Volunteer for HelpLine


What is the HelpLine?

HelpLine 979-845-2700 (V/TTY) The Student Counseling HelpLine, founded in January of 1995, provides, by telephone, peer support, information, referrals, and crisis assessment and intervention for Texas A&M students. The HelpLine is open from 4:00 pm to 8:00 am on weekdays, and 24 hours a day on the weekends. The HelpLine is supervised and run by the Student Counseling Service (SCS), a department in the Division of Student Affairs at Texas A&M University.


Who staffs the HelpLine?


The HelpLine is primarily staffed by undergraduate and graduate students at A&M. Although about 80% of all HelpLine workers are psychology majors, students from a wide variety of majors have become excellent HelpLiners. The HelpLine is particularly interested in having a widely diverse group of volunteers. The HelpLine also has two half-time graduate assistants. Five SCS psychologists provide consultation and backup to the HelpLine. These professionals may also talk by phone with HelpLine callers who are at risk of harm to self or others. The HelpLine is coordinated and supervised by Susan Vavra. Contact Susan Vavra for more information, or see the application procedure below.


What HelpLine volunteers have to say about volunteering for the HelpLine…


Click here to read what HelpLine volunteers have to say about volunteering for the HelpLine.


What does the HelpLine look for in HelpLine workers?

The ability to communicate effectively over the phone and with fellow HelpLine workers and staff.

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Responsibility, dependability and the ability to apply good judgment and remain calm, even under the stress of a crisis.

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Willingness to maintain strict confidentiality & follow other HelpLine rules, guidelines, & ethical standards.

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A stable personality with healthy self-confidence and a good balance of both optimism and realism.

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The ability to avoid giving advice or sharing personal information, experiences, opinions, or values.

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Respect and support for the diversity of people with appreciation for the complexity of human dilemmas.

* A desire to help others, but also a recognition of the limits of one's abilities to help others.
See our diversity statement.

What's the time commitment?

An average of one shift each week on the HelpLine

Most shifts are 4 to 6 hours long, but graveyard shifts may be longer. HelpLine workers pick their shifts & rarely have to cover the same shift every week.

A one-hour supervision meeting each week in groups of 6 to 8 workers.

This meets the same time each week for the semester and is arranged around your class and work schedule.

Continuing Education meetings, typically once a month.

Though this looks like a lot of time, HelpLiners report that it is really easy to fit in their schedules because there is such flexibility in which shifts are available.



Top 10 Reasons To Become a HelpLine Volunteer!

From the Home Office in College Station, Texas, it's the Top 10 List! And now... (drumroll)... the Top 10 Reasons To Become a HelpLine Volunteer!

  1. A terrific way to build a great résumé and get letters of reference, even for non-psych majors.
  2. Develop friendships with HelpLine co-workers who have similar interests.
  3. A great place to get away from obnoxious roommates and their mangy dogs.
  4. You get the inside scoop about A&M, the SCS and other programs and services around town.
  5. The HelpLine's a real home away from home: comfy couch and chairs, magazines, cable TV/VCR, a microwave & a fridge.
  6. A quiet place to catch up on studies when the HelpLine is not busy... there's a typewriter, a computer with a laser printer, & internet access.
  7. You get paid $1 a month and they even take out taxes for you.
  8. Terrific training in listening skills and current student issues... and a chance to see if this field is for you, if you are considering a career in counseling.
  9. Free coffee, popcorn, and soft drinks every shift... free Tootsie Rolls sometimes... great service awards... and appreciation dinners every semester.
  10. That great feeling you get from knowing you made a difference in the life of a fellow Aggie.

How do I become a HelpLine Worker?


You may pick up an application at the reception desk in Cain Hall or have one sent to you via e-mail request at Susan@scs.tamu.edu.

Once you have submitted your application (completed applications should be returned to the receptionist in Cain Hall or e-mailed to Susan@scs.tamu.edu.) it will be reviewed by Susan Vavra. The next step is a one-hour interview with Susan and, possibly, a current HelpLine volunteer. After the interview you will be notified by phone or letter whether or not you have been accepted for training.

Training takes place the week before the semester starts, typically scheduled from 8:30 am to 6 pm on Monday through Friday, and from 8:30 am to 4 pm on Saturday. If you pass the first half of the training week, you serve an observation shift on the HelpLine. After the training week is over, you will have a one-hour exit interview with HelpLine staff. Decisions about who has successfully passed training and will be accepted for the HelpLine are typically made the first week of class, after exit interviews are completed.

Training includes a combination of lecture and interactive presentations on counseling and listening skills, how to handle different types of calls, suicide assessment and crisis intervention, and when and how to make a referral. There are also presentations by SCS staff, A&M offices, and community agencies about the types of concerns that college students may experience, how to help a student with these concerns, and referral resources available to the caller. Each day of the training week there are two hours of role-play training in small groups so you have the chance to practice using the skills and information you are learning.