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Frequently Asked Questions

How can I contact Kids Helpline?

Kids Helpline is Australia's only free, private, and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25. Counselling is currently offered by phone 1800 55 1800 , Webchat, and email, but we’re constantly expanding and new ways of contacting us will soon be available.

What happens when I call?

When you call us, you’ll hear a recorded message that explains a bit about us and how Kids Helpline works. After this message you’ll be connected with a counsellor who’ll start the conversation. The counsellor might ask what you’d like to talk about and follow up with some questions about the problem or situation so they can start to understand what’s happening for you. 

If you’ve never called before, don’t worry! Our friendly counsellors will guide you through it. 

What can I talk about?

You can talk about anything! Maybe something has happened at home or school and you’re not sure what to do about it. You might be feeling sad, scared, angry, lonely, or just want to talk to somebody who understands.

Young people contact us about all kinds of things including friendships and relationships, family issues, bullying and cyberbullying, school and study stress, gender identity, sexuality, mental health, feeling sad or upset, body issues, or because they’re feeling unsafe.

There’s no issue too big or too small that we can’t support you with. We’re here to help. 

What happens when I email?

Your email is received by one of our counsellors. Although we usually take longer to respond by email (compared to phone and WebChat), we try and get back to you as soon as we can. Most of the time we’ll reply within about a week. It’s important to keep this in mind, especially if you're looking for a fast response.

If you need a quicker response, the fastest way to contact us is by phone so you can talk to a counsellor almost straight away. 

What happens when I contact by WebChat?

When logging into WebChat you’ll be asked a few questions. This information helps the counsellor understand how best to help you. You’ll then go into our queue where you might wait a while, depending on how busy it is (sometimes in the evenings this can be up to 40 - 50 minutes). You’ll then be connected to one of our counsellors who’ll look over your responses and begin the counselling session.

Who else can help me?

We’ve got heaps of information about other services that might be able to help you. We can give you this information over phone, WebChat or email.

What if I don’t know what to say or I'm unsure what I want to talk about?

Not everyone feels comfortable talking about themselves or what they’re going through. It’s ok if you can’t figure out what to say or how to say it. Our counsellors will help guide you through it. Remember, there’s no rush. We’re here to help you and to listen. 

Why do I sometimes have to wait a while before you answer?

We know it can be frustrating when you can’t connect with a counsellor right away. Sometimes it gets busy because lots of young people are contacting at around the same time. The busiest periods are usually after school and in the evening.

The fastest way to talk with a counsellor is by telephone. WebChat can take longer especially during busy periods. Email will take the longest time for us to respond (up to a week).

So if you can’t connect soon enough by email or WebChat then please try calling us instead! 

What do other people talk to you about?

Young people contact us about all kinds of things including friendships and relationships, family issues, bullying and cyberbullying, school and study stress, gender identity, sexuality, mental health, feeling sad or upset, body issues, or because they’re feeling unsafe.

There’s no issue too big or too small that we can’t support you with. We’re here to help!

When can I contact you?

We’re always open! 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. We are open every public holiday including Christmas Day.

What's the fastest way to contact you?

Call us on 1800 55 1800. This is the fastest way to connect with a counsellor.

If I call and I'm over 25 years old, what happens?

There are many adult support services available and we’ll recommend that you contact one of those services for counselling. Our focus is upon responding to young people between 5 and 25 years old who need our help. We are trained to work specifically with this age group. However anyone is welcome to check out the topics and information we offer on our website.

What if I want to call but can't?

It’s great that you want to reach out for support! We understand that you can’t always call us. We’re happy to help you via one of our other modalities such as WebChat or email counselling.

If I've emailed you, can I also call you?

Unless you have an agreement with your counsellor that says otherwise, then absolutely! When you call let the counsellor know that you've emailed us so they can figure out how best to support you.

If I'm not living in Australia, can I still contact you?

Unfortunately, we can’t support you if you live in another country. Our service is only for young people residing in Australia. We recommend checking out Child Helpline International to find a service in your country.

Can I contact from school?

There’ll be times when you might want to contact us from school. If you’re calling with the support of a staff member (like a school counsellor) or are on your lunch break, then we’d love to hear from you!

However we don’t recommend that you do it during class as counselling requires your full attention. It’s usually best to contact when you’re in a quiet, private place away from distractions. We’ll usually ask that you call us after school in your free time.

