What is a Human Services Degree?
By Ashford University Staff
A human services degree is a multifaceted degree that provides you with the skills and knowledge to help individuals and communities through economic and social issues. These degrees empower you with the ability to analyze data to influence socioeconomic policy and help larger communities while building communication and interpersonal skills that you will leverage as you help clients through their daily lives. If you have a passion for helping others, then Ashford’s Health and Human Services Degrees may provide the perfect avenue for your career.
One definition of human services is that they are services provided to people in order to help them stabilize their life and find self-sufficiency. One of the three main directions involves providing basic needs and services for those in crisis who are seeking shelter, food, and a safe environment such as the homeless or children in abusive households. Another primary use for human services is for people who are having chronic problems in their life such as someone seeking mental health treatment, substance abuse counseling, or medical treatments for chronic conditions. The third distinction is for those who work at the macro level to improve public health, safety, and economic conditions for their community. Through a strengths-based approach, the human services worker helps their clients and even communities to achieve self-sufficiency and a higher quality of life.
A Bachelor of Arts in Health and Human Services is required for most entry-level positions in the field of human services. This bachelor’s degree prepares students for a variety of direct-service occupations, such as caseworker or mental health assistant. The Bachelor of Arts in Health and Human Services degree program educates students about human behavior, cultural competency, and policies pertaining to social welfare.
What is a Bachelor’s in Human Services?
An interdisciplinary degree, the Bachelor of Arts in Health and Human Services degree prepares students to work in diverse entry-level positions in health and human services. Emphasis of the major is on the delivery of services to diverse populations, in the context of the current and emerging political, socioeconomic, psychosocial, and regulatory environments.
Direct human services practice is the application of human services theory and methods to the resolution and prevention of psychosocial problems experienced by individuals, families, and groups. The National Organization of Human Services explains, “’Human services professional’ is a generic term for people who hold professional and paraprofessional jobs in such diverse settings as group homes and halfway houses; correctional, intellectual disability, and community mental health centers; family, child, and youth service agencies, and programs concerned with alcoholism, drug abuse, family violence, and aging.”
Real-world application of human services has undergone a change to a strengths perspective which is a:
Paradigmatic shift away from problem-focused approaches to human services practice. The strengths perspective focuses not on the defectiveness of the client system in an attempt to undo these problems but on the inherent strengths, competencies, and resiliency of clients. It does not ignore pain and suffering but asks how people make it under such difficult times and builds on those capacities. It assumes the expertise of the client and privileges client knowledge and capabilities. Diversity, self-determination, empowerment, and social justice are inherent in this practice. (Saleebey, D., 2006)
Why is Human Services Important?
Earning a degree in human services and starting a career in the human services field is extremely important for several reasons. First and foremost, as a human services professional you will be working to strengthen communities that are most in need. You will have a far-reaching influence on your entire community as you influence government policy and try to address issues that few others are equipped to take on. In addition to helping the larger community, you will have the opportunity to touch individuals’ lives through your work. You will help them cope with various challenges from trauma and alcoholism to managing their family and economic hardships. A few of the fields you may find yourself in include elder care, day care, and community health services.
Additionally, you may find yourself in leadership positions as you advance in your career. The human services field is always in need of those who feel a call to leadership. Developing the knowledge and understanding the tools required to help a human services organization perform at its highest level is a fantastic first step on your road to a fulfilling career in human services administration. Many degree programs will include an emphasis on developing abilities in the areas of program planning, evaluation, leadership, supervision, and decision making.
Interested in earning your degree online at Ashford? Check out our full list of Human Services Degrees and enroll today!
Written by Micheal Weuste, PhD, LCSW, former Program Chair for the BA in Health and Human Services in the College of Health, Human Services, and Science at Ashford University.
Community Tool Box (2017) Assessing Community Needs and Resources retrieved at https://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/assessment/assessing-community-needs-and-resources
HumanServicesEdu.org - https://www.humanservicesedu.org/organizations.html
Petrick, Joseph. (n.d.). The Role of Caseworkers. Work - Chron.com. Retrieved from http://work.chron.com/role-caseworkers-23053.html
Rothman, J. (2008) Multi Modes of Intervention at the Macro Level, Journal of Community Practice, 15:4, 11-40, DOI: 10.1300/J125v15n04_02 retrieved at https://doi.org/10.1300/J125v15n04_02
Saleebey, D. (2006). The strengths perspective: Putting possibility and hope to work in our practice. In White, B. W., Sowers, K. M., & Dulmus, C. M. (Eds.). Comprehensive handbook of social work and social welfare. Vol. 1. NY: John Wiley & Sons, pp.123-142.