The field of human services has an important mission in society: improving people’s overall quality of life. Human services professionals make a significant impact, whether they are working with the homeless, handling child welfare cases or counseling people with substance abuse issues.
“We have the ability to move to a particular aspect of our vocation that we are passionate about,” said Bernard Bluhm, professor of Human Services at New England College. People in this field are committed to “assisting people to realize their hopes and dreams even when their individual abilities are considered limited by most of the population,” he said.
Career possibilities for human services professionals can range from helping a person navigate the process of applying for food stamps to finding rehab services for a person with a disability. Some professionals may consider working directly with clients as social and human service assistants, while others may choose to provide administrative support at an organization.
“With our ever-increasing awareness of the human condition, and practices that assist people in better ways, this is an exciting field that requires us to be continuously open to learning and adaptability,” Bluhm said.
What Human Services Isn’t
Both human services and psychology practitioners possess an eagerness to help people. In some situations, human services professionals often work hand-in-hand with counselors and other psychology professionals as part of a treatment plan. However, the two professions take different approaches to the same problem.
Human service professionals may evaluate a person’s needs, develop a plan to address any challenges and direct clients toward any agencies or other programs. Psychology professionals, on the other hand, examine the motivation behind a client’s behavior and counsel people directly.
What You Need to Know about Human Services
Human services careers involve a wide range of tasks, responsibilities and skill sets. Professionals require exceptional communication, critical thinking and analytical skills. An associate degree provides an overview of the delivery of human services and a foundation for a career helping people in need. Some of the key concepts covered at this degree level:
- Delivery of Human Services – Students will gain the fundamentals of working in the field of human service by exploring human conditions, social policies and organizations that address the needs of particular populations.
- Substance Abuse – The course covers the various types and effects of addiction, and any health conditions related to substance abuse. Students will also learn how about the assessment and treatment of addictions.
- Client Assessment and Planning – Students can learn to apply their human services knowledge by managing cases and evaluating crisis situations. They will also explore issues and responsibilities related to implementing programs.
- Social Psychology – Students will examine how other people’s conduct can influence an individual’s behavior by exploring topics such as aggression, conformity, attitude formation, methods of persuasion, altruism, prejudice and discrimination, and attraction.