Holding the Line: Introduction (02:13)
Norma James and Mike Simmons will present the program designed for individuals who offer helping service over the phone. They will identify how communication skills can be used most effectively via the telephone.
Why Use a Phone? (02:21)
Phones are readily available to almost everyone and geographic location is less of an issue. Benefits for both parties include: convenience, confidentiality, and anonymity; safety is also a benefit for the one receiving calls.
Problems with Using the Phone (04:40)
Implications for the caller include: possibility of interruption, call discovery via redial or 1471, and assumptions. Implications for the helper include: difficulty understanding the caller, abrupt call ending, and stress.
Things to Bear in Mind (01:31)
Be a clear communicator, comfortable with active involvement in the conversation, calm, patient, flexible, spontaneous, and understanding of the caller's needs. The helper needs to be emotionally stable, self-aware, and comfortable using the phone.
Telephone Helping Skills (01:18)
Calls with a successful outcome follow a fairly predictable pattern. Skills include: welcome the caller, listen, retain contact, respond, clarify, provide information, refer on, keep notes, inform, and end the call.
Welcoming the Caller (03:17)
The caller likely deliberated about making the call for some time, is not confident about expressing him or herself clearly, and is feeling anxious. Learn tips for answering the call and see a role play.
Everything you learn about the caller will come from what they say and how they say it; pay attention to tone, pitch, speed, pauses, breathing, and surrounding sounds. James identifies several listening challenges that demand a high level of concentration; hear an example.
Keeping in Contact (02:25)
Telephone interactions require more verbal communication than face-to-face meetings; the client can only identify audible minimal encouragers. Callers need to be and feel understood.
Paraphrasing and reflecting are the most common ways of demonstrating one is listening and understanding. See clips from a telephone session role play that demonstrates responses to what the client is saying and how it is being said.
Summarizing is a general outline of the discussion so far and can occur at any time during the call. See an example of a summary from a role play counseling session. A summary demonstrates that the listener is keeping in contact and can be a good way to end a call.
A caller may be unable to present his or her issues in a coherent manner. Reflecting and paraphrasing can help "untangle" what the caller is trying to communicate; use open questions.
How the listener responds plays an integral part in helping the caller feel supported. Responses relate to how one feels about silences; consider several questions. Learn several questions to consider while a caller is silent. Hear examples of what to say during silences.
Offering Information (03:29)
Callers may want specific information and it is important to know how to access it. Tell the caller what you are going to do before you do it. Handle a referral carefully and be sure your information is current.
Note Taking (02:26)
Notes can be useful but copious notes can hinder helping the caller. Inform the client of note taking and ensure him or her the notes will be kept secure; a clear policy must be in place. See a role play where the caller's anxiety is heightened by note taking.
Ending the Call (02:35)
A caller may end a call sooner than the helper expects; the ability to end a call can be significant for the caller. Some agencies have policies regarding the length of a session. Inform the caller of any time restrictions at the start of a session and warn him or her when the call is coming to an end.
Putting it all Together (05:07)
View a telephone role play session that helps a client feel better about her situation. The helper incorporates the skills highlighted in this video.
Making a Contract (06:52)
During the initial visit with a counselor, the counselor will discuss that which will structure the counseling relationship; a telephone counselor makes a similar contract. Confidentiality is often a concern and agencies may have particular policies; learn reporting exceptions. Some agencies may require statistics be kept.
Listen to Your Own Voice (03:51)
Helpers need to pay attention to how their voices represent them on the phone. Record your voice, listen to it, and get feedback; become aware of pitch, tone, clarity, accent, and pace. The helper and caller draw conclusions from the other's voice.
Taking Difficult Calls (07:44)
Callers can become angry, abusive, or threatening; anger can often be diffused. Callers may become angry when they think the helper can help more than he or she actually can. James and Simmons discuss addressing abusive calls, sex calls, hoax calls, and calls about suicide; see role plays.
Working Conditions (03:06)
Working conditions vary for helpers. James and Simmons cite important implications to be aware of: helper support, privacy, isolation,
Looking After Yourself (02:32)
The helper and the agency he or she works for are responsible for the helper's care; every helper will need training and supervision. Helpers need to use strategies to help them manage work effectively. James reviews the topics discussed in this video.
Credits and Resources (02:35)
The School of Health and Social Sciences is developing a range of resources for counselors, counseling trainers, and students. (Credits)
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