case presentations for social workers If you take ASWB exam content outlines to heart, you've got a lot of information to learn before sitting for the social work licensing exam. The outlines (available at "ksa" or "content outline") contain more than one, regular human mind can reasonably expect to hold on a given day. Just reading over the list takes setting aside a chunk of time. Understanding it all, more time still.

Take, for instance, the clinical outline: "The concept of empathy" you probably don't have any trouble with. But what exactly is meant by "methods of networking"?  (It's in the "Consultation and Interdisciplinary Collaboration" section, so, okay, it's establishing and maintaining contacts in various fields. Not a big deal.)

The point is, don't spend a lot of time worrying about each little item on the content outlines. Many--most?--people pass exam without even knowing that the outlines exist.

Here's one item that you'd likely ignore if you're prepping quickly--and you'd probably get away with ignoring it, too: "Elements of a case presentation." The item is also in the Consultation/Collaboration section. If you've worked in a hospital setting or unusually crisis-light social work setting, you may have encountered formal case presentations. Here're a good case presentation's basic components:

  • Demographics
  • Key findings
  • Background
  • Formulation
  • Interventions and Plan
  • Reasons for Presentation

These bullets are explained in the Case Presentation Outline linked here (from Even if you've never done a formal case presentation, you've likely communicated all of these, one way or another, when discussing clients. It's pretty straightforward stuff.

Keep in mind, this isn't a list to memorize. It's not Erikson's stages. It's a guideline. Different settings and different supervisors will have different approaches. Just know--for the exam--that there are basic elements you can expect to see in a case presentation, and that social workers should, per the Code of Ethics, work collaboratively with others, even if they (gasp!) aren't social workers.

Here, some more wisdom about case presentations from around the web:

Hope this all helps. Good luck on the exam!


[Post by Will Baum, LCSW]

March 30, 2015
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