Social Work Study Materials to Bookmark Before Grad School

Hi, my name is Haley, and I am a last-semester senior who can’t wait to start social work school! So, how do I pass the time between study breaks?

I Google study aids for M.S.W. students, of course.

Confession: I will not be graduating with honors, or even a stellar GPA. Even if I got a 4.0 this semester, which – let’s face it – I probably won’t, I can’t earn higher than a 3.2 cumulative GPA. A couple of rocky semesters, both for my mental health and my grades, combined with the fact that I’m losing two semesters to early graduation mean that my chances of graduating cum laude are behind me.

…or are they? Confession #2: it’s never too late to bring your grades up! Determined to achieve my longtime goal of graduating with honors, I resolved that I would make this semester my best yet and learn the study skills and habits that will carry me through social work school to (hopefully!) graduate with the GPA I wish I had in undergrad.

One of the tricks I’ve learned along my journey toward raising my GPA is that one must never procrastinate if one aims to do well in their classes. Admittedly, this may have led to a bit of over-eager preparation for grad school – but ultimately, it resulted in this handy list of resources for you and me both to use in our journey through social work school!

I’m sure you’re thinking: after admitting that my grades are average at best, why should you take study advice from me of all people? Because it’s not the natural geniuses, for whom 4.0 GPAs and perfect GRE scores come easily to, who know how to teach the rest of us to study. It’s those of us who have been in your shoes, riding the #strugglebus alongside you, that know how difficult it is – and how much sheer will and determination it requires – to bring up your GPA when you’re just not a “school person.”

My advice for navigating this list is to start with the general study aids I’ve chosen. These are study skills and resources you can start using now to apply to graduate school later. Then, the further you progress in your social work career, the more you can explore and peruse the specific resources that will help you flourish in your chosen field.

Last but not least, be sure not to skip the self-care section at the end! Of all the careers you could have chosen, social work is the one with the highest burnout rate: so be sure to take a break for a 10-minute yoga session (or to do nothing for two minutes) to refresh your mind, body and spirit after a couple minutes of scrolling, thinking hard and preparing for your future.


General Study Aids

Social Work Scholar (The Official Cozy Counselor Studyblr!)

My Study Life – School Planner (Web – Also Available on iOS/Android)

Trello – Boards, Lists & Cards for Productivity Planning (Web – Also Available on iOS/Android)

Tinycards – Flashcards by Duolingo (Web – Also Available on iOS/Android)

Printable Exam Checklist (PDF)

Academic Memorization Tips for Different Types of Learners (Tumblr)

How I Use Flashcards (Tumblr)

How I Revise Content (Tumblr)

A Guide to Making Effective Slides (Tumblr)

How to Pull an All-Nighter (Tumblr)

How I Got a 4.0 Last Semester (Blog)


Licensure Exam

MSW Pocket Prep App (iOS)

ASWB Content Outlines – 2018 Master’s Exam (PDF)

Study Guide: Licensed Clinical Social Worker Exam (PDF)

2013 Licensing Exam Questions (PDF)



Theories, Models & Perspectives Cheat Sheet (PDF)

Overview of Theories (PDF)

Genograms and Ecomaps (PDF)

Crash Course Psychology #12: The Bobo Beatdown (Video)

Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages of Development Summary Chart (PDF)

Psychodynamic Theory: Id, Ego & Superego (Video)

Freud’s Psychosexual Stages of Development (PDF)

Lawrence Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development (PDF)

Chapter Three Summary: The Stages of Women’s Moral Development (In a Different Voice by Carol Gilligan) (PDF)

Piaget’s Four Stages (PDF)

Crash Course Sociology #6: Karl Marx & Conflict Theory (Video)


Practice Models

SMART Goal Worksheet – Relevant to Task-Centered Practice (PDF)

Solution-Focused Interviewing Skills and Questions (PDF)

Narrative Therapy Worksheet: Life Story (PDF)

Crisis Intervention and Suicide Assessment (Podcast)

CBT: The Cognitive Model (PDF)

The ABC of CBT Worksheet (PDF)

Definitions of Cognitive Distortions – Relevant to CBT (PDF)

Patient Thought Record – Relevant to CBT (PDF)

Trauma-Informed Care Whitepaper (PDF)


Ethics & Case Studies

NASW Code of Ethics (PDF)

Social Work Today: Eye on Ethics (Blog)

2018 NASW Code of Ethics (Parts I-III) (Podcast)

The Red Carpet and the Social Work Exam – Free Ethics Practice Questions (Web)

Case Study Template (Word Doc)

CSWE Case Studies: October 2017 (PDF)

Social Work Case Studies: Foundation Year (PDF)


DSM-V & Psychopathology

DSM-V Disorders (PDF)

DSM-V Self-Exam Questions (Google Book)

Pearson Clinical: Clinical Assessment (Web – Links to PDFs)

Psychopathology (Video & PDF Questions)

AFP Patient Handouts (Web to PDF – Select “Psychiatric and Psychological” in Drop-Down Menu)

Developing Treatment Plans: The Basics (Podcast)

The Severe and Persistent Mental Illness Progress Notes Planner (PDF)

Sample Treatment Plan (PDF)

NASW Clinical Documentation (PDF)

Quick Reference to Psychotropic Medication (PDF)



MHA Stress Screener (Web)

Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project Self-Tests (Web)

Self-Care Assessment (PDF)

Dealing with Academic Burnout (Tumblr)

Self-Care Tips for Social Workers (Web)

Self-Care For Social Workers (Podcast)

My Maintenance Self-Care Worksheet (PDF)

Emergency Self-Care Worksheet (PDF)

My Support System Worksheet (PDF)

Take Action to Control Stress (Web)

Do Nothing for Two Minutes (Web)

10 Minute Yoga for Self-Care (Video)

Lavendaire (Self-Improvement YouTube Channel)


For more social work resources & study aids, follow me @cozycounselor on Pinterest!

