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The intentional creation of false or grossly exaggerated physical or psychological symptoms, motivated by external incentives such as avoiding work., Patient consciously fakes of claims to have a disorder in order to attain a specific secondary gain (avoiding work, obtaining drugs). Avoids treatment by medical personnel. Complaints cease after gain (vs. factitious disorder)

Presenting Problem

Original complaint reported by the client to the therapist. The actual treated problem may be a modification derived from the this, Consists of the perceived symptoms and overt issues or difficulties that, according to the client, constitute the problems of which she has sought help. May not be the actual problems or the program that needs attention - i.e., it may be a distortion of the actual problem or a matter that the client feels safer disclosing or the client and her family may misunderstand the problem or not understand it fully. Nevertheless, a social work should "start where the client is" during an assessment and focus initially on eliciting the present problem.

Achievement Test

Test designed to assess the present level of skill in or knowledge of a particular content domain. Is usually considered a measure of previous learning but may also assess innate characteristics


A term that may be applied to any substance, activity, behavior, or object that has become the major focus of a person's life to the exclusion of other activities or that has begun to harm the individual of other physically, psychologically and/or socially

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

It is a medial term used to involving hyperactivity, attention difficulties, and impulsiveness. In children it's 4-9 times more common in boys. Treatment is a CNS stimulant (methylphenidate) and behavioral and cognative-behavioral techniques.


An anxiety disorder invovling anxiety about being in situations of places from which escape might be difficult or embarrassing or in which help might not be available if a panic attact or panic-like symptoms occur. Treatment of choice is in vivo exposure with reponse prevention (flooding).

AIDS Demetia Complex

Impairment of cognitive functioning due to infections of the centeral nervous system related to HIV disease. The symptoms fluctuate from day to day severe symptoms include grandiosity, poor impulse control, memory loss, aimless wandering and disorientation.

Amphetamine or Cocaine Intoxication

Symptoms include euphoria, anxiety, paranoid ideation, tachycardia, dilated pupils, perspiration, confusion and seizures.

Anaclitic Depression

Withdrawal, depression and development delays resulting from the loss of an attachment figure during infancy, especially when the loss occurs during the second half of the first year of life.

Anorexia Nervosa

An eating disorder involving a refusal to maintain a minimally normal body weight; intense fear of gaining weight; disturbed perception of one's body shape and size; and in females amenorrhea. Over 90% are female; onset is typically in adolescence. Treatment includes contingency management, cognitive therapy and family therapy.


Something that proceeds a behavior e.g. a fire alarm, sign on a door.

Anterograde Amnesia

A loss of memory for events and information subsequent to a trauma or other event that precipitated the amnisia. It involves an inability to form new memories.


Freud; It's a factor in both normal personality functioning and pathological behaviors. He distinguished between three types: Reality (objective) , Neurotic, and Moral. All serve to alert the ego to the presence of external or internal threats and involves excitation of the autonomic nervous system.


Impairment of language, usually caused by left hemisphere damage either to Broca's area (impairing speaking) or to wernicke's area (impairing understanding).

Appropriate Affect

A person is in touch with his emotions and can express them as he feels them in response to specific emotional or situational stimuli.

Aptitude Test

A test designed to predict a person's future performance.

Asperger's Disorder

Severe impairments in social interactions and a restricted repertoire of behaviors and activities. No delays in language, self help skills, cognitive development or curiosity about the environment.


A process by which social workers explore and attempt to attain a comprehensive understanding of a client's problems and needs including relevant personal and situational factors. Allows for appropriate intervention goals to be established. Social Workers believe that they should continue throughout the helping process and that an important focus should be the problem the client considers important.

Autistic Disorder

A pervasive developmental disorder characterized by qualitative impairment in social interaction; qualitative impairment in communication; and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped behaviors. About 4-5 times more common in males, Treatment involves educational interventions and the use of behavioral techniques (e.g. shaping and discrimination training for communication)

Aversive Counterconditioning (Aversion Therapy)

Behavioral therapy that reduces the attractiveness of a stimulus of behavior by repeatedly pairing it with a stimulus that produces and undesirable or unpleasant response. Pairing alcohol consumption with electric shock to reduce alcohol use is an example. In this situation, the alcohol is the conditioned stimulus (CS) and the electric shock is the unconditioned stimulus (US)

Avoidance Personality Disorder

A personality disorder characterized by a pervasive pattern of social inhabition, feelings of inadequacy and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation

Bayley Scale of Infant Development (BSID)

Instrument used to test cognitive and motor skills of infant age 2 months to 30 months. The BSID is predicitive of cognitive problems if the scores are significantly below average.

