Understanding Reframing: LMSW Exam Prep

By Emily Pellegrino on November 1, 2012

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When working with client's there are a lot of various techniques that can help us gain a better understanding of what a client is thinking or feeling. One of these techniques is reframing, which is important to know not only for the LMSW exam, but also for your social work practice. Let's get started with a sample question.

Sample Question:

Which of the following BEST defines reframing?

A. A technique in which the interviewer expresses the idea of what the client has just said so that relevant points are pulled together and emphasized.

B. A skill that enables the social worker to seek specificity on what the client is thinking, feeling, and experiencing.

C. The act of perceiving, understanding, experiencing, and responding to the emotional state of a client.

D. A technique used to help client's understand and consider a problem or behavior from a different context or perspective.

When working with clients, we often notice that they report feelings or behaviors which are part of a complex schema of unquestioned beliefs. A lot of these beliefs are unhealthy and may be contributing to the client's negative thoughts or behaviors. Reframing can help a client step back from a behavior or feeling and consider the context or lens through which their reality is being created. A simplified way of understanding this for the LMSW exam is by remembering the phrase, "Let's look at this a different way." One example of reframing is by saying, "I wonder whether there have been times where you thought of this experience in a different way?" This can help clients see a problem from a different perspective and in return gain a different sense of meaning or understanding.

According to The Social Work Dictionary, reframing can be defined as, "A technique used by therapists to help families (and individuals) understand a symptom or pattern of behavior by seeing it in a different context (Barker, 2003)."


The best answer here is (D). If we take a look at the other potential answers, they are actually all other techniques that are useful when working with client's and good to know for the LMSW exam. (A) best fits the term paraphrasing which can be used to illustrate active listening and a sense of understanding with the client. (B) defines clarification and is used to help the social worker understand what a client is trying to get across. Lastly, (C) defines empathy which is important in developing the therapeutic alliance and understanding how a client feels. All of these terms may show up on the LMSW exam, so it's good to keep them in mind as you study!

Coming up next week: Self-determination

Think our straightforward, sensible approach could help you PASS your LMSW exam? If you're preparing for the social work exam, check out our LMSW Study Materials. Learn more about our exam prep at the The Therapist Development Center home page.

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

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