Career Project
Venessa Valdez
HSER 300
Due May 2, 2018
A deeper look into
my career choices
in Human Services

Table of Contents

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Careers that don’t interest me
Social Worker……………………………………………………

Hospital Discharge Planner……………………………………

Probation Officer……………………………………………….

Career That interest me
Alcohol and Drug Counselor……………………………………

Who I would like to work for
Alcohol and Drug Counselor (Progress House) ………………..

Burnout Prevention Plan……………………………………………..



If I was to be asked the question, “why would you want to pursue a career in human services,” my answer would be: Because I have a deep inner desire that burns to make the world a better place. I know I can make it happen(or at least try) by helping people improve their quality of life in one way or another. Pursuing a career in human services is a choice that isn’t made because of how much money I can make or how successful I may look to others. I want to work in human services because I love to help, empower, guide, and support people that want to be helped. No matter where I am, I cant help but notice peoples faces and body language. More times than not people don’t seem very happy and it makes me wonder what they are going through. I find myself giving compliments or a smile on a regular basis because sometimes it’s the littlest things that can make all the difference. These types of things are small but it is because of something as simple as walking through a store that gets my wheels turning. I start thinking what I could do to make a bigger difference in peoples lives. That’s where pursuing a career in human services comes into play.

After researching possible careers in human services I have found that im not cut out to be just any human service worker. I have found some jobs that I am not interested in, a few that I am. In the following pages I will describe three careers I don’t want to pursue and one that I am interested in. I also created a timeline that I could follow if I do choose to pursue the career im interested in. As well as things that may trigger burnout for me and a personal burnout prevention plan.

I Am Not
Interested In
Social Worker
Clients helped by Social Workers
Social Workers help an assortment of clients. They may help children, adults, elderly. They may help people with disabilities, families, or individuals. They may work in public health or mental health or for agencies such as CPS, Human resources, schools, or hospitals. They could help clients in private facilities or government facilities. The list is huge and just about every human services agency has social workers to help any client in need.

Abilities/skills used on the job
After looking over several different websites the most common and necessary skills a social worker should have are the ability to take notes easily and effectively with great detail, excellent organizational skills, the ability to multi-task and having a developed sense of empathy. It is also very important to have professional boundaries, a knowledge of community resources and the ability to think not only theoretically but practically to be able to develop an effective plan for the clients on an individual basis. It is also crucial that a social worker can be an active listener and have both, verbal and written communication skills.

Regular activities of a Social Worker
Some things that a social worker would do regularly are meeting with clients. They could be interviewing new ones or checking in on clients that have been in their caseload for some time. They are there to listen to the needs of the clients and offer insight and resources to help the client improve the quality of their life. Social workers often deal with emergency situations and chaotic events, not necessarily every day but it could happen at any moment, so being prepared is a regular activity. Social workers may find themselves in a court room or public advocating for their clients. I think that social workers have to deal with a lot of trauma and in a sense, have to get use to letting people down, even if they are helping one person there is bound to be others involved that won’t be happy with what you are doing for that person. There is a never-ending job as a social worker having to document, everything.

Environmental/ societal needs Social Workers address
Social workers address needs such as an individuals or families’ overall well-being, nutrition, housing or shelter options, education, parenting, neglect, abuse, violence, poverty, addictions, unemployment, mental illness, disabilities, sexual assault and just about anything that could be a cause for concern. This all depends on the specific agency that a social worker is working for.

Education/training needed to be a Social Worker
Most employers require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work(BSW) for entry level positions. Once you have obtained a bachelors then a master’s degree in social work(MSW) for better job opportunities and higher pay. It is recommended that you receive your degrees from a CSWE- accredited school. The third level social worker is called an advanced generalist. They have received their MSW and have spent at least 2 years in a non-clinical supervised social work experience. The fourth level social worker is called a clinical worker and has their MSW and at least 2 years in direct clinical supervised social work experience. Once you have obtained your license you will need to keep it current and participate in continued education courses.
In California, in order to be licensed you have to have at least an MSW.
Must be familiar with the California Law and Professional Ethics to pass the exam.

