detailsThe changes that differentiate DSM-5 from the updated DSM-5-TR (TR for "Text Revision") are helpfully enumerated in Jonathan Singer's New Social Worker article (linked a few posts ago). For the spectacularly detail oriented, information omnivore, the APA has finer detail spelled out in a series of face sheets linked here at If you insist upon knowing every adjustment made in the new DSM they're all there.

  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Conduct Disorder
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Gender Dysphoria
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Internet Gaming Disorder
  • Major Depressive Disorder and the Bereavement Exclusion
  • Mild Neurocognitive Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
  • Paraphilic Disorders
  • Personality Disorder
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sleep-Wake Disorders
  • Specific Learning Disorder
  • Social Communication Disorder
  • Somatic Symptom Disorder
  • Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders

Let's drop in on one of those pdf face sheets, to see what's what. From the top of the list, ADHD. The new facts:

The definition of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been updated in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to more accurately characterize the experience of affected adults.


DSM-5 includes no exclusion criteria for people with autism spectrum disorder, since symptoms of both disorders co-occur. However, ADHD symptoms must not occur exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder and must not be better explained by another mental disorder, such as a depressive or bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, dissociative disorder, personality disorder, or substance intoxication or withdrawal.

So…they made some tweaks. Are these the kinds of details that show up on the social work licensing exam? They are, for the most part, definitively not. The ASWB exam is designed to ensure beginning social workers understand the fundamental, beginning knowledge, skills, and abilities of the social work field. It is not a DSM exam. It is not an exam filled with "gotchas" or tricks. It's about the basics: the NASW Code of Ethics, best practices in assessment, some essential DSM in the clinical exam…that sort of material.

If you've already studied everything else and just want to chew on some extra information for kicks, then, sure, dig into the APA's DSM-5-TR fact sheets. Otherwise, stay the course. Take practice exams. Review where you went wrong. Repeat.

Then go and pass that exam!

Happy studying and good luck.

May 2, 2022
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