locking accordion file container light blueNext up is 1.08, Access to Records. This is a two-parter. Goes like this: a) Social workers should provide clients access to records unless there are exceptional circumstances where serious misunderstanding or harm to the client is anticipated. b) When sharing client records, social workers should take steps to protect confidentiality of people in the record.

Questions on the social work licensing exam derived from this section of the Code of Ethics are far from unheard of. From part b, you might a question about what to do if, for instance, a parent's drug use is mentioned in a child's records and an outside party requests access to the records? For part a, picture something along these lines:

A client recently diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder wants to see a social worker has been writing about her between sessions. What the the BEST way for the social worker to proceed?

A) Agree to show only certain parts of the file.

B) Seek supervision regarding the client's request.

C) Decline to show the client her file.

D) Agree to show the client her file.

Too easy? It might be if you've just read the Access to Records section of the Code. There are no "exceptional circumstances" mentioned here that would justify withholding the file from the client. There's no expectation of "serious misunderstanding or harm" spelled out in the vignette. There's very little detail offered at all--just a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, which is not in itself exceptional.

What if the diagnosis were schizophrenia? Same thing. A diagnosis alone isn't detail enough to gain exception to the rule in the code. Other the other hand, if the vignette included detail about potential harm (e.g., "The therapist is concerned that collateral information from family members may be hurtful to the client"), the answer might be different. But here, the Code is clear and the answer is simple: Allow access.

Want more? Here's a good exam-vignette-like wrinkle:

SWTP offers full-length exams covering access to records and beyond. Sign up to get started.

November 16, 2015
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