Here’s What to Keep in Mind Before Talking to a Crisis Counselor

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If your life depended on you reaching out for help, would you make a call? If the only way you could keep yourself or others safe meant dialing a number, would you take that step? You might be surprised to know that many people are unaware of the benefits that a trained crisis counselor can offer. As crisis counselors are part of the healthcare workforce, you can only benefit from making contact when you’re having a tough time.

What is A Crisis Hotline?

A crisis hotline is a number you can call to receive immediate emotional or mental health assistance. A crisis counselor is a trained professional. The counselor will listen to what you have to say without judgment, with the intent of deescalating the situation so that you are no longer a risk to yourself or others.

One of the most important things to remember before, during, or after a crisis, is that you are not alone. This is one fact among many tragic statistics that many people forget. There are people capable of connecting with you and making your day better.  Keep reading for a list of three commonly asked questions you should ask a crisis counselor.

How Should I Explain My Thoughts To A Crisis Counselor?

You may want to begin by taking a deep breath. If you are nervous or anxious, it’s okay to tell the counselor that. They, in turn, will inform you that what you’re feeling is common. After that, you can be as specific or vague as you like, but it’s a good idea to open up and be as detailed as possible.

In a crisis, there’s a chance that you might not be calm enough to deliberately express your thoughts and feelings. You might be choking back tears or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Maybe you’ve experienced something deeply traumatic, or for some reason, you just don’t have the patience. That’s okay. A crisis counselor is trained to remain calm, patient, and listen to what you’re saying, similar to how a therapist would respond. Here are a few ways you can open up to a crisis counselor so that you know in advance:

• “I’m having thoughts about hurting myself or someone else.”
• “I’m having bothersome thoughts that I don’t like and I can’t get them out of my head.”
• “I don’t have any coping skills to address the thoughts I’m having.” Or, “The coping skills I use to address my unwanted thoughts aren’t effective.”
• “I need help coping with the intrusive thoughts I’m having. I don’t know where to turn.”

These are just a few examples of what people having thoughts like yours might say. This is by no means a complete list. When speaking with a crisis counselor, you should know that they are there to help keep you safe, first and foremost.

What if I’m not suicidal?

You don’t have to be suicidal to contact a helpline. You can also contact a suicide hotline to talk about your unwanted, intrusive thoughts, even if they’re not suicidal in nature. You will receive the same level of support that you would receive if you were discussing suicidal ideation.

Is it okay to skip contacting a crisis counselor if I need help now?

If at any time, you are having unwanted, intrusive thoughts about harming yourself or anyone, you should contact a crisis hotline, or visit your local emergency room for an evaluation. If you are seeing a health care professional for your troubling thoughts, they will tell you the same thing. It is not safe to address these thoughts by yourself.

A crisis counselor will likely ask you these three questions:

  • Are your having thoughts of hurting yourself or others?

  • Do you have a plan to act on those thoughts?

  • Do you have access to weapons?

These questions are asked to evaluate the risk to your safety and others. With these questions, Healthcare Workforce Management Services indicate a health care provider will keep safety in mind. If you’re interested in feeling better, consider speaking with a crisis counselor. A better day may only be a phone call away.


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