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High Hopes training program makes crisis counselors out of students

By : Daniel Richards

Binghamton University students late last month received a head start in helping others in need.

Approximately 70 student volunteers for BU’s crisis hotline participated in the High Hopes Training Program, which offered participants tips and training on how to deal with crisis situations.

For 35 years, High Hopes has provided students with the skills necessary to run a crisis hotline. The SA-chartered, student-run organization offers non-directive, confidential counseling services and can be reached by calling 777-HELP.

The daylong conference offered training from professional counselors, among other experts. “They are about halfway through their training now, and this weekend helped prepare them for the next few weeks when they will be answering calls,” said training coordinator Brian Yaichuk. “We want people to be comfortable in coming to us with anything that bothers them.”

The group began by first helping students suffering from drug abuse. However, volunteers are also trained and feel qualified to deal with all crises, which could range from drug use and rape to suicide, violence-related problems and roommate disagreements.

Training coordinator Rosie Ryan said part of the comfort of the hotline comes from callers knowing that the group protects confidentiality. It operates out of an undisclosed location on campus, and trains its operators to respect the secrecy of all callers.

Confidentiality was one of the many topics discussed at the conference. In addition, trainees participated in role-playing.

“The lectures and the role-playing go together to enable our trainees to be able to handle any possible caller with any possible situation,” said Ryan, who added that callers are not just on-campus undergraduate students “We will talk to grad students, faculty and staff, even local high school students. Our goal is to be able to help anyone in the community who needs it.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08