Social Work ASWB Clinical Exam Guide, Second Edition: A Comprehensive Study Guide for Success

Social Work ASWB Clinical Exam Guide, Second Edition: A Comprehensive Study Guide for Success

by Dawn Apgar PhD, LSW, ACSW

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Updated to reflect ASWB’s revised 2018 test blueprint used for test construction.

Now with a free mobile & web app with print purchase!

Written by a renowned social work educator rather than an unknown at a test preparation company, this thoroughly updated guide helps readers identify their weak areas so they know what to focus on to pass the ASWB® Clinical licensure exam! Reviewers applaud the book’s unique test-taking tips and strategies, which are based on the author’s extensive knowledge of the exam. A thorough review of the four content areas of the updated Clinical exam is provided. The 170-question practice test with explanations of the correct answers mirrors the actual exam in length and structure. This invaluable guide has been praised by social workers across the country as essential to passing the ASWB® Clinical Exam on the first attempt!


• Updated to reflect ASWB’s revised 2018 test blueprint used for test construction.
• Content available via an app in addition to the print version so test takers can study using multiple mediums.
• Written by a renowned social work educator who has helped thousands of test takers pass the exam through her invaluable workshops.
• Provides a thorough content review of the four core areas of the updated Clinical examination: human development, diversity, and behavior in the environment; assessment, diagnosis, and treatment planning; psychotherapy, clinical interventions, and case management; and professional values and ethics.
• Readers applaud the invaluable tips for how to read the questions, overcome test anxiety, avoid common pitfalls, and assess one’s learning style, all of which help foster exam confidence.
• Begins with a self-assessment to help identify areas of strength and weakness.
• A full practice test with 170 questions that mirrors the actual ASWB® Clinical Exam in length, structure, and content, with detailed explanations of the correct answers.
• Identifies the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities statements (KSAs) for each question so test-takers can easily locate relevant source materials for further study.
• Questions are distinct from those in the author’s Social Work ASWB® Clinical Practice Test.

App included!

• Includes all the high-quality content from the book!
• Information at your fingertips anytime, anywhere.
• Available on iOS, Android, and the web, with a powerful, simple-to-use interface.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826147134
Publisher: Springer Publishing Company
Publication date: 10/15/2017
Edition description: Study Guid
Pages: 488
Sales rank: 63,947
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 10.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Dawn Apgar, PhD, LSW, ACSW, has helped thousands of social workers across the country pass the ASWB examinations associated with all levels of licensure. In recent years, she has consulted in numerous states to assist with establishing licensure test preparation programs.

Dr. Apgar has done research on licensure funded by the American Foundation for Research and Consumer Education in Social Work Regulation and was chairperson of her state's social work licensing board. She is a past President of the New Jersey Chapter of NASW and has been on its National Board of Directors. In 2014, the Chapter presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Apgar has taught in both undergraduate and graduate social work programs and has extensive direct practice, policy, and management experience in the social work field.

Table of Contents


New in the Second Edition


About the Examination

10 Things That You Should Know About the ASWB Examinations

Test-Taking Strategies and Tips

10 Essential Strategies for Study Success

20 Tips You Need to Use to Answer Questions Correctly

Assessing Examination Difficulties

Dealing With Test Anxiety

Examination Content

Visual Learners

Auditory Learners

Kinesthetic or Hands-On Learners


Unit I: Human Development, Diversity, and Behavior in the Environment (24%)

1. Human Growth and Development

Theories of Human Development Throughout the Lifespan (e.g., Physical, Social, Emotional, Cognitive, Behavioral)

Social Development

Emotional Development

Cognitive Development

Behavioral Development

The Indicators of Normal and Abnormal Physical, Cognitive, Emotional, and Sexual Development Throughout the Lifespan

Child Development

Adolescent Development

Adult Development

Theories of Sexual Development Throughout the Lifespan

Theories of Spiritual Development Throughout the Lifespan

Theories of Racial, Ethnic, and Cultural Development Throughout the Lifespan

The Effects of Physical, Mental, and Cognitive Disabilities Throughout the Lifespan

