Over the past couple months, our FREE ASWB practice questions have tackled the challenging topics of child abuse and neglect reporting and elder abuse and neglect reporting. This month we present another topic that is sure to show up on your ASWB social work licensing exams, whether you are studying for your master’s level or clinical level exams: domestic violence. For those of us who do not have experience working with clients experiencing domestic violence, knowing how to approach these questions can be difficult. Even for those well versed in working with couples or individuals experiencing domestic violence, understanding what steps the ASWB is looking for you to take can pose a challenge. Our LMSW and LCSW ASWB Social Work Exam programs will prepare you well for any domestic violence questions the exam may throw your way.
How Might Domestic Violence Show Up on the Exam?
The ASWB wants to make sure you know:
- Signs of domestic violence
- Domestic violence reporting rules (or lack thereof)
- What to do in the moment if one or both members of a couple discloses physical violence
- When to refer to a domestic violence shelter
- How to engage in safety plan
- When to provide psychoeducation
- If acknowledging ambivalence and validate the client’s experience is the next step
- When to gather more information
Unlike child, elder, or dependent adult abuse and neglect, domestic violence is not reportable. Because of this, we must carefully balance client self-determination and client safety.
Our FREE ASWB social work exam practice question this week focuses on figuring out this balance. Are you ready successfully answer the domestic violence questions that will show up on your LMSW or LCSW exam? Let’s see how you do on this week’s FREE ASWB practice question:
Domestic Violence Practice Question:
A new client presents for an intake session with a social worker. The client has a black eye, her arm in a sling, and severe bruising around her neck. When the social worker inquires about the injuries, the client states, “I just tripped and fell. It’s not a big deal. I don’t want to talk about that.” What should the social worker do NEXT?
A. Challenge the client that such injuries are not due to a fall
B. Safety plan with the client
C. Continue the intake assessment
D. Provide a DV shelter referral
(scroll down for answer and rationale)
The correct answer is D. Provide a DV shelter referral.
- A is incorrect because we are not going to challenge what our client shared with us during an intake session.
- Safety planning requires the participation of the client. If she is not acknowledging violence is occurring, we cannot safety plan. Safety planning is appropriate when a client is discloses there is violence occurring, but isn't ready to leave the person.
- C is incorrect because we cannot ignore the safety issue. While we want to respect the client’s right to not discuss what happened, we also want to ensure she has the resources needed should she decide to seek help or leave her partner.
- If someone is in a DV situation, but says they don't want to talk about it (or denies there is a problem), then safety planning or psychoeducation are not options, as they are going against the client's self-determination. When the client is denying there is a problem or says they don't want to talk about it, a DV shelter referral is a good option to address the safety issue (which we can't ignore) without encroaching on their self-determination. A DV shelter referral can be given quickly and discreetly, it provides the client with a resource, and they can choose what they want to do with it (if anything).
How did you do on this question? Did our answer and rationale line up with your understanding of how to approach domestic violence situations, or did you learn something new?
If you have any questions after reviewing the answer and rationale, you can always reach out to one of our awesome coaches; they are happy to answer any questions and provide support to you as you prepare to PASS your ASWB licensing exams with confidence.
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I answered A, felt that after client denied it, you did not want to lose the client by forcing DV referral.
I said C continue with the assessment. My reason is because the patient did not want to talk about the situation at that time. Why would I not continue with the assessment, building rapport with the client, meeting the client where they are and then provide a resource list after your assessment was complete?
Since the question is telling us specifically about her injuries, we want to address them. We can’t ignore a safety issue. If someone is in a DV situation, but says they don’t want to talk about it (or denies there is a problem), then safety planning or psychoeducation are not options, as they are going against the client’s self-determination. When the client is denying there is a problem or says they don’t want to talk about it, a DV shelter referral is a good option to address the safety issue (which we can’t ignore) without encroaching on their self-determination. A DV shelter referral can be given quickly and discreetly, it provides the client with a resource, and they can choose what they want to do with it (if anything).
Then the assessment can continue.
I also picked A but now I understand why this was incorrect. Thank u
I chose A because it said next . I didnt think of continuing as ignoring it just as giving her time. During the assesment the client may relax and admit to what happened. Either way I would address it once the assesment was complete. Should we stop in the middle of it and give a referal? It doesn't seem realistic do that. Now I'm worried how I am going to do on "next \ first " questions.
For the purposes of the exam, when a safety issue arises you want to address that in the moment.
I chose B which I now know is not correct, since safety planning requires the participation of the client-if she admits there is a problem, which in this case she doesn't .
I picked C. Continue with the assessment.
What is not understood is how battering affects a person. Someone suffering from battered woman syndrome is suffers abuse. Self-determination really doesn't apply here because the cognitive ability has been impaired by gas lighting and outside support and intervention is required for her safety and healing. This incident should be reported as a victim of abuse. Women especially if they have been in an abusive marriage/relationship for a long time are not capable of making decisions that are best for themselves until effective intervention by a therapist and other support people -report abuse and referral to DV shelter should be answer here.
