The purpose of the Crisis Center Discrimination Index (CCDI) is to evaluate helpline workers. It was based on the 1967 research of Carkhuff & Truax, published in their book “Toward Effective Counseling and Psychotherapy”, that identified three “core conditions” important in effective counselling and therapy. The three conditions are: Empathy, Genuineness and Unconditional Positive Regard.
Empathy refers to understanding the feelings of the client, this is a core element of helpline work and of all counselling. If a person doesn’t feel like you truly understand things from their point of view (being careful not to use the word “understand” because it can be insensitive), they won’t be able to do the exploration they need to do.
Genuineness, also called concreteness or congruence refers to your being a warm, “real” person in the counselling situation. You’re not acting like a therapist or a doctor with an expert answer, you’re just a normal human being. This was not always the case; in Freud’s time, psychoanalysts acted like a blank slate rather than a human being.
Finally, Unconditional Positive Regard refers to an unconditional caring about the client. Many people find they have “conditional love” in their lives. From their parents, from their friends or relationships. But a therapeutic relationship isn’t restrained by liking the client, or being judged.
For more information on Carkhuff and Truax see my article on the Carkhuff Truax Empathy Scale.
The Crisis Center Discrimination Index (CCDI) provides 16 excerpts of helpline conversations that are rated on these dimensions from 1.0 (worst) to 5.0 (best).The reason for this is that (ideally) high-quality volunteers should perform better on this skill than low-performing volunteers.
This rating system is similar to the Suicide Intervention Response Inventory II (SIRI-2) which has people score responses from -2 (worst) to +2 (best) in terms of the effectiveness of their suicide intervention skills.
I’ve attached a copy of the Crisis Center Discrimination Index you can download.
The CCDI was tested in Argo (2002), with negative results – the CCDI scores did not significantly improve during training. This means the CCDI may not be an effective tool to assess active listening, although it could have been a weakness of the original design which used only 27 volunteers.
The book “Crisis Center/Hotline – A Guidebook to Beginning and Operating” (Delworth, 1972) includes a cut-off score of 70 as one useful for assessing new volunteers.
Truax, C., & Carkhuff, R. (1967). Toward effective counseling and psychotherapy: Training and practice
Argo, A. (2002) “The Assessment of Active Listening Skills in HelpLine Workers” BA Thesis. Texas A&M University.
Delworth, U., Rudow, E.H., Taub, J. (1972) Crisis Center/Hotline – A Guidebook to Beginning and Operating. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.