Last week our law and ethics expert, Ivan Perkins, JD, wrote about the differences between Scope of Practice and Scope of Competence. While this blog was geared towards those considering signing up for one of our Law and Ethics CEs, we thought, what better time than now to review this topic and present a practice question for those studying for their exams!
Legally speaking, we as social workers must operate within our scope of practice. That is, we must do things that our degree and license allow us to do. Once we are licensed, we can diagnose; we cannot provide medical advice or prescribe medication-this isn’t something our license allows us to do. Beyond this idea of scope of practice, is scope of competence-a related, but different topic. Scope of competence refers to the idea that we must have training and experience (that is, we must be competent) in the areas in which we are practicing. I have no training or experience working with individuals on the autism spectrum. So while providing counseling to a child on the autism spectrum may be within my scope of practice as an LCSW, it is not within my scope of competence.
This is a topic the ASWB loves to put on their exams, and these types of questions can be quite challenging. There are instances where it may be appropriate to expand your scope of competence in order to effectively treat a client, while other times the severity of the issue may make it necessary to refer out. Let’s try out a practice question to explore how this topic may show up on your exam.
A social worker meets with a new client who was referred for issues of depression and anxiety. During the assessment, the social worker discovers the client has a long history of binging and purging multiple days per week, and is actively engaging in these behaviors. The social worker has never worked with clients with eating disorders, but thinks it is an area she could be interested in learning more about. What must the social worker do?
A. Treat the client, consulting relevant literature and receiving consultation as needed
B. Meet with the client for depression and anxiety issues and refer her to a separate therapist for eating disorder treatment
C. Refer the client to someone with experience treating eating disorders
D. Wait to begin treatment with the client until the client obtains appropriate training in the treatment of eating disorders
So, what do you think? Leave your answer in the comments below and be sure to tune in tomorrow for the answer and a discussion of the rationale!
C is my guess
The answer is C
the answer is ac
The answer is C.