ASK THE EXPERT Q&A
At BTA we often receive requests from our customers for clarification of some of the more complex concepts that are addressed in the license exams. Some exam candidates just need additional help grasping some of the finer details. Others complain of confusion after having been misled by oversimplified information from other sources.
BTA affiliates see ourselves as partners in your exam preparation process. As a result we provide all BTA customers with Expert Consultation by phone or email, as needed, as a supplement to our exam preparation materials and workshops.
Current customers may email their questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are available 7 days a week to support you in preparing for your license exam with confidence.
Below are some examples of the more common questions we receive and their respective answers...
Question: What's the difference between Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform, and Brief Psychotic Disorders? I saw a flashcard that said Brief Psychotic Disorder is under 1 month, Schizophreniform is 1 - 6 months, and Schizophrenia is 6 months or more. I suspect there's more to it than that.
Answer: That's correct... there is more to it than that.
First, it is important to distinguish between the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia (delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking....also known as the "active phase" symptoms) and the non-psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia (e.g. social withdrawal, hoarding things of no value, ideas of reference, perceptual distortions, eccentric preoccupations....also known as the "prodromal" or "residual" symptoms of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia requires 6 months or more of schizophrenia symptoms, including at least one month of psychotic symptoms.
Schizophreniform Disorder requires from 1 to no more than 6 months of schizophrenia symptoms, including at least one month of psychotic symptoms.
Brief Psychotic Disorder requires at least 1 day and less than 1 month of psychotic symptoms, with a full return to premorbid (i.e. prepsychotic) functioning.
Question: I've heard that Scope of Practice is a legal issue and that Scope of Competence is an ethical issue. Is that right?
Answer: That's correct to an extent, but this way of thinking makes it sound like Scope of Competence is only ethical rather than both ethical and legal. It's not that simple.
First, let's clarify the concepts. Scope of practice refers to how the law defines what members of a licensed profession may do in their licensed practice. It applies to the profession as a whole. Scope of competence refers to those practices for which an individual member of the profession has been adequately trained.
Scope of practice is strictly a legal issue, because only the law can establish rules related to licensure. Each state defines a profession's scope of practice in its own way.
Scope of competence is both an ethical issue and a legal issue.
The NASW Code of Ethics, Standard 1.04, addresses the issue as follows:
(a) Provide services and represent yourself as competent only within the boundaries of your training and qualifications.
(b) Use new interventions or techniques only after engaging in appropriate training and supervision/consultation from qualified individuals.
(c) When generally recognized standards do not exist for an emerging area of practice, exercise careful judgment and take responsible steps to ensure your competence and protect clients from harm.
The AAMFT Code of Ethics, Standard 3.7, addresses the issue as follows:
While developing new skills in specialty areas, marriage and family therapists take steps to ensure the competence of their work and to protect clients from possible harm. Marriage and family therapists practice in specialty areas new to them only after appropriate education, training, or supervised experience.
However, the law also addresses competence. In California, the Unprofessional Conduct sections of the Business and Professions Code state that a licensed clinical social worker or marriage, family and child therapist can have their license revoked or suspended for... Gross negligence or incompetence in the performance of (the respective profession's) practices.
If you found this information helpful, more information about Ask the Expert Q&A as well as Study Tips, Anxiety Reduction, Test-Taking Strategies, and the new BTA Myth Buster is available exclusively to BTA customers at the all new web-based Customer VIP Lounge.