It is interesting to me that many therapists either put too little emphasis, or too much emphasis on licensing exams. While I don't believe most people benefit from "studying for the exam" for an extended period of time (it can lead to burn-out, overwhelm, anxiety, and test trauma)- I do believe in preparing for the exam over an extended period of time.
From the moment you enter graduate school, and maybe even before that- you are preparing for licensing exams. Your exams cover cumalative material that you will learn, experience, and practice in the several years it takes to finish your degree, finish your supervised hours, etc.
If you are a student, an intern, or a clinical supervisor- I highly recommend you locate the list of topics that will be covered on the exam today. Not so you can start studying years or months in advance- but so you can start expanding your awareness.
Look over the list for fun topics that interest you, or that relate to your current caseload. Bring those in to your individual or group supervision. Find books that inspire you, talk about these things in a way that isn't stressful or anxiety producing. Get confident knowing that you have the knowledgebase and theoretical background, play with the clinical expression of the material...
When you are ready to schedule your licensing exam, study materials should simply be about filling any remaining gaps in knowledge, developing confidence in the expereince in actually taking the test, and learning strategies to translate your face-to-face clinical knowledge and judgment into a pencil and paper setting!
But wait! I hear the exam in California is changing, or the national MFT exam is changing. What do I do? Breath. There will be some changes on the 2015 version of the exam (unless they push it back again). Understanding the DSM IV and the clear changes to the DSM V won't be a waste of time. It is important for you to understand the history of diagnosis as you talk to new clients.
For example, I have clients who still refer to themselves as manic depressive- even though that isn't listed in the DSM. It is important to know the history- so I clearly know they are talking about Bipolar disorder! Remember, this is your career path, your passion- NONE of this will be wasted time or energy!
Have you joined our free online study group for exams yet? Subscribe to the newsletter to get your invite and your free podcasts! Are you burnt out on exam studying? Clear your mind and start dreaming of private practice- we've got some groovy free trainings over http://www.zynnyme.com including our newest live training- how to develop your specialty!