The Importance of Group Treatment: LCSW & MFT Exam Prep

By Bethany Vanderbilt on October 24, 2012

A photo of a ring of shoes

We're leaving the land of logistics and headed back into what will probably feel like more familiar (and interesting) territory to most of us -- the different roles that a social worker or therapist can occupy. It's important when you're studying for and taking your LCSW exam or MFT exam that you know what role the hypothetical therapist is in so that you can answer the question appropriately. For social workers in particular, assuming that the social worker is in the role of "therapist" can lead to incorrect answers.

This week, we're looking at Group Treatment; here's a sample test item to get us going.


A therapist is facilitating a support group for HIV positive individuals. After the third session, the therapist concludes that one group member is inappropriate for the group based on his personal convictions regarding gays and lesbians and repeated efforts to berate other group members regarding their relationships. What should the therapist do NEXT?

A. Schedule an individual appointment with the group member to discuss termination and referral

B. Encourage the group to respond to the client's efforts to berate them

C. Inform the member that he will be referred to a more appropriate group

D. Seek consultation regarding the therapist's countertransference

So, what guides clinical decision making when you're working with a group of people and not just one? In some ways, it's very similar to the approach taken when working with couples or families; interventions should go through the group and take into account group process. In many cases, taking group issues outside of the group is counterproductive. An exception to this occurs when the therapist has made a decision about a group member's ongoing participation in the group. In this case, confronting the group member in group, or informing them of their termination in front of the group would be extremely shaming and inappropriate.


The best answer to the question above is A: schedule an individual appointment with the group member to discuss termination and referral. Since the therapist has determined that the client is not appropriate for the group, the best thing is to schedule time to meet individually with the client to let him know.  B is not the best answer because the question states that the therapist has already come to the decision that the client needs to leave the group; asking the group members to respond to the client is no longer relevant. C is not a bad answer, but it's not as strong as A because it doesn't reference meeting with the client individually. D is not the best answer because there is no information in the stem indicating that the therapist is experiencing countertransference.

Coming up next week: School Social Work

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your social work or MFT exam? If you're preparing for a social work exam, check out our Social Work Study Materials. If you're preparing for an MFT exam, check out our MFT Study Materials. Learn more about our offerings at The Therapist Development Center.

Looking for more practice questions and some study tips? Check out our new Social Work Exam Study Guide:

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