The Interplay of Biological, Psychological, Social, and Spiritual Factors

Basic Human Needs

The Principles of Attachment and Bonding

The Effect of Aging on Biopsychosocial Functioning


Personality Theories






Factors Influencing Self-Image (e.g., Culture, Race, Religion/Spirituality, Age, Disability, Trauma)

Body Image and Its Impact (e.g., Identity, Self-Esteem, Relationships, Habits)

Parenting Skills and Capacities

Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritative Parenting

Permissive Parenting

Uninvolved Parenting

Basic Principles of Human Genetics

The Family Life Cycle

Models of Family Life Education in Social Work Practice

The Impact of Aging Parents on Adult Children

Systems and Ecological Perspectives and Theories

Applications to Social Work

Some System Theory Terms

Strengths-Based and Resilience Theories

The Dynamics and Effects of Loss, Separation, and Grief

2. Human Behavior in the Social Environment

Person-in-Environment (PIE) Theory

Family Dynamics and Functioning and the Effects on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

The Dynamics of Interpersonal Relationships

Indicators and Dynamics of Abuse and Neglect Throughout the Lifespan

Indicators and Dynamics of Sexual Abuse

Indicators and Dynamics of Psychological Abuse and Neglect

Indicators and Dynamics of Physical Abuse and Neglect

The Effects of Physical, Sexual, and Psychological Abuse on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

The Characteristics of Perpetrators of Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation

The Effects of Life Events, Stressors, and Crises on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

The Impact of Stress, Trauma, and Violence

Crisis Intervention Theories

The Effect of Poverty on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

The Impact of the Environment (e.g., Social, Physical, Cultural, Political, Economic) on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Social and Economic Justice

Theories of Social Change and Community Development

The Impact of Social Institutions on Society






The Impact of Globalization on Clients/Client Systems (e.g., Interrelatedness of Systems, International Integration, Technology, Environmental or Financial Crises, Epidemics)

Criminal Justice Systems

The Impact of Out-of-Home Placement (e.g., Hospitalization, Foster Care, Residential Care, Criminal Justice System) on Clients/Client Systems

Theories of Couples Development

The Impact of Physical and Mental Illness on Family Dynamics

Co-Occurring Disorders and Conditions

The Impact of Caregiving on Families

Psychological Defense Mechanisms and Their Effects on Behavior and Relationships

Addiction Theories and Concepts

Substance Use Disorder

Non-Substance-Related Disorders

Goals of Treatment

Stages of Treatment

Treatment Approaches

The Effects of Addiction and Substance Abuse on Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

The Indicators of Addiction and Substance Abuse

Signs of Drug Use

Role Theories

Feminist Theory

Theories of Group Development and Functioning

Key Concepts

Communication Theories and Styles

Theories of Conflict

3. Diversity and Discrimination

The Effect of Disability on Biopsychosocial Functioning Thoughout the Lifespan

The Effect of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity on Behaviors, Attitudes, and Identity

White American

American Indian/Alaska Native


African American

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander


The Effects of Discrimination and Stereotypes on Behaviors, Attitudes, and Identity

The Influence of Sexual Orientation on Behaviors, Attitudes, and Identity

The Impact of Transgender and Transitioning Process on Behaviors, Attitudes, Identity, and Relationships

Systemic (Institutionalized) Discrimination (e.g., Racism, Sexism, Ageism)

The Principles of Culturally Competent Social Work Practice

Sexual Orientation Concepts

Gender and Gender Identity Concepts

Unit II: Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment Planning (30%)

4. Biopsychosocial History and Collateral Data

The Components of a Biopsychosocial Assessment

Techniques and Instruments Used to Assess Clients/Client Systems

Beck Depression Inventory

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory

Myers–Briggs Type Indicator

Rorschach Inkblot Test

Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scale

Thematic Apperception Test

Wechsler Intelligence Scale

The Types of Information Available From Other Sources (e.g., Agency, Employment, Medical, Psychological, Legal, or School Records)

