Free Practice Question: Self-Determination Answer and Rationale

By Asya Mourraille on March 20, 2018

Yesterday we discussed the topic of Self-Determination including a FREE Law and Ethics practice question to help you get prepared for your MFT or LCSW Law and Ethics exam. Let us take a look at the answer and the rationale:

Practice Law and Ethics Exam Question:

While meeting with a long-term client, a 28-year-old graduate school student, the therapist learns that the relationship the client is in is abusive. The client tells the therapist that her partner was very warm, communicative and kind at the beginning. With time, however, he became increasingly jealous, possessive, and began belittling  her. Eventually their fights became physical in nature. “I am so confused,” states the client, “I know he is a very good person underneath. I know his behavior is unacceptable;he is just wounded and I know he means well. All my family and friends want me to leave him, but I care for him so much. I am so confused. What do you think I should do?” Taking into account a strong and trusting relationship, what action should the therapist initially consider?

A. Educate the client on the nature of partner relational violence and develop a comprehensive safety plan

B. Acknowledge the difficult nature of the situation and explore client’s ambivalence

C. Educate the client on the nature of partner relational violence and gently note that her friends and family have her best interest at heart

D. Acknowledge the difficult nature of the situation and emphasize feelings of love and understanding the client has for her partner


The correct answer is B. 

  • This is a perfect example of a clinical situation where as therapists we might feel compelled to offer our own opinion and guide a client in a certain direction. This is especially likely since the client is asking for advice. However, ethically, we must not push the client in any given direction. So, the best answer here would be (B). In answer (B), the therapist acknowledges how tough the situation is and explores the client’s feelings about loving this person, yet not being OK with his behaviors.
  • Answer (A) is a little bit premature. We can certainly educate the client on the nature of partner relational violence, but we need a bit more information before coming up with a safety plan. So we would do (B) before we would do (A).
  • Even though answer (C) has the therapist gently focusing the client’s attention towards her friends’ and family’s feelings, it can be easily perceived as pushing the client to leave her partner. Since there is a strong and trusting relationship between the client and therapist, it’s important to be extra mindful of impact our words can have on a client.
  • The same can be said for answer (D). The client can easily perceive it as encouraging her to stay and work on this relationship. And such a decision would not be up to us to make.

Exam Preparation

Which answer did you choose? Does the rationale fit with your understanding of the topic and how you would apply it in a clinical setting? Or did you learn something new with this scenario? If you have any further questions feel free to check in with a TDC coach. We are here to support you all along the way. And if you came up with the same answer-great job! You are on the right track to getting licensed.

Still haven’t signed up for an exam preparation program? Or have you already passed the exam and need to complete your continuing education requirements? Our structured, straightforward approach will provide you with exactly what you need!


Commenter Name
March 21, 2018

Good question and rational

Commenter Name
March 31, 2018

Ok I picked a but I understand completely after you explain the rationale- this is why I failed my exam twice I’m using wrong rationale!
What do you mean by website.?

Commenter Name
April 3, 2018

Can I receive CEU's for the exam prep that I took in 2015?

Commenter Name
April 4, 2018

I easily chose Answer “B” as it is up to the client to make his/her own decisions , and it is the therapist’s duty to encourage full exploration of all the client’sfeelings Well -written question!!

Commenter Name
April 15, 2018

B as the client is unsure of what she should do. She not asking for help but yet she's not denying it. Great time to find out where she is at.

Commenter Name
December 25, 2018

I wanted to educates on cycle of violence because the client stated the conflict between both good and possessive; however, again, acknowledge of clients feelings should come before educate. Very good question!!!

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