Free MFT Practice Question: Bereavement

By Robin Gluck on October 1, 2019

Stages of grief sign


If you are preparing for your California or National MFT Clinical exam, you will want to be familiar with the topic of bereavement. Uncomplicated bereavement, as it is termed in the DSM 5, should be considered when, “the focus of clinical attention is a normal reaction to the death of a loved one.” Bereavement is not considered a mental health disorder, but rather a condition that requires clinical attention or one that affects existing mental disorders.


How might the topic of bereavement appear on your MFT Clinical Exam?

You could be tested on:

  •       Diagnostic criteria for bereavement
  •       Different models of grief, including stages of grief
  •       Distinguishing uncomplicated bereavement from other clinical diagnoses
  •       Identifying appropriate interventions and goals
  •       Cultural considerations with duration and expression of grief


Let’s look at this week’s FREE MFT Practice Question and see how you do!

Free MFT Practice Question:

A client is brought by his son to an initial intake session a few weeks following the death of his wife. The client’s wife, who was in excellent health, died unexpectedly. He expresses disbelief that his wife of 30 years is gone. The man tells the therapist that every time he is home alone, he thinks he hears her moving about the house, and breaks down crying when he realizes he will never see her again. He shares that his son is the one who convinced him to see a therapist. Since the death of his wife, he can’t stop crying, has frequent nightmares of his wife yelling to him for help, has a diminished appetite, and he has been consumed by fears of his own mortality. Which of the following provisional diagnoses are most appropriate for this client?

  A. Z Code Uncomplicated Bereavement; Major Depressive Disorder with Psychotic Features; Anxiety Disorder Unspecified.

  B.  Z Code Uncomplicated Bereavement; Major Depressive Disorder; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

  C. Major Depressive Disorder; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; Anxiety Disorder Unspecified

  D. Z Code Uncomplicated Bereavement; Major Depressive Disorder; Anxiety Disorder Unspecified


(scroll down for answer and rationale)




















The correct answer to this question is D.


The answer to this question must include bereavement since the cause of the client’s distress and likely focus of treatment is the loss of his wife. Therefore, answer C can be eliminated. In addition, the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is incorrect because the time frame is too short. For a diagnosis of PTSD, the symptoms must be present for at least one month.


Similarly, answer B is incorrect because it also includes PTSD.


Answer A and D are close, but A includes Major Depression with psychotic features. The client does mention that he thinks he hears his wife, but also notes that he quickly realizes it’s just his imagination. Thus, psychotic features makes this incorrect.


Answer D links back to all parts of the vignette. The client experienced a loss of a loved one and grief would be a part of the treatment plan. In addition, the symptoms of frequent crying and loss of appetite point to Major Depressive Disorder. Finally, anxiety is appropriate since the client states that he is consumed with fears of his own mortality.



Exam Preparation

To learn all about the intricacies of bereavement, sign up for one of TDC’s MFT exam study guides to help you prepare for your exam today! Amanda Rowan has helped thousands of Marriage and Family Therapists pass their MFT exams-are you our next success story?



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