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Those “Generic Counseling Skills”


May 14, 2020

While it’s true that many people who take LivingWorks training use it to keep others safe from suicide, it’s also true that many trainees cross their fingers that they’ll never be faced with an intervention. However, these skills can apply to many situations and that’s where the phrase “generic counseling skills” comes from. But there’s nothing generic about helping a person in need and Eva Korolishin discovered that last summer in a New York City theater a few days after she completed a training.

“I had a chance to use my LivingWorks ASIST training rather unexpectedly as I am sure is the way it is often used! I was sitting next to someone in a small theater and could tell that something was wrong with the woman,” Eva recalls.

Noticing the woman was nodding off, talking to herself, and having trouble standing at the end of the show, Eva engaged with her. She discovered the woman lives with schizophrenia and is engaged in treatment and made sure she got home safely.

“In reaching out—even though I did not have to follow the suicide prevention model in ASIST through to the end, no need to do a safety plan and so on—I had such confidence while I was talking and listening to this woman. I knew I could hear what she was saying and identify the invitations if they were there and then when it was clear we were going in a different direction, I could still use the model as a guide and listen to her story and continue to build a connection and to provide the kind of support she needed in that moment.

“And if she had been having thoughts of suicide I would have known how to have that conversation too. I felt confident and assured in a way that surprised me and my training experience has already made a difference!”

This is what we talk about at LivingWorks when we say, “Universal skills, specific impacts”. While our programs are focused on preventing suicide, they teach universal skills applicable in many contexts. Research shows improvements in trainees’ abilities to listen and support others, even when suicide isn’t the issue, and many say it has made them better friends, spouses, and co-workers.

Interested in getting training for yourself or your organization? Check out our online LivingWorks Start program, discounted during the pandemic to reach more people, especially in this heightened time of stress.