Beck Depression Inventory-II

Measure of the depth of a person's depression or the severity of his complaints, symptoms, and concerns related to his current level of depression. May be used with individuals age 13 and older with at least an 8th-grade reading level. Similar tests available to assess suicide risk include the Hopelssness Scales and the Scale for Suicidal Ideation.

Behavioral Addiction

(A.K.A. "process addiction", "non-substance-related addiction".) A recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in a specific activity (e.g. shopping) despite harmful consequences as identified by the person herself, to her physical health, psychological or emotional well-being, and/or social functioning.

Behavioral Assessment

A method of behavioral evaluation in which current, specific, and observable behaviors are quantitatively and qualitatively assessed. Reflects and idiographic (individual approach) and considers observed behaviors to be "samples" rather than signs of underlying phenomena.

Behavioral Intentions

A predisposition to act in a particular way towards an attitiude object, consisting of a personal component (the person's attitude toward engaging in the behavior) and social component (the person's beliefs about what other people think he should do).

Bipolar I Disorder

A mood disorder involving the presence of at least one or more manic or mixed episodes with or without a hisotry of a major depressive episode. Lithium is the treament-of-choice for "classic" bipolar disorder. Of the mental disorders, bipolar disorder most clearly has a genetic compent.

Bipolar II Disorder

A mood disorder involving at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode.

Boarderline Personality Disorder

A personality disorder involving a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, affect, and marked impulsivity.

Brazelton Neonatal Assessment Scale (BNAS)

Assessment tool used with infants up to 1 month of age to assess their reflexes, muscle tone, response to stimulation, etc.

Brief Psychotic Disorder

A psychotic disorder involving delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, and/or grossly disorganized behavior that is present for at least one day but less then one month. May or may not be precipitated by an overwhelming stressor.

Bulimia Nervousa

An eating disorder involving recurrent episodes of binge eating that are accompanied by a sense of lack of control; inappropriate compensatory behavior to prevent weight gain such as self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, or laxative or diuretic use; and self-evaluation that is unduly influence by body shape and weight. Treatment usually includes nutritional counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy and in some cases antidepressants.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

A pervasive development disorder involving a distinct pattern of regression in at least two areas of development following at least two years of normal functioning.


A helping skill used in response to vague or unclear messages. Using this skill is apppropriate whenever the social worker doesn't understand a client's message, would like the client to become more explicit, or wishes the check his understanding of a client's message.

Closed-Ended Questions

Interview questions that elicit responses that contain either factual information or simple "yes" or "no". Used primarily in the latter portion of an interview to obtain missing factual data.


Occurs when a person changes his behavior in order to obtain a reward or avoid a punishment. This behavior is public and does not involve a private change in opinions or attitudes. Reward and coercive power tend to work and produce a change in behavior, particularly when a person knows he is being observed.


Repetitious and deliberate behaviors or mental acts that the individual feels driven to perform either in response to an obsession or according to rules that must be applied rigidly. The goal of these acts is to reduce distress or prevent a dreaded situation from happening, but the acts are either excessive or are not connected in a logical way to this goal. The individual may attempt to resist but they tend to experiences anxiety and tension as the result of doing so.

Conduct Disorder

A disruptive behavior and persistent pattern of behaviors that violate the rights of others and age appropriate social rules; aggression to people and animals, bullies, threatens or intimidates others. Onset can be in children (prior to age 10) or adolescence. If over eighteen only diagnosed if criteria for antisocial personality disorder is not met.


Fabrication of expereinces or situations in order to fill in and cover up gaps in memory.

Confontation (Chanllenge)

Respectful and gentle efforts to help a client recognize that he is using distortions, deceptions, denials, avoidance, or manipulations that are getting in the way of desired change. The social worker challenges and invites the client to examine a thought of behavior that is self-defeating or harmful to other and to take action to change it. Efforts are generally emphasized factors that the social worker believes are contributing to the clients' problems and preventing them from making progress.

Conners' Rating Scales-Revised

Scales used to evaluate problem behavior in youth ages 3 through 17. Includes scales completed by parents and teachers and an adolescent self-report scale for clients ages 12 through 17.

Contingency Contract

A type of contingency management that involves a formal written agreement between two more people (e.g. between therapist and client, parent and child, teacher and students) that clearly defines the behaviors that are to be modified and the rewards and punshiments that will follow perfromance of those behaviors. Behavioral changes may be requried by one or all parties to the contact.

