Having a Crisis? Let’s Chat.

Posted by: Dawn Schell on January 20, 2012 3:46 pm

Over the past several years Crisis lines across have begun to add online components to their crisis services.  Based on conversations with people involved and research I have read — after years of successfully running crisis lines a pattern emerged of a significant drop in phone calls from the under 25s.  

As Robin Shantz noted in a 2006 article “We knew the problems youth are facing weren’t going away.  And it’s not like youth don’t have access to phones…”[1].  What became apparent is that youth’s help-seeking behaviour had changed.  They wanted to be able to access crisis services online.  As one messaging software company put it “…Increasingly people are not using the phone to seek help. Instead they turn to the tools they use elsewhere in their daily life: websites, live chat and text messaging”.[2] 

And so crisis lines across Canada have been responding to those requests.  Offering more options for people to connect with trained volunteers and/or staff – live chat, email counselling and forum discussions.  Edmonton’s Crisis Support Centre says “We created online crisis chat because we wanted to make sure that people could get in-touch with us through whatever means they were most comfortable with.”[3] 

Perhaps the most widely used is the Live Chat.  Similar to telephone counselling crisis chat is immediate and done in real time [depending, of course, on the hours of service].  

YouthinBC was one of the first systems to come online in Canada.


Have a look at these services…

Kids Help Phone http://www.kidshelpphone.ca/Teens/AskUsOnline/Chat-counselling.aspx 

Youthspace http://youthspace.ca/ 

Your life counts  http://youth.yourlifecounts.org/# 

This is by no means an exhaustive list! I wanted to do a brief introduction to the world of Online Crisis Chats.  I will be talking more next time about the research that has and is being conducted on the use and effectiveness of these types of services.  

If you have any thoughts, questions or curiosities about this topic – please share. 

All opinions expressed in this blogpost are personal.

Dawn Schell, MA, CCC is an affiliate of Worldwide Therapy Online Inc.


*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

4 comments on “Having a Crisis? Let’s Chat.”

  1. Laura Jeanne Thompson says:

    I am a graduate student (Counselling) on the prairies of Manitoba, and I am currently constructing an evidence-based group proposal for a IRT video conferencing adolescent pscyhoeducation/ counselling therapy group. The group is rather specialized and the IRT video platform offers amazing opportunity to overcome so many obstacles in bringing these kids together to share likeness and uniqueness in resiliency! I am in the research for evidence stage, and I really appreciate the direction I gained from this page. It is my thinking that continuing conversation in this thread, sharing approaches and models that have been effective would be to the betterment of everyone.

    Thank you,
    Laura Jeanne Thompson, B. Ed., ECE II

  2. Steph Ross says:


    These are interesting and useful links you’ve provided! I find crisis links are very important and not everyone is aware of the different resources available to them during a crisis. Thanks for the great post!


  3. Dr. Mike says:

    Hi Nick!

    I may be able to help with some of your research. Our counselling firm provides online counselling throughout North America and Europe. We have extensive research on online crisis support in the above regions. If you would like to talk about this further please feel free to contact us. Our website address is http://www.livecounselling.ca , tweet us @livecounselling , or add us as a friend on facebook, https://www.facebook.com/livecounselling

    All the best,

    The Carpe Diem Live Counselling team.

  4. Nick G says:

    Interesting to see how many services are on offer in Canada. I’m exploring the area of online counselling (or crisis support) for my Masters thesis; thanks for the information on this page, it’s very relevant and useful.

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