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crisis help

What to Expect When You Call

What it's like to call the Crisis Helpline?

If you've never called a telephone counseling helpline before, you may be wondering what to expect. To help you feel more comfortable about calling us, we've tried to answer a few of the questions you may have. If you call 1-800-273-TALK from here in Delaware, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) will forward your call to ContactLifeline, Delaware’s NSPL affiliate. If you call from outside Delaware, your call will be forwarded to the closest NSPL affiliate center for your area code.

Do I need to be "in crisis" before I call?

No, not at all - many young people call us simply to obtain information and referrals for local community services. Others just have something that's on their mind that they want to talk over with someone outside of the current situation. Of course, some callers are in serious emotional crisis, and we're here for that too. 

How does the Crisis Helpline help people who call?

We provide what is known as a "blended" service. What that means is that we provide telephone counseling, crisis intervention and information and referral. (Some call centers only provide information and referral). 
So at ContactLifeline, whether someone is seeking referrals or counseling or both, the first and most important way we try to help is just by really listening. The Crisis Helpline is a place you can call when you need to talk to someone who will be supportive and non-judgmental, and who will try very hard to understand exactly what you're saying and how you're feeling. We also can help you think through your situation or problem and explore your options, to help you figure out what you want to do, if anything. 

Do you give advice?

It sometimes surprises people, but no, we don't give advice. We believe that you are the person who knows your situation best and that you are in a much better position than we are to figure out what is best for your own life. That isn't to say we won't sometimes offer suggestions for you to consider when you're feeling stuck, we just won't advocate for any particular option as being best for you. Our role is to be a sounding board, and to help you reach your own, unique answers. 

Is talking to a telephone counselor kind of like going to therapy?

No, it's not really like therapy, and our counselors are not therapists. The kind of counseling we're able to do on the phone is very different from the kind of counseling a professional therapist can offer you. Telephone counseling is focused on the present, on what is going on right now. We are not able to explore long-term issues or events from your past, except to focus on how those things might be impacting you right now, today. If you are interested in receiving counseling for ongoing concerns, we can refer you therapists in the community. 

Who are your counselors? What kind of training do they have?

We have a variety of counselors working in our call center. Many have a background in mental health or social work. Others are volunteers or interns who have a talent for listening and a desire to help. All of our counselors are adults who have received extensive training in crisis counseling and suicide intervention.

Is My Call Confidential?

Confidentiality is one of our most important policies. Every ContactLifeline counselor signs a strict confidentiality agreement before they can enter our facility or talk with a caller. The critical importance of protecting confidentiality is emphasized during every phase of training and throughout employment at ContactLifeline. That being said, there are two circumstances in which we might need to break confidentiality: 

  • We are required by law to report the abuse or neglect of vulnerable persons (children, the disabled, the elderly, or otherwise vulnerable adults) when we have been given identifying information. However, the caller always has the option to talk about the abuse situation and to receive support without telling us identifying information such as names, locations, or phone numbers. 
  • We may, in very extreme circumstances, break confidentiality if we believe someone's life is in immediate danger. This is rare. No caller should assume that our staff would attempt to send help against their will without first engaging the caller in a discussion about their situation and exploring available options for help. Our staff will make every effort to cooperate with the caller to support a decision to seek help. In the great majority of calls, we protect the caller's expressed wishes and confidentiality, even when we are concerned. We believe that, unless the risk is very substantial, immediate, and certain, our most valuable role is to provide a trusted source of support to people in crisis. 

ContactLifeline, Inc. is accredited by the American Association of Suicidology and is a member of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline network. All counselors have been trained in ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and are ready, willing and able to talk with you if you are having difficulty coping with life’s problems.