Standard of Care Answer and Rationale

By Robin Gluck on December 13, 2017

Yesterday we posted a FREE MFT practice question exploring the topic of standard of care-something that you will definitely see on your exams. Did you answer it correctly? Find out below!



A therapist is meeting with a 14-year-old client who was brought to therapy by her parents. The parents inform the therapist that they are concerned for their daughter’s well-being and suspect she is self-harming and has a history of suicide attempts. They inform the therapist that their daughter has met with a therapist in the past and was taking medication for depression and anxiety. The therapist conducts an assessment by asking the client about her current symptoms and goals for therapy. The therapist completes a suicide assessment and decides it is unnecessary to communicate with the client’s treating psychiatrist or the former therapist. The therapist’s actions are considered:

  1. Below the standard of care because it is important to collaborate with the treating psychiatrist and gather information from the former therapist.
  2. Below the standard of care because the law states it is the therapist’s responsibility to collaborate and confer with other professionals.
  3. Meeting the standard of care because the therapist conducted a comprehensive suicide assessment, which addresses immediate safety concerns.
  4. Meeting standard of care because collaboration with other professionals is only an ethical obligation, but not legally required.

The best answer to this question is A.

  • The situation described falls below the standard of care because a reasonable and prudent therapist would recognize the need to communicate with the psychiatrist, and as part of a thorough assessment would want to gather information from the former therapist. While this is always the case, the added risk of suicide makes it all the more important.
  • Answer B may be tempting, because it also notes this is below the standard of care. However, there are no specific laws or regulations that spell out the need to collaborate or confer with other professionals.
  • Answer C is incorrect because the therapist did not complete a comprehensive suicide assessment. Part of assessment can, and often will, include gathering information from other professionals currently and previously involved in providing care to a client. In this case, the therapist would want to speak with the psychiatrist as well as the former therapist. They will likely have information and guidance to share based on their work with the client.
  • Answer D is incorrect because it implies that standard of care is based on legal requirements, which is an inaccurate description of the concept.

Which answer did you choose? Does the rationale fit with your understanding of what falls within the standard of care, or did you learn something new with this practice question? 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 and MFT licensing exam prep below!

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Commenter Name
March 12, 2019

I chose "C".

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