Listening Ear

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Professional counseling services can give advice and help you to relearn behaviors, but here in Lansing, a group of volunteers are providing short-term listening to help you get out of your crisis.

MSU Sophomore Karen Rodrigyez goes to the MSU counseling center every week because she has depression. “It affects me and my academics a lot. So I am trying to help me get better so that I can move forward,” she said.

While seeking counseling is not new for some people who have personal problems,  a group of volunteers are ready to become your anonymous ear, if you just need someone to listen and understand your problems.

“Listening ear is a 24-hour, seven-day a week, anonymous confidential crisis line. We have got people who call in any sort of crisis. If they feel embarrassed or ashamed, whatever, they can call us just talk to someone anonymously”, said Brandon H., the staff coordinator at the Listening Ear program.

However, compared to professionals in the counseling center, giving advice is not part of their focus. Brandon said: “What we are trying to do is empower them to make their own decisions.”

The program provides both phone line and face-to-face services for people who need help. Laurie D., a volunteer with the program, said to build trust with clients face-to-face  is easier than talking with them over the phone. And they are using the empathy model to hear and explore clients’ problems. Brandon said, “Being able to have someone to hear you, who is not going to judge you, just understand where you are coming from…just feeling understood can be huge. ”

And it is not a one-sided effect for those with problems. Brandon said that he has learned lot about himself and being a volunteer has also affected the way he approaches the world. For volunteer Justin H., who just joined the program a few weeks ago, it seems like a lot of stuff to learn. “It lingers with me for a while after hearing these things, and I am triggered sometimes,” said Justin.

If you need their help, you can contact the Listening Ear at 517-337-1717.

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