ASWB Exam Prep: Clinical Assessment

By Heidi Tobe on July 13, 2022

Today’s ASWB social work blog topic is one that is important for both the exams and our clinical practice: clinical assessment. In fact, this topic is so important that TDC created a six hour clinical assessment course on life stressors and coping. While this course goes into more depth than will be needed for the LMSW or LCSW exams, it is a great resource for anyone in clinical practice.

Clinical Assessment in Social Work

The assessment process is key to understanding why a client is seeking treatment, what their presenting issue(s) are, and what they are hoping to gain from treatment. It also helps us identify if there are any crisis issues that need to be attended to first. A clinical assessment can utilize a variety of methods and tools, and helps us gather information about both the client’s history and current functioning across multiple areas. Information gathered will help us make a diagnosis (if needed) and develop an effective treatment plan.

It is best practice to complete a thorough initial assessment with the client during the beginning stages of treatment. But assessment should also be an ongoing process throughout therapy. Client’s lives are dynamic, and their needs and priorities can shift over time. As always, our ASWB LMSW and LCSW programs give you everything you need to be successful on the exam, including when it comes to clinical assessment. Our hope is also that we give you knowledge and tools to carry with you into your clinical practice.

ASWB Clinical Assessment Practice Question

A social worker meets with a 32-year-old woman who's wife encouraged her to seek treatment. The client shares that she was recently laid off from work due to budget cuts and feels uncertain about her ability to find employment again anytime soon. She expresses concern about being a financial burden to her wife, who she’s always shared expenses with. The client shares she is struggling to find purpose in her day-to-day activities while out of work and is starting to feel hopeless about the future. What areas should the social worker assess FIRST:

A. Risk of harm to self and job history

B. Risk of harm to self and medical concerns

C.Job history and social supports

D. Job history and coping mechanisms

(Scroll for answer and rationale)
















The correct answer is A: to assess risk of harm to self and job history. Because the client expresses hopelessness, we need to explore any risk of harm to self. The client was laid off and expresses concern about her job prospects, so we also want to explore her job history to gather information that may be leading to her feeling this way. B is incorrect because no medical concerns or symptoms are discussed in the question stem. C and D are incorrect because, while important, they do not address potential risk of harm to self which must take priority when present. 

ASWB masters (LMSW) and clinical (LCSW) exam preparation

Do you feel prepared for questions on clinical assessment? Through lectures, handouts, and over 700 practice questions and rationales, TDC will prepare you to pass with confidence. And if you’re ever unsure about a topic as you’re going through our program, you can reach out to a coach free of charge! Every customer has a a coach you can email anytime you have questions as you go through our program. Your coach will  always email you back within 2 business days. (Though we’re often able to get back with you even sooner!). And we’re here with you until you pass, so you’ll never have to pay to have your program extended!


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