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How to Obtain a Fulfilling Career in Behavioral Health Field

How to Obtain a Fulfilling Career in Behavioral Health Field

Ottawa University’s Human Services program teaches evidence-based curriculum  that provides our students with the skills and competencies to work effectively with adults, children, the elderly, and those with physical disabilities and/or mental health issues. Obtaining a fulfilling career in the behavioral health field involves strong motivation, an excellent student experience, and knowledge about career opportunities.

Motivation

Most students pursue a degree in Human Services because they are compassionate towards their fellow man and want to be helpful. Some choose to obtain a fulfilling career in the behavioral health field because they have come through a difficult experience and feel they have the empathy and experience to help others. Some come from more privileged backgrounds wanting to ensure others less fortunate are provided care and opportunities as needed.  Still others are drawn to the field by a spiritual calling. Ottawa University’s Mantra-Prepare for a Life of Significance-fits well with all these motivations.

Student Experience

Unless they were raised in a household with a Social Worker or other Human Service Professional, most students are looking to their studies and experiences provided in their school program to help them understand what specific career opportunities are available for them. They hear terms such as Micro and Macro practice not understanding initially their role in the career world of Human Services.  Most undergraduate programs such as Ottawa’s Human and Social Services provide a generalist practice curriculum where students can then utilize their knowledge and skill in a variety of settings with various populations.  

Attending our accredited Human Services program provides our student with skills and competencies to explore any of the many career paths available in the mental health field. Sharing and discussing interests, personal history and goals with instructors and other students can help a student discern which area of practice they may wish to focus on. Internships are also a terrific opportunity for students to receive hands-on experience with different populations in various settings.  

Career Opportunities:

Substance Abuse Counselor

It takes someone special to work with individuals who have typically made very self-destructive choices and are struggling to change that behavior despite negative consequences. It is imperative that the human services professional that chooses this population has the ability to remain non-judgmental, and also has the ability to confront substance abusers regarding their actions. It is often necessary to work with the entire family of someone abusing substances and addiction is often seen as a family disease.

Geriatric and Hospice Worker

Over the past several years, the “Baby Boomer” generation has aged to senior citizen status. As a result, the field of geriatric social work has significantly expanded. The advancements in medicine over the past few decades have resulted in individuals living longer and needing specialized long-term assisted living or nursing care. Complicated issues with medical coverage also impede this care. Human Services workers can help families navigate this complicated system and ensure that their loved ones receive the best of care.

Domestic Violence Advocate

Those experiencing intrafamilial violence have significant needs and require compassion, understanding and possibly legal and financial help. This can be a very rewarding population to work with as Domestic Violence Victims and families are able to feel safe within a sheltered setting while healing emotionally and gaining self confidence to change their situation in a positive direction. 

Child Protective Services

This field can be both rewarding as well as disturbing for those choosing to focus on intervening with vulnerable children in families which are experiencing some level of crisis.  Individuals need to be able to recognize their own values and standards in child rearing to understand the stressors that can cause parents to make decisions or behavior that could put their child at risk despite the love they have for them. Since families in chaos often isolate, it may be extremely difficult to assess what is happening in someone’s home. Poverty and substance abuse can exacerbate family problems and complicate intervention efforts by the Human Service Professional.  Federal, State and local policies impact how these cases are handled so it is important that someone choosing this area of practice be able to navigate within those bureaucracies. 

Mental Health Services

As inaccurate stigma’s about mental health disorders decrease the opportunities for positive careers in this field increase.  Funding increases for mental health services have opened opportunities for bachelor level positions in crisis intervention, community care and in-home supportive services which were not available previously.   Providing crisis intervention with law enforcement cases can also be a field of interest and great benefit to any community. 

Developmental Disabilities with Adults or Children

This again can be a challenging population to work with however for the student who has the compassion and patience to work with individuals with physical disabilities or intellectual limitations, the rewards can be amazing.  Children on the Autism Spectrum and their families often work with Human Service professionals to help with behavioral and other problems that affect the child’s functioning. 

This is a just small sampling of career opportunities available in the mental health field for students who receive a bachelor’s degree in human services.

Read more about Ottawa University’s Human and Social Services program to begin a meaningful career with professional growth opportunities and personal fulfillment so you may Live a Life of Significance. 

Contact us for further information about our online programs!

 

Posted: 07/31/2020 by Mary Alice Grosser, MSW
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