The human services professional is a generalist with a wide range of skills able to work effectively in a variety of settings. A study (Woodside & McClam, 1991) designed to define the role and function of human service workers resulted in the following 13 broad roles:
- Outreach worker provides access to people with problems, refers to appropriate services and does follow up.
- Broker helps people access existing services and ensure that the services relate to the client.
- Advocate fights for services, policies, rules, regulations and laws on behalf of the client.
- Evaluator assesses client or community needs and problems in many settings.
- Teacher/educator performs a range of instructional activities directed to individuals or groups.
- Behavior changer carries out a range of activities planned primarily to change behavior, ranging from coaching and counseling to casework, psychotherapy and behavior therapy.
- Mobilizer helps to get new resources for clients and communities.
- Consultant works with other professionals and agencies regarding their handling of problems, needs and programs.
- Community planner works with community boards and committees to assure that community development enhances positive mental health and self-actualization, or at least minimizes emotional stress on people.
- Caregiver provides services for persons who need ongoing support of some kind, such as financial assistance, day care, social support and 24-hour care.
- Data manager performs all aspects of data handling, gathering, tabulating, analyzing, synthesizing, program evaluation and planning.
- Administrator carries out activities that are primarily agency or institution-oriented rather than client or community oriented (budgeting, personnel activities, purchasing and so on.)
- Assistant to specialist acts in support of other professions and specialties.