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Today's Client in Human Services

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By ralpat
Words 2193
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Today's Client in Human Services
Patricia Castillo
BSHS/305
Sept 1, 2014
Kimberly Tarshis

Today's Client in Human Services
In this paper, I will be describing the range of problems facing human services individuals and also discussing the helping skills used with these individuals. Problems can be looked at in many different ways. Thinking about problems is one way to understand the concept of “problems in living.” The problem is described as a situation, event, or condition that is bothersome for the client. (Woodside & McClam, 2012) An important factor to consider when identifying problems and resolving them is how difficult it is to predict how an individual will experience a problem. What must be kept in mind are factors, such as, culture, values of the society and developmental needs of the individual. All of this will influence how problems are defined.
The developmental perspective is one way of identifying problems with individuals. This theory looks at problems through the span of an individual’s lifetime. The development begins at the point of conception and ends at the time of death. During the time between these two points, the individual experiences systemic changes. (Woodside & McClam, 2012) Stage theories, such as those proposed by Erik Erikson contend that the development progresses through maturational determined stages. Each stage in Erikson's theory is concerned with becoming competent in the area of life. If the stage is handled well, the person will feel a sense of mastery, which is sometimes referred to as ego strength or ego quality. (Cherry, 2009) If the stage is managed poorly, the person will emerge with a sense of inadequacy. Each stage builds upon the successful completion of earlier stages. The challenges of stages not successfully completed may be expected to reappear as problems in the future.
Human service professionals can also use developmental models to provide a framework for identifying problems not regarded as normal. For example, certain problems associated with mental illness (such as hallucinations and delusions) and criminal behavior (such as aggressive, violent behavior) are labeled deviant. In any attempt to account for this deviance, Erikson’s developmental model is a starting point for identifying whether the problem can be categorized as a problem in living or as a departure from the expected. With individuals who have severe problems not classified as problems in living, it may be necessary to use several problem identification perspectives. (Woodside & McClam, 2012)
Another way of looking at problems is the situational perspective. The situational perspective is explained as problems resulting from accidents, violent crimes, natural disasters, and major life changes. (Woodside & McClam, 2012) These problems usually happen because an individual is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Situational problems can lead to short and long-term problems, even both. Most individuals experiencing situational problems are considered victims. Examples of these problems are violent crimes, unreported crimes that can occur behind closed doors of homes, workplace, and institutions. The emotional sufferings of these victims can be the most serious result. One explanation for this finding is the damage that occurs after the crime to previously psychologically healthy individuals. After the crime, even healthy individuals are likely to experience depression, anger, shame, and anxiety. They begin to question their previous sense of social order and to redefine their ideas of fairness and justice. (Woodside & McClam, 2012)
The ability to meet basic human needs is another way of looking at problems. Maslow created a hierarchy of needs that is very helpful in identifying problems in this area. Maslow’s hierarchy begins with the most basic of physical human needs and ends with the need of individuals to become self-actualized, to strive to develop their understanding of themselves and their environment. (Woodside & McClam, 2012) As human service professionals, this model is probably the most used on a day to day basis. Individuals must address each need before moving to the next. The bottom starts with the basic living needs such as food, shelter, and water. From there, an individual will move to safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, and finally self-actualization. Many child welfare cases occur because children are not getting their basic needs met. This is also true for victims of natural disasters which have lost their homes due to these events. Once these needs are met then the individual can work their way through all the other levels.
Rapid societal changes can also cause problems to many individuals. This can cause conflict between old and new values and will leave individuals in unfamiliar situations. Homelessness is a big example of societal changes. Many individuals find themselves homeless due to rapid social changes, unemployment, natural disasters, or eviction. The homeless are single men and women and poor elderly who have lost their marginal housing, ex-offenders, single-parent households, runaway youths, youths abandoned by their families or victims of family abuse, young people who have moved out of foster care, women escaping from domestic violence, undocumented and legal immigrants, Native Americans leaving the reservation after federal cutbacks and unemployment, alcoholics and drug abusers, and ex-psychiatric patients. The so-called “new poor” who are victims of unemployment and changes in the job market may also become homeless. (Woodside & McClam, 2012)
Individuals are homeless for many reasons. Many of the unskilled and semiskilled jobs have been eliminated. Employment related reasons are the primary reason for individuals becoming homeless. Another reason is loss of low-income housing due to gentrification. Also, the changing of family dynamics due to divorce or death of a spouse has forced families to live at a lower level of survival.
Finally, environmental influences can also identify problems with an individual. A person can go through any of the above-mentioned perspectives, and the individual's environment can also play a role in the problems at the same time. Environmental influences could include specific locations in which an individual lives, friends and family that influence an individual, groups to which the individual belongs, and activities in which the individual engages. These dimensions are part of the environment that influences an individual’s life. (Woodside & McClam, 2012) A human service professional should look at the environment in layers. The further the factors are in an individual’s environment the less influence it will have.
