Adding letters to telephone counselling: A narrative response to frequent callers by Daniela Schon

In this new Friday Afternoon video, Daniela Schon describes how therapeutic letter writing and other narrative practices were implemented in a phone-based community counselling service in relation to work with regular and frequent callers. Helplines provide support for people in distress. Although the focus of these services is often on times of crisis when lives may be at stake, many callers to helplines are struggling with ongoing mental health issues, and may phone frequently, sometimes several times a day, over long periods. This can stretch helpline resources, preventing urgent calls from getting through and taxing counsellors who may be peer-support workers or volunteers. Daniela explains how adding letters to telephone counselling has offered rich story development, for both callers and counsellors.


Daniela has worked with Lifeline Aotearoa in Auckland since 2012. In her role as shift supervisor she provides operational and clinical management to helpline operators, provides supervision for volunteers and oversees the Warmline team. Daniela is a trained narrative therapist who also provides face-to-face counselling. You can contact her by email:

Published on 22 October 2019.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Ann Fuller

    Hello Daniela,
    I really enjoyed listening to your video. Many years ago I worked for Lifeline in Melbourne supporting telephone counsellors. I now work in a suicide prevention team in mental health. I am keen to bring more narrative practice to my work so will be sharing this video with my colleagues as well as our relatively new lived experience work force. Many thanks to you, the counsellors and callers for sharing your work.

  2. Daniela

    Hello Jo
    Thank you for your comment. The project with the Warmline team has created a new way on how we deal with frequent callers. All the best with trying a new innovative approach on your phone based support service. Daniela

  3. Jo

    Hello Daniela
    This sounds like a wonderful team response and seemed to move everyone in a positive way. I also work for a National phone service where we experience some of the challenges you described and will forward the video to the team for our future planning. Many thanks for speaking of your experiences at Lifeline in NZ on the Warmline 🙂

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