Conversion Disorder

A somatoform disorder characterized by symptoms that suggest a serious neurological or other medical condition (e.g. paralysis, blindness, loss of pain sensation). But for which no medical explanation can be found. Traditionally, conversion disorder has been traced to two etiological mechanisms: primary gain (keeping an inner conflict out of consciousness) and secondary gain (avoiding an unpleasant activity or obtaining support). Symptoms are not voluntarily produced and are usually alleviated under hypnosis or in an amytal interview.

Crystallized and Fluid Intelligence

Two types of general intelligence described by Horn and Cattell. One type refers to acquired knowledge and skills and is affected by educational and cultural experiences, whereas a second type enables an individual to solve novel problems and to perceive relations and similarities and does not depend on specific instruction.

Cultural Encapsulation

Refers to the tendecy of therapist and counselors to interpret everyone's reality through thier own cultural assumptions and stereotypes.

Culture-Bond Syndrome

Locality specific patterns of aberrant behavior and troubling experience that may or may not be symptomatically associated with a DSM-IV-TR diagnostic category. Within a given culture, the pattern may be viewed as an "illness" or merely and "affliction". When this syndrome may be considered a diagnostic formulation, the DSM includes the relevant categories. Differential diagnosis then depends on the client's constellation of symptoms and level of disability and the nature of the events that precipitated the symptoms.

Cycle of Violence (Walker)

A three-stages of violence that describes most abusive spousal/partner relationships. Includes tension building, acute battering incident, and loving-contrition ("honeymoon").

Cyclothymic Disorder

A mood disorder characterized by fluctuating hypomanic symptoms and numerous periods of depressive symptoms for at least two years in adults or one year in children or adolescents.


A disturbance in consciousness accompained by either a change in cognition (e.g. loss of memory, disorientation and/or perceptual abnormalities. Can be caused by a general medical condition or substance us. Symptoms usually develop rapidly and fluctuate over time.

Delirium Tremens or "DTS" (Alcohol Withdrawl Delirium)

Distrubance in consciousness and other cognitive functions, autonomic hyperactivity, vivid hallucinations, delusions, and agitiation. Associated with prolonged or heavy alcohol use.


False beliefs that are firmly held despite what other people believe and/or the exsitence of clear and indisputable evidence to the contrary.


A distrubance involving some degree of memory impairment and at least one other cognitive impairment (aphsia, apraxia, agnosia, disturbance in executive functioning). Can be caused by a general medcial condition or substatance use. Onset is usually insidious and course is progressive.

Dementia of the Alzheimer's Type

This form involves a gradual onset of symptoms and a slow progressive decline in cognitive functioning. Early symptoms ordinarliy include deficits in recent memory and personality change or irritability. Late onset (after 65) is more common than early onset. A definitive diagnosis requires a brain biopsy.

Diabetes Mellitus (Type 1 and Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes)

A disorder involving a build up of glucose in the blood as the result of hypoinsulinism. Forms include type 1, type 2, and gestational (developing during pregancy). Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder. Its symptoms develop quickly and may include increased thirst and urination, constant hunger, wieght loss, blurred vision, extreme fatigue, nausea, frequent urination, increased thirst, wieght loss, blurred vision, frequent infections, slow healing of wounds, and cognitive symptoms similar to those occuring in type 1. Type 2 is associated with obesity, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, low levels of physical activity, and older age. Due to increased rates of obesity among young people, however, type 2 is becoming more common among children, adolescents, and young adults.

Diathesis-Stress Model

A model of certain mental disorders that attributes them to a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental stress factors.

Direct Assessment of Suicide

Questioning a client directly about her intent to commit sucide with an emphasis on three indicators that directly suggest an elevated and more imminent risk of a suicide attempt - i.e., intent, plan, means. Risk to life is highest when a client has both a concrete, lethal suicide plan and the means available to carry it out.

Direct Practice

Social work activites, such as individual therapy, family therapy, and group therapy, in which treatment goals are reached through personal contact and direct influence with clients.

Dissociative Amnesia

A disorder involving one or more episodes of an inability to recall important personal information that cannot be attributed to ordinary forgetfulness. The gaps in memory are often related to a traumatic event.

Down Syndrome

Autosomal disorder usually caused by the presence of an extra chromosome 21. The cause of 10 to 30 percent of all cases of mild to moderate retardation. Associated with physical abnormalities including slanted, almond-shaped eyes, heart lesions, catarcts, and respiratory defects.

Dual Diagnosis

Term used when a client has both a major psychiatric disorder, such as a psychotic or mood disorder, and substance abuse or dependence.

Dysthymic Disorder

A mood disorder involving a chronically depressed mood that is present most of the time for at least two years in adults or one year in children or adolescents.


