Volunteering for a good cause is something that has been on my bucket list for months. I’ve admittedly been bad about fitting it in, but I finally managed to find an opportunity that works well with my lifestyle and skills. I joined the Crisis Text Line training program back in July. CTL is an organization that helps people around the world using a simple tool that many of us own: a mobile phone. By providing a secure platform with trained and compassionate crisis counselors, CTL has already helped thousands of people!
What does a CTL Crisis Counselor do?
Crisis counselors use a computer program to answer texts from people who are in crises. Typically, people write in because they are struggling with challenges like suicide, self-harm, addictions, abuse and depression. CCs help people develop a plan of action for navigating their crises. As CCs, we’re taught to be non-judgmental and to avoid solving people’s problems for them. Instead, we empower people to become their best selves.
One of the best parts about being a crisis counselor is that you can volunteer from anywhere in the word! As long as you have a private little nook with a secure internet connection, you can communicate with people through the CTL platform.
The Crisis Counselor Application Process
When I applied at CTL, I was asked to answer a series of multiple choice and short answer questions about my life and my personality. Prospective CCs also need to provide two professional references, and they must commit to set aside four hours each week to spend on the CTL platform. About 33 percent of CC applicants are accepted, so if you get into the training program, celebrate!!
Training with Crisis Text Line
Training with CTL lasted six weeks. It’s all done online, and the program is broken down into manageable sections. You spend a lot of time watching videos, but there are also interactive roleplays where you get to put your communications skills to the test! CTL teaches you lots of creative ways to connect with people who are going through crises. My listening and speaking skills have improved ten-fold since joining CTL! In addition to videos and roleplays, quizzes and tests are an integral part of the training. Don’t worry, though, you get several attempts on these.
Working on the CTL Platform
My first day on the platform was definitely scary, but CTL’s training program is top-notch, and all the other CCs are SO supportive! When you first start as a CC, you only handle one conversation at a time. This gives you the chance to develop your own style for speaking with texters and allows you to gain confidence while becoming familiar with the online platform. Once you’ve got some experience under your belt, you can take on multiple conversations at once, and you can step in during high-volume times when extra help is needed.
If you’re going through a crisis and want to talk to a CC, just text GO to 741741. You’ll be glad you did!