Getting Over “The Senior Slump:” How to Avoid Burnout in College

The Senior Slump is a well-known cause of burnout among college students. Here’s how to bounce back from setbacks and manage a busy schedule, without burning out in college.

My whole life, I’ve been someone who has trouble saying “no.” Like any personality trait, my burning desire to please others has two sides to it: on the one hand, I’m extremely driven to help others, which is what led me to pursue a career in social work. On the other, I also tend to over-commit, making me incredibly prone to burning out.

The last time I majorly burned out, I was in my high school “senior slump.” That year, I took on an internship in the Massachusetts’ Governor’s Office, a Girl Scout Gold Award project and a Vice President position in our Young Democrats club all at once. Those things may have gotten me into college, but they also exacerbated my untreated anxiety, and made it so that pretty much all I could accomplish in my limited free time was napping and watching Bridget Jones’ Diary on Netflix on repeat.

Now that I’m a college senior about to apply to grad school, the so-called “senior slump” is on my mind again. Seeing as it’s still September, I figure my slump is a long ways away – and as someone who wants to keep her GPA up for grad school applications (not to mention personal fulfillment), I’m more than invested in keeping it that way.

Like many of you, I have an interest in preventing burnout. However, like many college students, I also have that “martyr” tendency: somewhere, somehow, I believe I’m a superhero and wind up taking on too much at once. Cue a mental breakdown in my academic advisor’s office, too many missed lectures and a wardrobe full of sweatpants…yeah, that’s not a good look for anyone!

From a mental health advocate’s perspective, burnout is epidemic in this country. In the United States, 39% of adults reported feeling more anxious in 2018 than in 2017. Though much of that probably had to do with the stressful political climate (hands off my healthcare, Trump!), it’s also likely that we’re just a high-stress culture whose brand of burnout is only getting worse.

As a college senior, stress and burnout are especially impactful. After all, college seniors face the added stress of finding a job and dealing with adult problems on top of their usual academic stress. Students pursuing graduate degrees must also repeat the stressful application process, which often leaves them biting their nails until springtime brings their admissions decisions.

It’s no wonder, then, that 85% of college students report feeling overwhelmed by their commitments, and 30% reported that stress had negatively impacted their grades. And when you’ve got a lot on your plate – and, like many college students, are expected to perform at an absurdly high level – burnout can seriously impact your ability to function at the caliber normally expected of you.

Among college populations, this stress manifests in many ways, including in students’ interpersonal relationships, financial well-being, physical health, sexual function and academic performance. Chances are, you already knew stress was bad for you – but maybe you didn’t realize just how far-reaching the consequences of burnout can be.

If you’re a college student reading this, you’re probably wondering: so now what? Figuring out a way to combat stress when you’re already too busy to eat or sleep can feel like an impossibly daunting task. As a budding therapist, it will someday be my job to guide you on your journey toward serenity in a constantly-chaotic world.

On that note, here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up in my studies, research and personal experience to help you overcome burnout. Please note: this advice is not a substitute for medical attention. If you have a serious mental health concern, please contact your doctor or call 1-800-273-8255 for free, confidential help 24 hours a day.

Set Aside Time for Self-Care

“Self-care” is a media buzzword that many students have probably heard of – but what most students may not realize is that self-care isn’t just for the glamorous Kylie Jenners and Taylor Swifts of the world. Anytime you stop to eat a healthy meal, go for a walk outdoors or relax with a magazine and a face mask, you are engaging in an act of self-care. And while you probably don’t realize it, those little pauses throughout your week are essential to maintaining a healthy mind and preventing burnout as a college student.

Have a Spiritual Outlet

On liberal college campuses, we’re used to thinking of religion and spirituality in academic terms – as historical systems of power and abuse. But spirituality is not actually synonymous with religion, and doesn’t fit that historical definition. Regardless of whether or not you are religious, you can benefit from engaging with spirituality of any kind. For some, this means attending yoga classes and taking time to meditate and be “at one” with the Universe. For others, this means reading the literature of their faiths and attending weekly services or youth groups at school. No matter what your particular flavor of spirituality is, these outlets are essential to nourishing the soul and preventing burnout at every stage of the college experience.

Don’t Alienate Friends and Family

Tempting as it may be to shun friends and family and lock yourself in a room with your textbooks (or Netflix) on a Friday night, becoming a recluse actually exacerbates stress and anxiety, rather than preventing it. It’s a well-known fact in clinical psychology that clients’ networks of support make a big difference in how quickly and how easily they’re able to bounce back from stress, grief and other trauma. So, schedule a coffee or pedicure date with a friend (and leave your phone at home!) – or take an hour to actually call your mom for once. You’ll be surprised by how quickly your energy tank fills back up after a positive conversation with one of your favorite people.

Do Nothing on Purpose

Personally, I have learned one especially critical lesson as a college student, which is this: you don’t always have to be “on” or productive all the time. Sometimes, you can just simply be. I like to take at least an hour every day to be what I call “purposefully unproductive:” a period of doing nothing important with the purpose of resting and recharging. For me, being purposefully unproductive means meditating, painting my nails, reading a magazine or playing Kim Kardashian: Hollywood on my phone (#sorrynotsorry). Make it a point to simply exist and enjoy your life for that time – and resist the temptation to answer emails or take notes. Whatever it is, it can wait for your mental health.

How do you bounce back from burnout? Let us know in the comments below!