PSC Volunteer FAQ

Peer Support Centre: We're here to listen.

What is the role of supportive listening volunteers at the PSC?
All our volunteers are the face, heart and soul of the PSC. After 39 hours of training at the beginning of the year, they are the ones who provide supportive listening, reach out to the community with our outreach program, and are there for each other.

What is the role of Outreach volunteers at the PSC? These volunteers are also the face of the PSC! They receive training to promote the Centre, and raise awareness of mental health issues all across campus.

Who volunteers at the PSC?
Students or recent graduates from all walks of life on campus. We have representatives from most faculties, programs and groups at the PSC.

What qualities are needed in volunteers?
Our volunteers need to demonstrate the qualities of the acronym CHANGE, which stands for:
C= Compassionate
H= Humble
N= Non-Judgemental
G= Genuine
E= Empowering

In addition to these attributes, we also look for a general enthusiasm for helping people, the ability to integrate a busy PSC schedule into their lives and interest in mental health advocacy on campus. These characteristics help our volunteers excel in their positions, and create a positive atmosphere for clients coming into the centre.

What training do I receive?
Supportive listening volunteers receive 39 hours of training at the beginning of the year, and also take part in monthly ongoing roleplays and professional development sessions in order to further hone their skills. This training involves education and skill training using a Supportive Listening Model for interpersonal interventions, suicide and crisis intervention techniques, grief coping mechanisms. Other skills include socratic questioning, perception checks and voice matching, along with many more! Outreach volunteers participate in 15 hours of training, where they learn how to have conversations with individuals around suicide, how to best promote and plan events, and how to have a supportive listening conversation.

Is anyone ever excused from the training program because of previous experience?
We require all incoming volunteers to participate in our supportive listening training throughout the month of August. Unfortunately, we have no way of ensuring that our policies and limits to our service match the training you previously received. A willingness to learn and continue developing skills is a key aspect of volunteering with our centre.

Do you accept volunteers with no prior experience? We accept volunteers with no experience and a great deal of it. It’s most important to us that they function well as part of our team, and demonstrate an openness to support a variety of student concerns. We do require that volunteers have dealt with whatever issues they themselves have experienced in some way, so as to not become triggered when supporting a client.

What if I can't make all of the training dates?
The training dates are all mandatory. If there is a scheduling issue, we encourage you to apply next year! Sadly, we do not have the capacity to accommodate training dates.

What happens after training?
After successfully completing training, a volunteer contract would be signed, committing to the overall time requirements. After an orientation to the centre a volunteer can begin seeing clients! Volunteers also decide which team they wish to be part of and attend those monthly meetings to work along with their peers.

How are shifts scheduled?
All shifts are self-scheduled. There is an online schedule that all volunteers can access in order to sign up for shifts on a weekly basis. Volunteers sometimes correspond with each other to get shifts covered, changed or swapped using email and social media.

Do volunteers work alone?
No! Each hour of shift time has two slots for volunteers to sign up, so volunteers almost always work with a partner. The supportive listening sessions are all 1 on 1 with the client. However, every volunteer has 1:1 support from a member of the admin team while supporting clients.

What is the time commitment to volunteer at the PSC?
We require 3 hours a week of shift time, waiting to support clients. We also expect 4 hours a month of team time, and a further 2 Professional Development sessions per semester. There are also monthly 3 hour long ongoing roleplays that volunteers must attend to maintain their skills.

What are the requirements for volunteers?
Our volunteers must be willing to non-judgmentally support a client who is undergoing a difficult time in their life. They need to be able to ignore their own personal biases and experiences in order to focus on the clients matter at hand, and follow the rules and regulations that have been meticulously researched to provide optimal client sessions. It's important to also practice humility with any previous training you may have received, as the limits to our centre can vary greatly with any previous experience you have.

If I am a Supportive Listening volunteer, can I still be part of the Outreach team? Absolutely! If you apply to be a supportive listening volunteer, you are required to join either the Social Planning or Outreach team. The Outreach volunteers will automatically be part of the Outreach team. In both instances, you will be required to help plan and organize various mental health related events.

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Monday, Wednesday, Friday
9AM - 5PM

Tuesday & Thursday
9AM - 7PM


Peer Support Centre
Room 2-707
Students' Union Building
University of Alberta
8900 - 114 Street NW
Edmonton, AB
T6G 2J7