The purpose of the T-HAC hotline is to provide information, referral, and an empathetic, supportive peer for transgendered people or those questioning their gender. It is our intent and interest to develop a broad range of referrals for this purpose. We expect that many of our referral sources will come from a consistent gathering of information about which services transgendered people tell us they found to be useful. Thus every new client, as well as every new peer counselor, will ultimately add to and help us evaluate our referral base.
The hotline is not intended to provide therapy or any other professional services. Part of our training is devoted to how and when to make appropriate referrals. Peer counselors are encouraged to err on the side of caution whe issues that are daunting or unfamiliar are presented to them. One of the purposes of having staffing concurrently by more than one person, as well as a clear supervisory structure, is so that caution is maintained in this regard.
There may be times when the peer counselor's role includes advocacy, which may require them to have contact outside the confines of the office. Such meetings should never occur without group discussion and approval. There is sometimes a very thin line between peer counseling and counseling more appropriately provided by professional therapists. The unequal power balance in the relationship between the peer counselor and the caller is recognized. The confidential nature of the relationship is absolute. This means that there can be no external relationship between a client and a peer counselor.
Because of the heterogeneity of trans-experiences and identifications, most new counselors will have wide gaps in their knowledge about various segments of the transgendered population. Training, both initial and ongoing, will be focused on broadening the knowledge base of all counselors.
We are also aware that our hotline will bring calls from associated populations such as partners, children and employers. Training will also discuss referrals and information for these groups. Peer counselors will be accepted into training contigent on their successful completion of an initial training weekend. When new trainees are integrated into the staffing of the hotline, an effort will be made to pair them with more experienced stafers. Monthly, mandatory, supervision-training sessions will provide an opportunity for developing the staffing schedule for the upcoming month. Many of the training topics will arise out of the needs of the group, and some topics found to be of particular importance will be revisted with some regularity. The initial training will, no doubt, evolve and change as our experience of what is needed and useful evolves and changes.
We are aware that we may be dealing with people at very vulnerable, uncertain times in their lives. Our own experience is only relevant if it seems to be useful in helping our client cope with some current difficulty in their own life.
Eventually we would like to have a wide variety of hours for the hotline to be staffed. initially, though, we will be open the number of hours dictated by the availability of the staff.