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Crisis Text Line

Crisis Counseling Through Text Messaging

By Rachel L. West
Advocacy & Community Outreach Consultant

Last week I discovered a new crisis counseling service, Crisis Text Line  (HT Jonathan Singer). Crisis Text Line provides free around the clock crisis counseling through text messaging.

Crisis Text Line serves anyone in any type of crisis, providing them access to free, 24/7 emotional support and information they need via the medium they already use and trust: text. Here’s how it works:

  1. Someone texts into CTL anywhere, anytime, about any type of crisis.

  2. A live, trained specialist receives the text and responds quickly.

  3. The specialist helps the person stay safe and healthy with effective, secure counseling and referrals through text message using CTL’s platform. (source)

When someone needs help they text the Crisis Text Line and a trained counselor responds. Accepted volunteer Crisis Counselors undergo a 34 hour training and are supervised. Someone can get help by texting 741741. Standard text messaging rates apply but Crisis Text Line does not charge for counseling.

The New Yorker  wrote an article about Crisis Text Line this past winter in which founder Stephanie Shih discussed what motivated her to establish the service. Shih had been working at DoSomthing.org, a New York based nonprofit that helps teens become community leaders:

Then, in August, after six months on the job, Shih received a message that left her close to tears for the rest of the day. “He won’t stop raping me,” it said. “He told me not to tell anyone.” A few hours later, another message came: “R u there?” Shih wrote back, asking who was doing this. The next day, a response came in: “It’s my dad.”(source)

What caught my attention about Crisis Text Line was the ability to look up crisis trends. If you go to http://www.crisistextline.org/trends/ you will be able to look at varies stats based on the type of crisis, state, and time. For example you can look up what day, time, and what state teens are most effected by self-harm. You can also see the top 50 words used by texters to describe what they are feeling. Crisis Trends is designed for researchers, journalist and citizens to understand the crises Americans are experiencing every day.

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Posted by Rachel L. West

In addition to being the founder of The Political Social Worker blog, I am a consultant. My consulting practice offers advocacy and community outreach solutions to nonprofits, social good organizations, and private practitioners. Additionally, I offer career coaching to macro social work students and professionals.

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