I had my first day of training today. I've decided to become a volunteer for a crisis and information line. I came to this decision for a number of reasons, but essentially they all boil down to the fact that this seems like something thoroughly worthwhile.
The first day was a lot to digest. My teachers seem like great people, and everyone's very helpful and welcoming. Still, it's kind of scary now that it's really sinking in that yes, I will really be doing this. It's a lot of responsibility, and I have so much I need to learn. Reflective listening, crisis management, risk assessment, rapport-building, being empathetic but not giving advice...Whew.
I'll be training for the YouthLine, not the 24Hr Line, which is good. I'll be talking to people in my age bracket, and I think that'll be better for me. I'm a little surprised that I'm the only Youth trainee in my training group of 18 people. I'm perfectly comfortable around adults, and I consider them my fellow students. Still, it'd be nice to have someone who was training for the same thing as me, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, I wanted to know if anyone has any helpful suggestions for me? Have you ever worked on a help line, what was it like? As well, I'll be working with our online help site for youth, which has one-on-one chats, a forum, and email support, so if any volunteers here have anything to add, that'd be fantastic.
Also, if anyone would like to share bad experiences they've had, I'd like to know what you think volunteers SHOULDN'T be doing, so I can avoid those pitfalls.
Just wanted to say good on you! You sound like you've thought about this role alot and that you'll do a great job .
As someone who has called helplines before, I could offer a few suggestions about what *not* to do (although you likely would not have done these things anyway!).
Don't assume that the caller is straight/ only has one partner/ is from a certain background, etc. If unsure, ask. Try not to judge anyone or at least try not to let the judgement show. Don't discount peoples problems or tell them that other people are worse off. Everyone's problems are big for them.
Also..make sure you get support for yourself after a bad call or when someone strikes a chord with you.
I just wanted to wish you the best of luck with this, Kalex!
Last year, I also started training to volunteer for a help line. And like you, I was the only young volunteer - everyone else was 50+.
I had to drop out of the training when I got word that my application for a semester abroad had been accepted, which was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I couldn't miss out on. But I do plan to look into training for a help line again when I get the chance to.
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I think your decision to do this is totally awesome. Like Eryn, I think it sounds like you're put a lot of thought into this, and like you're someone who's very aware and thoughtful, and I'm sure you'll be great at helping!
-------------------- -joey Scarleteen Volunteer
"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand Posts: 8769 | From: Cologne, Germany | Registered: Sep 2005
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Thanks so much for your kind words. I've had two training sessions so far, and it's really interesting stuff. I'm really focused on learning as much as possible, and I think it'll be good for me. The skills I'm learning will be helpful for more than just the phone conversations, I think.
Eryn_smiles, thank you for your suggestions. I certainly will keep them in mind. I do tend to unconsciously minimize certain issues, so I will keep aware of that. I definitely never assume anyone's straight (my high school was wonderfully open and accepting). The crisis line makes sure its volunteers have a lot of support, but I am still a bit concerned about separating my feelings and letting a call go. Still, that's something I don't need to worry too much about yet.
Joey, that's great you got a semester abroad. I hope that worked out well for you! I'm surprised by that age gap in your training group...mine's nowhere near as dramatic. I hope you do get to volunteer again, and thanks for being so nice.
If anyone else has any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.
Posts: 52 | From: Canada | Registered: Jul 2009
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