Take A BreathYou may have had this experience--some of my tutoring clients have reported it:  You read a vignette and you get sucked in.  The heartache, the pain, the misery.  It's all too much.  Your burnout meter goes into the red.  Or, harder still, elements of the vignette remind you of your own experience--family problems, relationship problems, life problems. Call it Vignette Countertransference.  Everyone's had a taste of it.  It's okay, it's normal, but it can sometimes get in the way of good test taking.

Stop and take a breath.

Your job as an examinee is to play the calm, careful clinician, operating not from emotion and instinct, but with deliberate, textbook-supported wisdom.  You are the perfect social worker (human, but not too human).  That's not to say your instincts should be completely discarded.  Some recommend pausing to picture the people in the vignette--What do you see?  What worries you?  You may find yourself thinking something like, "These kids need help asap."  Good, let that help guide you.  And then calmly, carefully choose perfect social worker's response to that situation and to the question in front of you.

November 15, 2009
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