Now that I have identified the different theories in finding problems, what skills are needed to help solve these problems? The helping relationship will begin between the human service professional and the individual. The human service professional will need to put their personal needs aside and refrain from giving advice or opinions. Each person will bring different opinions and experiences to this relationship. The human service professional will have the knowledge, training and skills to help the individual. The individual will bring needs, problems and expectations of what should be done.
Communication is the foundation to all interpersonal relationships. Being able to understand another person’s ideas, experiences, and perceptions are key to any helping relationship. The ability or the skill to transfer one's thoughts, ideas and information from the sender to the receiver with the latter being understood the same effectively and efficiently is known as communication skills. Communication can happen in both verbal and nonverbal behaviors. A verbal form is the spoken word, and the nonverbal form is your body language.
In a normal two-person conversation, more than 65% of the meaning is carried nonverbally. This fact emphasizes the importance of nonverbal communication in a helping situation. Frequently, you may find that a client’s nonverbal message will provide you with valuable clues about what the client is thinking or feeling—important ideas that the client is unable to verbalize. (Woodside & McClam, 2012) Most feelings are communicated nonverbally. We respond to thousands of nonverbal cues, and it reveals who we are and impact how we relate to others. If a person’s words say one thing and their nonverbal communication say another, you are most likely to listen to the nonverbal communication – and that is usually the correct decision. Most feelings are expressed through nonverbal communication. Understanding this type of communication improves with practice.
Verbal messages are spoken words but can also be spoken in a cultural context. Verbal communication refers to the use of sounds and language to relay a message Verbal messages expresses desires, ideas and concepts and is vital to the helping process. In combination with nonverbal forms of communication, verbal communication acts as the primary tool for expression between two or more people
The way human service professional listen and respond to the verbal and nonverbal messages is crucial in building a helping relationship. A helper’s physical behavior may vary in accordance with the cultural identity of the client or what is comfortable for that particular helper. Egan suggested several things helpers can do to communicate to clients that they are listening. These five behaviors are presented as a set of guidelines that helpers can follow to let their clients know they are physically present and actively involved in the helping relationship. You can easily remember the behaviors by thinking of the acronym SOLER. Face the individual squarely, adopt an open posture, lean toward the individual, maintain good eye contact, and try to be relaxed. (Woodside & McClam, 2012)
Attending behavior is another way of letting the individual know you are listening. Attending behavior has four dimensions; visual eye contact, vocal qualities, verbal tracking, and body language. The professional wants to remember to always keeps eye contact when talking, your vocal tone and the speed you are speaking will let the individual know how you feel about them, stick to the individual’s topic of concern, and be yourself because the individual will know if you are acting fake. When it’s time for a professional to respond, it should be done with a purpose. Always keep in mind the individual is there looking for help with a problem. This is now the time for a professional to show the individual that they were listening and heard what they had to say. The professional can paraphrase what was just said to ensure all the information was communicated effectively. If not, ask questions. By asking questions, it will give the professional the ability to obtain more information they may have picked up on by the nonverbal messages. Questions can also be good tools for the helping process.
In a perfect world, all individuals who a human service professional comes in contact with are motivated and cooperative; however, not all individuals will fit this description. The professional will meet individuals who come from different cultures, which are resistant, reluctant, silent, overly demanding or unmotivated. The key to working with culturally different individuals is to be aware and sensitive to the difference. Body language is not universal to all cultures and can have different meanings. The first step to a multicultural approach to human services begins with the recognition that all people have in common the capacity for thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Knowing about several cultures, understanding their similarities and differences, and sensitivity to any special needs and problems is a second step. The third step is developing an appreciation and acceptance of diverse world views. (Woodside & McClam, 2012)
The reluctant and the resistant individuals can be treated just about the same. The reluctant individual does not want to come for help in the first place, and the resistant individual will come but is less willing to help in the process. They both have negative attitudes toward the helping process. A way to defuse the situation is by discussing the process and explain the confidentiality, time limits, and expectations. For the resistant individual who may be antagonizing, acknowledging it can help diffuse the situation because this isn’t what the individual is expecting. Also asking the individual what their expectations are can show that the professional is on their side.
The silent individual can be challenging because the professional may feel nothing is taking place. The silence can have different meanings, and it can also turn into resistance. The human service professional will need to be mindful of the silence and check to see what the individual is feeling.
The overly demanding individual is a person so dependent on the human service professional because they need to keep being told what to do. The professional needs to handle this type of individual appropriately, so the professional doesn’t start to feel resentful. This also goes into the unmotivated individual. Unfortunately, the unmotivated individual is often unwilling to change and only goes through the motions of the helping process.
In conclusion, there are many ways of identifying the different ranges of client problems from the developmental perspectives to environmental influences. Human service professionals must possess many skills to be effective in their role as a helper. Communication is the foundation to the helping relationship. Developing good interpersonal communication skills will help develop a successful relationship with any type of individual the professional will come in contact with.

References
Cherry, K. (2009, Fall). psychology.about.com. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com
Woodside, M., & McClam, T. (2012). An Introduction to Human Services (7th ed.). Independence, KY: Cengage.…...

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