Aspects of Human Services Profession
The field of human services requires intense outlook into human behavior and the potential to relate the observed habits with the theoretical background built in class and over the years in practice. Through engagement in various professional and academic activities, the aspects of human services practice have been incorporated into my knowledge basis and the overall outcome has been spectacular. Each of these aspects contributes in one way or the other towards quality results in the field. It is therefore imperative for any professional in the human services field to digest these aspects and to know exactly how applicable they are to the professional results expected in practice.
Aspects of Human Services Profession
i. Helping Relationships
Human services profession is founded on the development and management of helping relationships between professionals and the clients. Such relationships are to be initiated either by the professional or by the client but are ultimately fostered by the practitioner. The client can only initiate the helping relationship through making initial contact with the practitioner after recognizing that they need professional help. On the other hand, the human service provider is tasked with initiating relationships following referrals from fellow service providers.
Helping relationships are founded on the awareness that individuals who need help in dealing with everyday life issues cannot be effectively assisted unless the person offering the help has intensive professional and personal skills to offer the assistance. Otherwise, the outcome of any help given may not be positive. Helping relationships do not involve only providing education and counseling. On the contrary, both direct physical help such as in carrying out daily activities as well as practical help such as issuing basic needs also fall under helping relationships. Moreover, professionals create personal relationships whose results aim at helping their clients to deal with daily problems as well as to make use of opportunities that present themselves for personal development and optimum functioning of the individual. Secondly, helping relationships also aim at increasing the efficiency of the clients in helping themselves. This is mainly focused on instances where the clients may or may not be aware that the help required can be given by themselves even in the absence of a helping relationship (Umberson & Karas, 2010). In order to achieve these results, communication between the client and the practitioner is of great essence.
Good communication helps in driving and fostering the helping relationships developed between the client and the human services practitioner. Communication between the two parties should include to a large extent listening and exploration of ideas with the client. This implies that the practitioner has to be a good listener in order to be able to capture all the requisite information for effective decision making (Umberson & Karas, 2010). To achieve this, there is need for developing an effective communication and interpersonal skills, which foster the development of relationships. Since every client desires a practitioner who will understand and empathize with them, helping relationships depend a lot on the care, wisdom and commitment of the practitioner. Positive outcomes are a result of long term commitment since some of the issues that clients go through require dedication to look into, relate to theoretical frameworks and develop solutions for. The helping relationship has a potential of developing further, leading to referrals of other clients to the practitioner. Empathy and care are foundations for strength in any relationship. Moreover, the services provider also has to develop tolerance, compassion and realness in his/ her practice since these qualities make them more approachable. Umberson and Karas (2010) opine that to be tolerant, there must be acceptance of the client as well as their problems since no client would want to foster a relationship with someone who does not tolerate them or who is judgmental. This aspect is thus important in human services provision as it forms the basis from which all other activities and projects can be planned. It thus influences the field results to a large extent.
ii. The Field of Human Services
The Human Services Field has been compared to social work to a large extent. Despite being similar to social work in various aspects, it is in itself a wide concept that can be minutely subdivided to contain several other sub fields. While social work aims at helping both individuals and the society as a whole in gaining needs that are mostly not basic, human services focuses more on helping individuals to gain access to basic needs (Learning House, 2014). The aim of human services provision is to meet the needs of any client. This is achieved through assistance in various ways.
Human life professionals assist clients in everyday life whether they are individuals or communities. As such, the human services profession can be said to be an integration of several units, which deal with different life issues at any given time. In communities, the practitioners work with community based settings, which operate through service integration. In such situations, the human service providers take positions of management in the community based groups to which they need to offer help. The help offered help clients in the communities in the implementation of their social programs. These are mainly accomplished through offering services such as education and counseling. In order for the human service field to be effective, a combination of various aspects has to come into play, which requires the practitioners to be experienced in dealing with a variety of human related problems for instance, contemporary human issues such as youth and development problems, children and women affairs (Learning House, 2014).
