As many of you know, I have been working as a telephone crisis counselor since last fall. We take calls for different lines other than the generic crisis line… including a teen line, a line for people needing assistance with keeping their jobs, and even a support line for parents who have lost young babies.
It can be hard work, emotionally, but it can also be very rewarding.
I just had a very frustrating call. It’s one of those calls that make you feel helpless… you try everything you can, while trying not to give advice or your personal opinions, and the call spirals into an endless circle of anxiety on both sides of the phone.
The woman on the other end of the line asks me over and over, “What should I do?”, “What do you think I should do?” “How do you think he would react?”… I cannot answer these questions for her. I try to tell her, she is not going to know his reaction until she tries. We cannot predict what is going to happen. I try to steer the conversation back to her feelings and what she thinks she should do. I keep being answered with “I don’t know, what do you think?”
The conversation continues to go in circles. I try to redirect her questions back to her, asking her what she think she should do, reflecting how she felt (“It sounds like you are anxious about that.”). I sensed that she was getting frustrated with the fact that I was not giving her any answers and solving her problems.
“Maybe I should talk to someone that can help me.” click She hung up on me.
I didn’t feel good after this call at all. It’s frustrating that you try to do everything you can to help, but your help is refused and deemed worthless by the caller. sigh.