An elimination disorder characterized by repeated voiding of urine during the day or night into the bed or clothes that is usually involuntary but can be intentional and is not due to a general medical condition or substance use. Primary treatment is the bell-and-pad (night alarm)


Belief that one's own culture, ethnic or racial group, or nation is superior to others.

Existential Crisis

When questions (Why are we here? Who made us?) consume us, inner conflicts and anxieties about living (e.g. Mid-life crisis).

Fact-Gathering Interview

Interview conducted when a client first contacts an agency: involves gathering predetermined and specific information for the client.

Factitious Disorder

A disorder characterized by the presence of physcial or psychological symptoms that are intentionally produced or feigned (fake) apparently for the purpose of fulfilling an intrapsychic need to adopt the sick role.

Factitious Disorder by Proxy (Munchaunsen's Syndrome by Proxy)

Involves the intentional production of symptoms in a child by her parent or other caregiver. Warning signs for this disorder include recurrent inexplicable illnesses in a child, a lack of symptoms in the child when the parent is absent, and the presence of diagnostic results that are inconsistent with the child's symptoms.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)

Caused by exposure to alcohol during prenatal development and may produce a variety of physical, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms depending on the amount consumed by the pregnant women. Symptoms are largely irreversible and include facial deformities, retarded physical growth, heart defects, mental retardation, hyperactivity, and irritability. Risk is highest, and symptoms are most severe, when the mother drinks heavily every day or, in the early stages of pregnancy, engages in binge drinking.

Flight of Ideas

A verbal presentation in which the client's responses seem to "take off" based on a particular word or thought, unrelated to any logical progression or the original point of the communication.

Focusing Responses

Social work interview techniques use to keep the conversation from wandering or jumping from one subject to another.

Formative Evaluation (Direct Practice Evaluation)

Evaluation use to guide ongoing practice decisions. A tool for monitoring an intervention and identifying when one needs to modify a planned intervention.

General Adaptation Syndrome

According to Selye, the human response to stress is mediated by adrenal-pituitary secretions (e.g., cortisol) and involves three stages: alarm retraction, resistance, and exhaustion. The model predicts that prolonged stress can result in illness or death.


An assesment tool used to obtain and record information about a client's family patterns and history. Provides a schematic diagram of the family system describing at least three generation of family relationships, geographical locations, and siginificant life events.

Goals and Objectives (Direct Practice)

An outcome sought by the social worker and client and is generally phrased as a broad statement that describes the desired outcome. Behaviors that are discrete steps that will be taken to achieve the desired outcome and are defined a series of behavioral changes that must take places in order to reach a goal and are more specific than goals and are always written in manner that facilitates measurement and evaluation.

Goodness-of-fit Model (Thomas and Chess

Proposes that behavioral and adjustment outcomes are best for children when parents' caregiving behaviors match the child's temperament


Sensory perceptions occurring without external stimulation of the associated sensory organ.

Hazardous Event (Crisis)

An initial shock that disrupts a person's equilibrium and initiates a series of reactions that may culminate in a crisis. It may be anticipated (e.g. marriage, retirement) or unanticipated (e.g., the unexpected death of a family member).

Hemispheric Specialization

Although the left and right hemispheres of the brain are both involved to some degree in most functions, they tend to specialized. The left (dominant) hempisphere dominate in verbal activities (e.g., spontaneous speaking and writing, memory for words and numbers); analytical, logical thought; and postive emotional states. The right (nondominant) hemisphere dominates in visual-spatial activities such as facial recognition, spatial interprretation, and memory for shapes and in negative emotions.

HIV/AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

A viral disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus, which may be transmitted by sexual contact, blood-to-blood contact, and from a pregnant women to her unborn child, it suppresses the body's immune system and, therefore, results in a vulnerability to a range of opportunistic infections including Kaposi's sarcoma (a form of cancer) and a rare from of pneumonia. These diseases are known as opportunistic infections because they take advantage of a compromised immune system that is no longer able to fight them off.


A term used by Spitz to describe the syndrome found in infants who have been separated from their mothers or other primary caregiver. Symptoms include listlessness, unreponsiveness, indifference, and retarded growth.

Human Plasticity

The concept that variations in the evironment can affect a person's personality, cognivite and social functioning, and physcial and mental health, independent of her genetic endowment. Describes one way that the environment can influence development over the lifespan.

Huntington's Disease

Inhereited disorder characterized by dementia, chorea (involuntary tremors, twitching), and althetosis (slow writhing movements).


