HopeLine, Inc. is an independent volunteer organization originally founded by a group of concerned local citizens. In 1970, through local research, they determined that Wake County needed a confidential telephone service for people in crisis to call. In August 1970, HopeLine was established. Calls were first taken September 1, 1970, and we have been serving the community ever since!
SERVING THE COMMUNITY
HopeLine’s underlying premise is that “caring, non-judgmental listening and resource information” will “improve the overall well-being of people in the community.” HopeLine focuses on active listening techniques to offer caring nonjudgmental listening to our callers. We do not give advice on the lines but instead will offer referrals to other organizations using the United Way 211 program.
HopeLine’s volunteers are trained listeners, not professional counselors. These listeners create an atmosphere of acceptance and trust, whereby the caller feels free to express all feelings and thoughts and to establish a rapport between themselves and the listener. HopeLine volunteers are required to put personal biases aside in dealing with callers and, therefore, do not offer advice but instead strive to help callers identify satisfactory solutions for themselves. Callers are free to discuss openly with volunteers whatever may be troubling them. HopeLine volunteers are trained to identify physical and emotional emergencies over the telephone and to contact professionals when necessary.
WHAT IS A CRISIS?
A crisis is any circumstance that may lead someone to call us. In general, a crisis arises when an individual does not have the skills and abilities to handle a situation. There are, then, no real boundaries to the term crisis. The range of calls we receive is almost infinite – from suicide, death of a loved one, to coping with choosing a new career, to adjusting to life in a new community, to running away, to relationship problems, to sexual identity, to family violence, to just having a bad day – everything from the seemingly mundane to immediately life-threatening events.
Caring, non-judgmental listening (also known as ‘active listening’) is a counseling technique used in a variety of situations. It was adopted as HopeLine’s approach because it is effective in circumstances in which the participants are not in a face-to-face setting and in which the interaction is brief. Active listening is not, in itself, therapy, and HopeLine does not provide psychological counseling over the phone (callers are given resources when needed).
The goal of active listening is that the caller will find within themselves the steps toward resolving his or her crisis. This happens when the volunteer listens very carefully, reflects key elements of the emotional content, stays with the emotional flow of the interaction, and keeps the focus on the caller and his/her concerns. The caller and volunteer can begin to explore options and alternatives.
All calls to HopeLine are confidential unless we believe the caller is in danger of harming themselves or someone else. Callers are not asked to give their names and volunteers are not permitted to give their names or any personal information. Volunteers sign a confidentiality statement during their initial training.
WHO CAN WE HELP?
Our experience is that active listening is effective for a very broad range of callers and problems.
Sometimes however, because there are no limitations on who can call HopeLine, we receive calls from those that volunteers are not equipped to help. We are not professional therapists and, on occasion, that is what the caller may really need. In those instances, the best we can do is try to make the correct referral.