Characteristics and Skills of Human Services Workers

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The purpose of this paper is to write about the essential characteristics and skills of mental health human services workers. When discussing the fundamental characteristics of a human services worker, Team B felt that communication skills are vital. Without rapport and connection with the client, other skills cannot be effective. Of course, the most fundamental ingredients for a human services worker are a compassionate, patient, caring heart and a desire to see each individual achieve a personal best in all areas of life. “Without vibrant meaning, purpose, and direction, our life can never flower” (Doherty, 2009).

Everyday life presents different mental, emotional, and social challenges and rewards for the client that must be addressed by the human services professional; various forms of abuse such as physical, mental, drug, alcohol, sexual, and elderly abuse along with additional life conditions such as, poverty, financial hardships, unemployment, and illness are among the most familiar. Many people just need a helping hand to get started on the way to a better life .

For the human services worker, the essential characteristic of communication, beginning with the art of listening, is the foundation on which the relationship with the client is based. Listening means putting aside personal work or thoughts and truly hearing, sometimes through anger or insecurity, what the other person is saying with his or her heart.

Consequently, compassion brings an emotional toll on the human services professional, so another essential trait is the knowing of one’s limits and establishing these boundaries early in the association to prevent burnout which is a detriment among human services workers in all professions. “It makes sense that an emotionally weary individual would be less disposed to make the emotional investment required in dealing with clients as individuals rather than as depersonalized cases” (Drake & Yadama, 1996). On Jan 10, 2010, in a speech to The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lima, Ohio, Tammie Colon, vice president of behavioral health services for Lutheran Social Services of Northwestern Ohio, stated: "…Most…agencies deal in some way with social service, they are dealing with other human beings, who present to them, particularly in this economy, with a need and a crisis. Ms Colon said caregivers need to know "how to manage that and understand where the client is in the crisis so we can respond appropriately and not become part of the crisis (Colon 2010). According to Ms. Colon, becoming part of the crisis happens when as caretakers "we're so busy often times just doing what we need to do to take care of clients that we forget to take care of ourselves, and to establish relationships, which always makes our job easier" (Colon, 2010).

When a client ceases to be an individual and a human services worker becomes desensitized, the client is being cheated and the services are no longer productive. So, as a human services worker, one must take care of one’s self cognitively, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Replenishing one’s spirit must be a priority in order to help one’s self and others. As a young human services worker, one tends to be very serious and highly motivated to cure the problems of the whole world. If this exuberance is not put into check right away, burnout will occur in a very short time. Experienced professionals need to be on the lookout for this behavior and become mentors to these “newbies”. Mentoring presents a timely perspective that may take many years to acquire otherwise

Some other essential personal characteristics of the successful human services worker are: •Self Discipline- the HS worker must be involved and motivated to commit to the role to be fulfilled and have the responsibility for zealously applying one’s self to all aspects of the needs and care of clients. •Honesty-being straightforward showing integrity, openness and sincerity;...
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