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Human Services Client Interaction: Ecosystem & Strength Perspectives

Brittany is working toward her Master's in Human Services at Purdue University Global

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The ecosystems theory is a way of looking at a person's strengths and weakness via the positive and negative transactions that take place between that person and their environment. The environment can include their family, culture, role, etc. It takes into consideration all of the things that can affect and shape a person, their characteristics, and actions. People are multi-dimensional beings; things can rarely be taken at face value.

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I'll use myself as an example of a hypothetical client. A while back, my best friend passed away. On the day that he died, my other friends where having a cookout. I told them I would come, but did not give them any indication of what was happening until I got there. It was nice to be surrounded by good friends during the time. The next day, I attended a counseling session that I had schedule prior to all of the nonsense in order to deal with some other traumatic experiences and my mental health issues. I did not know how to bring it up in my session, so I waited about halfway through and just dropped it on my therapist. She was quite taken aback. She showed me an app, Virtual Hope Box, which was developed by the military to treat people with PTSD. I was able to participate in preparing the church where the funeral was being held; this was a great experience. The main task I had was putting up a bunch of photos of my friend. I thought it would be hard, but he was such a clown and the photos were all either funny or incredibly sweet. At the funeral, I spoke with many different acquaintances that I had made through my friend; many of us speak every day now.

This all coincides with the strengths perspective which takes into account a person's own personal motivations, experiences, and characteristics that enable them to seek a positive change in their lives. Many things can make a person resilient: a mentor, motivation for a better life, having children, friends, intelligence, etc. I think this is a very important factor in the human services field. We so often focus on what's wrong and what went wrong; that path leads only to destruction. However, focusing on what's right can help a person overcome and move on.

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So how do we put these perspectives and theories into action? First and foremost, you must identify your own personal strengths and weaknesses. Luckily, there are many online quizzes that can help you identify your strengths! My personal favorite is the Myers–Briggs Personality Test found at https://www.16personalities.com/.

Personally, I tend to form personal bonds with people based mostly in humor. Most of my friends have their weird quirks and flaws and I love them for it. I think that this can help me when work with clients in a major way. People often seek the help of a human services professional in the worst moments of their life. Helping someone escape the hurt and drama through humor and conversation can help develop a more personal relationship. This in turn can result in a client opening up more and realizing that you're there because you care and not just because it's your job.

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