By Rev. Lucretia Howard, Lost Inside Ministry

Crisis Text Line is a free, 24/7 support line. At the time of this writing there were 51,628,392 messages exchanged since August 2013. These facts stated on the website “Our first priority is helping people move from a hot moment to cool and calm, guiding you to create a plan to stay safe and healthy.”

As a minister and addiction counselor in the South Bronx in NYC, having worked with the hard core employees of the NYC Transit Authority, I thought being a crisis counselor would be a great fit for me.

I thought it would come naturally and be easy. I believed since I was trained as a New Thought minister coming up with responses would flow as smoothly as water over river rocks. I was trained to reframe situations so recipients of my care would always anticipate a positive outcome. I felt confident I had the skills to provide instant solutions. I felt secure after training I would be capable of coming up with high quality, well thought out, sensitive caring answers. I was confident I could help those who text in the midst of a crisis.

What I came to understand was, being a good counselor would only happen if I consistently relied on the combination of leading-edge spectacularly well-planned training and the ability to take feedback from a highly skilled team of coaches and supervisors, as well as the patience — to second guess my initial responses.

Life and Death Situations

What I didn’t realize was how unprepared I would feel when dealing with life and death or self-harm situations. The physical sensations that would arise when I was dealing with children who were being harmed who wouldn’t give you their addresses was not what I planned for.

When I was interacting with live human beings waiting for a solution to be delivered within minutes, I was nervous and unconvinced of my abilities. I came to understand I had to trust God would give me the answers and I had to rely on the fact that this organization had a phenomenal system of training and support. They also provide self-care and debrief after each conversation. I began to see the training provided was first class and the support during the actual work was flawless.

The training to become a counselor consists of 34 hours of free online education provided through reading material, videos, tests and role play, all of which are carefully monitored.

From the outset I was impressed with the high quality training experience. Each counselor is assigned a coach before starting the training.  The coach outlines the processes and answers questions. Once the training begins your coach is always available to provide support via e-mail. Each time you sign on to the platform you are assigned a supervisor who watches everything you write for the first 100 conversations, and can give immediate feedback through chat. It was comforting to know someone was available to answer questions, make recommendations and give feedback. The response is instantaneous when you red flag a text from someone who is at imminent risk.

A vast amount of research has been accumulated to evaluate and quantify statistics, not only on what subjects are referred to the most at any given time, but what words to use that are appropriate and encouraging. I am consistently astonished at how much work is being done to make sure we as counselors know what phrases to use so we are giving non-judgmental, caring and sensitive responses. We are given support while we are working and in weekly e-mails we are directed to the statistics for the week on the most repeated subjects, the most appropriate answers, as well as being given feedback given from the texters for the week.

As a minister, I am always leading people towards answers I believe will result in their highest healing possible.
As a crisis counselor, I am not offering solutions. I am allowing the texters to come up with their own answers so they feel the empowerment of knowing they can help themselves again if in crisis. Most conversations last 20 minutes to 45 minutes at which time we are encouraged to recap the plans we have come up with for staying safe and calm.

Together we have plans to get through the next few hours until they can put in place more structured long term healing modalities. This has been a humbling and powerful experience. I have come to understand that God will give me the words when I am lost and that I can rely on this phenomenal system that has been put in place by the gifted conscientious creators of this platform.

“We want to be where you are. We want to make it as easy as possible for people who are in pain to get help.”— Nancy Lublin, Founder

You can learn more about the Crisis Text Line by visiting

For more on Lucretia Howard visit