Phone Line Counseling This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

   Phone Line Counseling

by Anon., Grafton, MA

"Hello, is there anyone there?"

"Yes, I'm here, can I help you?"

"I don't want to live anymore; I'm really depressed and there's nothing worth living for anymore."

"You want to kill yourself ... is that right?"

"Well, I guess so."

"How do you want to kill yourself? Do you have it with you?"

"Well ... no, but I could get it if I wanted to."

"I see ... have you ever tried to kill yourself before?"


"Then tell me why you want to take such an extreme solution to your problems."

Welcome to the world of phone line counseling for crisis intervention.

Some people think that a person must be insane to be a volunteer in my field. I am just a 17-year-old high school senior who is tired of taking and more willing to give. Does that qualify me as insane? I am an ordinary guy (though my friends would beg to differ) who really wants to be there for people in need. Now, I can be.

No special requirements are needed for my job. A person must be thoroughly prepared to be dedicated to the cause at hand. For instance, my sole job is to listen to whoever calls, regardless of what the crisis entails. I am trained, which required about two months of my time, to handle calls ranging from suicide to domestic violence to sexual problems. I am not afraid or intimidated by things that other people find too revolting to speak about to their best friends. That is my job.

The misconception of phone line counseling is that you are there to offer advice to everyone. A lot of people who call our line don't even want advice, they simply want someone to listen to them. If the situation calls for advice (an assessment I make after talking to them a while), I offer advice to suit their needs best, not mine, had I been placed in their situation. Also I have a wide list of referrals I can make if they seek professional help, whether it be rape, child abuse, drug addiction, domestic violence, phobias, homelessness, anorexia, gambling addiction, parental stress, etc. I think you get the point.

I heard about the Crisis Center through a local Yellow Pages and references made by Fallon Clinic. As I mentioned, it took two months, which could take more or less time, depending on the person, to become fully trained and certified. The realistic certification comes from yourself. Whether or not you feel confident enough to handle the job by yourself, only you know. Of course, you are evaluated and promoted by supervisors, but your confidence is the true determiner. A person must be COMPLETELY sure of him or herself before supervisors or the volunteer will be put on the lines.

Admittedly, this job has very few in the way of physical rewards, if any. But, in my opinion, the satisfaction a person gets from the knowledge that they are there for someone when they most need it, outweighs any sum of money. Being a senior in high school, I realized that I hadn't had many opportunities to give back what I had already received. This job gives me the mental satisfaction I think many teenagers my age desperately require.

Along with my certification and my being allowed to be on the lines by myself, I also have the satisfaction of knowing that I will be the very first teen line counselor on the first teen phone line in Worcester County. That is a satisfaction beyond compare. Besides satisfaction, though, I have also been taught many, many valuable lessons about life through my training and work as a counselor. The fragility and the beauty of life are more apparent when you talk to people who don't realize either. I have more appreciation for my own life and those of my peers. I know I can't make a person's life a whole lot better by talking to them, but at least I know I made a small difference for the better.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 10 at 4:16 am
i love this so much!
you_are_awesome said...
Feb. 2, 2011 at 10:27 am

Well done you :) if everyone was like you the world would be a much better place

Also if this is a UK thing- do you think you could give me details of how to join the service?

On_It_Goes said...
Jul. 4, 2010 at 12:06 am
Inspiring. I may have to look into that.
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