I agree with you Lissa
I picked C to continue with the intake. Keep forgetting ASBW always wants you to tell them what to do first despite what experience tells you. More than likely this issue will be revisited during the intake and rapport building will allow for more exploration
I absolutely agree with what you are saying. Sometimes people don't even realize or label their situation as DV until they learn more about the definition of DV and the tactics used by DV perpetrators. However, in my experience (and in our society), people have the right to stay in abusive relationships, unless they are considered impaired or vulnerable. In my experience a report to APS at this point would be a waste of time unless one could describe and justify how the client is impaired or vulnerable. Which maybe you could, if they are so abused they cannot self advocate.
What I don't understand is, if psychoeducation is a conflict with their right to self-determination (essentially ignoring their request to not discuss the abuse and forcing them into a discussion they just said they did not want to have right now), then a referral to a DV shelter would also be in conflict with their right to self-determination (essentially ignoring their request to not discuss the abuse and forcing them into a discussion they just said they did not want to have right now).
Also, what is meant by "a referral?" Does it mean handing them a list of DV shelters and phone numbers and saying, "OK, well here is a list of shelters in case you change your mind" or does it mean actually picking up the phone and calling a shelter and asking if they have a vacancy?
Because I would consider the handing of a list of phone numbers more in line with psychoeducation, which Heidi says in violation of the client's right to self determination.
I think if you are going to define "psychoeducation" as a violation of their right to self determination, then a referral to a shelter is also a violation of their right to self determination.
If someone is in a DV situation, but says they don’t want to talk about it (or denies there is a problem), then safety planning or psychoeducation are not options, as they are going against the client’s self-determination.
OK, but how does a referral to a shelter not fall under the category of psychoeducation?
Can someone please help me understand why a referral is ok but any kind of a discussion is not? How can you make a referral without also having a discussion?
This is definitely a super complex situation and I appreciate the discussion people are engaging in. We can't say what will work for a specific client you are working with (which is why supervision and/or consultation are so important), but what we are trying to help you understand first and foremost is what the test is looking for. Psychoeducation and a DV shelter referral are viewed differently in the eyes of the exam.
When the client is denying there is a problem or says they don't want to talk about it (but there are significant injuries that are creating a safety issue), a DV shelter referral is a good option to address the safety issue (which we can't ignore on the exam) without encroaching on their self-determination as much as other options would be. A DV shelter referral can be given quickly and discreetly (yes, this would be giving the names/numbers of shelters). It provides the client with a resource, may take less than 30 seconds and doesn't require them engaging in conversation if they don't want to, and they can choose what they want to do with it (if anything). If you have any further questions about how DV may show up on the exam, we encourage you to reach out to your coach!
I feel DV referral can simply be giving the client a sheet of DV shelter list in the community. Then after the session, the client can decide whether to toss it, or keep it ( because she knows that she may need it).
I chose A because experience tells me that when a client decides to show to a session marked with visible signs of violence that itself is a sign of asking for help, and denial can be challenge. But after reading the rational I realized that since the clt is in the assessment phase where rapport is not developed confrontation (option A) can help you lose the clt. D is a more discrete way to honor meeting clt where they at and address safety.
I chose "C" because there is study information that indicates to continue with an assessment. I was thinking that the assessment would provide more information and guide recommendation for treatment.
Hi, I also chose C. My rationale was based on imagining myself in the room with the client. Client states she doesn’t want to talk about it, but I go ahead and stop the assessment to give her DV shelter resource. That doesn’t sound right.
On a second thought however, I wonder if the right answer is D, provide DV shelter resources, because the question is asking what to do NEXT, and not what to do FIRST, in which case we would put the interventions in order and complete the assessment first and after that provide referrals. Does that make sense?
I see you're going through one of our programs-I'm going to email you some info.
I chose “C” because I felt you should continue conducting the assessment with the client while attempting to establish a rapport in addition to establishing a rapport in which the client will feel comfortable to discuss it by the end of the session allowing me then to present the referral. This is a great question as I read great explanations. This also provides great insight into the test expectations.
The correct answer should be "C."
ASWB always trying to trick people with these types of questions. Very frustrating and a dirty tactic to use for those trying to help others out. If the client tells you they do not want to talk about it, we are told to "honor" their requests. We should continue with the intake, and when it is finally done, circle back to what you physically see in front of you and give them a referral to a DV Shelter.
ASWB is very inconsistent with questions and what we "should" and "shouldn't" do. Shame on the exam makers for trying to trick potential social workers, no wonder why people do not take us seriously an roll their eyes when we tell them our occupation.
I answered B but after reading the rationale, I understand why the answer was D! Thank you!
I used this same rationale to answer this question thinking what to do next, putting the answers in order. Can I get whatever material she was getting?