Components of a Sexual History

Components of a Family History

Methods to Obtain Sensitive Information (e.g., Substance Abuse, Sexual Abuse)

The Principles of Active Listening and Observation

The Indicators of Sexual Dysfunction

Symptoms of Neurologic and Organic Disorders

5. Assessment and Diagnosis

The Factors and Processes Used in Problem Formulation

Methods of Involving Clients/Client Systems in Problem Identification (e.g., Gathering Collateral Information)

Use of Collateral Sources

The Components and Function of the Mental Status Examination

Methods to Incorporate the Results of Psychological and Educational Tests Into Assessment

The Indicators of Psychosocial Stress

The Indicators, Dynamics, and Impact of Exploitation Across the Lifespan (e.g., Financial, Immigration Status, Sexual Trafficking)

The Indicators of Traumatic Stress and Violence

Methods Used to Assess Trauma

Risk Assessment Methods

The Indicators and Risk Factors of the Client’s/Client System’s Danger to Self and Others

Danger to Self: Suicide

Danger to Others: Violence

Methods to Assess the Client’s/Client System’s Strengths, Resources, and Challenges (e.g., Individual, Family, Group, Organization, Community)

The Indicators of Motivation, Resistance, and Readiness to Change

Methods to Assess Motivation, Resistance, and Readiness to Change

Methods to Assess the Client’s/Client System’s Communication Skills

Methods to Assess the Client’s/Client System’s Coping Abilities

The Indicators of Client’s/Client System’s Strengths and Challenges

Methods to Assess Ego Strengths

The Use of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association

The Indicators of Mental and Emotional Illness Throughout the Lifespan

Biopsychosocial Factors Related to Mental Health

Biological Factors

Psychological Factors

Social Factors

Biopsychosocial Responses to Illness and Disability

Common Psychotropic and Non-Psychotropic Prescriptions and Over-the-Counter Medications and Their Side Effects


Antimanic Agents (Mood Stabilizers)


Antianxiety Drugs


Common Prescription Medications

The Indicators of Somatization

The Indicators of Feigning Illness

Basic Medical Terminology

The Indicators of Behavioral Dysfunction

Placement Options Based on Assessed Level of Care

Methods to Assess Organizational Functioning (e.g., Agency Assessments)

Data Collection and Analysis Methods

6. Treatment Planning

Methods to Involve Clients/Client Systems in Intervention Planning

Cultural Considerations in the Creation of an Intervention Plan

The Criteria Used in the Selection of Intervention/Treatment Modalities (e.g., Client/Client System Abilities, Culture, Life Stage)

The Components of Intervention, Treatment, and Service Plans

Theories of Trauma-Informed Care

Methods and Approaches to Trauma-Informed Care

Phase 1: Safety and Stabilization

Phase 2: Mourning and Remembrance

Phase 3: Reconnection and Reintegration

The Impact of Immigration, Refugee, or Undocumented Status on Service Delivery

Methods to Develop, Review, and Implement Crisis Plans

Discharge, Aftercare, and Follow-Up Planning

Techniques Used to Evaluate a Client’s/Client System’s Progress

Methods, Techniques, and Instruments Used to Evaluate Social Work Practice

The Principles and Features of Objective and Subjective Data

Basic and Applied Research Design and Methods

Types of Research

Single-Subject Research

Methods to Assess Reliability and Validity in Social Work Research

Unit III: Psychotherapy, Clinical Interventions, and Case Management (27%)

7. Therapeutic Relationship

The Components of the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

The Principles and Techniques for Building and Maintaining a Helping Relationship

Process of Engagement in Social Work Practice

The Dynamics of Power and Transparency in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

The Social Worker’s Role in the Problem-Solving Process



Change Agent



Methods to Clarify the Roles and Responsibilities of the Social Worker and Client/Client System in the Intervention Process