In human services, professional communication is one of the key features in results achievement. However, this does not necessarily result in positive outcomes if the professional does not understand their roles and mandate. For instance, an individual may focus on the provision of counseling only forgetting that the scope of human services includes provision of basic needs, probably in collaboration with advocacy groups. It is thus essential for an understanding of the various aspects of the field to be achieved so that the professional can produce results that are more wholesome for any given project. In other words, understanding the nature of the profession leads to the development of ethical professional goals on which one works to achieve best results in the field. It also helps the professional to develop a sense of direction during the development of interventions for any problems. Learning House asserts that an explicit understanding of the field of human services has to include the comprehension of the fact that the services to be provided include but are not limited to: crisis counseling, case management, theories, sociology and psychology (2014). Any experienced human services provider must be conversant with aspects of all these diverse concepts to be able to offer assistance that is more positive as well as to achieve expected or better results in the field (Learning House, 2014). It is also necessary to understand the differences between social work and human services to avoid moving into unplanned professional territories.
iii. Theoretical Models of Human Services
In various practice fields, theories and action models exist that assist in the solution of the discipline’s problems. However, each discipline has a different set of theories that only relate to that discipline. Similarly, the field of human services also has theories and related theoretical model that guide practitioners into assisting their clients. Although several theories exist to explain human behavior, no single theory can be used to explain any human behavior in sufficient substance. Any behavior can only be explained using a combination of more than one theory. The theories mostly used in this field include development theories, psychodynamic theories, systems theories, conflict theories and social learning theories. Each category of theories outlined herein consists of several other sub-theories that explain human behaviors in greater detail. In human services provision, theories can be used for the prediction of expected human behaviors based on previous observations. As such, they only help to recognize the possible cause of observed issues in clients and thus to produce and action plan based on the existing theoretical models of human services.
Neukrug (2012) discusses various models for human services practice. The models are described as a blue print for action in human service interventions and are dependent on the nature of the issues at play in the presenting case. The models include: problem solving, task centered, solution focused, cognitive behavior model and crisis model. Each of these models is most applicable in different situations. The assigned names relate to the point of focus during the intervention. In the problem solving model, the focus is on the presenting problem rather than on the underlying issues. The main objective is to solve the problem as presented by the client. This is mostly applied when working with focus groups during the human services provision process. The task centered model is applied where the practitioner desires to focus on completion of assigned tasks one at a time, where such tasks are predicted to be capable of leading to more wholesome results. On the other hand, the cognitive behavior model is applied where the cognitive behavior theory has been identified to be relating to the case while crisis models are applied in emergency situations or situations requiring immediate intervention. An understanding of these models is essential in human services practice since it helps the practitioner to produce better working results.
Moreover, each client finds it more fulfilling to know that the practitioner understands his or her roles and knows exactly what to do in every situation. Although the services provider does not mention the models when interacting with the client, fast action and relevant intervention measures are compulsory towards the achievement of desirable intervention outcomes. The performance of the practitioner in the field is thus intricately connected to their understanding of these aspects of human services provision. In addition to this, it is imperative that the service provider be able to communicate with other providers during collaborative procedures where their input is required. Without common points of reference, such communication is greatly hindered and is bound to face challenges such as confusion in explanations. With these theories and theoretical models available to refer to, mutual understanding is enhanced. Moreover, the interaction between the client and the service provider is also improved since the practitioner will be able to better understand the client’s issues and to relate them to predictable human behavior and thereby accepting the client as they are.
iv. The Multidisciplinary Approach to Practice
Because of the interrelationship in the nature of human problems, their solution demands a collaborative approach to intervention. Such collaborative approach is what is referred to as a multidisciplinary/ inter-professional approach to human services. The collaborative practice is aimed at providing a more holistic assistance in problem solving; a concept, which embraces multiple, disciplines and requires intensive consultation. Despite having experience in advocacy and community organization, human service providers still need the input of various professionals in order to ensure that their work produces a positive outcome.
According to Nicholson et al (2009), multidisciplinary approach to human services includes various aspects organization structure, roles, cooperation between functions, communication, leadership, decision making, conflict and attention to details. These aspects contribute in various degrees to the accomplishment of professional objectives in the field. Organization structure is important for team work to achieve its desired purpose during interdisciplinary practice. It ensures that understanding of basic procedures is enhanced hence appreciation of team efforts by all team members. Through an understanding of the organization structure, it is possible for team members to be assign as well as to assimilate roles within the team. This means that once roles have been effectively distributed, it will be possible to achieve better results due to improved performance in all aspects of intervention. ‘Cooperation between functions, communication and attention to details are all essential in result achievement. Moreover, cooperation between functions is also instrumental since all persons in any team have different personal strengths and capabilities and it is desirable for individuals to incorporate team goals into their personal goals to ensure there is a unity of purpose. Positive results cannot be achieved without clarity in purpose and convergence of objectives. Collaboration across the disciplines helps to strengthen the organization structure and to recognize the need for leadership and resolution of conflicts. When all the concepts are incorporated into the interdisciplinary approach, it is bound to bring about unimaginable benefits.
