Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is Pathways?
Pathways is a confidential peer-to-peer based program that began during the Fall 2011 semester. Peer Advocates are student volunteers who successfully completed intensive training in helping skills. Peer Advocates offer support and referral info to students managing various challenges such as concerns about stress, academic issues, and social relationships or situations.
What can I expect when I contact Pathways?
Many people feel nervous about contacting us for the first time, which makes sense. Here’s what you can expect: Peer Advocates will initially respond to your phone call, chat, or email by introducing ourselves and our role and by asking how we can help. After that, each conversation is unique. We try to follow your lead based on what you want to discuss. You can share as much or as little information as you feel comfortable with, at your own pace, and you can expect that you will receive support and you won’t be judged. Because we’re not professionals, we do not offer professional advice. At the same time, people often find that talking to a peer can be helpful when dealing with a range of issues.
Do Peer Advocates keep conversations confidential?
Yes. All information shared with Peer Advocates is kept within the program. The only exception is if we learn that someone is at immediate risk for danger or death, we are obligated to call emergency services.
What does confidentiality mean?
Maintaining confidentiality is our highest priority. All peer advocates receive extensive training in confidentiality and other ethical principles, and all are bound by a confidentiality contract.
Because peer advocates are not professionals, we discuss all of our work with our faculty supervisor, a licensed mental health professional. This ensures that we’re maintaining high standards of peer helping and to receive ongoing evaluative feedback. In addition, peer advocates write up reports about their work for documentation purposes. We document the types of concerns students have in order to inform our training process. In some cases, reports are discussed during group supervision to solicit ideas about different ways of providing effective assistance and for the group to provide evaluative feedback for the peer advocate. Across all reports and discussions, confidentiality is strictly maintained; no names or identifying information are included in any materials.
How are Peer Advocates trained?
Advocates complete an intensive ten week training program in ethics and applied helping skills. Some of these skills involve helping others process complex emotion, asking constructive questions, providing resources, and managing crisis situations. Only those trainees who are judged to demonstrate effective use of all of these skills consistently across multiple evaluation calls are invited to actually be on call as peer advocates.
Are Peer Advocates professional counselors?
No. Despite our rigorous training and evaluation process, peer advocates are not therapists or professional counselors. As such, peer advocates can’t give professional advice, although they can assist students in developing various possible courses of action and in identifying potentially helpful resources.
What times can I call or contact Pathways?
Pathways phone services are available from 8pm to 8am when classes are in session during fall and spring semesters, Sunday thru Thursday. Additionally, we can be contacted via chat and email between the hours of 8pm and midnight. If you send a chat request or email outside of our hours, we’ll respond as soon as we are open again.
What days can I call or contact Pathways? Are you open during breaks or finals week?
We’re not available during weekends or breaks (Fall, Thanksgiving, and Spring Breaks and Winter Intersession/Summer Semester). In addition, because Peer Advocates are students who also take exams, our services are not available during finals week. If you could benefit from support when we are not available, please reach out to SUNY Geneseo’s Counseling Services (https://www.geneseo.edu/health/counseling_services_home, 585-245-5716), University Police (585-245-5222), 211, or the National Hopeline Network 1-800-784-2433.In the event of an emergency, or a possible emergency, even if you aren’t sure, please call 911 or UPD for guidance.
Is there any way to contact you anonymously?
Yes, and we encourage this. Most people feel more comfortable contacting us if they maintain their anonymity. If you’re looking to call us, you can block your number from our system (dial *67 before entering our number). If you’re looking to contact us via chat or email, you can create an anonymous email account that is separate from your Geneseo email account.
I’m an RA or a leader of a student group and want to collaborate with Pathways for an event. How do I set that up?
Pathways regularly collaborates with others on campus to hold events related to mental and emotional health, self-care, and other important topics. You can see some of the specific programming we’ve done at https://www.geneseo.edu/pathways/programs and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can I leave feedback after talking with a Peer Advocate?
We welcome all feedback from anyone who has used our service. Our anonymous form is located at http://go.geneseo.edu/pathwaysfeedback.
Can I become a Peer Advocate?
Students are eligible to apply to the training program if they meet certain requirements. It’s important to note that acceptance into the training program doesn’t mean acceptance into Pathways as a Peer Advocate. For more information about applying to the training program, visit https://www.geneseo.edu/pathways/training.