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The human service generalist is a professional who works with

04/01/2021 Client: saad24vbs Deadline: 2 Day

After reading this chapter, you will be able to:


· • Write a description of the five commonly accepted human service values.


· • List four characteristics or qualities of helpers.


· • Distinguish among the three categories of helpers.


· • Identify the other helping professionals with whom a human service professional may interact.


· • List the three areas of job responsibilities for human service professionals.


· • Provide examples of the roles included in each of the three areas of professional responsibilities.


Helping means assisting other people to understand, overcome, or cope with problems. The helper is the person who offers this assistance. This chapter’s discussion of the motivations for choosing a helping profession, the values and philosophies of helpers, and the special characteristics and traits helpers have assists in establishing an identity for the helper. We also define helpers as human service professionals, as well as introduce other professionals with whom they may interact. An important key to understanding human service professionals is an awareness of the many roles they engage in as they work with their clients and with other professionals.


In this chapter you will meet two human service professionals, Beth Bruce and Carmen Rodriguez. Beth is a counselor at a mental health center and has previous experience working with the elderly and adolescents. Carmen is a case manager at a state human service agency. She has varied responsibilities related to preparing clients for and finding gainful employment.


WHO IS THE HELPER?


In human services, the helper is an individual who assists others. This very broad definition includes professional helpers with extensive training, such as psychiatrists and psychologists, as well as those who have little or no training, such as volunteers and other nonprofessional helpers . Regardless of the length or intensity of the helper’s training, his or her basic focus is to assist clients with their problems and help them help themselves (Chang, Scott, & Decker, 2013; Okun & Kantrowitz, 2008).


The human service professional is a helper who can be described in many different ways. For example, effective helpers are people whose thinking, emotions, and behaviors are integrated (Cochran & Cochran, 2006). Such a helper, believing that each client is a unique individual different from all other clients, will greet each one by name, with a handshake and a smile. Others view a helping person as an individual whose life experiences most closely match those of the person to be helped. The recovering alcoholic working with substance abusers is an example of this perspective. Still another view of the helper, and the one with which you are most familiar from your reading of this text, is the generalist human service professional who brings together knowledge and skills from a variety of disciplines to work with the client as a whole person.


Your understanding of the human service professional will become clearer as this section examines the reasons why individuals choose this type of work, the traits and characteristics they share, and the different categories of their actual job functions.


MOTIVATIONS FOR CHOOSING A HELPING PROFESSION


Work is an important part of life in the United States. It is a valued activity that provides many individuals with a sense of identity as well as a livelihood. It is also a means for individuals to experience satisfying relationships with others, under agreeable conditions.


Understanding vocational choice is as complex and difficult a process as actually choosing a vocation. Factors that have been found to influence career choice include individuals’ needs, their aptitudes and interests, and their self-concepts. Special personal or social experiences also influence the choice of a career. There have been attempts to establish a relationship between vocational choice and certain factors such as interests, values, and attitudes, but it is generally agreed that no one factor can explain or predict a person’s vocational choice. Donald Super, a leader in vocational development theory, believes that the vocational development process is one of implementing a self-concept. This occurs through the interaction of social and individual factors, the opportunity to try various roles, and the perceived amount of approval from peers and supervisors for the roles assumed. There are many other views of this process, but most theorists agree that vocational choice is a developmental process.


How do people choose helping professions as careers? Among the factors that influence career choice are direct work experience, college courses and instructors, and the involvement of friends, acquaintances, or relatives in helping professions. Money or salary is a small concern compared with the goals and functions of the work itself. In other words, for individuals who choose helping as their life’s work, the kind of work they will do is more important than the pay they will receive.


There are several reasons why people choose the helping professions. It is important to be aware of these motivations because each may have positive and negative aspects. One primary reason why individuals choose helping professions (and the reason that most will admit) is the desire to help others. To feel worthwhile as a result of contributing to another’s growth is exciting; however, helpers must also ask themselves the following questions: To what extent am I meeting my own needs? Even more important, do my needs to feel worthwhile and to be a caring person take precedence over the client’s needs?


Related to this primary motivation is the desire for self-exploration. The wish to find out more about themselves as thinking, feeling individuals leads some people to major in psychology, sociology, or human services. This is a positive factor, because these people will most likely be concerned with gaining insights into their own behaviors and improving their knowledge and skills. After employment, it may become a negative factor if the helper’s needs for self-exploration or self-development take precedence over the clients’ needs. When this happens, either the helper becomes the client and the client the helper, or there are two clients, neither of whose needs are met. This situation can be avoided when the helper is aware that self-exploration is a personal motivation and can be fulfilled more appropriately outside the helping relationship.


Another strong motivation for pursuing a career in helping is the desire to exert control. For those who admit to this motivation, administrative or managerial positions in helping professions are the goal. This desire may become a problem, however, if helpers seek to control or dominate clients with the intent of making them dependent or having them conform to an external standard.


For many people, the experience of being helped provides a strong demonstration of the value of helping. Such people often wish to be like those who helped them when they were clients. This appears to be especially true for the fields of teaching and medicine. Unfortunately, this noble motivation may create unrealistic expectations of what being a helper will be like. For example, unsuccessful clients do not become helpers; rather, those who have had positive helping experiences are the ones who will choose this type of profession. Because they were cooperative and motivated clients, they may expect all clients to be like they were, and they may also expect all helpers to be as competent and caring as their helpers were. Such expectations of both the helper and the client are unrealistic and may leave the helper frustrated and angry.


When asked about making the choices, many helpers describe the process as a journey. Regardless of their primary or secondary motivation, they see individuals and experiences in their lives leading them to become helpers. For some the journey begins early in their lives while others appear to have discovered the field as adults. Consider your own journey to becoming a helper; think about your motivations and the people and experiences that led to your study of the human services. See Table 6.1 .


TABLE 6.1: SUMMARY POINTS: WHY INDIVIDUALS CHOOSE TO WORK INHELPING PROFESSIONS


Help others


Contribute to another’s growth


Self-exploration


Discover more about self


Exert control


Good in administration and organization


Positive role models


Inspired by help from others


Copyright © Cengage Learning®


VALUES AND HELPING


Values are important to the practice of human services because they are the criteria by which helpers and clients make choices. Every individual has a set of values. Both human service professionals and clients have sets of values. Sometimes they are similar, but often they differ; in some situations, they conflict. Human service professionals should know something about values and how they influence the relationship between the helper and the client.

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