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What Should You Know About Cultural Groups for the LCSW & MFT Exam?

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As mental health practitioners, we are ethically bound to provide services in a culturally competent way.  Whether you're preparing for the LCSW exam or MFT exam, you'll need to demonstrate your ability to identify and address cultural issues on a variety of test items.

Let's take a look at one way this topic might come up on your LCSW exam or MFT exam.

Sample:

A 35 year-old black woman engages in treatment with a white therapist to address feelings of depression related to a recent divorce and custody battle.  In the initial sessions, the therapist and client connect easily and information for the assessment and treatment plan is gathered.  However, in the fourth session the client becomes frustrated when trying to explain the dynamics of her relationship with her ex-husband.  What should the therapist do FIRST to address this?

A. Remember that black individuals often have more egalitarian roles in relationships

B. Be aware of how the therapist's own cultural background affects understanding of the situation

C. Acknowledge the client's frustration and clarify her explanation of the dynamics

D. Interpret the client's behavior as typical resistance and address it appropriately with the client

When you come across questions on your LCSW exam or MFT exam that reference a particular cultural group or a more general cultural issue, remember that while research does provide some generalizations regarding cultural groups, there are no "set standards" when it comes to treating clients.  In my opinion, while it can be helpful to know and memorize treatment themes for different cultural groups, it's just as helpful to be able to identify the presence of a cultural issue and respond appropriately.

Answer:

The best answer to the question above is B: be aware of how the therapist's own cultural background affects understanding of the situation.  Being aware of your own cultural background and biases as a therapist is the first step in understanding and helping your clients.  A is a good answer, as it represents a generalization based on research, but is not the BEST answer as it wouldn't be done before the therapist considered his/her own cultural background and biases.  Likewise, C is a good intervention, but the therapist should consider his/her own background first.  D labels the the client's behavior as resistance, when a genuine misunderstanding may be taking place on the part of the therapist.

While being aware of something may not feel active enough, it is often the first thing a therapist must do before moving forward with any given intervention -- don't be afraid to select answers on the exam that seem basic if they make sense given the information in the stem.

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your social work exam or MFT exam? If you're preparing for the social work exam click here- Social Work Exam Prep; if you're preparing for the MFT exam, click here MFT Exam Prep. Learn more about our exam prep at the The Therapist Development Center home page.

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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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