I just wanted to share some good news that I’m very excited about. (Although I can feel like a small, excited child – probably because I’m acting like one 🙂 – BN got an email. :)) I volunteer as a Telephone Worker (TW) on a Crisis line here in Syracuse, the Contact Hotline. I will have been a volunteer for two years this June. I have really enjoyed volunteering on the line and have found it to be both very challenging and incredibly fulfilling. I was very excited when I got an email from the director today, asking me to become a peer trainer in the next training cycle.
People who volunteer for the phone line go through an 8 week, 3 hour per session, training course, to learn the call model and how to handle different types of calls. Experienced TWs join the training classes to help answer questions and facilitate discussions; these are the peer trainers. The second half of training sessions consists of splitting into groups and role-playing phone calls, usually to learn to implement the new skill taught during that session. The peer trainers role play the callers, then provide feedback to the trainees. During the training, trainees do several observation shifts where they sit in and listen to a TW handling actual calls on the Crisis line. Once the training is completed, then they have at least three apprentice shifts during which they are actually handling the calls, but a peer trainer sits in and gives them feedback on the calls. These shifts ensure that the volunteer feels comfortable before having to fly solo.
I am surprised to be asked to do this so soon; honestly, I’m a little afraid that I really don’t have enough experience yet, but I’m very excited to get a chance to do this. And very honored that I was even asked to do so. It’s an awesome opportunity both for the chance to get to work with the other peer trainers, who are an amazing bunch, but to go through the training materials again now that I have experience. I’m really hoping that I can help the people training, the way I was helped by the peer trainers. It can feel very daunting to think about actually talking to hurting people, and the peer trainers were unfailingly encouraging. At one point, when I really wanted to bolt, a trainer who is now a close friend of mine, made the difference between staying and quitting. I hope to be able to do the same.
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