ASWB Exam Prep: Seeking Supervision

By Heidi Tobe on January 4, 2021

In last month’s ASWB exam prep blog, we covered the topic of consultation with colleagues. We discussed when to (and when not to) choose this answer option on the exam. Sometimes the exam will present you both with the answer option to 'consult with colleagues' as well as the option to 'seek supervision' ('consult with a supervisor'). When this happens, which answer option should you choose? And in what other scenarios is seeking supervision appropriate?

Consult with colleagues or seek supervision: which is best?

The answer the ASWB is most often looking for when some form of consultation is needed is to consult with a supervisor. Very rarely will you see both 'consult with colleagues' and'seek supervision' available with the correct answer being to 'consult with colleagues.' The only times this would be appropriate is 1. If the colleague specializes in an area the social worker is needing support in or 2. The question stem specifies that the social worker does not have a supervisor. Otherwise, you want to go with consulting with a supervisor/seeking supervision.

When else do we seek supervision?

Seeking supervision is a great option when a social worker is experiencing a values conflict or countertransference issue. It is also a good answer option to go with when the question stem indicates that the social worker is unsure of how to proceed. Whether the answer option is to ‘consult with a colleague’ or ‘seek supervision’ keep in mind you only want to choose these answer options when there is a reason to do so. As we discussed in last month’s blog on consultation, you don’t want to choose these answer options simply because they are available. Similarly to our real life clinical work, we don’t seek consultation or supervision on every client situation; only when it is needed.

ASWB Practice Question:

A social worker meets with a new client presenting with issues of anxiety and depression. During the initial session, the client shares political views very different from the social worker’s. What should the social worker do?

A. Seek supervision

B. Consult with colleagues

C. Treat the client without bias

D. Refer the client to a social worker with more similar political views

(scroll for answer and rationale)


colleague consultation
















The correct answer is (C), to treat the client without bias. This is a situation where there is not a reason identified in the question stem to do (A) or (B). If the question stated that the social worker felt frustrated toward the client or in any way unable to treat them as they would any other client, then (A) would have been a good step. But as the situation is written, it is not needed at this time. There is also no need to do (D); there are many instances in which we will treat clients with different viewpoints from our own. This does not inherently warrant a referral to a social worker with more similar views.

ASWB Masters and Clinical Exam Preparation 

Did you answer this month’s practice question correctly? Or were you thrown off by the option to seek supervision? Whether you answered this question correctly or need more practice in this area, know our LMSW and LCSW exam prep programs give you everything you need to know to successfully answer questions on supervision and consultation. TDC prides itself in giving you everything you need to be successful on your exam, without the exam prep process being overwhelming. We take the guesswork out of studying, giving you a step by step program that walks you through all of the content and reasoning skills you need to PASS with confidence. We’ve helped thousands of social workers pass their social work exams. Are you ready to pass your exam in 2021? TDC is here to help every step of the way.


Commenter Name
January 26, 2021

I am getting a lot out of TDC and finding these short videos solidifies my knowledge and readiness to conquer this test. Thanks TDC!

Commenter Name
January 26, 2021

We're so glad to hear that, Brooks!

Commenter Name
January 26, 2021

Thank you so much Heidi as I have been struggling those type questions about picking to treat the client without bias or pick supervision. Now I will look closer to see if the social worker shows she is frustrated or not. And as you said choose supervision over colleague. This blog helped me so much! Thank you again ilona

Commenter Name
March 14, 2021

If you did contact a colleague about a particular subject matter for assistance with your client do you need to first get consent from your client? Also would that be the first thing before you document if you needed consent? If there was no consent needed for assistance that you needed then you would do first document that you received assistance from the colleague?

Commenter Name
March 17, 2021

If it is with a colleague, formal consent is not required. You still can limit identifying information.

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain Filter