Scope of Competence: Binging and Purging

By Heidi Tobe on December 12, 2017


Yesterday we looked at the topic of Scope of Competence in social work, including a FREE practice question for those of you preparing for your social work licensing exams. Did you get the question right? Find out below!



A social worker meets with a new client who was referred for issues of depression and anxiety. During the assessment, the social worker discovers the client has a long history of binging and purging multiple days per week and is actively engaged in these behaviors. The social worker has never worked with clients with eating disorders, but thinks it is an area she could be interested in learning more about. What must the social worker do?

  1. Treat the client, consulting relevant literature and receiving consultation as needed
  2. Meet with the client for depression and anxiety issues and refer her to a separate therapist for eating disorder treatment
  3. Refer the client to someone with experience treating eating disorders
  4. Wait to begin treatment with the client until the client obtains appropriate training in the treatment of eating disorders

The best answer for this question is C.

  • The social worker has no experience in treating clients with eating disorders, so consulting literature and receiving consultation as needed (A) is not enough for the social worker to be considered competent in treating eating disorders. Additional training and experience beyond this would be needed for the social worker to become a competent clinician for clients with eating disorders.
  • A social worker should not meet with the client to treat one issue while referring them to a separate therapist for eating disorder treatment (B). Having one therapist is going to be in the best interest of the client, so referral is a better option than having the client see two separate therapists concurrently.
  • Because of the the social worker’s lack of experience in this area, the best option is to refer the client to someone with experience treating eating disorders (C) to ensure the client gets the treatment she needs.
  • The client is in need of treatment now. It would be unethical (and not in the client’s best interest) to have the client wait to receive treatment until the social worker obtains the necessary training to effectively treat her (D).

Did you get this one right, or did you learn something new about how to approach scope of competence questions for the exam? 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 right on the right track to getting licensed.

Still haven’t signed up for an exam preparation program? Our structured, straightforward approach to exam prep will provide you with exactly what you need to pass your social work exam or MFT exam and nothing you don’t. You can learn more about our social work licensing exam prep or our our MFT licensing exam prep by clicking one of the links below.

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