LCSW & MFT Exam: Understanding Work Issues

By Bethany Vanderbilt on June 13, 2012

Office worker staring off into space

Okay, folks, we're moving on tonight to the topic of Work Issues.  In this topic, we cover things like EAP treatment and vocational training.  There are a pretty limited number of ways that this topic can show up on the exam, so let's take a look at a practice question that represents one of them.

A 43-year-old man is referred to a therapist through his company EAP; he has been having difficulty at work following a contentious divorce and subsequent custody battle.  In the initial session, he talks about his difficulty finding an affordable house close to his children, his sadness about having only partial custody, and his frustration at colleagues who don't seem to understand why he's been distracted.  The EAP has approved 6 sessions of treatment.  In order, the objectives for treatment should be:
A. refer for legal assistance, teach stress management techniques, problem-solve around housing issues
B. problem-solve around housing issues, teach stress management techniques, refer to single parents' support group
C. refer to single parents' support group, refer for legal assistance, teach stress management techniques
D. teach stress management techniques, refer to single parents' support group, refer for legal assistance
Working with a client's EAP (Employee Assistance Program) doesn't have to be tricky -- the treatment is typically very time-limited and should produce results that help the client immediately.  When you see questions about time-limited interventions or working with an EAP, think about getting the biggest bang for your buck in the shortest period of time.  Answers that involve long-term psychodynamic treatment or goals probably aren't a good choice; answers that will help the client after your termination (often linkages to community support or concrete problem-solving) are better choices.  Make sure you know what the question is asking and focus on that.
The best answer to the question above is B; relieving the client's stress related to housing may also decrease his sadness about the partial custody agreement (by giving him easier access to his children when it is his time to care for them).  Teaching stress management techniques will also extend beyond the end of treatment and may assist the client in better dealing with workplace issues.  The final step of referring the client to a support group may provide him with a longer term forum to express and resolve feelings related to his family situation.  A, C, and D are not the best answers for a variety of reasons, but what they all have in common in the referral for legal assistance.  While this may seem like a good choice because of the client's sadness and the mention of a contentious divorce, there's nothing in the stem to indicate that the legal situation is ongoing or that the client's stress would be relieved by this referral.
Coming up next week: Treating Couples

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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