June 26, 2024

5 Opportunities You May Be Missing in Crisis Line Training

As a crisis line leader, you know that the intense need for more training and the time needed to update the curriculum and complete training are often at odds with each other. 

We at ReflexAI partner with a wide range of organizations across the crisis continuum and we’ve seen how specific changes – informed by best practices in adult learning – can improve outcomes for trainees and for callers they will support in the future. 

Contact centers will often have crisis line training protocols designed to be followed for specific situations, but the reality in the crisis realm is that there’s no magic formula and the individuals seeking help rarely follow the script. Each person will come with their own unique situations, so your agents must be able to think on their feet to deliver quality, empathetic support. 

Here are five essential strategies you can use to empower your team during crisis line training. For many of these items, we focused on ways you can rapidly update the current training at critical points to quickly increase the impact for your team. 

1. Set progression-based expectations about skill development

Throughout training, it’s important to always be clear about what you expect from the trainee. The most successful crisis line training explicitly states measurable goals you want the trainee to meet – not just at the end, but at specific intervals throughout. Make it clear that by achieving each goal, the trainee will be better equipped to support callers in crisis and that they’re on the path toward successfully completing training. 

What it looks like:

Let’s say your training includes a section on risk assessments. Many trainings will effectively describe the topic and the end goal – effectively complete a risk assessment in a wide range of situations. It can be incredibly powerful to go one step further and let the trainee know what they should be able to accomplish after the learning module. For example: 

  • “After today’s module, you should be able to conduct a risk assessment while referencing your course materials.”
  • “After tomorrow’s interactive activity, you should be able to conduct a risk assessment from memory for most situations.”
  • “By next week’s checkpoint, you should be able to conduct a risk assessment from memory for a caller with complex needs.”  

2. Begin training with clear sections

The work performed at crisis lines consists of many moving parts that sometimes overlap, and there is a tendency for some organizations to train on all topics in parallel. However, trainees better understand and retain knowledge when they are taught one skill at a time. Moreover, with clearly demarcated knowledge sections, you are able to isolate which skills trainees excel at and which skills they may need to work on. 

When crisis line training is conducted “everything, everywhere, all at once” style, it can feel like drinking from a fire hose. By delivering topics in chunks, trainees build confidence at mastering the content bit by bit. It also enables them to easily revisit specific areas of training if they need a refresher.

What it looks like:

Set up a modular training program in which each module covers a different topic. Be clear about the core concept of each module and the different ways to apply it. Maybe you have a module on creating a safety plan. While trainees will need to exhibit empathy to the caller during this process of safety planning, you still want to have a dedicated module that covers empathy as a topic unto itself early in training. 

3. Bolster the “why” that speaks to different types of learners

Oftentimes, the “why” can get lost in the training. Classroom time focused only on the content (or asynchronous modules that focus only on skills and applications) can minimize the impact that drives so many who choose this field. It’s important to continually reinforce how the skills they learn will translate to the work itself, and to the end goal of providing quality help to individuals in crisis. 

What it looks like:

  • For some learners, hearing from experienced responders is motivating. At various points in the training, share quotations from existing staff about how a particular training topic is used in their work every day. Or, if you have live trainings, invite an existing responder to share their perspective. 
  • Some trainees are particularly inspired by hearing stories of impact. To inspire them throughout training, it’s powerful to include anonymized vignettes of individuals who reached out at a challenging moment and the feedback that they provided to the organization. 
  • And some trainees are particularly inspired to be part of addressing a public health crisis. To motivate these trainees, include statistics about the scale of mental health challenges in the country and how crisis lines provide a life-saving resource for so many people. 

4. Continuous Roleplay

Learning the content delivered in crisis line training is essential, but practice is where the trainee can translate knowledge into behavior and demonstrate their skills. A trainee might ace a multiple-choice exercise, but you won’t know how prepared they are until they show you how they handle a live call. Regular practice gives them a chance to build their confidence and skills. 

Traditional role-playing with trainers has limitations because trainers are often focused on performing their side of the roleplay and might not always recall the extensive details necessary to provide motivating, actionable feedback. And pairing trainees for practice can be more scalable, yet introduce consistency challenges. ReflexAI’s dynamic, intelligent simulations address these issues by offering AI-powered role-play scenarios that provide a consistent and nuanced practice environment.

What it looks like:

  • Using ReflexAI, trainees can engage in role-plays and simulations at regular intervals, applying knowledge in realistic crisis scenarios. The AI system provides detailed feedback on their performance, allowing trainers to review transcripts and offer targeted advice. This ensures consistent skill development and helps trainees build the confidence and competence needed to handle real-life crisis situations effectively.

5. Offer strengths-based feedback

You want your trainees to feel enthusiastic about the work they’re doing. Adopting a strengths-based approach to feedback means taking advantage of each trainee’s individual strengths to foster a positive learning environment and encourage continuous growth. Emphasizing strengths-based feedback over deficit-based critiques boosts trainee morale and resilience, driving better outcomes. ReflexAI’s training platform excels in delivering this kind of personalized feedback.

What it looks like:

ReflexAI’s platform provides regular, detailed feedback that highlights both strengths and areas for improvement. The AI analyzes each trainee’s interactions and identifies specific skills they excel in, as well as those that need development. This balanced feedback approach ensures trainees receive constructive guidance while also celebrating their successes, which keeps them motivated and fosters confidence and enthusiasm. By leveraging ReflexAI’s insights, trainers can create a supportive learning environment that encourages continuous growth and excellence.

Ready to empower your trainees to better help callers? Schedule a demo of ReflexAI’s AI-based crisis line training platform and discover a simpler way to train agents at scale.