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Who Needs Human Services?

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Common Questions

What people might meet with a human services professional? Why might these people seek help? How might a person build a professional relationship with a human service professional so that they will talk about their problem?


Individuals or groups that seek help from a human services professional are considered clients; the client can be an individual, a family, a group, a community, or societal problem (Woodside & McClam, 2015). There is a wide variety of people or groups that might meet with a human services professional; some examples are single parents, parents of a child with autism, individuals with low-income and little education, individuals with physical or mental disabilities, individuals suffering from mental health condition(s), individuals suffering from health problem(s), and the family of a child with developmental condition(s).

Each individual who meets with a human service professional could have different and unique reasons for seeking help that are based upon their needs, the needs of a family member, their income level, and/or their level of education. These clients generally become involved in the human service delivery system through either self-referral, referral through other professionals like a doctor, mental health worker, or minister, or by involuntary placement in the system from a school, prison, or the court system (Woodside & McClam, 2015). The clients that seek out help from a human service agency typically do so because they do not have access to the services or goods that they need either for themselves or a family member. For example, parents might seek help for their autistic child because the child might need a special school, extra after school services, additional medical care, and/or mental health care that the parents cannot afford and/or need help in acquiring for their child. An eighteen year old that never finished his or her high school education who is living alone might seek help in getting a high school education or a GED from a human service agency in order to improve his or her life. The reasons that each individual or group seeks out help from a human service agency depends on the needs and goals of the individual or group.

It is important for human service professionals to build a strong professional relationship with their clients in order to help the client trust the professional enough to assist them. The creation of a strong professional relationship depends on the personality, needs, and situation of each client. However, the basic elements of a strong professional relationship typically hold true for all clients. According to Woodside and McClam (2015), forming a professional relationship with a client requires “knowledge of individuals, an understanding of society and its relationship to individual and family life, and a view of the culture in which people live” (p. 13). The human service professional should begin forming a professional bond with their clients by learning about their client as a person or group, understanding the relationship society has with the client, and learning about the culture that the client lives in. The professional bond being having knowledge and understanding the factors which play a role in the client’s life so that the human service professional can show the client that not only are they there to help, but that they see the client as a person and that they are willing to work to understand the client as an individual.

For instance, if my client was a single mother, I would begin forming a professional bond by talking with the client about not only her need and goals, but also her general situation. I would then research the community that my client lived in and any cultures that were a part of her life. As she became more comfortable speaking to me, I would then ask her to help me to better understand her world so that I could understand the client’s perspective. During these discussions I would also focus the conversation on how we were similar and different from each other so that she could begin to understand me as well. Allowing her to see me as an individual, and not just a human service professional, would help the professional bond to form and to make her more comfortable talking to me about her needs and the needs of her child.


Woodside, M., & McClam, T. (2015). An Introduction to the Human Services (8th ed.). Cengage Learning.

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