What Do You Need to Know About Medication Management for the LCSW & MFT Exam?

By Bethany Vanderbilt on August 1, 2012

Rusted Chains It's Tuesday, and even though I'm glued to the Olympics, it's time for another Hot Topic!  This week we're moving on to Medication Management.  This topic could include things like common medications, when to refer for a medication evaluation, and collaborating with a psychiatrist. Let's look at a sample test item:


A 37 year-old man is admitted to the emergency room after being found wandering naked in a local park.  When the social worker interviews him, he speaks rapidly, seems euphoric, and repeatedly tries to tell the social worker about his plan to create a "major art piece" in the park.  With careful questioning, the social worker is able to discover that the man was recently put on medication by a local psychiatrist.  What medication was the man MOST likely given?

A. Depakote

B. Lithium

C. Ativan

D. Citalopram

So, I just received a question recently about medications and it went something like this: "Do I need to know generic names for medications or just the brand names?  How do medications come up on the test?".  My answer to this test-prepper (made up term), was more involved than I can be here, but the short answer was this: the test may use brand or generic names for drugs, and in some cases, you will need to be able to identify both diagnostic symptoms and the drug that may be connected to them or used to treat them.  Sometimes the questions are very straightforward (i.e., which of the following drugs is used to treat mania?"), and sometimes the questions will be more complicated (no i.e. here...because of the complication). When you're coming up with your study plan, I'd encourage you to consider waiting to study medications seriously until the week or two before the test.  This is such a straight memorization category that it doesn't make sense to start too early -- you want the medications in your short-term memory, where you can recall them clearly and easily on test day.  Do your best to commit both brand and generic names to memory, as well as the diagnoses and side effects with which they're associated.


The correct answer to the above question is D; the man is exhibiting symptoms associated with mania, and while both Lithium and Depakote are used to treat mania, it would be unusual for the a client to become more manic after starting a mood stabilizer.  Ativan is a drug used to treat anxiety and is not associated with manic symptoms.  Citalopram (brand name: Celexa), however, is an antidepressant that can, in some cases, induce a hypomanic, or even manic episode (many antidepressants run this risk if the person is predisposed to a mood disorder).  Medication-induced mania may not be common, but it does occur.

Coming up next week: Therapy Theories

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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