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Most professions lay claim to a unique body of knowledge that helps define their specialty as well as serve as an accumulation of learning for those new to the profession. The venue in which these bodies of knowledge converge and provide services to clients under a single roof is the human service agency.
In this article, the human service agency is defined as a team of professionals from varied disciplines. This can be a single behavioral healthcare office that includes psychiatry and social work or a large multi-service organization that provides a full continuum of services such as family counseling and preservation, foster care, behavioral healthcare, primary healthcare, residential treatment and substance abuse services.
In this setting--large or small--the individual professions' contributions often don't compare to the benefit of the combined experience. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The purpose of this article is to increase one's sensitivity to the power of the whole.
The field of human services has within its scope of service provision the good fortune to engage many professional disciplines (i.e., psychiatry, psychology, education and social work). This multidisciplinary approach, though beneficial to the client, creates a lack of clarity as to how to differentiate one professional discipline from another, or even the overall benefit of a collective approach. The paucity of empirical data on the multidisciplinary approach within human services provides a unique opportunity …