Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Human Services








Ethical Standards for Human Services Professionals and Generic Human Services Professional Competencies adopted by the National Organization for Human Services do not include language or competencies specific to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. Without a specific ethical code and/or competency outlined by the field, human services practitioners do not have clear guidelines for their work with these populations. Additionally, researchers lack a way to formally measure professionals’ abilities with these populations. This leaves potential for these historically marginalized populations to continue to be in a vulnerable position. To address these needs, authors reviewed established competencies in other helping professions (i.e., counseling and social work fields) relative to LGBT populations, and argue that creating LGBT specific competencies in the human services field will lead to more competent practice and support the purpose of ethical guidelines which in part is to serve as a basis for self-monitoring and improving practice. In addition, the development of these competencies would meet the goal of ethical guidelines, which serves to provide a framework for accountability. The authors also recommend developing one document focused on LGB clients as well as a stand-alone document outlining specific recommendations for working with transgender communities. Within the body of the article, the authors advocate for the adoption of specific competencies by human services professional organizations and governing bodies.


© 2019 National Organization for Human Services

Included with the written permission of the publisher and author.


0000-0002-1438-6704 (Sparkman-Key), 0000-0002-5476-3535 (Meade)

Original Publication Citation

Sparkman-Key, N., Snyder, N., & Borden, N. (2019). Advancing the field of human services: LGBT competencies. Journal of Human Services, 39(1), 73-84.