Two pictures including hands on a computer and a woman studying with the words, "Practice Question of the Week"

Client with Dysfunctional Response Pattern


While working with a client who is experiencing difficulty getting along with the staff where she works, the client and the social worker become aware of a dysfunctional response pattern she has to staff in a specific type of situation. The best course of action to help the client clearly identify what is happening and to change the maladaptive pattern is to use the technique of
A. Empty chair
B. Mirroring
C. Cognitive restructuring
D. Role-playing


The correct answer is “C” – Cognitive restructuring. Cognitive restructuring is when one learns to replace disparaging remarks with positive messages. There is much support in the literature for the value of cognitive restructuring in resolving this type of problem. Empty chair (answer “A”) is not correct as empty chair is a technique used in Gestalt therapy, whereby the client is asked to act out feelings or thoughts to increase awareness, rather than to learn skills to restructure maladaptive behavior. Mirroring (answer “B”) is not correct as mirroring is a nondirective approach in which the social worker reflects back the client’s exact words and gestures. Role-playing (answer “D”) is not the best answer because, although role-playing may be a useful exercise to practice one’s behavior, cognitive restructuring needs to be the primary therapeutic approach.