Running head: WHAT IS HUMAN SERVICES? What is Human Services? Candice K. Holt BSHS/302 University of Phoenix August 24, 2009 The Goal of Human Services Human Services is the practice of assisting needy and less fortunate individuals with meeting their basic needs in life. The Human Services profession is one which promotes improved service delivery systems by addressing not only the quality of direct services, but also by seeking to improve accessibility, accountability, and coordination among professionals and agencies in service delivery” (Martin, 2007) The primary focus of a Human Services Professional is to help people meet their needs that without the assistance of a Human Service Professional, they would not be able to do on their own due to various economic or social issues. Human services arose from a concern for social problems that created barriers to people getting their needs met. The goal of human services is to assist individuals in need with overcoming barriers or obstacles in their lives that are preventing them from meeting their basic needs such as shelter, food, and healthcare. Human Service professionals are dedicated to helping people in developing the proper skills to become self-sufficient and be able to function in society. Human Service professionals also work on a macro level in various communities to remove barriers or obstacles that affect large groups of people. They accomplish this by advocating for changes to laws and policies that in some cases have established the barriers. The ultimate goal of a Human Services professional is to ensure that all members of society have an equal opportunity to live a happy and self-sufficient life. The History of Human Services The practice of helping others in need has been around since the beginning of time. The current context of a Human Services professional can be traced back to the late 1800’s social welfare system in England. Prior to this, the Feudal System was England’s effective method of controlling poverty, but it was also a form of slavery. The Feudal System allowed wealthy landowners to parcel off their land into smaller sections that would then be farmed by “serfs. ” Individuals became serfs through discrimination both economically and racially. Most individuals in poverty were commonly born into serfdom with little or no hope of escaping this social status. Although being a serf was at times harsh, it did provide a false sense of security and insurance against the many social hazards. Eventually due to both economic and environmental conditions, the feudal system was phased out and the Industrial Revolution began. This brought its own challenges for those in poverty. The urbanization also created a different outlook and attitude towards the less fortunate citizens of society. Instead of viewing the less fortunate as a necessary component of society that allowed the wealthy to show their goodwill, they were now viewed as criminals if they were vagrants. All able bodied individuals including children were expected to work to support themselves. If an able-bodied individual were caught begging, they would face certain penalties like whippings, and even incarceration. The social welfare policy in the United States, although adopted from the policies and practices of England, has evolved tremendously to reflect the changes in our society and the way the community views poor people. For example, someone who would have been considered an unworthy poor person in the late seventeenth century due to having children out of wedlock would justifiably receive support today. Common Intervention Strategies Support for those in need comes in various forms. Most common supports provided by Human Services professionals now are counseling, advocacy, and care giving. Having empathy is essential for all Human Service professionals, when working with their clients. “Empathy involves the willingness and ability to truly understand a client’s beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and experiences from the client’s own perspective” (Martin, 2007). Being able to understand that most times when an individual is in a crisis, they are only responding naturally to the traumas in their lives will enable the Human Services professional to assist their client more effectively. Interventions are widely used in all areas of Human Services to assist those in need meet their goals of self sufficiency. Some common interventions include reframing, the process of helping someone see a situation in another perspective, and Task-Centered Approach, the process of breaking down the problem into smaller and more manageable goals, that eventually lead to solving the original problem. Determining which intervention to use widely depends upon multiple variables such as; the problem the client is currently facing, their current emotional status, whether they have a support network or not, and their current use of coping skills. If some of the above variables are missing, it has been common practice to address these issues prior to using interventions to address the problem. Ethical Considerations Along with learning various interventions to assist their clients, a Human Services professional must also learn the ethical standards associated with the profession. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines “ethics” as a set of moral principles or values; principles of conduct governing an individual or a group and a guiding philosophy (Merriam-Webster, 1993). Ethical values are used both personally and professionally and some may find that ones personal ethics have influence on their professional ethics. Examples of such ethical standards in the Human Services Profession would be the prohibition of having a sexual relationship with a client or any vulnerable adult and maintaining all confidential records unless consent is received by the client or in special circumstances. One ethical consideration that is debatable is the use of evidence based best practices. “Evidence-based practice has largely been accepted as a positive advancement in the profession” (Furman, 2009). Some individuals believe that evidence based best practices are proven methods of approaching certain situations; others consider that each situation is different and should be treated as such. For example, it may be proven that taking a certain medication reduces the symptoms of schizophrenia, but the custom of this individual’s culture is to do a cleansing ritual. Many Human Service professionals, who should be culturally sensitive, would automatically recommend that the individual take the medication based on the evidence based best practices. Conclusion In conclusion, the goal of the human service professional is to support individuals as well as large groups of people function properly in society and being able to overcome personal and social barriers effectively to address the major domains of living. Human Services is not only a necessary component of our society today, it has been a very key element in the history of the United States. Providing the support and guidance that one needs to become a self-sufficient productive citizen is a difficult but important task. Over time, there have been many advances in the Human Services field that has changed the way the community views those less fortunate. Where once poor people were viewed as criminals, they are now assisted in many different ways to be able to overcome any barriers that may be preventing them from being self sufficient. References Furman, R. (2009). Ethical Considerations of Evidence-Based Practice. Social Work, 54(1), 82-84. Martin, M. E. (2007). Introduction to Human Services: Through the Eyes of Practice Settings. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon Publishing.
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