The "Primary (essential)" diagnoses is when high blood pressure is not due to a known physiological cause, while the "Secondary" diagnoses is when elevated blood pressure is related to a known disease. Primary diagnoses account for about 85 to 90 present of all cases of high blood pressure; untreated, it can leas to cardiovascular disease, and it is a major cause of heart failure, kidney failure, and stroke. High risk is associated with gender (males), obesity, cigarette smoking, excessive use of salt and genetic (e.g. African-American heritage).


A condition caused by hyper-secretion of thyroxin by the thyroid gland the pancreases and characterized by a speeded-up metabolism, elevated body temperature, accelerated heart rate, increased appetite with weight loss, nervousness, and insomnia.


Low blood glucose, a condition caused by excessive secretion of insulin by the pancreas and characterized by hunger, dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, palpitations, anxiety, depression, and confusion.

Hypomanic Episode

A distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood that last for at least four days and is accompanied by at least three of the symptoms associated with a manic episode. The episode represents a clear change in mood and functioning but (in contrast to a manic episode) is not sufficiently severe to cause marked impairment in functioning or to require hospitalization, and there is an absence of psychotic symptoms.


A condition caused by hypo-secretion of thyroxin and characterized by a slowed metabolism, slowed hear rate, lethargy, lowered body temperature, impaired concentration and memory, and depression.

Identified Patient

The family member who is identified by the family as bearing the symptom and has typically been labeled by the family as "crazy" or "sick."

Incompetent (Mentally)

Definitions varies from state to state, but they generally require that a person be incapcitated in some way, and as result of that incapacity, the person must be unable to care for herself or manage her own property. In order to establish this, there must be evidence of mental or physical impairment and evidence of impaired social skills and adaptive behavior. An adult who is assumed incapcitated must be proven incapcitated before he is denied his right to make his own decisions.

Indirect Practice

Soical work activities undertaken to provide services more effectively and efficienctly and to bring about changes in policies, programs, or budget. Activities do not involve personal contact with clients and usually are undertaken with a committe, coalition, or other group.

Information and Referral Service (I & R)

Agnecy (or office wtihin an agency) that notifies individuals about existing programs, resources (including referrals to other services), and benefits and how to obtain and use them.

Information Interview

Social work interview used to obtain data for a soical history in order to facilitate appropriate dicisions about the kinds of services that social worker or agency should offer a cleint. Rather than collecting comprehensive information about a client's life history, the worker focuses on obtaining background information related to the problem, includeing objective facts and subjective feelings and attitudes.


A legal term referring to a defendant's lack of ability to distinguish between right and wrong. Applies when a person has committed a crime while under the influence of a mental disorder that inhibits the knowledge that such an act was wrong or the ability to refrain from doing it.

Instrumental Activities of Daily Living

Skills beyond basic self-care that evaluate how individuals function in their homes, workplace, and soical enviornments.

Intake Procedures

Procedures used by social agencies to make initial contacts with clients productive and helpful. The social work emphasizes obtaining preliminary information from the client in order to determine whether he can work with the client or should refer him to a more suitable agency for professional.

Activities of Daily Living (ADL's)

Social worker refer to the ability or inahbility to perform selfcare as a measurement of a person's functional status. The criterias are particulary useful for clients with physcial disabilities, those who are elderly and/or people with serious mental disorders.

Learning Disorders

Diagnosed when there is a substantial discripancy between IQ and achievement test performance (usually two standard deviations or more). Most common co-diagnosis is ADHD.

Life Cycle Matrix

Assessment tool used to graphically depict the development stage of all individuals in a household.

Locus of Control ("internal & external locus of control")

A construct developed by Rotter to describe the extent to which an individual believes that life events are under his own control or under the control of external forces. The research suggest that "high internals" attribute their success to intrinsic factors and are more achievement-oriented, self-confident, and willing to work hard to achieve personal goals; are less anxious, suspicious, and dogmatic; and tend to be better adjusted than "high externals."


Drug used to alleviate mania and mood swings in bipolar disorder, can be toxic and blood levels need to be monitored. Retention of this drug is affected by the body's sodium levels and users must make sure their levels do not fluctuate. Early signs of toxicity include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, sedation, slurred speech, coordination problems, and confusion.


Bringing together the resources of various agencies, personnel, etc., and coordinating their efforts on behalf of a client or social objective.

Life History Grid

Assessment tool used to graphically depict significant events in a client's life and the development of significant problems over time. Allows you to organize and depict data related to various periods in a clients' life

Major Depressive Disorder

A mood disorder that involves one or more major depressive episodes without a history of manic, hypomanic, or mixed episodes. A major depressive episode requires the presence of characteristic symptoms (e.g. depressed mood and /or a loss of interest or enjoyment in customary activities) for the least two weeks. This disorder is about twice as common in females as males. Treatment most commonly involves the use of an antidepressant and/or cognitive therapy.