Must submit an ASW application to register
After completing all coursework
Obtaining a minimum of a MSW degree
Completing required work experience
Completing required supervised experience
Must apply for LCSW licensure to the board
Take and pass the ASWB clinical exam
Apply for an initial license
Some additional information
According to the website: a social worker in California could make anywhere from $37,630- $93,600 yearly.

Hospital Discharge Planner
Clients helped by Hospital Discharge PlannerHospital discharge planners help people that have recently been hospitalized and are ready to leave the hospital with a need for continued care. There is no particular population that a discharge planner may help. They also help the families and/or caregivers to understand the needs of the client and what plan is highly recommended that the client follows upon being discharged.
Abilities/skills used on the job
A hospital discharge planner should be people-oriented, compassionate and able to demonstrate empathy. They need to be able to cooperate with all parties involved in the clients recovery and be well-organized. They should know how insurance works to insure the client and hospital are getting what is best for them and their needs. Having good time-management skills is important because there are several clients a planner may need to see in a very short time and they need to be effective and quick. They need to have a ton of patience because people get anxious sometimes when they know they can leave the hospital and are just waiting for you to provide them with their discharge plan. They need to be able to connect the clients needs to the numerous resources that they may need and create a plan best suited for the client on a very individual basis.

Regular activities of a Hospital Discharge Planner
Hospital discharge planners work closely with the nursing team that worked with the client/patient. As well as the post-hospitalization care providers, such as; a rehabilitation hospital, a nursing facility, hospice, and home health companies. They also work with the physician, social worker, skilled therapist and with insurance companies to coordinate coverage with the ongoing care needed for the client. The discharge planner meets with all the above people and the client and the clients family/caregiver(s) and accesses the needs of the client. Then they create a plan for the client to promote the wellbeing and health as the client leaves the hospital. They may make arrangements with a nursing home, or contact therapist to do at home therapy. They may make arrangements and place orders for medical equipment that makes the ongoing care easier and can be done in the comfort of the clients home. They may refer clients/families/ caregivers to support services or counseling if needed.

Environmental/ societal needs Hospital Discharge Planners address
Hospital discharge planners help to keep hospitals from becoming overcrowded by knowing and creating a plan to have ongoing care in other places besides the hospital. They address the desire to be recovering in the comfort of their own homes, this way the clients don’t feel the blah-ness that comes with being in a hospital setting.

Education/training needed to be a Hospital Discharge Planner
There are several different paths a person can go to become a hospital discharge planner. Many employers look for people that have passed the exam to be a licensed RN and have experience with bedside care or have worked as a medical social worker. The facility that you wish to work for will have their own requirements. It is suggested by that a minimum of a bachelors degree in nursing or a masters degree in social work be obtained to be considered for hire. Many discharge planners are members of the American Case Management Assoc.
Some additional information
According to the average annual salary a discharge planner makes is $75,500 in California. This is $23,500 higher than the national average of $52,000.
Probation Officer
Clients helped by Probation Officers
Probation officers work with people that have been in trouble with the law and have been sentenced to probation. They can be of any age, gender, nationality or race, depending on whether you work for an adult or juvenile agency.

Abilities/skills used on the job
A probation officer must be able to handle stressful situations and be able to accept that all their clients aren’t going to always follow the terms given to them which can be disappointing and frustrating at times. They must have excellent verbal, written and physical(body language) communication skills. They need to be respectful of their clients yet be able to be assertive and direct. They should be openminded, have great critical thinking skills and the ability to recognize patterns. They should be self -aware of their own behaviors since keeping a level head is very important in this profession. They should know how to handle hostile situations calmly. Probation officers must keep their work and personal lives separate. They should also have excellent organization skills and be able to multi-task due to the high number of case files they will have at once. They need to be able to keep good detailed records of their clients and know what resources are available to their clients to help them complete their probation terms.

Regular activities of a Probation Officer
Probation officers have several different task they do daily, weekly an monthly. The following is a list that is provided by

“Daily Tasks
Interview probationers and parolees regularly to evaluate their progress in accomplishing goals and maintaining the terms specified in their probation contracts and rehabilitation plans.

Recommend remedial action or initiate court action in response to noncompliance with terms of probation or parole.

Administer drug and alcohol tests, including random drug screens of offenders, to verify compliance with substance abuse treatment programs.