The Concept of Acceptance and Empathy in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

The Dynamics of Diversity in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

Impact of Diversity in Styles of Communicating

The Effect of the Client’s Developmental Level on the Social Worker–Client Relationship

The Impact of Domestic, Intimate Partner, and Other Violence on the Helping Relationship

Cycle of Violence

Guidelines for Interventions

Verbal and Nonverbal Communication Techniques

The Concept of Congruence in Communication

Methods to Obtain and Provide Feedback

One-on-One Feedback

Intragroup Feedback

Group-to-Group Feedback

Consultative Feedback

360° Feedback

8. The Intervention Process

The Principles and Techniques of Interviewing (e.g., Supporting, Clarifying, Focusing, Confronting, Validating, Feedback, Reflecting, Language Differences, Use of Interpreters, Redirecting)

The Phases of Intervention and Treatment




Problem-Solving Models and Approaches (e.g., Brief, Solution-Focused Methods or Techniques)

Short-Term Interventions

The Client’s/Client System’s Role in the Problem-Solving Process

Methods to Engage and Motivate Clients/Client Systems

Methods to Engage and Work With Involuntary Clients/Client Systems

Limit Setting Techniques

The Technique of Role Play

Role Modeling Techniques

Techniques for Harm Reduction for Self and Others

Methods to Teach Coping and Other Self-Care Skills to Clients/Client Systems

Client/Client System Self-Monitoring Techniques

Methods of Conflict Resolution

Crisis Intervention and Treatment Approaches

Anger Management Techniques

Relaxation Exercises

Cognitive Techniques

Communication Skills

Environmental Change

Stress Management Techniques

The Impact of Out-of-Home Displacement (e.g., Natural Disaster, Homelessness, Immigration) on Clients/Client Systems

Methods to Create, Implement, and Evaluate Policies and Procedures That Minimize Risk for Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities


Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic Approaches

Psychoanalytic Theory

Psychosexual Stages of Development

Individual Psychology

Self Psychology

Ego Psychology

Object Relations Theory

Cognitive and Behavioral Interventions

Steps in Cognitive Restructuring

Strengths-Based and Empowerment Strategies and Interventions

Client/Client System Contracting and Goal-Setting Techniques

Change Strategies

Partializing Techniques

Assertiveness Training

Task-Centered Approaches

Psychoeducation Methods (e.g., Acknowledging, Supporting, Normalizing)

Group Work Techniques and Approaches (e.g., Developing and Managing Group Processes and Cohesion)

Family Therapy Models, Interventions, and Approaches

Recognition of Functional Roles in Family Dynamics

Roles in Healthy Families

Strategic Family Therapy

Structural Family Therapy

Bowenian Family Therapy

Couples Interventions and Treatment Approaches

Permanency Planning

Mindfulness and Complementary Therapeutic Approaches

Techniques Used for Follow-Up

Time Management Approaches

Community Organizing and Social Planning Methods

Methods to Develop and Evaluate Measurable Objectives for Client/Client System Intervention, Treatment, and/or Service Plans

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Prevention Strategies

Primary Prevention

Secondary Prevention

Tertiary Prevention

The Indicators of Client/Client System Readiness for Termination

9. Service Delivery and Management of Cases

The Effects of Policies, Procedures, Regulations, and Legislation on Social Work Practice and Service Delivery

The Impact of the Political Environment on Policy-Making

Theories and Methods of Advocacy for Policies, Services, and Resources to Meet Clients’/Client Systems’ Needs

Methods of Service Delivery

The Components of Case Management

The Principles of Case Recording, Documentation, and Management of Practice Records

Methods to Establish Service Networks or Community Resources

Employee Recruitment, Training, Retention, Performance Appraisal, Evaluation, and Discipline

Case Recording for Practice Evaluation or Supervision

Methods to Evaluate Agency Programs (e.g., Needs Assessment, Formative/Summative Assessment, Cost-Effectiveness, Cost-Benefit Analysis, Outcome Assessment)

The Effects of Program Evaluation Findings on Services

Quality Assurance, Including Program Reviews and Audits by External Sources

10. Consultation and Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Leadership and Management Techniques

Models of Supervision and Consultation (e.g., Individual, Peer, Group)


Peer Group

Facilitated Group

Educational Components, Techniques, and Methods of Supervision

The Supervisee’s Role in Supervision (e.g., Identifying Learning Needs, Self-Assessment, Prioritizing, etc.)

