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How to Become a Youth Worker

Some psychology majors who decide to focus on human services have a goal of eventually using their skills to work with young people. It’s one of the most challenging and rewarding areas of human services, giving graduates a chance to build a career around helping young people with personal, social, and educational development.

That development can involve everything from the usual issues that confront teens to more complex behavioral issues. Youth workers help young people develop good life skills, maintain healthy relationships, and make positive life decisions.

Touro University Worldwide offers a 100% online bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in human services that prepares graduates for a career as a youth worker. The program prepares them for jobs working in mental health and counseling, community centers, justice systems, hospitals, and health care facilities.

What Youth Workers Do

Youth workers can work in a variety of environments, but the goal remains the same: help young people, often those in difficult circumstances, to lead better lives and reach their potential. Those work environments can include shelters where they work with homeless youth, group homes, or as counselors in an alternative education program.

As part of their job, a youth worker creates programs that provide services for young people and their families. Those with a psychology degree can put their skills to work in this complex area, determining the issues that underlie problems children experience.

Actions taken by youth workers can vary depending on the situation. They include:

  • Providing mental health counseling
  • Leading parenting classes for teen parents
  • Providing substance abuse counseling
  • Stabilizing housing situations
  • Helping students re-engage in education

The benefits of providing services to children go beyond just helping the individual. Families and entire communities benefit when children are set upon a pathway that leads to a brighter, more productive future.  For example, communities experience lower crime rates, and schools have lower dropout rates.

Skills Needed to Succeed as a Youth Worker

Successful youth workers need the right mix of many different skills, according to the job search site Indeed.com.

Reliability. To become a trustworthy source of support for kids in difficult circumstances, youth workers must prove reliable as both a mentor and confidant.
Integrity. A youth worker can face many stressful situations. But they must always act with integrity.
Open-mindedness. If you plan to work with young people, you must remain open to new ideas and understand what impacts their lives.
Communication skills. Youth workers must communicate well, both in writing and speaking, and have excellent active listening skills.
Interpersonal skills. In a job where so much relies on your connection with others, strong interpersonal skills are critical to success.

Youth workers also must have the ability to treat information they receive confidentially. The ability to speak other languages also is a plus.

How TUW Prepares Youth Workers

The TUW bachelor in psychology program prepares graduates for work in many different fields. Students can choose to concentrate on industrial/organizational psychology, child and adolescent psychology, elementary education, secondary education, and special education.

The concentration in human services features core courses in:

  • Principles of Psychology
  • Psychology as a Science and Profession
  • Ethics in Psychology and Critical Thinking
  • Research Methods in Psychology Addiction and Recovery
  • Assessment in Psychology
  • Community Psychology
  • Psychology and Culture
  • Applied Social Psychology

Students then can choose elective courses that focus on particular areas, including Domestic Violence and Victim Advocacy. Courses that focus on working with young people include Youth at Risk, which examines the physical, psychological, social, and cultural dimensions of youths at risk. Students also take a course in Child Welfare Services, which focuses on the role of protective service social workers who work to protect children in homes where abuse and neglect may occur.

Earning a degree in psychology with a concentration in human services prepares you for a career spent helping children live better lives. Few professions can offer a more challenging and rewarding career.

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