It has been ascertained that interdisciplinary approach to practice has benefits both for the clients and for the practitioners. To the clients, collaborative efforts bear greater fruits than the independent efforts of individual practitioners. On the other hand, the practitioner gets to improve his/ her communication skills through interaction with other professionals. In addition, the creation of helping relationships is fostered through collaborative efforts leading to better communication with the client. The practitioner thus gets to achieve knowledge expansion through consultation. While the benefits are more pronounced, any positive practice has to have challenges. In the interdisciplinary practice, the major challenges include cultural clashes and the need for thorough procedures (Nicholson et al, 2009). Cultural clashes are mainly as a result of professional and personal differences in practice. This is because different professions have different blue prints for handling human issues. This implies that at any time, there has to be multiple opinions on how to handle issues that arise. As a result, sometimes conflicts arise between professionals. Moreover, personal cultural differences may also form a point of contention between the client and the practitioner. It is therefore necessary that methods for dealing with the challenges be clearly outlined in interdisciplinary practice so that the intervention processes can be of benefit to both the clients and the practitioners. In this way, field results are greatly improved.
v. Moving forward – professional development goals
Having effectively synthesized the aspects that form the human services profession, moving forward is inevitable. However, development goals have to be aligned according to the professional goals and objectives of field practice as a human services provider. The following section provides a list of the resolved professional goals.
The first professional goal is to enhance communication skills. This will involve improving on listening and speaking skills. In trying to enhance listening skills, it is important that methods be found for maintaining the right postures and avoid expressions that would be misread as being judgmental and intolerant. The voice of compassion and empathy has to take centre place in order to enhance practice in the field. For better results, effective communications will help me to creating lasting positive impressions on the clients and thus enable them to communicate more freely with me. This will make them more receptive to the help I have to offer, whether physical or practical.
Secondly, the development of practice theories is also a goal to be achieved within a specific time period. The practice theories will help in relating the observed behaviors to predictable patterns and thus making connections on the best models to apply. Good theories can be rated in terms of their capability to help in predicting human behavior (Bowie & Bronte-Tinkew, 2006). Learning the good theories is therefore a key milestone in professional development, as it will enhance my survival capacity in the field. The degree of success of any intervention depends on the capability of the practitioner to relate to real life issues and thus guide the clients on the best ways to find problem solutions. Additionally, achieving this goal will help in finding optimal results in the field since nothing will appear new. I will therefore be able to avoid shock during communication with clients based on observed behaviors.
Apart from these, the overall professional objective of any human services practice is to help clients operate optimally through physical and practical help. In line with this, it is a desire to be able to build, strengthen, and to rebuild relationships that foster help. This will be achieved through interaction with various professionals from whom I intend to learn more on dealing with clients and improving their trust of the practitioner. I believe this will help in improving the results of practice in the field.
I also intend to understand how organizations work as well human systems and thus identify interventions that can bring maximum function of both organizations and human systems. Understanding this will help me survive in the field since I will be more capable of fitting into the systems in place besides achieving optimum results in terms of improving individual efforts of the practitioner. The individual benefits improved include increased awareness of the needs of clients and thus effective interventions.
Finally, I also intend to achieve professional development through joining teams that offer professional training, which is also less costly. This is mainly for individual benefits, as it will help me to offer better quality services as well as to build my practical capability. Although not exactly in the present professional development goals, academic enhancement may also form part of the development in later times.
Bowie, L. & Bronte- Tinkew, J. (2006). “The Importance of Professional Development for youth Workers”. Practitioner Insights.
Learning House. (2014). What is the Difference between Human Services and Social Work. Human Services News. Brescia University Online.
Neukrug, E.S. (2012). Theory, Practice and Trends in Human Services 5th Ed. Brooks Cole.
Nicholson, D., Artz, S., Armitage, A., & Fagan, J. (2009). “Working Relationships and Outcomes in Multidisciplinary Collaborative Practice Settings”. Child and Youth Care Forum 29(1). Human Science Press, Inc.
Umberson, D. & Karas, J. (2010). “Social Relationships and Health: A Flash Point for Health Policy”. Journal of Health and Social Behavior.