Major Depressive Episode

Characterized by a depressed mood and/or loss of interest or pleaseure in nearly all activities. It includes at least five of the following symptoms (with at least one symptom being being a depressed mood or loss of interest of pleasure): (1) Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day as reported by the client or observed by others (in children of adolescents, can be an irritable mood); (2) diminished interest or pleasure in all or nearly all activities; (3) significant weight loss (without dieting) or weight gain and a decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day; (4) sleep disturbances (insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day); (5) psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day; (6) fatigue or loss of energy nerarly every day; (7) feelings of worthlessness or excesie or inapprrtopriate guilt nearly every day; (8) impared ability to think or concentrate or indecisiveness nearly every day; and/or (9) recurrent thoughts of death, succideal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or specific plan for committing sucide.


One of DSM's "other conditions that may be a focus of clinical attention." Involves the intentional production of feigning of symptoms for the purpose of obtaining an external reward.

Manic Episode

A distinct period, lasting at least one week, of abnormanlly and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood. At least three characteristic signs are present: inflated self-esteem or grandiosity; decresed need for sleep; more talkative or pressure to keep talking; flight of ideas or a sense that one's thoughts are racing; distractibility; increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agititation; and/or excessive involvement in pleasureable acivities that have a high potiential for painful consequences. Also associated with significant impariment of occupational or social functioning; or a need for hospitalization to prevent harm to self or others; or psychotic features.

MAOI's (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors)

Antidepresents durgs that inhibit the enzyme that deatctiviates dopamine, norepiniphrine, and serotonin. MAOIs appear to be most effective for treating non-endogenous and atypical depressions. Side-effects include anticholnergic effects, insomnia, agitation, confusion, and wieght gain. when taken in conjuction with other drugs or foods containing tyramine, they can cause a hypertensive crisis.

Masked Depression

A form of depression in which physical symptoms (pain, paresthesias, anorexia, etc.) predominate, and the individual often denies experiencing a depressed mood.

Maturational (Developmental) Crises

A crisis in which the origin is embedded in maturational processes - i.e., the person struggles with an anticipated transition from one life stage or role to another.

Means Test

Process used to evalute a person's financial means or well-being based on his income, debts, health, number of dependants, etc. The results are used to determine the person's eligibility to recieve a benefit and if the person can pay for the services he is seeking, he will be turned down. Examples of federal progams and services include Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), the Food Stamp Program, and Medcaid.

Mental Retardation

A development disorder requiring significantly subaverage intellectual functioning (IQ = 70 or below); impairments in adaptive functioning; and most prior to age 18. There are four subtypes; mild, moderate, serve, and profound.

Mental Status Exam

Evaluation of a client's current mental functioning, includes evaluation of behavior and cognitive aspects. Information is collected though observation and questions. The assessment can help to recognize key symptoms and when to refer clients for psychiatric evaluations and evaluation of medical problems (including neurological problems) that affect psychological functioning.

Methylphenidate (Ritalin)

Psychostimulant drug used to treat ADHD. Common side-effect include dysphoria, decreased appetite, insomnia, and growth suppression.

Milan Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI-III)

Self-report inventory used to assess lasting personality trait and acute clinical states. Is appropriate for individuals age 18 and over with at least an 8th-grade reading comprehension level. For adolescents (age 13 to 19) whose reading ability is at a or above the 6th-grade level, MACI is available.

Minnestoa Multiphasic Personality Invetory (MMPI-2)

Self-report personality test that reports and examinee's performance in terms of clinical scales and validity scales. Although originally intended as a tool for deriving psychiatric diagnosis, is now more commonly interpreted in terms of score profiles to derive information about an examinee's personality characteristics. For adolescents (age 14 to 18), the MMPI-A is available.

Mixed Episode

A period of at least one week in which the criteria are met for both a manic and major depressive episode nearly every day; there are rapidly alternating symptoms of manic an major depressive episodes, the disturbance is sufficiently severe to cause marked impairment in social or occupational function, hospitalization is require or, alternatively, includes psychotic symptoms.

Mnemonics (Method of Loci, Keyword Method)

They are memory strategies that rely on imagery, organizations, and other techniques. The method of loci that employs imagery in which items to be remembered are mentally placed, one by one, in pre-memorized (familiar) locations; recall involves mentally "walking through" the location and retrieving the items. The keyword method, another imagery technique, is useful for paired associate tasks in which tow words must be linked.

