Social and Human Services Assisting

Social and human services assistants provide services to clients to help them improve their quality of life. They assess clients’ needs; develop care and treatment plans; review documentation; investigate clients’ eligibility for benefits and services such as food stamps, Medicaid, or welfare; and help clients to obtain such benefits and services. They also arrange for transportation and escorts, if necessary, and provide emotional support. Social and human services assistants monitor and keep case records on clients and report progress to supervisors and case managers.

What to Expect

Social and human service assistants help people get through difficult times or get additional support. They may work with elderly; children and families; people with disabilities, addictions, or mental illnesses; veterans; former prison inmates; homeless people; or immigrants. They assist other health care workers, such as social workers, to provide services to people. "Social and human services assistant" is a general term for workers with a wide array of job titles, including human service worker, case work aide, crisis intervention counselor, clinical social work aide, community support worker, mental health aide, community outreach worker, life skills counselor, or gerontology aide. The job titles and duties are considerably different depending on the employment setting and the clients served. They usually work under the direction of workers from a variety of fields, such as nursing, psychiatry, psychology, rehabilitative or physical therapy, or social work. The amount of responsibility and supervision they are given also varies a great deal. Some have little direct supervision—they may run a group home, for example. Others work under close direction.

Important Qualities

  • Communication skills. Social and human service assistants talk with clients about the challenges in their lives and assist them in getting help. These workers must be able to listen to their clients and to communicate the clients’ needs to organizations that can help them.
  • Compassion. Social and human service assistants often work with people who are in stressful and difficult situations. To develop strong relationships, they must have compassion and empathy for their clients.
  • Interpersonal skills. Social and human service assistants must make their clients feel comfortable discussing sensitive issues. Assistants also need to build relationships with other service providers to become familiar with all of the resources that are available in their communities.
  • Organizational skills. Social and human service assistants often must complete lots of paperwork and work with many different clients. They must be organized in order to ensure that the paperwork is filed properly and that clients are getting the help they need.
  • Problem-solving skills. Social and human service assistants help clients find solutions to their problems. They must be able to listen carefully to their clients’ needs and offer practical solutions.
  • Time-management skills. Social and human service assistants often work with many clients. They must manage their time effectively to ensure that their clients are getting the attention they need.

Meet the Faculty

Janel Cadman, LSW, M.Ed.

Janel Cadman, LSW, M.Ed. has been an instructor at Beal College for the past 5 years teaching in the Human Services & Substance Abuse Counseling programs, as well as general education classes. She has a Masters Degree in Education with a clinical focus and has been a licensed social worker with the state of Maine since 1996. Her experience is in the field of child abuse and neglect. She has served at risk children and families for the past 19+ years in a variety of capacities. Through this, she adopted one child and is currently raising two others. Her personal passion is to travel, doing missionary work and getting to know people from around the world. Janel also serves as the externship coordinator for the Human Services Assisting and Substance Abuse Counseling programs. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Russ DuBois, MA, LADC, CCS, MHRT III, MAC has worked in the Human Services/Substance Abuse field since 1980. Russ holds a Bachelors of Art and a Masters in Counseling Psychology from Norwich University. He has been a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) since 1985; Mental Health Rehabilitation Technician III (MHRT III) since 2000; Master Addiction Counselor Certification (MAC) since 2000; Certified as an Instructor for the Unimpaired program since 2001; Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS) since 2004; a Member of the Maine Gambling Addiction Network since 2010; and Driver Education Evaluation Program Provider since 2011. Russ is also affiliated with NAADAC: The Association for Addiction Professional (1991) and American Substance Abuse Professionals since 2003.

Russ has been with Beal College since January of 2011 teaching Human Services Assisting classes as well as Substance Abuse Counseling and general education classes. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Terry Melanson, LCSW

Terry Melanson, LCSW has over 35 years in the Human Services field. For 18 years she worked as a case manager and therapist for child abuse cases. For 14 years she has been a supervisor with inpatient psychiatry care unit. She has also worked for 6 years as a therapist with the homeless and for the last 4 years working in the gerontology field. Terry’s work history has afforded her a wide variety of experience from case management to supervision in various components of the human services field. She currently is working with Alzheimer’s/dementia and the ageing population. A great deal of Terry’s work has been with PTSD and trauma patients. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Susan Polyot, M.Ed., LADC, CCS, CEAP

Susan Polyot, M.Ed., LADC, CCS, CEAP is the Employee Assistance Program Coordinator for Pen Bay Healthcare in Rockport. Susan also provides counseling and consulting services related to substance abuse through a private practice she maintains in Bangor. She has worked in both residential and outpatient substance abuse programs as a clinician and trainer. At Beal, Susan teaches courses in Substance Abuse, Ethics, and Trauma, among others. Susan has specialized training in trauma and has been published in The Journal of Employee Assistance, Developing a Trauma-Informed EAP Assessment. Susan has a Masters degree in Counselor Education, is a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Certified Clinical Supervisor, and Certified Employee Assistance Professional. She has worked in the fields of Substance Abuse and Employee Assistance for over 30 years. Susan is the Program director for the Human Services Assisting and Substance Abuse Counseling programs. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Larry Tyler, M.Ed., LADC, CCS

Larry Tyler, M.Ed., LADC, CCS, is the Coordinator of the Penquis Regional Linking Project, a program that assists over thirty collaborative service providers in Penobscot and Piscataquis County by promoting the work of these agencies and helping families access services. With 45 years of experience in the social services field as a counselor, trainer, administrator, consultant, and clinical supervisor, he has worked in both the mental health and addictions field with a wide range of clients. As a treatment specialist for the State Office of Substance Abuse, he provided technical assistance to programs statewide. He taught courses for 25 years at the New England Institute of Addiction Studies, has presented scores of trainings regionally, and has been a clinical supervisor since 1983. Working in outpatient, residential, private practice and institutional settings, he developed a residential addictions program for adolescents, created a batterer intervention program in Rockland, and established the first outpatient program for co-occurring disorders in Maine. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Program Overview

This program is designed to prepare students for the challenging and diverse field of human services. Students will be introduced to many theories and therapies designed to address challenges faced by the targeted population who need assistance.

Beal College's Human service degree program train students to observe and interview patients, carry out treatment plans, and handle people who are undergoing a crisis.

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