Prepare and maintain case folder for each assigned inmate or offender.

Discuss with offenders how such issues as drug and alcohol abuse and anger management problems might have played roles in their criminal behavior.

Weekly/ Monthly Tasks
Conduct prehearing and presentencing investigations and testify in court regarding offenders’ backgrounds and recommended sentences and sentencing conditions.

Write reports describing offenders’ progress.

Arrange for medical, mental health, or substance abuse treatment services according to individual needs or court orders.

Supervise people on community-based sentences, such as electronically monitored home detention, and provide field supervision of probationers by conducting curfew checks or visits to home, work, or school.

Arrange for postrelease services, such as employment, housing, counseling, education, and social activities.”
Environmental/ societal needs probation Officers address
Probation officers address criminogenic needs in the community. Probation helps keep jails from being overpopulated by allowing offenders the opportunity to be released from detention facilities under a probation officers supervision. Probation officers are now encouraged to use social learning techniques to improve the performance of the offender with hopes of minimizing the “removal and return” problem criminal often have. They address clients criminal behavior by focusing on skill building and reinforcing positive behaviors to help them become accepted in their communities. They also address any issues that are causing their clients to behave in criminal ways. an example of this might be a client robs a house because they need money to put food on the table, so a probation officer should have the knowledge of what resource could help the client not feel the need to turn towards criminal activities.
Education/training needed to be a Probation Officer
The requirements to become a probation officer vary by state and county. According to the website: it is recommended that you receive at least a bachelors degree in developmental psychology, criminal justice, law, human welfare, or counseling. Preference is given to applicants with an advanced degree like a Master of Social Work or MBA.
In California, all probation officers must complete the probation officer training course that is offered by the State Board of Corrections. This is a 200 hour program. There is a written exam and a physical fitness test. They also do medical and psychological evaluations and a criminal history check. Upon being hired, you must complete a 4 week program at the Academy Probation Officer Core Course. Probation officers must successfully complete any training and certification programs to carry a firearm. The specific requirements vary by county.

Some additional information
According to the average salary for a probation officer in California is $69,256.

That I Am
Interested In

Drug and Alcohol Counselor
Clients helped by Drug and Alcohol Counselors
Drug and alcohol counselors help people that are struggling with or have struggled with a chemical dependency to controlled substances, alcohol or prescription medications and any other type of drugs. These counselors could help either adults or teens, in group or individual sessions, depending on the specific agency, department or clinic that one is working for. They often work with client’s families, due to the fact that addictions affect more than just the addict. They may also work with client’s partners and occasionally employers.

Abilities/skills used on the job
One of the most crucial skills for a drug and alcohol counselor to have is the ability to be an active listener. As a counselor you will spend a lot of time engaging in conversations, especially ones that may be very uncomfortable for the client or their loved ones. A counselor needs to be able to multi-task efficiently and be organized because they deal with several clients on a daily basis and have a lot of documenting that needs to be done. It’s important that the counselor knows of different resources that could be beneficial to clients on an individual basis. Having both, written, verbal and physical (body language) communication skills are essential. A counselor should be empathetic with strong professional boundaries and must be aware of their own triggers, especially if coming from an addict past themselves. They should be compassionate and optimistic, and able to accept that relapse is possible. Having the ability to manage the high levels of stress the job has on a daily basis. Knowing how to control and navigate their own emotions and not letting them interfere with helping the client is very important to be a good counselor. they need to be ready to hear anything without letting personal biases and stereotypes affect the way the help the clients, being as clients could have experienced any level of trauma in their lives.

Regular activities of a Drug and Alcohol Counselor
Drug and alcohol counselors do basically the same thing every day, except its different because the individuals that you meet with. A regular day’s activities consist of meeting with clients. Sometimes they are new clients, some may be regulars. When you meet with the clients you will listen as they describe their problems, addressing their goals and helping them recognize what causes them to engage in their addictive behaviors. As you meet with the clients you will be evaluating their problems and help identify the underlying issues to create goals and a treatment plan that is best suited for the individual. You may find that a client needs help with housing, treatment, medical attention, or finding a job. in these situations, you would offer any resources that may be beneficial to them. As you spend time with clients you try to help them modify their behaviors with the ultimate intention of recovery from their addictions. You will have to document each and every meeting of every client. Paperwork is inevitable. Often you may find yourself meeting with client’s families, partners or employers to offer support and guidance and to get better insight on what the best options may be in creating a treatment plan for the client.
Environmental/ societal needs Alcohol and Drug Counselors address
The main environmental/societal need that AOD counselors address is addictions, specifically to drugs and alcohol. They take a deeper look in the underlying causes of the addictive behaviors and work to help people that struggle with addictions to try and overcome them.

