Studying for the LCSW Exam & MFT Exam: Domestic Violence

By Bethany Vanderbilt on February 1, 2012


Alright Social Work Exam- and MFT Exam-Takers, it’s Tuesday, time for another Hot Topic.  This week we’re taking a brief look at Domestic Violence.  Let’s take a closer look at a possible test item.

Sample Question:

A woman is referred to her EAP for frequent absences and difficulty completing projects.  During the brief interview, she initially deflects questions regarding her marriage, though she reports that her husband was laid off from his job 6 months ago and the couple was forced to move in order for the client to obtain work.  The woman becomes tearful when discussing her lack of social support and states that her husband does not “allow” her to go out in the evening or on weekends.  She goes on to tell the social worker that she is pregnant, but has not told her husband about the baby. What should the social worker do NEXT? 

A. Refer the client to a doctor for prenatal care

B. Suggest couples treatment to address issues of stress around the move

C. Redirect the client back to issues of absence and incomplete job performance

D. Assess the woman for domestic violence and help her create a safety plan

According to the Social Work Dictionary, domestic violence is defined as“abuse of children, older people, spouses, and others in the home, usually by other members of the family or other residents; or the social problem in which one’s property, health, or life are endangered or harmed as a result of the intentional behavior of another family member,” (Barker, 2003). Most therapists are familiar with the cycle of violence…but what about “the batterer”?  What does he or she look like, when described through a client’s eyes?  As therapists, we want to be on the lookout for clients describing partners who are possessive, sexually jealous, insecure, or controlling.  Clients may describe scenarios that highlight their partner’s inability to cope with stress effectively or tendency to blame the client or others for their behavior.  Substance abuse or dependence may be mentioned.  Social isolation and pregnancy are additional risk factors for domestic violence.  The ASWB, AAMFT and BBS all want to make sure that you can identify symptoms and behaviors that indicate a violent relationship -- from either side.


In the item above, the correct answer is D, since the stem provides the test-taker with multiple risk factors for domestic violence.  A is incorrect because it would follow risk assessment and safety planning, and there is nothing in the stem to indicate that the woman is not receiving prenatal care.  B is incorrect as couples treatment would be contraindicated if domestic violence is suspected.  C is incorrect because issues of safety warrant immediate attention.   Like the Hot Topics you’ve seen here?  Check out the “LCSW Exam Prep” and “MFT Exam Prep” tabs on our website.  Our simple and straightforward services and materials are actually designed with learning principles in mind.  We don’t want you to just pass your exam, we want you to pass with confidence!

Coming up next week: Suicide/Self Harm.

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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