In yesterday's Law and Ethics blog, we explored the topic of scope of practice and looked at how this topic could show up on your licensing exams. Today, we discuss the correct answer and rationale for the practice question we posed. Did you get this one right?
A therapist is meeting with Gary, a 33-year-old event manager. Gary shares that he is at a loss as to how to communicate with his girlfriend. “Nothing I do is good enough for her. She gets mad if I tell her how I feel. She gets mad if I shut down. I clearly need tools to learn how to talk to her better,” he states. In addition, Gary tells the therapist that he has had a history of depression throughout his adult life. Recently, however, it has gotten worse and he is barely able to get out of bed. Gary reports having a psychiatrist and taking Lexapro for the past few years. In order to stay within their scope of practice, the therapist should make which of the statements?
- “It seems like your medication dose needs to be increased. Why don’t you talk to your psychiatrist about it?”
- “It seems like you are on the right dosage of medication and the problem lies in you being relationally unhappy.”
- “It might be best for you to tell your psychiatrist that your depression has gotten worse. They will be able to determine the role, if any, that your medication is playing."
- “It might be best for you to tell your psychiatrist that your depression has gotten worse. Your body might have developed tolerance to Lexapro and you might need to switch medications.”
The correct answer is C.
Let's take a look at the answers:
- Since the question is asking us to stay within our scope of practice, it is important to remember that offering advice regarding psychotropic medication is outside of our scope of practice. Only a licensed MD is able to do so. Thus, we have to refer our client back to his psychiatrist and not render any of our own opinions regarding medication in the process. The only answer that does so is (C).
- In answer (A) the therapist talks about a possible medication increase and that lies outside of our scope of practice.
- In answer (B) the therapist states that the client is on the right dose, which is also not within our scope of practice.
- In answer (D) the therapist talks about the client’s possible tolerance to Lexapro, with him potentially needing another medication. Since we are not medical professionals, we cannot make such determinations or even such suggestions. Thus, the only legal reply we can make is (C).
Which answer did you choose? Does the rationale fit with your understanding of working within your scope of practice as a therapist? If you have any lingering questions, we encourage you to check in with a TDC coach. We are here to support you all along the way. And if you came up with the same answer-great job! You are on the right track to getting licensed.
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We look forward to helping you PASS your exam with confidence!