An interpersonal typology of chronic callers to a crisis intervention hotline

Robert Paul DeCarli (1988)

Chronic callers to crisis intervention hotlines represent a significant problem to these agencies. Such callers make contact frequently, over long periods of time and make vague requests for help. Their style of presentation leaves the volunteer staff person feeling abused and helpless. An interpersonal framework, drawing on the work of Leary and Kiesler, was applied to the chronic caller-volunteer interaction. The Impact Message Inventory was used to assess the interpersonal impact of the chronic caller upon the staff person. An interpersonal typology of the chronic caller was generated from these data. It was hypothesized that chronic callers come principally from the Hostile-Submissive/Hostile-Dominant quadrants of the Kiesler Interpersonal Circle. Chronic callers were significantly higher on the Dominant, Hostile and Exhibitionistic scales, as well as the Dominant quadrant. Typical callers were significantly higher on the Agreeable scale. These data indicated that the chronic callers relative to the typical callers, impacted the volunteers as being more controlling, self-focused and angry. The typicals impacted the raters as more tactful and accepting. The implications, both for volunteer training and therapeutic interaction, of such an interpersonal typology were discussed.