Mood Stabelizing Drugs (Lithium, Anticonvulsant drugs)

Drugs used to alleviate mania and mood swings in bipolar disorder and include lithium and anticonvulsants (e.g., carbamazepine). Lithium is usually the drug-treatment-of-choice for classic bipolar, while an anticonvulsant drug may be more effective for patient who experience rapid mood swing or who have dysphonic mania.

Motivation, Capcity, and Opportunity

A client's motivation to change, capacity for change, opportunity to change have a significant impact on the success of the planned change process. Motivation refers to a state of readiness to take action; capacity refers to the abilities and resources that the client or people in her environment bring the change process; and opportunity refers to conditions and circumstances within the client's immediate environment that support positive change.

Multi-Axial Assessment System

DSM-IV-TR's diagnostic system is referred to as a multi-axial assessment system, which means that when using DSM-IV-TR a client's condition may be descried in terms of five dimensions or axis: (1) Axis I is used to record clinical disorders(s) and other conditions that may be a focus of clinical attention (with the exception of borderline intellectual functioning, which is recorded on Axis II). (2) Axis II is used to record mental retardation and personality disorder. (3) Axis III is used to record current general medical conditions that my affect the understanding or treatment of the client's mental disorder. (4) Axis IV is used to record psychosocial and environmental problems that may affect the diagnosis, treatment, or prognosis of the client's mental disorder, (5) Axis V is used to record an assessment of the client's current overall functioning using the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) scale. Assessment of current functioning facilitates treatment planning, the measurement of treatment effects, and the prediction of treatment outcome.

Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy

See factitious disorders by proxy


A sleep disorder that involves irresistible attacks of restorative sleep accompanied by either cataplexy (loss of muscle tone) or an intrusion of REM sleep during the transition between sleep and wakefulness.


The drugs classified as opioids have both sedative and analgesic properties. Medically used for the same reasons they were used centuries ago - i.e., as a treatments for diarrhea, and cough suppressants. Chronic use of a results in tolerance and psychological and physical dependence, Withdrawal symptoms resemble those associated with a bad case of the flu.


Physical, psychological, economic, cultural, and social requirements for survival fulfillment, and well-being.

Needs Assessment

Technique used to identify the nature, incidence, and prevalence of a condition or problem in a community in order to determine the adequacy of existing services and resources for addressing the condition or problem. Results should provide information about the quantity (does the level of service meet the need?), the quality (are the services effective?), and the direction of existing services (e.g., are services delivery approaches appropriate to the real needs of clients?). The most useful approach is survey research.

Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia

See positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia

Neuroimanging Techniques

Techniques that make it possible to study both the structure and function of the living brain. Computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are structural techniques. Positron-emission tomography (PET), single proton emission computed tomography (SPECT), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) provide information on the functional activities of the brain.

Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS)

A rare, but potentially fatal side-effect of the antipsychotic drugs. It involves a rapid onset of motor, mental, and autonomic symptoms including muscle rigidity, tachycardia, hyperthermia, and altered consciousness. To avoid a potentially fatal outcome, the drug must be stopped as soon as symptoms develop.


The nerve cell specialized for the conduction of electrochemical signals that carry information from one part of the body to another (e.g. from the brain to the muscles, from sensory organs to the brain). Is made up dendrites, the soma (cell body), and an axon.

Neuropsychological Tests

Used when brain degeneration or damage is suspected and to determine the nature of the impairment produced by brain pathology.

Neurotransmitters (Acetylcholine, Dopamine, Serotonin, GABA)

They are chemical substance that are released for axon terminals, diffuse across synapses, and excite or inhibits receptor sites on postsynaptic nerve cells. (1) Acetylcholine mediated neuromuscular transmission, parasympathetic arousal, and memory (e.g. memory loss in Alzheimer's' dementia). (2) Dopamine is involved in inhibitory motor regulations and motivational/emotional functions. Insufficient dopamine in the basal ganglia is believed to underlie Parkinson's disease; excessive activity at dopamine receptors has been linked to schizophrenia and Tourette's disorder. (3) Serotonin ordinarily inhibits behaviors and is involved in the regulation of mood, hunger, arouse, sleep, temperature, and pain and in the affective disorder, schizophrenia, and OCD. (4) GABA is the most common inhibitory neurotransmitter and is believed to be involved in anxiety, sleep, and seizures. Low levels of GABA in the motor region are associated with Huntington's disease.

Newborn Reflexes

Reflexes are unlearned responses to particular stimuli and the environment. Early reflexes include the Babinski reflex (toes fan out and upward when soles or the feet are tickled) and the Moro reflex (flings arms and legs outward and then toward the body in response to a loud noise or sudden loss of physical support).


