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Closed-Ended Questions

Closed-Ended Questions

Definition: A skill that enables the social worker to focus on specific pieces of information. A closed-ended question can be answered with one- or two-word response, or a “yes” or “no.”

Helps to:

Appropriate to use when:

Inappropriate use:


In video example #1: James is attempting to explore Anthony’s academic interests, and to focus on his involvement at school when he asks, “What’s the class you enjoy most?” In doing so, James is focusing on Anthony’s strengths.

In video example #2: The social worker is establishing the extent to which alcohol interferes with the relationship between Mike and his wife when she asks the question, “How often do you and your wife fight about the alcohol?”

In video example #3: The social worker is seeking insight into the client’s current health status in order to support and guide her through the upcoming hospitalization. She asks a closed-ended question, “Do you know if the cancer has returned?” in order to understand the seriousness of Anna’s health problem.

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