As we've said here
before, the majority of the DSM questions that show up on the
social work licensing exam are likely to be about the diagnoses
that most often show up in regular social work practice. You know
the ones: anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, substance use
disorders, psychotic disorders, personality disorders... That kind
of stuff. But that doesn't mean you should just set aside your DSM
once you've got those all under your belt. Here's a question that
touches on a lesser-trafficked diagnosis. You may not encounter
this question on the ASWB exam, but if you do, you'll sure be glad
you took the time to read on!
A teacher refers an eight-year-old girl to a school
social worker. On a museum field trip, the girl started talking to
a museum-goer she didn't know and wandered off from the school
group, holding the man's hand. The teacher says she can't reach the
girl's parents to figure out what's going on. Which of the
following diagnoses is the MOST likely to fit for the
A) Reactive Attachment Disorder
B) Adjustment Disorder
C) Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder
D) Conversion Disorder
Have your answer?
The possible answers all come from the Trauma- and
Stressor-Related Disorders chapter of the
DSM-5, except for conversion disorder, which has little to do
with what's described. Since you aren't given much to go on in the
vignette, it may be tricky to settle on an answer. But, if you look
over DSM criteria, you'll see that disinhibited social engagement
disorder is by far the best fit. Seen in that disorder, "a pattern
of behavior in which a child actively approaches and interacts with
unfamiliar adults." Also, caretakers are neglectful (thus the
attachment problems). Sounds more or less like what's described.
Find the full criteria
As for the other answers: Reactive attachment disorder involves
the opposite--"inhibited, emotionally withdrawn behavior."
Adjustment disorder is diagnosed for "the development of emotional
or behavioral symptoms in response to an identifiable stressor."
The unrelated conversion disorder (aka functional neurological
symptom disorder) is diagnosed when a client exhibits "altered
voluntary motor or sensory function" (e.g., paralysis, sensory
loss, abnormal movement) that cannot be attributed to a medical
Now you have a better sense of not just one, but four
diagnoses. That's how practice questions work. Find more DSM-5
questions, a lots more, in SWTP's full-length practice tests. Sign up to get started!