A form of information giving used to place a client's problem in a new context by defining it as expectable or predictable rather than pathological. With the parents of a defiant toddler, for example, a social worker could explain the behavior that are expected during this developmental stage.


The standard rules of conduct used by groups to maintain uniformity of behavior among group members, they may be formal (codified or written) or informal (unwritten but "understood" by group members). They do not govern all aspects of behavior, only those considered by the group to be important for effective group functioning; In addition, usually apply to behavior not to personal feelings and thoughts

NOS (Not Otherwise Specified)

[Class of Disorder] May be used to code diagnostic uncertainty about a client's condition on Axis I or Axis II. Used when there isn't adequate information to know that a disorder belongs to a particular class of disorder (e.g., a depressive mood disorder) but further specification is not possible. This can happen because (1) you have insufficient information to make a more specific diagnosis within the class of disorders or (2) the clinical features of the disorder don't meet the full criteria for a specific diagnosis with in the class of disorder.

Noticie of Privacy Practices (NPP)

A consent form require under HIPPA's privacy rule.

Object Permanence (Object Concept)

The understanding that objects continue to exist when they are no longer detectable by the senses (e.g., when they are out of sight), emerges at the end of Piaget's sensorimotor stage of development.


Uninfluenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased, not subjective.


Persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that an individual experiences as senseless or intrusive and that cause marked distress. The thoughts are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems, and the person may attempt to ignore, suppress, or neutralize them with other thoughts or actions.

Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder

An anxiety disorder involving recurrent obsessions and/or compulsions. About equally common in males and females. Is commonly treated with in vivo exposure and the tricyclic clomipramine.

Open-Ended Questions

Interview questions that define a topic area but allow a client to respond in whatever way she choose. Effective for encouraging a client to self-disclose or expand on personal information and, thus tend to elicit valuable data.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

A disruptive behavior disorder involving a recurrent pattern of negativistic, defiant, and hostile behaviors toward authority.

Orientation (Disorientation)

An accurate awareness of person, place, time situation, familiar object, and other people. Marked disorientation may be associated with severe mental illness, drug intoxication, or a pathological brain syndrome (e.g. delirium).

Panic Attack

A discrete period of intense apprehension, fear, or terror often accompanied by a sense of doom or an urge to escape. There are three types; (1) Unexpected (uncued) panic attacks are not associated with a situational trigger (either internal or external) and, instead, "occurs out of the blue." Requires the experiences of at lest two unexpected attacks; however a person may also experience other types, particularly later in the course of the disorder. (2) Situationally bound (cued) attacks occur almost invariably on exposure to or anticipation of a situational cue or trigger (e.g., the person has an immediate attack whenever she thinks about giving a speech at work) and are most characteristic of social and specific phobias. (3) Situationally predisposed attacks are more likely to occur on exposure to a situational cue or trigger but are not invariably associated with the cue and do not necessarily occur immediately after exposure to it. These are common but can occur in social phobia or specific phobia, as well.

Panic Disorder (with and without Agoraphobia)

An anxiety disorder involving two or more unexpected discrete periods of intense apprehension, fear, or terror that develop abruptly and usually peak within 10 minutes. Symptoms may mimic a heart attack or hyperthyroidism. Treatment usually includes in vivo exposure and, in some cases, a TCA or SSRI.

Parallel Process (A.K.A. reflection process)

Phenomenon in supervisory interactions in which a worker unconsciously reenacts certain client's behavior in an effort to understand it better and get help from the supervisor in dealing with it.


A sexual disorder in which intense, recurrent sexual urges, fantasies, or behaviors involve either nonhuman objects; the suffering or humiliation of oneself or ones partner; or children or other nonconsenting partners. Includes, among others, transvestic fetishism, pedophilia, and voyeurism. Often treated with covert sensitization and some type of relapse prevention.

Parasympathetic Division

The division of the autonomic nervous system involved in the conservation of energy and relaxation. Activation of this divisions is associated with the slowing of heart rate, lowered blood pressure, contraction of pupils, reduction of sweat gland output, and increased activity of the digestive system.


Process within a family system in which a spouse, or more typically, a child, is expected to take on a significant parenting role in the family. Represents a subjective distortion of family relationships in which a family member acts as though his/her spouse or child were actually his/her parent. Somewhat the opposite of scapegoating, a child assumes excessive responsibly in a pseudo-adult role by emotionally or physically caring for a weak parent or vulnerable marriage. This role serves to defuse marital stress and also to reinforce the power of the child in the family. There is often an associated effect of sibling rivalry, and the parentified child may be more vulnerable to incidents of incest or physical abuse.

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