Methods to Identify Learning Needs and Develop Learning Objectives for Supervisees

The Elements of Client/Client System Reports

The Elements of a Case Presentation

The Principles and Processes for Developing Formal Documents (e.g., Proposals, Letters, Brochures, Pamphlets, Reports, Evaluations)

Consultation Approaches (e.g., Referrals to Specialists)

Methods of Networking

The Process of Interdisciplinary and Intradisciplinary Team Collaboration

The Basic Terminology of Professions Other Than Social Work (e.g., Legal, Educational)

Techniques to Inform and Influence Organizational and Social Policy


Social, Political, and Economic Conditions/Resources

Legal Issues/Laws

Institutional Influences

External Influences

Methods to Assess the Availability of Community Resources

Techniques for Mobilizing Community Participation

Methods to Establish Program Objectives and Outcomes

Governance Structures

The Relationship Between Formal and Informal Power Structures in the Decision-Making Process

Formal Power

Informal Power

Accreditation and/or Licensing Requirements

Unit IV: Professional Values and Ethics (19%)

11. Professional Values and Ethical Issues

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Related to the Practice of Social Work, Including Responsibility to Clients/Client Systems, Colleagues, the Profession, and Society

Techniques to Identify and Resolve Ethical Dilemmas

Essential Steps in Ethical Problem Solving

The Client’s/Client System’s Right to Refuse Services (e.g., Medication, Medical Treatment, Counseling, Placement, etc.)

Professional Boundaries in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship (e.g., Power Differences, Conflicts of Interest, etc.)

Ethical Issues Related to Dual Relationships

Self-Disclosure Principles and Applications

The Principles and Processes of Obtaining Informed Consent

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Regarding Documentation

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Regarding Termination

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Related to Death and Dying

Research Ethics (e.g., Institutional Review Boards, Use of Human Subjects, Informed Consent)

Ethical Issues in Supervision and Management

Methods to Create, Implement, and Evaluate Policies and Procedures for Social Worker Safety

12. Confidentiality

The Use of Client/Client System Records

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Regarding Confidentiality, Including Electronic Information Security

Legal and/or Ethical Issues Regarding Mandatory Reporting (e.g., Abuse, Threat of Harm, Impaired Professionals, etc.)

13. Professional Development and Use of Self

Professional Values and Principles (e.g., Competence, Social Justice, Integrity, and Dignity and Worth of the Person)

Professional Objectivity in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

Techniques for Protecting and Enhancing Client/Client System Self-Determination

Client/Client System Competence and Self-Determination (e.g., Financial Decisions, Treatment Decisions, Emancipation, Age of Consent, Permanency Planning)

Emancipation and Age of Consent

The Influence of the Social Worker’s Own Values and Beliefs on the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

The Influence of the Social Worker’s Own Values and Beliefs on Interdisciplinary Collaboration

The Impact of Transference and Countertransference in the Social Worker–Client/Client System Relationship

The Impact of Transference and Countertransference Within Supervisory Relationships

The Components of a Safe and Positive Work Environment

Social Worker Self-Care Principles and Techniques

Burnout, Secondary Trauma, and Compassion Fatigue

Evidence-Based Practice

Professional Development Activities to Improve Practice and Maintain Current Professional Knowledge (e.g., In-Service Training, Licensing Requirements, Reviews of Literature, Workshops)

Practice Test

170-Question Practice Test


Evaluation of Results


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