What if I don't have any credit on my mobile phone to call you?

Mobile phone calls from within Australia to Kids Helpline are free. This includes calls from all mobile networks. You can also call from any public phone or landline for free too.

How do I get a job at Kids Helpline? Or how can I help?

Kids Helpline counsellors are paid staff. That means there’s a recruitment process involved when applying for a job with Kids Helpline. We also have minimum qualification and experience requirements. Please check out the ‘Careers’ section of our website. 

There are other ways to get involved in supporting Kids Helpline. You can check out the ‘Support Us’ section of the website for more information.

What happens if I call when I'm bored or call for fun?

We gets lots of calls from young people who want to have a chat, tell us a joke, or ask us questions! We understand that you might want to check us out before calling with a personal issue. These type of calls don’t go for long so the counsellor will usually end the call within a few minutes.

Where do I go to provide feedback or make a complaint, and what happens?

General feedback as well as complaints can be lodged via the ‘Feedback page’ on our website.

We’re always open to hearing your feedback. We’ll use your feedback to improve our service, but can’t always notify you of the outcome.

We take all complaints seriously. If you make a complaint we will investigate it and try to resolve your issue or concern.

How do you respond to abusive or threatening calls?

We sometimes get calls that are abusive or inappropriate. This could include swearing at or threatening counsellors. Aggressive behaviour toward counsellors is not ok. In situations like this, counsellors will let the person know that the call may be ended if they are not able to talk respectfully. If they continue to access the service inappropriately they may have their access limited.

What is telephone counselling?

Telephone counselling is a type of counselling for emotional support and information that uses audio technology, like a mobile phone or Skype.

What are the pros and cons of telephone counselling?

Young people who contact us tell us that telephone counselling is a more in-depth and faster way of talking to a counsellor than WebChat and email. Since talking is faster, clearer and more detailed than typing - a lot can be covered in a call. It’s also easier for you and the counsellor to understand each other and clarify misunderstandings, which allows for better information, strategies, and support to be given. Counsellors can also hear you talking, which means they notice more about what you’re feeling and experiencing during the call.

But young people also tell us that telephone counselling can sometimes feel scary to use the first time, especially when they feel overwhelmed or are having trouble putting their thoughts into words.

Telephone counselling is not a substitute for people needing treatment for complex problems like mental illness and addiction. But it can be a helpful first step to understanding what you’re going through and talking about your options for specialised support.

What is WebChat?

WebChat counselling is a type of counselling that provides emotional support and information using real-time text communication over the Internet. It’s similar to Facebook messenger or WhatsApp except that you need to login through the Kids Helpline website.

What are the pros and cons of WebChat?

Young people usually tell us that WebChat counselling is faster and more in-depth than email because typing happens in real-time. This is because it feels more like a verbal conversation, so it’s easier to ask detailed questions and understand each other. Young people also like that they can take their time to think about and type their responses. They also say that it feels more private and safer than telephone because no-one (including the counsellor) can see or hear them.

However, WebChat is slower than telephone counselling, so less is covered in a session. Young people tell us that talking via text can sometimes lead to misunderstandings because it is harder to explain things over text.

WebChat counselling is not a substitute for people needing treatment for complex problems like mental illness and addiction. But it can be a helpful first step to understanding what you’re going through and talking about your options for specialised support.

What is email counselling?

Email counselling is a type of counselling that provides emotional support and information using forth-and-back text communication over the Internet, like Gmail and Yahoo.

What are the pros and cons of email counselling?

Young people usually tell us that they like email counselling because they can take their time to think about and type their responses, more than they can over WebChat. They also say that it feels more private and safer than telephone counselling because no-one (including the counsellor) can see or hear them.

However, email counselling is slower than WebChat and telephone counselling because it can take days or longer to receive a response. Young people tell us that talking via text can sometimes lead to misunderstandings because it is harder to explain things over text. Because of these reasons, callers usually get the most out of email counselling when they focus on one problem at a time and have a goal for the session.

Email counselling is not a substitute for people needing treatment for complex problems like mental illness and addiction. But it can be a helpful first step to understanding what you’re going through and talking about options for specialised support.

Do you offer face to face counselling?

Kids Helpline don’t offer face to face counselling. We offer phone, WebChat, and email counselling. This means that we’re able to reach young people all across Australia, anytime.

How is counselling at Kids Helpline different from face to face counselling?

