The Role of Case Management: Preparing for the LCSW and MFT Exam

By Bethany Vanderbilt on November 20, 2012

Mother with two children

What should you know about case management before you take your LCSW Exam or MFT Exam?

This week, many of us will be focused on travel, gathering with family and friends, and (hopefully) taking some time to reflect on all of the things we're grateful for. I hope you can add finding TDC to your list -- we are passionate about what we do and want nothing more than to help you PASS your LCSW exam or MFT exam with confidence! If you're in the midst of exam prep, this time of year can be very challenging: take Amanda's advice to heart -- aim to study 90 minutes per day 5 days a week and take time to do other things that are good for your brain in your downtime (like exercise and eating nourishing food). Our focus this week is on case management and before I get ahead of myself, let's look at a sample test item.


A woman and her children seek case management services at a local agency after losing their housing.  The woman meets with the intake worker and begins discussing her oldest son's recent problems in school; she says, "I don't think he's been taking his medication, but with everything that's happened, I'm more concerned with what we're going to eat or where we're going to sleep than his behavior."  

What should the intake worker do NEXT?

A. Refer the woman's son to a psychiatrist

B. Recommend family treatment to address the family's needs

C. Complete a comprehensive needs assessment to prioritize objectives

D. Link the woman to a shelter that can provide family housing

If you see a question on your LCSW exam or your MFT exam in which clinical case management or coordination of services is mentioned, it's important to really locate the role of the therapist in that particular question.

So, what is the role of the case manager or service coordinator? First of all, as with interactions with all clients, our first goal is to engage them and build some kind of working rapport. After that, service coordination is just that: identifying the needs of the client, locating appropriate services to meet those needs, coming up with a plan to link the client to those services, and then monitoring the client's progress and adjusting the plan or services as needed.


The best answer to the question above is C: complete a comprehensive needs assessment to prioritize objectives. The woman in the stem is presenting with multiple issues: housing, food, her son's behavior, and his psychiatric needs.

The first step would be to gain an understanding of the multiple needs and prioritize them so that the woman and the case manager can begin addressing them in order of importance. A, B, and D are all good options, but they would only be appropriate after a needs assessment was completed. Don't automatically assume that case managers only "refer" clients out -- don't get tricked into choosing an answer just because it starts with the word that you think should go with the question -- use your amazing brain and THINK about which answer makes the most sense in this situation.

Coming up next week: Research

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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