What is a Social Services Specialist?

When considering what to study in college, many people ask, “What is a social services specialist?” Social services specialists are also called social workers or human services assistants. They work with clients, healthcare professionals, educators and other professionals in order to help people solve everyday problems and move past difficult situations in their lives.

Provider of Resource Referrals

Social services specialists connect people with services they need in order to solve a problem. For example, an elderly person might need help with fixed-income housing or with getting a ride to and from their medical appointment. These workers coordinate services between different social service agencies. In the case of a woman who has left her partner because of domestic violence, a social services specialist may find room in a women’s shelter, help the woman apply for food stamps and cash benefits and connect the woman with a lawyer who represents victims of domestic violence.

Identifier of Behavioral, Mental and Emotional Disorders

A social services specialist is qualified to identify a wide range of behavioral, mental and emotional disorders and problems. For example, they may identify a person with a substance use disorder. They may do this in settings such as a hospital, jail, emergency department or school. They may provide follow-up services for people who have been identified as having a behavioral, mental or emotional disorder. By doing this, the social services specialist ensures that the individual who is in need of help does not fall through the cracks of a splintered social services system.

Counselor of People With Diagnosed Mental Health Conditions

Some social services specialists are licensed to provide counseling to people with mental health conditions. They may offer group counseling for people who have been convicted of domestic violence or who have an anger management disorder. They may lead therapy sessions for people who have a substance use disorder. The social services specialists may also provide individual counseling or therapy. They may work with a person who has anxiety, depression or other mental health disorders. Some social services specialists work with particular populations, including people who are displaced due to a natural disaster or people who are involved in the foster care system.

Responder for Crisis Situations

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a social services specialist also functions as a first responder in crisis situations. For example, if the police respond to a call of domestic violence and find a child who is in imminent danger, a social services specialist may be called to come out to the scene or meet the child at the police department and interview them. The social services specialist may set the child up with temporary housing in a foster home. They may also respond to urgent mental health situations, such as finding an inpatient bed if a person is an imminent danger to themselves or others.

Related Resource: Top 10 Affordable Master of Social Work Online (MSW) Degrees

A social services specialist wears many different hats in their typical work day. From meeting with clients to connecting with healthcare and resource providers, they help get things moving so that a person’s various problems can be solved. Knowing the answer to, “What is a social services specialist?” could help a person figure out whether or not this is the right career pat for their personal strengths.