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June, 2010

Live Chat and Crisis Counseling: A Case Study

The media has a field day reporting it and audiences are never tired of such stories on their favorite television channels. What many unsuspecting consumers of reality news with an undeniable shock value fail to realize is that beneath the surface, there is an impermeable layer of tragedy, pain and suffering which society has never been able to address successfully. Fortunately, there are millions of compassionate souls with no personal hidden agendas to speak of who dedicate their lives to the cause of the weak, the under-privileged and the downtrodden. For them, communication modes such as the telephone, e-mail and live chat aren’t weapons of aggressive marketing but restorative and therapeutic life lines that invariably bring smiles on many faces through timely intervention. Live chat has, over the years, steadily graduated to the forefront of the communication triangle and made it possible for many to receive timely assistance saving many lives in the process.

Live Chat Saves Lives

Owing to confidentiality and privacy laws, it is unwise to share specifics but suffice it to say that hundreds of philanthropic and non-governmental organizations are successfully using live chat today in order to provide timely crisis intervention. Service segments include suicide lines, domestic violence, child abuse, spouse abuse, drug addiction—the list is endless and we are sure you get the picture.  There are several reasons why individuals in distress would want to use live chat instead of doing the obvious—picking up the phone and dialing 911. Here are a few:

Live chat is totally anonymous

Victims do not have to fear recognition or retaliation from any direction because their identities are never compromised when using live chat unless they choose to divulge it themselves. There is no caller ID in a live chat interface and the technology to decode identities through IP addresses does not exist as of today regardless of what the so called” gurus” claim.

Live chat leaves no paper trail

Live chat leaves a paper trail through chat transcripts only at the receiver’s end and that too only anonymously. This is perhaps why victims feel they can communicate in a totally reliable and trustworthy environment in which their identities are not compromised in any way, shape or form.

Live chat is silent

Except for soft and muffled keyboard clicks, communication through live chat is totally silent. Victims tend not to attract the attention of their perpetrators even if the perpetrator happens to be in their vicinity.

Live chat disguises emotion during communication

Many victims are often too distraught to talk and will choose not to speak on the phone if they can help it. Victims find this to be both soothing and beneficial.

Live chat permits long pauses during communication

Trained chat operators who are also trained in crisis intervention can look at their chat monitoring windows and tell if a victim is signed in or not. Many live chat software systems including ours possess the ability to signal the chat operator when the victim happens to be typing. Chat operators, especially in this line of duty, certainly know when to be patient.

Using emoticons to communicate emotions

Victims can use either preset emoticons or emoticons they have created with dashes, dots and commas, to communicate their deepest feelings and sentiments. They can shriek, yell, shout, unwind and vent without waking anyone up.

Crisis counselors can point and serve up additional resources with a single mouse click

The Push URL feature, not to mention co-browsing and remote screen capture—features that have become standard on most live chat platforms—can be easily leveraged to give meaningful direction to the chat interaction by directing victims to additional resources which they can quickly save on their systems and even hide if necessary.

Call to Action through Live Chat

If you happen to be a decision-maker in the NGO space, run a website that provides some level of crisis intervention but do not have live chat yet, it is perhaps time to give the matter serious consideration. At Live2Support, we fully recognize our corporate social responsibilities and are more than happy to work with you to deploy a reliable and long-lasting live chat and live help solution on your NGO website in a matter of days.