Court Mandated Clients: ASWB Exam Prep

By Heidi Tobe on February 3, 2020

As we prepare to take the masters and clinical ASWB social work exams, many of us lack experience working with court mandated clients. It is possible you could see a question (or a few questions!) on working with this client population. Regardless of your experience in this area, we want you to be ready! In our ASWB Masters and Clinical Exam Preparation, we offer practice questions around this topic to ensure readiness. Today we’ll review some considerations when working with court mandated clients. We'll wrap things up with a FREE LCSW (also applicable to LMSW!) practice question.

court mandated treatment

What is court mandated treatment?

Much like the title itself, this is treatment that is ordered by the court. A client can be mandated to treatment for a number of reasons:

  • As a condition of parole
  • In lieu of jail time (this is often seen for mandated substance abuse treatment)
  • As a condition of early release
  • To receive custody/visitation of their children

Do Clients Have to Participate in Court Mandated Treatment?

The title ‘court mandated’ may seem as though the client has no choice whether or not to participate. Even with court mandated clients, we still honor their right to self-determination. We cannot force clients to participate in treatment. We do want to be up front about the consequences if they do not participate. Therapists are required to report noncompliance to the court. 

Honoring Self-Determination with Court Mandated Clients

Self-determination can obviously be tricky when clients know the consequences of not attending. Additionally, certain information (reviewed during intake and informed consent) is required to be shared with the courts regarding progress. This can lead to client’s not always being as open and honest as they would be in traditional treatment. So what can we do? First, we want to be completely open and honest about the expectations of the court and what we are required to share. From there, it is even more important than with a traditional client that we collaborate with the client and involve them in treatment planning. Finding ways to make treatment meaningful to them, their lives, and their goals can bring some autonomy back into a situation that may otherwise feel disempowering.

ASWB Practice Question

A social worker meets for an initial session with a court mandated client. The client seems closed off and suspicious in communication and states “I’m not going to share anything until I know everything will be kept confidential between us.” What should the social worker do FIRST:

A. Show the client how files are kept locked

B. Explain that because of his court-mandated status, everything he communicates will be shared with the courts

C. Review what the social worker is required to share with the courts and discuss the limits of confidentiality

D. Encourage the client to share as he is ready

(Scroll down for answer and rationale)













The correct answer is C: to review what the social worker is required to share with the courts and discuss the limits of confidentiality.

A is incorrect because it doesn’t address the limits to confidentiality or what the social worker is required to share with the courts. B is incorrect because it is generally not true that everything the client shares will be reported back to the courts. D is incorrect because like A, it doesn’t address the very real limits to confidentiality nor does it address that there are things the social worker is required to report back to the courts about.

ASWB Masters and Clinical Exam Preparation

Did you answer this month’s free ASWB practice question correctly? Are you feeling ready to tackle any scenarios on court mandated clients the exam may throw your way? If you’re preparing for your LMSW or LCSW exams, TDC has programs that will get you ready to pass your exam with confidence.

Our comprehensive, online courses give you everything you need to be successful on the exam while eliminating anything you don’t need. We don’t overwhelm you with tedious information that isn’t going to show up on the exam, but instead give you all the content and reasoning skills needed to successfully PASS. Every TDC customer has access to a coach who has passed the exam with over 90%. You can email your coach anytime questions come up and they will always respond quickly (within two business days, but often sooner!) and thoroughly. TDC has helped THOUSANDS of social workers successfully pass their licensure exams. Are you next?


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