Several Human Services Professionals articulated why they identify with the field of Human Services.
“I am proud to consider myself a Human Services professional. I particularly like the collaboration and interdisciplinary nature of our profession. We are stronger when we work with others who have a different perspective than ours. It keeps us current and always looking forward.”
Susan Kinsella, Ph.D., MSW, HS-BCP
St. Leo’s University
“Many people have situations in their lives where receiving some assistance is critical to their recovery. Helping people reach their desired outcomes have always been my passion. I identify as a Human Services Professional because I love the concept of a generalist approach in providing services for various populations. As a result, I can assist others without the boundaries of specific discipline expectations if my services are in the scope of my expertise. In other words, I can have a flexible, wholistic approach for any population I work with. I also get to work from macro and micro perspectives to positively impact individuals, communities, and organizations. This also allows people to come together from different disciplines to proactively make a difference.”
Katherine Pickens, PhD, LPC, CAADC
Alabama Department of Public Health
“I identify as a ‘Human Services Professional’ because the work that we do is holistic and goes well beyond any one professional identity. As a ‘counselor’ I do more than counsel. I often engage in Case Management, Program Design, Program Evaluation, Research, Education, Community Involvement, Advocacy, Spiritual Guidance, and more. No one professional identity encompasses as much as the title of ‘Human Services Professional’ does, in my opinion. I am both proud and grateful to be a part of a profession that intentionally makes room for such a wide diversity of service providers and disciplines.”
James “Jim” Ruby, PhD.,
California State University, Fullerton
“I am asked almost daily what the differences are among the fields of Psychology, Social Work, and Human Services. I often cite the differing emphases in research (Psychology), social change and systems work (Social Work), and a more broadly applied skill set in which to serve a wide variety of populations and settings (Human Services). When in practice, I enjoyed the freedom of knowing that if and when compassion fatigue began to rear its ugly head, I could, after careful consideration, eventually change jobs or positions and serve a new population. That ability to help a wide range of people in many different clinical, correctional, and private settings kept me fresh and positive in a fairly daunting career. Whenever students tell me they’re not sure what they want to do, but they want to ‘help people,’ I smile- they have found their home in Human Services.”
Lynann “Annie” Butler, LPC, CAC-III
Metropolitan State University
“I identify as a Human Services professional because as an educator, I feel we must help our students see themselves as more than just ‘helpers.’ Wanting to help is laudable but it takes so much more to have the impact needed to make a difference. We are ‘professionals’ in the sense that we are trained to embody and impart the skills, knowledge, caring, and compassion needed to enhance the quality of life for individuals, families, communities, and the culture.”
Norma Gaines-Hanks, Ed.D.
Associate Professor, Human Services Internship Coordinator
University of Delaware
“This question opens up the very vast array of experiences and job titles I have been fortunate to have in my many years of ‘working in the field.’ I began working in the field as a volunteer through a program my high school offered. At that point I had no idea I wanted to eventually attend college to become a counselor and professional in the field. The volunteer work was, however, the most significant exposure for me to know I could help others in addition to identifying with many of the issues they were struggling with. I knew I needed more formal training and education to become a professional and one who had credibility and not just personal experience. I have worked with so many populations over the course of my career and now as a professor am training others to go into the field. The biggest hurdle I tell my students is ‘moving from a client perspective to a professional perspective.’ This requires education, supervised internships, employment in the field in addition to the hard work of one’s own counseling and lifelong self-reflection. This field is clearly one that age presents opportunities, not barriers. How lucky we all are to have chosen this field to not only help others but to experience our own growth in the process.”
Leigh Sinclair, MA, LPC, CAC-II
Community College of Denver
“I consider myself a Human Services Professional because I have a genuine concern for the welfare and rights of humanity. From my childhood, I remember feeling strong empathy whenever I encountered suffering or disadvantaged individuals. This calling was further amplified when my strong Christian faith took root in my life. My passion in life is to work with individuals to prevent, remedy, and where possible, eliminate suffering and injustice. I approach my human service practice from the perspective of Haruki Murakami’s quote, ‘Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.’”
Glen T. Prospere, Ph.D.
Professor, Public Service/Social Science
Massasoit Community College