There are many similarities between Kids Helpline and face to face counselling, but there are also some important differences.

Face to face counselling is usually considered the most effective form of support for a few reasons. Talking about problems is usually quicker and more detailed information can be shared, which means there is more understanding about what is happening and what can help. Counsellors can better notice what someone is feeling and experiencing, which helps people feel more understood and supported. More specialised interventions can be used that would be hard to explain, show, or do over text or telephone – especially for people struggling with mental illness and addiction.

Even though face to face counselling has these advantages, most young people don’t have the money, permission, time or transport to attend appointments. Face to face counselling may also seem less private and safe for people in some situations. For these reasons, young people usually tell us that they like counselling at Kids Helpline because it is free, available any time, feels more private and safer than face to face, and the counsellors are very friendly.

How can counselling/Kids Helpline help me?

Counselling at Kids Helpline can help in lots of different ways. If you have a problem you haven’t been able to talk safely or openly about, a counsellor will listen to you and respect what you have to say. If you’re confused about the way you’re feeling or thinking, talking to a counsellor can help you understand what you’re going through. If you have a difficult decision you’re trying to make, talking to a counsellor can help you understand your options or clarify what you might like to do. If you’re struggling with difficult thoughts or feelings, talking to a counsellor might help you develop some ways of handling these in a more helpful way.

We understand that no two people are the same, and what works for one person might not work for you. We respect that everybody is unique and we’ll help you to figure out what will help you best in your situation with your specific needs.

Can I call with another person?

Yes, you can. Sometimes young people feel more comfortable to call with another person, especially if it’s your first call. If you wish to continue counselling then we recommend talking to the counsellor by yourself so that you can have the time and privacy to get the best out of the session.

Who will I be talking to?

Whether you’re contacting by telephone, email, or WebChat, you’ll be greeted by a Kids Helpline counsellor.

Who are the counsellors?

Kids Helpline counsellors are University qualified and trained to work with young people across a range of issues and presentations.

What qualifications do your counsellors have?

All Kids Helpline counsellors have tertiary qualifications in a counselling related field.

Are your counsellors volunteers?

Kids Helpline counsellors are paid staff and not volunteers. That means there’s a recruitment process involved when applying for a job with Kids Helpline. We also have minimum qualification and experience requirements.

Can I choose a male or female counsellor?

Yes, you can! When you start talking to a counsellor, let them know you have a preference for a male or female counsellor. They will check to see if there is somebody available to talk with you. If not, they might invite you to try calling again later.

What if I'm not confident talking in English?

That’s ok! We can arrange a translating and interpreting service for you. Just ask us when you call or get someone to help you tell us what you need.

Can I talk to the same counsellor again?

Yes, you can request a specific counsellor when you call! You might exchange names with a counsellor you spoke to and ask if you can talk to them again. Next time you call, simply ask the first person you speak to if your counsellor is available to talk.

What if I get cut off or have to hang up?

This can happen sometimes! Telephone, internet, and IT problems can occasionally get in the way. If this happens, please try contacting us again so we can help you.

Is there anything I can't talk about or shouldn't say?

You can talk about anything! There’s no issue too big or small that we can’t help you with.

I already have a face to face counsellor, can I still call?

Unless you have an agreement with a counsellor that says otherwise, you can definitely talk with us too! We’re happy to support you in addition to your face to face counsellor.

What is "wrap around care"?

Sometimes a Kids Helpline counsellor might work with another support person in your life and this is called “wrap around care”. This can really help your counsellor understand the best way of supporting you. We would discuss this with you first and seek your agreement.

How long is a typical counselling session?

That depends upon what you want to talk about. If you’re wanting to ask a question or have a chat it usually only takes about 5 to 10 minutes. But if you are wanting counselling then the average session time is about 35 to 40 minutes.

How often can I talk to you?

You can call us about any issue, anytime. Once you’ve called us a few times we’ll usually encourage you to choose a counsellor to talk to on a regular basis. This might be once per week, or once a fortnight, or even once per month depending on how much support you’d like.

How can I make the most of my counselling session?

Here’s some things to think about before you call or while you’re waiting to talk to a counsellor:

What problem are you hoping to talk about? Can you come up with some examples or a situation when this problem happened? If you can ask any question of the counsellor, what would it be? Do you have an outcome or goal in mind that you want to achieve by the end of the session? What have you tried so far to fix the problem or make the situation better?