Education/training needed to be an AOD Counselor
There are many routes that one could go to become an AOD counselor, depending on the level of certification one wishes to obtain. After hours of researching, the simplest way I can explain it is as follows. Keep in mind that each state has different requirements, so I’m providing what is needed to be an AOD counselor in California. The information I am providing is from the website;
There are four levels of certification:
Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor Associate(CADCA)
Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor I (CADC-I)
Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor II (CADC-II)
Licensed Advanced Alcohol Drug Counselor (LAADC)
There are also two trainee levels that don’t require actual certification and/or licensure.

To become certified in California:
Earn an Associates, Bachelors, or Masters in a behavioral science field with counseling or addiction counseling. For the lower levels of certification, degrees in Social Work, Human Services, Sociology or Psychology are acceptable.

Complete the practicum (each level has increased number of hours required)
Earn sufficient supervised work experience (this varies depending on the level of certification/licensures)
Pass the written exam(s): IC;RC ADC exam, NCE (each state often has different exams depending on the requirements of the state board)
Apply for certification with the California Commission for Behavioral Health Certification
Educational requirements are set forth by CCAPP or CADTP
Certification must be Accredited by NCCA and recognized by DCHS
There are several other requirements that must be met depending on the level of certification including but not limited to:
Sign CA SUD Counselor Code of Conduct
Counseling ethics and professional boundaries w/ annual renewal of certification
Continuing education courses
Renewal of certification (time frame depends on level)
Familiar with HIPAA
Familiar with Public Law Codes
Familiar with Federal Regulations
Reasons for choosing this career path
Coming from a past of several different drug and alcohol addictions, I have a burning desire to help people that are still struggling. Addiction is not an easy road to travel down and I want to help people overcome their addictions and help them change their behavior.

Some additional information
According to the average salary of a drug and alcohol counselor is $41,070.

My Career Path
Who I Want
To Work For
Progress House
As a Drug and Alcohol Counselor

Burnout Prevention Plan
Human service workers pursue their careers having this burning desire to make a difference in others’ lives by helping people in need. As the days go on, the caseloads often pile up, the demands increase, and stresses rise greatly. Though having a career in the human services field can be rewarding, it can also become exhausting, overwhelming and beyond stressful, leading to feelings of ‘burnout’.

You might be wondering what might cause ‘burnout’ for me, so let me give you five risk factors I may encounter working in the human service field.
The biggest one for me, is going to be ‘compassion fatigue’. This phrase was created by Dr. Charles Figley, a world-renowned trauma expert and pioneer researcher in the field of helper burnout. He wrote, “caring peoplesometimes experience pain as a direct result of their exposure to another’s traumatic material… this situation- call it compassion fatigue, compassion stress or secondary traumatic stress- is natural, predictable, treatable and preventable unwanted consequence of working with suffering people.” CITATION CRF95 l 1033 (CR., 1995) To experience compassion fatigue is bound to happen, not only to me but to anyone that cares about the people they are helping.

The second risk factor I may encounter is having a difficult time sticking to my boundaries. I know setting boundaries is crucial when working any career in human services, or in all areas of life, for that matter. I may have an issue with not being firm about the boundaries I try to have with clients. This could cause me to be overwhelmed and lead to burnout quicker.

The third risk factor is having high expectations of myself. I tend to want things I do to be almost perfect. This can be very stressful in itself but the inner need to meet these high expectations may lead to being disappointed or I will run myself in the ground and become overwhelmed.

The forth risk factor for me, would be having an overload of documentation. Most careers in the human services field require a lot of documenting to protect myself, the agency and the clients. This could very easily cause feelings of burnout for me, especially when the previous risks are involved as well.

