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Debt Collection and Accidental Counsellor Training

Thursday, March 23, 2017 - Posted by Michael McCulloch

If you are involved in the debt collection industry or part of your role entails contacting people for money you may have found yourself in a position where a person is threatening self-harm.

This can of course be due to a number of factors including financial pressures, family issues or other influences and you become what is now known as an "accidental counsellor".

We recently had a team member attend an Accidental Counsellor Training workshop with Lifeline Northern Beaches to assist us in dealing with situations where a person may be threatening self-harm. As a result of this training we've updated our Policies and have provided a brief summary of the steps that you should consider below.

If the person is committing self-harm:

  • If the person is committing self-harm at the time of the call you should terminate the call immediately and contact 000 and report this to the Police.
  • If the person is a minor the call must be reported to the appropriate authorities and a log made in a call register.

If the person is threatening self-harm:

  • All debt collection activity should cease immediately.
  • Actively listen to the person, be empathetic and sympathetic and if the person sounds upset get the person talking and ask questions like, "Are you seeing anyone or getting help for this issue?"
  • Provide the person with the contact number for Lifeline 131114
  • Once the call has been concluded the local Police station should be advised of the call and the persons intention to self-harm so a welfare check can be made.

We would suggest thereafter that your immediate Supervisor or Manager is advised to determine the next best course of action.

You can find out more about Accidental Counsellor Training through Lifeline location.

Note: Please note that the above does not constitute advice and you should obtain your own training and / or follow your own internal procedures.


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