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5 Key Traits of Amazing Community Services Workers

Dec 19, 2016
community services worker

Students in Herzing College’s Community Services Worker program with guest speaker, Pierre Gauthier, Staff Sergeant with the Ottawa Police Service

Students who pursue a career in community services are typically giving by nature, and find deep fulfillment in helping others. Community services workers (CSWs) are civic-minded—they see it as their duty and calling to make the world around them more just, more compassionate, and more equitable.

If you’re considering this career path, you likely value social responsibility over financial enrichment, and believe strongly that no member of your community should be invisible, stigmatized, or denied access to support.

These are values most CSWs share. But simply embracing these values doesn’t automatically make one an effective community services worker. There are other key traits and abilities successful CSWs demonstrate, which set them apart and help them make amazing differences in the lives of others. Here are our top five.

1. Solid Community Services Worker Training

Effective community services workers have graduated from comprehensive programs that combine relevant theory with hands-on experience.

Most community support worker programs take 12 months to complete, and will include an internship so students can apply what they’ve learned in work environment.  CSWs should also have certificates in First Aid and CPR.

The best CSWs will continue seeking out new knowledge after graduation and throughout their careers, discovering new programs, and deepening their understanding of psychology, mental health, and sociology. A commitment to ongoing professional development (and being open-minded to new ideas) is key to success in this field.

2. Empathy & Compassion

Community services workers need to build trust in order to counsel clients effectively, and help them to make positive life changes. Being able to see things from your clients’ perspective and show compassion for their challenges is a key first step to building rapport, and providing crucial emotional support.

3. Superior Communication Skills

The term “good communicator” gets bandied about a lot these days, and is often referred to in very general terms.  In the field of community services work, skilled communication is essential for identifying client challenges, building trust, implementing interventions, managing conflict, counselling clients, and so much more. So it’s worth defining this trait in greater detail.

For community services workers, excellent communication skills include:

  • active and engaged listening
  • careful attention to body language and non-verbal communication
  • summarizing and repeating key points to clarify a situation
  • being assertive and persuasive when necessary
  • knowledge of crisis management techniques
  • knowing how to diffuse, or step back from, high stress situations

4. Logical Thinking & Problem-Solving Skills

Community services workers often deal with people facing serious, high-risk challenges, such as addiction, mental health issues, domestic abuse, and homelessness.  Swift and appropriate intervention is key to helping protect clients from harm, and offering routes to rehabilitation and new opportunity.

This process involves a series of methodical steps, including a careful assessment and evaluation of needs, and the selection of the most relevant programs and services.

During their community services worker training, CSWs research their local communities to understand the range of programs and resources offered.  Effective CSWs draw on this knowledge to find personalized solutions for each client, and then follow-up to evaluate their progress.  Skills such as logical thinking and methodical problem-solving, even under pressure, are key to success in this field.

5.  Perseverance & Courage

No matter how carefully and empathetically CSWs do their work, there will be times when things don’t turn out as planned. Clients may reject a treatment, refuse to participate in a program, or remain unresponsive to counselling.

Effective community services workers understand that change doesn’t happen overnight, and not every encounter ends in a success story. There may be set-backs and disappointing reversals , but no matter what, CSWs must be patient and persevere with their clients. Staying hopeful and having courage in the face of adversity helps CSWs start fresh each day—which in turn helps their clients find new beginnings.

Do you feel called to become a community services worker and make a real difference in your local community? Looking for a reputable training program to start your career?

Consider Herzing College’s Community Services Worker program in Ottawa.  The training takes just 12 months to complete, and includes an 8-week internship for on-the-job experience.

Visit the CSW program page for a detailed list of courses and career paths—or to chat live with an academic advisor. We’re here to help!



Go to Community Services Worker Program Page




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