI know, I know, it’s Valentine’s Day, who wants to hear about Danger to Others?  BUT, the Therapist Development Center loves all of the therapists out there who are making the commitment to grow professionally by becoming licensed! Danger to Others is another topic that test-makers take seriously.  Therapists should be able to identify warning signs and intervene as needed. Here’s how it might show up in a test item:

Sample Question:

A 35 year-old man is referred to a social worker after being released from prison, where he served 5 years for aggravated assault.  He is in need of job placement services, housing resources and legal services regarding his impending divorce.  When the social worker inquires about his job-related skills, the client becomes agitated and states, “It’s all my wife’s fault…if it weren’t for her, I’d have a great job right now.  I’ll make her pay…”. What should the social worker do NEXT?

A. Refer the client to an employment agency to help him find employment

B. Provide client with referrals for mediation services to assist with the divorce

C. Assist the client in prioritizing his needs

D. Clarify the client’s comments and assess his risk of danger to his wife

As therapists, we should be looking for risk factors for violent behavior, including, but not limited to: prior history of violence, substance abuse, childhood experiences of having been abused, and social isolation. In order to effectively intervene with clients who may be a danger to others, therapists need to accurately clarify the level of danger.  It should come as no surprise that the level of lethality increases with the specificity of the plan and a past history of violent behavior. 

Answer:

D is the correct answer, as the client is presenting with several risk factors and also makes the ambiguous statement about making his wife pay; A, B, and C may all be part of a viable treatment plan, but not until safety is established.  

Coming up next week: Crisis Intervention

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your social work or MFT exam? If you’re preparing for a social work exam, check out our Social Work Study Materials. If you’re preparing for an MFT exam, check out our MFT Study Materials. Learn more about our offerings at The Therapist Development Center.

Looking for more practice questions and some study tips? Check out our new Social Work Exam Study Guide:

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