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Case study task

The case study task remains an essential component for all AASW credential applications.

As of 15 July 2020, the completion of all case study responses will occur AFTER a member has completed and submitted their initial credential application. This task will take place in a supervised, time-limited manner, arranged by the applicant in conjunction with the AASW. Further information is provided below.

Reasons for these changes

Prior to the introduction of the new online credential forms, the AMHSW case study process was unchanged for approximately six years. Over this time, the AASW had become increasingly aware of growing collaboration between applicants when preparing their case study responses, and of situations where direct assistance from third parties is sought, including in return for payment (as shared by other professional assessing authorities).

The AASW wishes to prevent future situations of largely unintentional collusion, plagiarism and/or fraud. As such, following consultation with other accrediting bodies, we have chosen to adopt a time-limited case study format, whereby applicants will be required to prepare usually two case study responses overseen by an observer (otherwise known as an ‘Invigilator’).

We believe that these changes will help align our processes with other similar associations, and ultimately help to maintain and strengthen the integrity of our credentialing program moving into the future.

Summary of the process

The applicant will be able to choose where they complete their case study responses and to nominate their own observer. Applicants are required to provide this information as part of their online credential application form.

Applicants are required to nominate an observer who can supervise them for the duration of the case study task. The observer cannot be a family member, spouse/partner or a direct report, but may be a supervisor or manager in their workplace, a colleague outside their team, a Justice of the Peace (JP), or any person with whom the applicant does not have a personal relationship (a general acquaintance is acceptable).

Following pre-assessment, AASW staff will contact applicants to discuss their chosen observer, and to agree upon a location/date/time for the task to be held (usually at the applicant’s work or home). The AASW will then liaise with observers to clarify their role, verify their identity, arrange for the delivery of the case studies and to confirm all other arrangements.

The time period for the case study task will allow 15 minutes for reading, and then a maximum of three hours to complete the case study responses.

The case study scenarios

From 15 July 2020, the six case studies scenarios have also changed, with six new and varying case studies available for applicants to choose from when preparing their usually two case study responses. These will also be rotated over time.

The nature of the case study response task will however remain the same. In responding to the case studies, applicants are required to demonstrate their ability to:

  • Undertake a biopsychosocial assessment of a person with a mental health disorder/issue
  • Develop an appropriate, evidence-based treatment plan.

Applicants are also required to analyse the two chosen case studies, and to contextualise and provide sound clinical reasoning for their use of particular therapeutic modalities, which in the case of AMHSW applications, must include a range of relevant evidence-based Focused Psychological Strategies (FPS as stipulated by Medicare).

Case study responses are not assessed on grammar or other stylistic factors. Rather, the assessors are focussed on the applicant’s demonstrated capacity to complete a comprehensive assessment drawing on their specific social work and credential-based practice knowledge, perspectives and training, and to develop a suitable treatment plan that draws on evidence-based modalities (such as FPS for AMHSWs).

As such, the task is intended to provide an opportunity for applicants to demonstrate and showcase their direct core practice skills, as would be required and expected of an experienced credentialed social worker practising independently in the community, and in the case of AMHSWs, as a credentialed FPS provider under Medicare.

Use of reference materials

The AASW is in the process of confirming the types of reference materials (such as clinical tools and frameworks) that may be potentially permitted to be used by applicants as they complete the case study task. This will be communicated and confirmed with all members and applicants as a matter of priority.

Further information regarding case studies

The AASW appreciates that changes such as these can cause an element of anxiety and wishes to reassure applicants that the core requirements of the credential application process, including the case study task, remain unchanged.

The AASW will communicate respectfully with all applicants to ensure they can complete the task at a time and location that best suits them. Practice case studies (coming soon) will also be made available to assist applicants to prepare for, and become acquainted with, the case study task.

The AASW also hopes that by introducing this changed approach to the case study task, applicants may be supported to complete their applications in a more linear or ‘step-by-step’ fashion; providing a dedicated window to complete the case study task once they have first completed their Criterion 2 responses.

Modifications to the case study task

The AASW will not consider exemptions from the case study task. Rather, the AASW will consider modifying the conditions under which the task is competed on an individual basis (such as provision of extra time etc).

The AASW will only consider requests for modifications to the case study task conditions in the context of exceptional circumstances. Reasons for modification may include significant health conditions, dyslexia and other factors/conditions that may impact writing, and other personal circumstances.

Applicants wishing to apply for a modification to the case study task are requested to email mentalhealth@aasw.asn.au, with the following information:

  • Brief reason for requiring a modification, and the type/s of modifications required
  • Evidence from a medical practitioner or other professional to evidence the need for a modification.

Whilst the AASW appreciates that some applicants may have already been working on their case study responses using the previous case study format, no exemptions will be granted outside of the conditions outlined above. This decision has been made to promote consistency for all applicants as much as possible.

CPD requirements

CPD completed for the 2019/2020 financial year can be used to meet new credential applications submitted until approximately 31 December 2020 (using the old CPD criteria of 50 hours per year).

New CPD requirements have been recently introduced for all credentials for the 2020/2021 financial year. The CPD requirements for the AMHSW credential have been reduced to 30 hours in total, to align with all other credentials. Please refer to the updated AASW CPD policy for further information.

Further information

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers