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What is A Human Service Professional?


The human service practitioner is a professional who acts as an agent to assist and or empower individuals, groups, families and communities to prevent, alleviate or better cope with crisis, change and stress to enable them to function more effectively in all areas of life and living.

Goal of the Human Service Practitioner

The goal of the human service Practitioner is to enable people to live more satisfying, more autonomous, and more productive lives, through the utilization of society’s knowledge, resources, and technical innovations.

The Human Service Practice Model

The Human Service Professional is one who uses the human services practice model to assess and deliver services.  This model views people, service and the social environment as integrated entities.  This perspective helps individuals, families and communities address and overcome issues and barriers that arise from a variety of social problems and adverse societal conditions.

The Role of the Human Service Professional

The Human Service Professional is a generalist who works side-by-side with various professionals and assumes a wide range of roles to assist individuals, groups, organizations and communities.  The human service professional does not necessarily do in-depth and psychotherapy, but is well-equipped to facilitate client change and growth typically by working directly or indirectly with clients/consumers around concrete tasks, objectives and goals.  Typically the work of the human service professional focuses on one or more of the following roles.

  • Counselor works with individuals and groups to help identify and solve problems of everyday living using behavioral and social science theory.
  • Outreach Worker provides information to communities and carries out liaison activities in surrounding communities.
  • Broker helps clients define needs and utilize new services
  • Advocate champions and defends clients’ causes and rights
  • Research/Evaluator assesses client programs and shows that agencies are accountable for services provided.  Collects and interprets data through a variety of research methods to carry out needs assessment, implement programs and evaluate results.
  • Teacher/Educator models new behaviors for clients, and conveys new skills
  • Behavior Specialist carries out a range of activities planned primarily to change behavior, including coaching, problem solving, counseling and behavioral management.
  • Mobilizer organizes client and community to obtain new community services and resources
  • Consultant uses specialized knowledge to work with other professionals and health and human service agencies regarding their handling of problems, needs and programs.
  • Community Planner designs, implements and organizes new programs to serve consumer needs.  This includes work with community boards and committees and grass root groups to minimize emotional stress and remove social and economic barriers.
  • Care Manager/ Case Manager assesses individual consumers, assists in the development of a care plan/treatment plan, arranges for service delivery, performs a monitoring function and completes a reassessment to determine service outcomes, and might also facilitate discharge planning and provide follow up services.
  • Administrator carries out management and/or supervisory activities that are oriented to the organization/agency as a total system.  This includes program management, budgeting, human resources management, strategic resources management, marketing management and so forth.

Occupations which have the following types of responsibilities and functions ARE considered legitimate human service professions.

  • Counselors in substance abuse, mental health, mental retardation, corrections, juvenile justice and health care
  • Directors, managers and supervisors of community based grass root agencies, prevention and intervention programs and other human service and health organizations
  • Practitioners and managers in law enforcement, criminal justice and public safety
  • Practitioners and managers in child care, child advocacy, and child welfare, including programs for adolescents
  • Practitioners and managers for residential facilities in the areas of developmental disabilities, mental health, mental retardation
  • Parishioners and managers in programs and facilities serving the older population, such as nursing homes, adult day care centers, senior centers, independent living facilities and other community services.
  • Case workers or managers in the Department of Public Welfare
  • Social ministry and other full time church related practitioners engaged in pastoral counseling, community outreach and other forms of faith based social intervention.
  • Practitioners and managers in human services agencies, universities and public or private organizations working in human resource management, training and development, employee assistance, affirmative action or community relations.

Occupations which have the following types of responsibilities and functions ARE NOT considered legitimate human service professions.

  • Administrative Assistant
  • Agency Receptionists
  • Book Keeper
  • Purchasing Agent
  • Service Representatives/Consumer Services Representatives/Sales Representative
  • Maintenance and Housekeeping
  • Transportation Services Provider
  • Medical Technicians such as phlebotomist, respiratory technician.
  • Clerical positions even when they occur in human service agencies.


The Lincoln University
Center for Graduate and Continuing Education Programs
3020 Market St., Philadelphia PA 19104
(215) 387-2405