This week I reached a milestone that I’ve been working towards for a couple of years without actually realising that I’ve been working towards it at all. I became a Youthline Phone Counselling Mentor.
I’ve been with Youthline for over 2 years now. The first of those was spent in personal development and basic counselling training. The second was spent as a phone counsellor. It has flown by and I still vividly remember my first few shifts in the phone room. They were pretty unpleasant experiences. Every time the phone rang I’d feel sick. What if it was someone that wanted to kill themselves? What if it was someone that was angry and abusive? What if I didn’t know what to say, or if the call ended and the person was still crying? You just don’t know what’s going to be there when you pick up that phone.
Somewhere between then and now, picking up that phone just became second nature. Now I see the looks of horror on the faces of new counsellors and remember how it felt with well masked amusement. I remember going to an early supervision group and doing a check in at the beginning. We were asked what motivated us to sign up for shifts. I said that my motivation was to get as many in as possible in order to break that fear. I meant it sincerely.
Anyway, that’s all in the past. Last weekend I went on the Mentor training course and I passed my assessement on Tuesday night. Essentially that means I won’t be on the phones much any more. My job will still be in the phone room, but it’ll now be to support and help to train the new counsellors.
A lot of people volunteer at Youthline to get credit for their Psych or Counselling degrees or diplomas. They tend to use phone counselling as a means to an end. I had always intended it to just be an end. I had no desire to move up the ranks. It just kinda happened. Trainees aren’t allowed to do shifts without a Mentor and there are very few left within the organisation, so I stepped up.
As it turns out, I’m looking forward to it. It was time for a new challenge.