Why does my counsellor want to know my goals for counselling?

Counselling is about helping people develop insight and understanding about what’s happening and improve things in their lives. When counsellors ask for your goals, they are trying to understand what you want to improve in your life so they can make sure the session is focused on helping you achieve this. When someone’s goals are unclear, it can be hard to know how to help them and this can result in sessions that feel less helpful. 

Sometimes people can’t put their goals into words and that’s ok, part of counselling is helping you understand what you want to improve in your life. If you need ideas, some examples of common goals are: wanting information about something; to understand why you think and feel a certain way; help in making an important decision, and; to change something in your life.

What is "case management" and why is it important?

“Case management” means a counsellor works with you to set some goals for counselling, work toward those goals, and review your progress. Together, you and your counsellor can work toward you feeling better and improving your life so that you no longer need counselling support.

Can you telephone me back or someone else on my behalf?

We usually only accept incoming calls and can’t call anyone else on your behalf. For long-term callers of our service, we are sometimes able to call them back if they are having a hard time getting in touch with their regular counsellor. But, you can call us back anytime, for any reason. We can also help you find contact details for other services to help you.

What if I'm worried the counsellor won't understand my problem?

Our counsellors will try and understand your problem, from your point of view. They might ask different questions to get a better sense of how the problem is affecting you. They aren’t going to judge you or your situation, they’re here to listen and support you.

What if my problem is urgent and I can't get through to you?

If you contact us by telephone you’ll get a faster response than if you contact by WebChat or email. Always try phoning us when you need to talk to a counsellor straight away.

Why am I being asked to telephone you instead of contacting by WebChat or email?

Although it may seem like there are no differences between telephone, WebChat or email counselling – they all have different pros and cons you can read about in our other FAQs.

These are similar to the different kinds of support you might get for a problem with your computer or mobile phone. For example: straightforward problems you might email or live chat customer service for advice and work things out from there. But for more complex problems you might have to telephone customer service to run through the problem in depth and look at solutions that have many steps and are harder to explain and repair over text or email.

Similarly, a counsellor might encourage you to telephone instead of talking over WebChat or email, if they notice the problem you’re talking about is too complex or urgent to address and support you with over text. Some examples might include: if counsellor and caller are having trouble understanding each other; the counsellor needs more detailed information to help you; you’re in an emergency and need an urgent response; or the type of counselling you’re using is not suitable for what you want help with. 

Will you tell anybody what I say?

We are here to talk with you and listen. We won’t tell anybody what you say to us and our conversations are private. The only time we might need to tell somebody is if you or someone else are in a life-threatening situation or are in danger of being significantly harmed. In times like this we have a responsibility to protect you from harm.

Do I have to tell my parents that I'm calling?

No, you don’t have to tell your parents that you’re contacting us. Kids Helpline is a service for young people to call anytime, for any reason. For some families, it can help to talk to your parents about what’s going on for you. But we understand not everybody is comfortable telling their parents.

Do you keep records of our talks? Can I see mine?

We’ve got a system here that keeps track of what we are doing. It can help you too, because it means our team can quickly know what you’ve been talking about and know how best to support you.

You can request access and changes to your personal information by emailing privacy@yourtown.com.au

Do I have to tell you my name?

If you prefer not to give your name, that’s ok! Sometimes people don’t feel comfortable sharing their name, especially if they’re new to Kids Helpline. As you start to feel more comfortable with us you might like to exchange names with a counsellor.

Will Kids Helpline show up on my telephone bill?

We’ve worked with telephone companies to try and keep your calls private. In many cases, Kids Helpline won’t show up on your telephone bill, but we can’t guarantee this.

How secure is the information I share with you?

We protect the information you give us. We have strict security and encryption for any information we collect. Only our team can access your information and we won’t share it with anybody without your agreement, unless you or someone else are in danger. In times like this we have a responsibility to protect you from harm.

Will my call be recorded?

Like other organisations, we sometimes record calls so we can review them and make sure our team is doing the best job they can. If you prefer that your call not be recorded, then just ask your counsellor to switch it off.

What is "duty of care" and why is it important?

We care about you and want you to be safe. We also have a responsibility to protect you from harm which is called our “duty of care”. This means that if we think you’re in a dangerous or unsafe situation we’ll take some action to protect you such as telling somebody or another organisation. It can also include times when somebody else might be in danger and we need to protect them too.