Preparing for the MFT & LCSW Exam: Community Work and Advocacy

By Bethany Vanderbilt on December 5, 2012

What pieces should you consider when you answer questions about community work or advocacy on your social work exam?

If you’re preparing for a social work exam (whether it’s the Master’s level or Clinical level) or an MFT exam, chances are you’ll need to know something about working on a community level and/or providing advocacy services for clients. As we’ve seen in weeks past, knowing the role that the therapist is in gives the test-taker a clear direction when looking for the best answer choice, and this topic is no exception. Working on a community level and providing advocacy comes with its own set of objectives and challenges.

Here’s one way this topic might appear on your social work exam or MFT exam:

A therapist at a community center is tasked with creating a program to address the social-emotional needs of dual diagnosis clients who have recently transitioned from inpatient to intensive outpatient treatment. In order to develop a successful program, what should the therapist do FIRST?

A. Review research on treatment with dual diagnosis clients

B. Meet with the clients and gather information about the specific needs of the population

C. Consult with agency administrators about budgetary constraints

D. Develop a systematic method for evaluating the efficacy of the program

Program development, implementation, and evaluation are all performed by mental health practitioners who at some point studied for licensure exams (just like you!), so while this role may seem disconnected from the job you’re performing now, you never know what your (licensed!) future may hold. When you encounter questions on the social work exam that have to do with program development, you can once again call on the experience you have working with individuals in order to find the best answer. When you’re working with an individual, often the first step in designing and implementing a treatment plan is identifying the client’s specific goals and issues so that you can appropriately address them. Similarly, in order to design an effective program, you need to understand the needs and wants of the population that will be served by the program, otherwise you may create a product or service that never gets utilized.

The best answer to the question above is B: meet with the clients and gather information about the specific needs of the population. A, C, and D are all reasonable actions, but would need to be done after the therapist has more information about the specific needs to the clients who will be served by the program.

Other test prep companies may try to convince you that you can always rule out 2 of the answer choices — but that’s not true! There are many questions on the social work exam and MFT exam which have 3 or even 4 reasonable answer choices (especially the FIRST/NEXT style reasoning questions) and it’s your job to think through which answer BEST fits the situation at hand.

Coming up next week: Cultural Groups

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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