Why is Self-Determination Important for Clients? LMSW Exam Prep


This week's topic is what I believe to be one of the most important aspects of social work, and a term that is really good to know for the LMSW exam. Self-determination is a term that encompasses so much of what our work entails. Before I get any further, let's get started with a sample questions to help you prepare for the LMSW exam.

Sample Question:

All of the following are aspects of self-determination, EXCEPT:

A. The right for individuals to have full power over their own lives, regardless of the presence of an illness or disability.

B. The client's right to direct their own services and make decisions regarding their health and well-being with the help of others of their choice.

C. The social worker's responsibility to assist client's in being informed regarding the impact of resources and choices.

D. Encouraging a client to make a choice based solely on the social worker's opinion.

Self-determination refers to the right of a client to make their own decisions and choices. In the end it isn't our responsibility, or ethical really, to put our own opinion on a client. It is our responsibility, however, to help a client make an informed decision regarding their own life and to help them understand the impact of that decision.

According to The Social Work Dictionary, self-determination can be defined as, "An ethical principle in social work that recognizes the rights and needs of clients to be free to make their own choices and decisions. Inherent in the principle is the requirement for the social worker to help the client know what the resources and choices are and what the consequences of selecting any one of them will be. Usually self-determination also includes helping the client implement the decision made" (Barker, 2003).


The best answer here is D. All of the other answers include aspects of self-determination, where as D focuses solely on the social worker's opinion which is unethical, and not appropriate. While the social worker plays a role in self-determination, it is their responsibility to help the client be informed enough to make their own decisions.

Coming up next week: Triangulation

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your LMSW exam? If you're preparing for the social work exam, check out our LMSW Study Materials. Learn more about our exam prep at the The Therapist Development Center home page.

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

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