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M.A. in Human Services - Specialized Human Services Courses

Curriculum Details

36 Total Credits Required

The master’s in human services degree features relevant and practical human services courses and an emphasis in forensic behavioral health or in trauma, resilience, and self-care strategies. All students must choose an emphasis.

Depending on the emphasis you choose, our courses explore topics such as trauma and stressor-related disorders, the impact of trauma on the developing brain, psychopathology, and ethical and legal considerations. The online human services degree can be completed in six semesters, although your transfer credits and general education coursework will vary the time it takes you to finish.

Required Courses

This course explores the roles and responsibilities that human service professionals perform in delivering services to clients with behavioral health issues in criminal justice and forensic behavioral health settings. This initial course will provide an interdisciplinary view of human services across numerous settings, including social work, case management, child protective services, domestic violence and homeless shelters, substance use and behavioral health treatment centers, first responders, courts, and community supervision. Students will (a) become acquainted with evidence-based non-clinical assessment and intervention techniques, (b) match common community-based resources to client needs, and (c) enhance communication, problem solving, and advocacy skills to employ on behalf of clients.

This course will provide an in-depth look at the relationship between family violence, child maltreatment, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and various forms of trauma and their impacts on global functioning. It will explore risk factors and warning signs associated with family violence and other forms of maltreatment. Students will analyze the direct and indirect impacts of violence and abuse on the victims and other family members. Students will identify victim-offender typologies and explore the impact of substance use and behavioral health in cases involving family violence. Current intervention strategies and available community resources for those affected by family violence and other traumatic events will be included.

This course will provide students with the skills to critically evaluate research on issues in the field of human services. Students will learn how to apply empirical research to their decision-making with clients, including the dynamics of problem solving and the development of creative and efficient solutions. Students will build quantitative and qualitative analysis skills in the application and critique of research methodology (i.e., design, data collection, analysis, and interpretation) in the field of human services.

This course will examine the most common behavioral health conditions observed in human services populations, and their assessment and treatment. Topics include Serious and Persistent Mental Illness (SPMI) conditions, personality disorders, substance-use disorders, and childhood disorders. Students will learn the risk factors and key clinical features associated with each disorder and explore the impact of substance use, traumatic brain injuries, and pre-natal substance exposure on mental health symptoms. Evidence-based intervention and treatment strategies deemed most effective with human services and forensic behavioral health populations will be included.

This course focuses on the ethical and legal considerations that human service professionals encounter in their daily job duties. Topics include ethical and legal issues such as confidentiality, mandated reporting, consent and release of information, duty to warn, domestic violence, orders for protection, and harassment, especially how such issues come into play for clients with histories of self-harm, family violence, and other forms of violence. Students will learn the use of ethical decision-making frameworks and discuss the dangers faced while working in human service settings and ways to minimize potential liability. Students will explore the potential roles of human service professionals as witnesses in court cases. Students will be equipped to make ethical decisions and properly document practices in the field of human services.

This course will explore underserved and disadvantaged individuals who are involved in the field of human services. Topics include vulnerable children and adults, individuals impacted by intellectual, learning, neurocognitive, and neuropsychological deficits, and those diagnosed with serious and persistent behavioral health disorders. Special attention will be given to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Traumatic Brain Injuries, Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome, and trauma. Student will examine the role of institutions such as forensic state hospitals and veteran, dependency, adult and juvenile justice court systems. Students will be equipped to identify and better understand the special populations that are found in criminal justice and forensic behavioral health settings.

This course provides an overview of substance use disorders and the most commonly abused substances in human service populations. Students will learn how to identify commonly abused substances, recognize patterns and warning signs associated with substance use, and identify evidence-based intervention and treatment approaches. This course will explore the impact that substance use has on brain development, behavior (e.g., violence), and the family system. Assessment criteria and screening practices for clients with comorbid substance use and behavioral health disorders are included. Topics include other complicating factors including chronic medical issues, developmental disabilities, and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Students will be equipped to recognize substance use disorders in human service populations and more effectively assist clients with substance use disorders.

This course introduces the theories and research behind why some clients engage in and justify inappropriate sexual behaviors. Topics include types of sex offenders, risk factors, statistics associated with sex offending, sex offender-specific policies (i.e., registries and civil commitment of SVPs), and sex offender treatment options. Co-morbid conditions and diagnostic criteria that are often associated with sex offending will be highlighted. Students will learn about sex offender-specific risk assessment tools along with their strengths and limitations.

This course introduces students to different types of risk assessments (e.g., actuarial and structured professional judgment) used with adolescents and adults in the human services arena. Topics will include in-depth exploration of risk approximation as it relates to self-harm, future violence, familial violence, sexual predation, and trauma exposure. Students will become familiar with the intended use, potential for misuse, and limitations accompanying varied risk assessment tools and methods across different settings. Students will explore the theoretical and research findings that guide the development, selection, and implementation of risk assessment procedures that are relevant to the specific referral question and case. Students will be equipped to select, rate, and utilize information gathered from risk assessment instruments in the field of human services.

This course will examine the relationship between behavioral health and the legal system and discuss the various roles that human service professionals can play in the forensic behavioral health law arena. Topics include competency, expert witness testimony, courtroom testimony protocols, and the insanity defense. Case studies and scenarios will be used to enhance the student’s understanding of the law as it relates to the mentally ill. Issues involving mentally ill offenders and developmentally impaired persons who commit crimes be addressed. The stages of a criminal case and exploration of therapeutic courts (i.e., drug, DUI, and mental health) will be included.

This course is the culminating final project in this program of study. Students will complete a 40-60 page integrative paper on a scholarly topic relevant to the practice of human services in forensic behavioral settings.

Choose ONE of the following:

This course provides the foundational knowledge and increases the awareness and skills that contribute to culturally competent practice in human services. The course will sharpen the critical thinking skills necessary for cultural competency as it highlights the intersection of cultural diversity, behavioral health, and criminal justice involvement. The course will also build self-awareness of cultural identity and how this can affect the provision of human services. An in-depth look at specific criminal behaviors (e.g., family violence) and how culture impacts these particular behaviors as well as influences involvement with corrections will be explored.

This international travel course supports students’ program learning with first-hand experience.

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