cultural competenceYou've caught on perhaps by now that we're working our way through the NASW Code of Ethics with a free question per section. We've made it up to section 1.05, Cultural Awareness and Social Diversity. What the code says (in three parts), more or less, is that social workers should understand culture, its impact; social workers should have some knowledge and sensitivity about their clients' cultures; social workers should always be deepening their understanding of social diversity and oppression.

What does this look like on the exam? Sometimes it looks like questions that seem kind of racist. "A social worker has an African-American/Chinese-American/Hispanic/Muslim client…What is the best approach for African-American/Chinese-American/Hispanic/Muslim clients?" And the social worker is supposed to assume that that all African-American/Chinese-American/Hispanic/Muslim clients will respond to certain interventions more than others based on culture alone. Really? A lot of the exam screens for jumped-to conclusions, assumptions, pre-judgment, stereotyping, etc. These questions can seem to require just the opposite. Here's an example:

A social worker is beginning therapy with a recently immigrated Asian-American man. What approach is MOST likely to be effective?

A. Brief, task-centered

B. Individualistic, analytical

C. Medium-term, respect-based

D. Psychoeducational

You might find yourself yelling at the screen. "How should I know, I just met the guy?!" To calm yourself, insert the word "typical" or "generally"--a typical client...generally responds to... Does that help?

Calmed or not, you still have to answer the question.

These questions usually require your having read up on these broad generalizations about culture. Asian-American is very broad term. Is there a one-size-fits-all best practice for all Asian-Americans? According to the Diversity and Cultural Competence article from the NASW linked below, the answer is yes. (Typical) Asian-Americans are (generally) a better fit with a brief, task-centered approach.

If you haven't read that somewhere, how do you narrow your way down to the correct answer? Try this: "Individualistic" sounds western, so throw it out. "Respect-based therapy" isn't really a thing--all therapy is respect-based, one hopes--so that one can probably go. And, finally, is there any group of people who wants to be lectured (aka psychoeducated) instead of treated? That leaves one answers standing. With a little logic you've wormed your way to "brief, task-centered" and can move on to the next. Congratulations!

More on the web on the topic:

Here's the 2017 update of the section in full:

(a) Social workers should understand culture and its function in human behavior and society, recognizing the strengths that exist in all cultures.

(b) Social workers should have a knowledge base of their clients' cultures and be able to demonstrate competence in the provision of services that are sensitive to clients' cultures and to differences among people and cultural groups.

(c) Social workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical ability.

(d) Social workers who provide electronic social work services should be aware of cultural and socioeconomic differences among clients and how they may use electronic technology. Social workers should assess cultural, environmental, economic, mental or physical ability, linguistic, and other issues that may affect the delivery or use of these services.

Want more practice questions about cultural awareness and all the rest? Your ASWBexam prep starts here!

November 11, 2015
Categories :