While working with clients, human service practitioners should be able to perform different roles. The choice of the role depends on the goal and specific services delivered for each client. Clients have different needs and human service practitioners should perform roles that help them to match their goals and to enable their clients to return to the normal life and to develop a positive lifestyle. At the same time, using the specific role implies the in-depth knowledge of human service practitioners and their professional skills in the specific field which role they perform because each role implies a set of professional skills that human service practitioners have to possess and to be able to apply in their work with clients.
One of the roles performed by human service practitioners is the role of counselor. The role of counselor involves the work of human service practitioners with individuals and groups to help identify and solve problems of everyday living using behavioral and social science theory (Albano & Kearney 2000). In fact, human service practitioners working as counselors for their clients should focus on the development of positive models of behavior in their clients because they help to integrate clients into the normal social life and to develop a positive view on their lifestyle. In addition, human service practitioners performing the role of counselors should use the full potential of communities and their positive impact on individuals and target groups.
Alternatively, human service practitioners can perform the role of outreach workers. Outreach workers provide information to communities and carry out liaison activities in surrounding communities (Sue & Sue, 2006). In fact, the role of outreach workers implies the involvement of the community-based model in the provision of human services for clients. The close cooperation between human service practitioners and local communities is very important for the effective performance of human service practitioners and the accomplishment of their goals in the assistance to their clients. This role is particularly effective, when human service practitioners work with groups of clients because they can develop positive relationships with local community easier than individual clients. Groups of clients are perceived by local communities as more significant social entities than individual clients.
Furthermore, the role of a broker is another role that may be performed by human service practitioners. This role helps clients to identify their needs and utilize new services (Burns, 1999). Human service practitioners provide clients with useful information on social services and current technologies available to them which can help clients to improve their life and to develop positive lifestyle.
In addition, human service practitioners can perform the role of advocates. Advocates champion and defend clients’ causes and rights (Sue & Sue, 2006). Human service practitioners may not have the professional legal education or work in the field of justice and law but still they have certain knowledge and skills that help them to protect rights and causes of their clients and, more important, human service practitioners can help clients to protect their rights and causes on their own, without the assistance of human service practitioners. In such a way, clients learn of their causes and rights and, more important, they learn to defend them and use them.
The role of researcher/evaluator involves the assessment of clients’ programs and reveals that agencies are accountable for services provided. The assessment of clients’ programs is very important because often client are unaware of existing programs or services, which they may receive or count on. Hence, human service practitioners help them to identify those programs and services and benefit from using them to the full extent.