A Volunteer Crisis Line Responder's Reflections

A Vo,lunteer Crisis Line Responder's Reflections at Vancouver Island Crisis Society

My journey as a Crisis Line Responder truly began before the training officially started. In hindsight, I began developing my skills as an empathetic and supportive member of the community when I first heard about the opportunity to participate in the work at the Vancouver Island Crisis Society (VICS). Looking back, it was in that moment that I realized I had overcome many of my own adversities and that I was pivoting my diligent efforts of self-care and self-compassion outwards to society at large. This is when I started on the path of offering the care, kindness, attentiveness, and compassion that I so thoroughly cultivated for myself and my loved ones, to others within my own community.

The first day of training began a cascade of awareness and shifting perspectives, when I began to look at my own and others' crises as opportunities for change and growth, rather than as circumstances of fear, suffering, and hopelessness.

The Crisis Society offers in-depth, organized and relevant material on mental illness, addiction, trauma, abuse and suicide — information that should be in the hands of every member of society to breed compassion and empathy towards the self and others. Moreover, the training program is outstanding, offering a plethora of skills and techniques in call handling, active listening, assessment of crisis severity, suicide and intervention protocols that make each volunteer and staff member feel equipped, confident, and eager to begin taking calls. Through a combination of learning theoretical content, completing homework, and participating in role-playing activities, observation shifts, and support shifts, each individual begins their volunteer commitment prepared and with the utmost support of every other worker on the team.

As a psychology student, volunteering for VICS has been such an asset to my degree. I believe that anyone working in mental health, psychology, social work or other related fields would deeply benefit from having this volunteer opportunity on their tool belt, as it provides a hands-on learning experience in conjunction with in-class material. Applying the content I have learnt throughout my psychology degree towards how I respond and understand the needs of the diverse calls on the crisis line has been incredibly rewarding and educational. For instance, it is one thing to learn about mental illness, addiction and suicide in the classroom and it is another thing to be, in the moment, de-escalating someone from their immediate crisis-oriented mindset.

While it is easy to label and categorize individuals who fall under the umbrella of addiction, mental illness, etc., when you are on the line with someone, all of these ideologies fall away and what is left is the awareness of the raw humanity of each individual on the other end of the line. With this enlightenment, Crisis Line Workers are able to support individuals who have various needs with the same unconditional and non-judgmental empathy and attention that every member of society deserves. What a gift.

Moreover, the training and experience at the Crisis Society further strengthens your own self-care practices and fosters healthy and abundant relationships with those who work on the line, as well as with friends, family, and oneself. All of the skills I have learnt through my training and volunteering at VICS I have also brought home to improve my life on a personal level. The experience and knowledge I have gained on the line have helped me to be a better friend, sister, daughter, partner, acquaintance and stranger; it has helped me be more open-minded, to recognize and nourish healthy relationships, to listen with attention and empathy, to be grounded and self-assured, and to be more compassionate to myself and others.

I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be a Volunteer Crisis Line Responder and for the endless support I get from my team at VICS. ❤

Testimonial reprinted with the author's permission


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A Volunteer Crisis Line Responder's Reflections