Seven Shenandoah University student-volunteers spent 448 hours this semester lending a listening ear to those calling into the community crisis organization, Concern Hotline.
The seven students are enrolled in a Clinical Helping Skills class taught by Rodney Bragdon, Ph.D. Concern Hotline takes calls from those in the surrounding area who are experiencing hardship or who would just like to talk.
Dr. Bragdon said the psychology department, the broader community, and the university enormously benefit from this partnership.
Students have the opportunity to apply and hone knowledge and skills in a significant real-world setting to fulfill the course’s learning objectives, as well as Shenandoah University’s mission ‘to educate and inspire individuals to be … ethical compassionate citizens who are committed to making responsible contributions within a community. The training and support provided by Concern Hotline staff distinctively prepare students to be volunteer listeners who can assist callers needing referrals, crisis intervention, and suicide prevention within the Northern Shenandoah Valley.”
Rodney Bragdon, Ph.D. | Board member for Concern Hotline
Deeanna Delcoco ’22 and Lindsey Florio ’22 said that, through the project, they were able to improve their active listening skills and better empathize with people they didn’t know.
I think truly learning how to be genuinely empathetic and compassionate are life skills that I will carry on throughout my career. I think the biggest and most important thing I learned from this experience was how to be an active listener. I think most people consider themselves to be a good listener, but it actually is a skill most people have not mastered yet. This experience has taught me how to be fully engaged with a conversation where all I am doing is listening and trying to understand their point of view.”
Lindsey Florio ’22
Part of what students did on the hotline was direct callers to appropriate community resources. In doing so, students learned about what resources exist, while also learning about the issues residents face, such as a need for more mental health resources.
“It was a challenging experience, but it prepared me for the health care industry and also better equipped me to have positive personal relationships. When you volunteer for Concern, you go through training on suicide prevention. Knowing how to talk about suicide is a really important skill we should all become familiar with. For the callers, the benefits are having someone to talk to, someone to validate their emotions, and a way to get connected to professional resources. Sometimes we underestimate the power in just having someone who is there to actively listen to us.”
Deeanna Delcoco ’22
Featured image photo credit: The Winchester Star