Seems like a good day for a free practice question. Here's one based upon the updated NASW Code of Ethics. For lots more questions about social work ethics and most everything else you might encounter on the ASWB exam, sign up and choose full-length exams here.
A somewhat grandiose client, a successful businessman, boasts that he has started dating an actress, "the most beautiful woman in the world." He reports with pride that the relationship has "been in all the tabloids." The social worker, not a regular reader of celebrity gossip, wants to find out whether or not the client is telling the truth. Which is true about conducting an internet search on the topic in this situation?
A) It would be ethical since it would assist the social worker in correctly diagnosing and treating the client.
B) It would be unethical unless the social worker first obtains consent from the client to conduct the search.
C) It would be ethical only if the client has exhibited additional delusional symptoms.
D) It would be ethical since gathering collateral information is an important part of the treatment process.
What do you think?
Let's get to the correct answer by narrowing down, starting from the bottom. D) is a little general to be the correct answer. Collateral information can be an important part of treatment, but that's not enough to justify a possibly-unethical electronic search. Probably not the answer. Let's move on.
C) is closer. However, if the client is making up his story, it's probably connected with narcissistic personality disorder, not with delusional disorder or another similar diagnosis. Boasting and surrounding oneself with well-regarded people is a hallmark of NPD. Keep on going.
B) sounds clunky--how would the social worker ask the client for consent? "Can I Google that to find out if you're lying?" Hmmm...
A) jumps into an area not addressed by the vignette. Is the client undiagnosed? We don't know that from the text of the question. Yes, it's valuable to have an accurate diagnosis. But there are ethical considerations that must first be weighed. Once you see any mention of ethics, it's a good bet that the question is Code of Ethics-based. That's not what's addressed here.
Which brings us back to our least objectionable, most textbooky answer: B. Get consent, maybe without being clunky. (Try something along these lines: "I'd like to see that. Is it okay with you if I take a look on the net?"_Bookish answers are often the best ones. Even if you didn't remember that there are guidelines about internet searches in the Code of Ethics, you could get to the answer with this type of elimination process.
To save you some clicking, here's that part of the code, added in 2017:
1.03 Informed Consent--(i) Social workers should obtain client consent before conducting an electronic search on the client. Exceptions may arise when the search is for purposes of protecting the client or other people from serious, foreseeable, and imminent harm, or for other compelling professional reasons.
Now you're ready to face a question like this on the exam. There's nothing like practice to get you prepped for the big test. Happily, we've got lots of practice questions ready to help you out. Enjoy your studying and good luck on the exam!
June 8, 2018