Touro College Los Angeles (TCLA), the only Orthodox Jewish WASC accredited college on the West coast, is drawing attention with their newest addition to their psychology department; an evening crisis helpline. Under the supervision and direction of Psychology Department co-chair, Dr. Lucien Chocron Psy.D., the Helpline is already in its third batch of trainees with a waiting list for fall semester. Participating students must complete a 10 week course training them in the fundamentals of crisis intervention. Students are introduced to a broad range of crises including but not limited to, depression, anxiety, marital discord, parental issues as well as physical and substance abuse. This is not a routine lecture but an intense training where students are stepping into a sphere of accountability and responsibility. Dr. Chocron is developing the students’ active listening skills and encouraging open expression to gain deeper understanding of a crisis through participating in role play. The purpose of the helpline is to provide the students with the opportunity to be active participants in the field of psychology and provide the community with an additional outlet to reach out for help in a safe and confidential manner. Students manning the phone lines will assist callers to grasp reality and offer them alternatives to dealing with their crisis by connecting them to networks that specialize in their specific crisis.
The launching of this helpline is providing Touro LA psychology majors with the opportunity to begin taking initiative in their field of study and gain real experience under the direction of the department co-chair. “What the students are getting is a strong extracurricular activity that will help enhance their qualifications for admission for any master’s degree program. This is a skill students can take with them anytime, anywhere. The training is boosting the sense of pride and self esteem of our students and this idea of serving and giving back to the community is really in the spirit of Touro’s mission statement,” says Dr. Chocron. Students are eager and excited to put to use the training they have undergone. “What makes this different from other classes is the large variety of crises that we are exposed to and the opportunity for intense critical thinking. The role play provides us with a deep sense of emotional responsibility. You don’t get this in a regular psychology class, this is an opportunity to get hands on experience,” says one student. It’s clear that this helpline is doing as much for the volunteers as they hope it will do for the callers.
Touro LA’s mission has always been inclusive of “serving the general community in keeping with the Judaic commitment to intellectual inquiry and social justice”. In initiating a crisis helpline on the Touro campus, Dr. Chocron, and the participating students are taking the college’s mission and putting it into practice. This offers the larger Jewish community an opportunity to connect in a hugely significant way to TCLA.
The helpline has just been officially launched as of February 18th. Hours are Monday through Thursday 6 pm – 9 pm. The Helpline phone number is 323-822-9700 ext 85151. All calls are kept confidential.