The last risk factor I may experience working in the human service field is being underpaid, overworked and underappreciated. Most careers in human services involve a lot of detailed and exhaustive work that consist of trying to meet the demands of those we are helping and our supervisors for very little pay. I could definitely see myself feeling like I’m not making enough money to be doing the work I’m doing.

Burnout is inevitable in human services, so what can be done to prevent it? Here are the five things I will be doing to prevent going into a deep burnout where I am unable to help.

The first way is through self-awareness. It is crucial to understanding myself, what makes me tick, frustrates me, and overwhelms me. I need to know what my triggers are and how to recognize what I’m going through mentally, emotionally and physically. It is with self-awareness that burnout can be preventable.

The second way to prevent burnout will be to establish open relationships with my supervisor, and coworkers. Having someone to talk to that may have a better understanding of what I may be going through will be beneficial and being able to talk openly with someone that understands should help alleviate some of the stresses associated with careers in human services.

The third way I plan on using to prevent burnout is using some type of therapeutic self-care. I enjoy fishing, gardening and being outdoors in general. I need to schedule in ‘me time’, to do the things I enjoy so I don’t feel like all I’m doing is work, work, and more work.

The fourth thing I can do is breathing exercises and daily meditation. I have found that anytime any part of my life becomes too much, taking anywhere from 5 minutes to 3-4 hours to clear my head, focus on my breathing and recenter myself is the most helpful way for me to get back on a sane and functional track.

The last way I will tell you about is to take advantage of vacation time and time off. I won’t use this time to ‘catch up’ with work but for the opportunity to escape from work for a while. This is probably going to be much easier said then done. Depending on my career, I will find it difficult to not think about my clients while having my time off. This will be the most challenging, but necessary, ways for me to prevent burnout.

Who can I turn to when these feelings of burnout come creeping up on me? I would have to say that the first person I would turn to would be my fiancé. Before I tend to realize that I’m experiencing this, he usually notices and almost always will lend an ear. I could also talk to my supervisor, as well as, my coworkers. I have always been able to talk to my cousin, Stevi. She is a great listener and has a way of helping me see what the underlying root of my issues are. Hopefully, I can talk to Katie VanNoord, even when I’m not in her class anymore. She has a special aura that is comforting and reassuring but in a way that doesn’t make me feel like she just feels sorry for me. She understands on a different level and seems to know when a person needs an ear to listen to them vs. when seeking advice. She has a way of helping open my eyes without just doing it for me.
The list of possible jobs in human services is quite extensive, though they all have one goal and that is to help those in need. The populations that human service workers help are very diverse, of every age and have a broad range of issues. These populations could be any of the following: the elderly, families, children, veterans, the homeless, immigrants, people with addictions, people with criminal backgrounds, disabilities, or mental illnesses. This is just a few, there are several more.

No matter what population I wish to help I feel that people will always need, at some point, in their lives some type of help. Whether it be help to become more self-efficient, to learn new skills, to overcome addictions, to understand why life keeps giving them lemons, to provide suggestions to other helpful resources, to have the most comfortable end of life possible, or simply to provide emotional support. The list is endless and a career in human services is where someone like me is meant to be working.

A career in human services is rewarding in the sense that I would be able to do what my soul yearns for, to help people in need. At the same time, I can see people succeed, overcome, understand, and find comfort that I may never get to experience with a nonhuman service job. Unfortunately, human services careers arent always going be rewarding. The risk of burnout in a human service career is great, and learning to accept the fact that I cant help them all, all of the time are a few of the major drawbacks.

Overall, doing this career project has opened my eyes to so many more possibilities and I will be doing much more research to find the perfect fit for me. I believe that I have several of the skills needed in most of these possibilities now I just need to take a much deeper look into the population that interest me the most and what really want to do. After doing the research I have done I am a bit disappointed with the discovery that so many of these careers have such low salaries and such great educational/ training requirements. It seems like a career in human services is good for your heart but is often overwhelming and incredibly stressful at times. Trying to decide if the rewards will outweigh the drawbacks is my greatest challenge. What career will I pursue, I don’t know for sure but this project gave me a few ideas.



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