Professionalizing the Field

“Any occupation wishing to exercise professional authority must find a technical basis for it, assert an exclusive jurisdiction, link both skill and jurisdiction to standards of training and convince the public that its services are uniquely trustworthy.”  -H.L. Wilensky

Historically, there was a concern in the victim services field that victim advocates, counselors, and program directors should pay more attention to professionalization of the field.  There were several reasons for concern.  First, both the federal government and states that provide funding for victim service agencies need to have uniform standards to which they can hold such programs accountable for quality service.  Second, victim service practitioners work closely with many other professional groups and it is helpful if they are perceived as having parallel status as professionals.  Third, professional status often provides members of the profession with greater authority and influence as they do their jobs.

Professionalization of Victim Services

Components of professional development in the the field include:

  1. Theoretical or intellectual base of knowledge and skills;
  2. Relevance of field to social values;
  3. Training and education opportunities
  4. Motivation for becoming a member of the profession;
  5. Autonomy in setting standards and holding individuals accountable for “unprofessional” behavior;
  6. Sense of commitment pervasive throughout the field;
  7. Sense of community; and
  8. Codes of Ethics

Code of Professional Ethics for Victim Assistance Providers

The Code of Professional Ethics for Victim Assistance Providers is available for purchase on 11″ X 17″ parchment suitable for framing.