What is Human Services?
BSHS 301 Introduction to Human Services
September 6, 2011
What is Human Services?
The field of human service has been around for centuries in many forms with the sole intention of helping marginalized populations attain a sense of accomplishment in managing their lives. Human services are necessary to assist people who otherwise have little or no help in navigating their social environment for various reasons. There are segments of the population that aren’t able to acquire the basic human needs of shelter, food, and health care that everyone should have in order to maintain an ordered life. The goal of the human service profession is to help the disenfranchised overcome various obstacles that prevent them from living their lives to the fullest by providing them with support and various intervention strategies. The very early systems of taking care of the underprivileged were shrouded within a feudalistic society that resulted in slavery. Society’s attitudes towards the poor at that time were somewhat positive; there was no shame in being poor as long as you were seen as worthy (Martin, 2007) . The privileged were basically bestowing their graces on the poor with the understanding that it was necessary in society for the underprivileged to exist and for charity to be provided. The principles behind giving charity to the poor were engrained in the mores of the times mainly because the churches were the governing bodies in these earlier eras. The perception was that it was noble and virtuous for the privileged to accept the responsibility of providing for the less fortunate people in their communities. In the middle ages most of the charity work was done on local levels that limited the outreach of parishes to aid people outside their own communities. Throughout the development of the social structures, the basic concept of human service underwent many changes that were necessary to meet the need of the prevailing populations. As the population increased and became increasingly diverse, a change needed to take place and policies implemented in order to provide aid to the disenfranchised. The perception of the poor had radically changed and with that change being poor was perceived as a social stigma. With a changing and more contemporary society the challenges of meeting the needs of a new and emerging poor (due to immigration, urbanization and also the crash of the stock market) required more focus to better provide improved social conditions for the impoverished. With the legislation (the New Deal and the Social Security act of 1935) enacted by Franklin D. Roosevelt major changes were realized in society catapulting the human services profession to be transformed into a more institutionalized concept to better provide social services on a wider scale (Martin, 2007) .
As the field of human services progresses it is necessary for workers to be able to engage people in order to help improve their lives; it is important that there be a professionalism that is dedicated to helping the most vulnerable. Generalist practice encapsulates ethical and effective help based on various eco-systems while using problem-solving strategies and practice skills to strengthen insight and cultural understanding to serve individuals, families, groups, organizations or communities (Zins, marc). Generalist practice calls for the workers to be able to intervene on behalf of the clients on a variety of issues. There are many specific fields of service that workers can specialize in but it is important to be able to work within the Generalist practice setting in order to broaden your skills. Because the service worker is the primary tool used to effect change it is necessary to enhance the skills that they may already have while introducing them to various assessment and intervention strategies needed to properly meet the needs of the clients. The important strategies that come out of generalist practice is the recognition of consequences that can arise and the agencies and or methods needed to develop a cohesive treatment plan that is designed to address the patient’s issues. Informed consent, confidentiality, and the limits of confidentiality are important factors in the counselor/client relationship. Informed consent is necessary to protect the rights of the patient and confidentiality is essential to establish a trust between the patient and the service worker as long as keeping matters confidential does not endanger people. Boundary setting is in the realm of generalist practice because crossing lines in tentative situations can cause devastating consequences. It is imperative that service workers recognize when boundaries are being compromised in order to protect themselves and the clients. Empathy and sympathy can lead service workers to cross boundaries without even understanding how their compassion can cause them to lose focus on the bigger picture of empowering the client. Human service workers must remember that the mission is to help the clients through their personal journeys and not get so emotionally involve that the objective of helping the clients’ self realization is lost. Human service workers must understand the importance of being able to relate to the clients and one very powerful way is to empathize with them. Sympathy is a very basic emotion that most everyone has as a response to a tragic incident but having empathy goes to a deeper level, a level in which you put yourself in their shoes. Empathy can allow the workers to see issues through the perspective of the clients, not condoning the behavior but understanding how the behavior could have manifested. Empathy is an important skill when dealing with clients that exhibit anti-social abhorrent behaviors in order to reach a plan of action that can help them. Human service workers must be knowledgeable of the client’s individual framework in order to properly evaluate their issues and provide feedback that is specific for each patient (Martin, 2007). It is important that when the patients are being assessed they are being viewed from the many markers of their environment, i.e. gender, ethnicity, culture and historical era. The importance of knowing the environment that the patient is operating in gives the worker the invaluable insight that can help to understand the behavior that is being exhibited. The interaction of certain elements that exist in the patient’s environment relates with every other aspect of the patient’s circumstances and in turn has an effect that impacts the individual as a whole. The Ecological Systems Theory, Person-in- Environment and the Eco-Systems Theory are used to explain how the social environment is profoundly inter-connected with all aspects of the individuals’ makeup, which in turn affects the way they view themselves and in most instances how they are viewed.
To plan a course of action that needs to be taken in order to address the client’s problems begins with an assessment of the clinical issues related to the patient’s situation. The service worker needs to have patience, good observation skills, active listening skills and the knowledge of how to administer an array of psychological test and assessments so a determination can be made on how to proceed with treatment. The ongoing assessment of the patients is vital to ascertain if the prescribed interventions do in fact sufficiently address the client’s issues. The task-Centered Approach is an effective method that is designed to be a short term treatment that is structured with goals for the patient to achieve in a manner as not to be too overwhelming. Biases, underlying prejudices, passion and uniformed opinions can be factors when it comes to individuals’ ethical values and principles. It is a responsibility of the human service professional to understand how certain situations are influenced by their own value system and thus can determine one’s sense of how not all issues can be set in categories of absolute right and wrong. There are times when moral values are at odds with one another and to choose one value over another may be difficult due to ethical conflicts within core values. There are situations where people find themselves in moral conflict, where their emotional state may compromise their ethical principles; such a situation can alter an individual’s mental state causing them to be unable to control their impulses. It is important to understand how the meshing of emotions and ethical principles can lead to justifying bad behaviors. There are governing bodies that set forth the ethical standard of conduct for practicing human service workers as well as laying the ethical foundation associated with the profession in general. The foundations for human service workers are based on standard ethical principles to maintain integrity and trust within the profession. These guiding ethical principles help to mandate moral conduct that is imperative when dealing with clients and serves as safeguards relevant to upholding moral standards at all times. When determining if an ethical breach in behavior has been committed there are four assumptions that were pioneered by Kitchener (1984), a model used when evaluating offending circumstances. The Kitchener model consists of the moral principles of autonomy (freedom of action and choice), beneficence (doing good), nonmaleficence (avoiding harm), and justice (fairness). Constant evaluation of the code of ethics is necessary in order to allow for ever changing attitudes pertaining to moral principles. References
Martin, M. E. (2007). Introduction to Human Services: Through the Eyes of Practice Settings. Boston, AK: Allyn and Bacon. Zins, C. (2001). Defining Human Services. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 28(1), 3. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.