Phone Greeters:

Monday:  Nick – List phone number
Tuesday:  Charlotte – List phone number
Wednesday: Nick etc.
Thursday: Janice etc.
Friday: Sheila etc.
Sat & Sun:  Iris
Definitions: “Caller” is the person calling New Directions for info on joining the group. Greeter is the term for the ND member taking the call.

Thank you for being a New Directions’ Telephone Greeter. Your role is very important. You will be the first voice a caller hears from New Directions, other than the recorded voice on our general message machine.

The caller leaves a message on our General Answering Machine: 215-659-2366, ext. 1. You, the Phone Greeter, will then check this voicemail box on your particular day. (Details on this to follow.) You’ll then call the individual. If they’re not home, leave a message. We can’t assume that the person they live with knows they’ve called us, so I usually leave an anonymous message such as, “Hi, this is Ruth Deming returning Susan’s call. Please call me at…..”

If the Caller doesn’t respond within a day, call them one more time. Use your judgment as to how long you want to pursue them.

Please make sure your own answering machine message is in good taste, no loud blaring music, odd messages, etc. that may give the caller the wrong impression about us.

Feel comfortable about relying on your common sense to guide you.

Ask the caller 4 questions to determine whether they’re eligible to join. Ask them immediately so as not to waste time explaining where we meet.

1 – Are you under the care of a physician? (every one who attends must be under the care of a physician) Make sure the physician is treating them for their mood disorder and not, for example, chicken pox.

2 – Diagnosis? The person must have a primary diagnosis of a Mood Disorder – bipolar disorder or depression in order to attend. They can’t have an active substance abuse problem, as this is not our area of expertise.

3 – Referral source (“How did you hear of us?”) (no need to ask name of psychiatrist or therapist, as this may be perceived as “intrusive.”)

4 – The person may not have an active substance abuse problem because their needs are different than ours, although many of us have used substances in the past. They must address the SA problem first, before they can address their mood disorder.
If they do have a SA problem, ask if they’d like a referral to a “dual diagnosis group” (mental illness plus substance abuse). They can go online to “Dual Recovery” at or to AA at

They can also call the Reach-Out Foundation in Morrisville, PA at 215-428-0404 which will direct them to a group in their area. Or they can look up the numbers in the Blue Pages of the Phone Book. It’s nice if you, the Greeter, can look up the phone number for them in your Blue Pages while talking to them.

Keep Gold Pages of the Compass handy to refer callers to other groups.

If we turn down a caller, always refer them somewhere else.

If you have any questions about the Caller’s eligibility, please refer the caller to me. Have them call me, as this will indicate their sincere interest. 98 percent of the folks who call are eligible to join.

Our major referral sources are the Internet, psychiatrists/therapists, Horsham Clinic and Abington Memorial Hospital.

The caller first calls the ND “main office,” which is at Our Office (215-659-2366). They then press extension 1 and leave their name and number. I also leave a quick message for them to check our website, particularly to skim our Quik Book section.

You will retrieve the caller’s message from ext. 1. Here’s how you do that:

(Instructions on how to get into telephone system, passcode, etc.)

Please call them back ASAP or within 24 hours. (The “Tuesday” person should always be prepared that this is meeting day so you may get calls as late as 6 pm, asking about the meeting. Also note that I, Ruth, will often pick up the phone during the day.)

Erase the message when you’re done by pressing 3. Doublecheck to make sure you’ve gotten the phone number correct, and then erase the message.


Keep a notebook of all the people who call you. Tell them, “This is confidential information. No one will see it but myself.”

Write down:

-Date of call
-Name of caller
-Phone number
-Their city
-Diagnosis and any other info they give you. Sometimes they like to tell you their story. This is fine.
-Referral source. If they say they got a referral from a doctor or therapist, no need to ask which doctor or therapist.

Hold onto these names in case we ever need them.

The reason for needing to be under a doctor’s care is for (1) liability reasons; and (2) because a person may be very ill and require the services of a doctor. New Directions cannot be responsible when a person is very ill. This is the responsibility of their physician. ND is a support group, not a treatment facility, although attending a well-run support group is fantastically therapeutic!

You can tell them we have “trained leaders” and run a training seminar at least once a year.

If the person seems like a good addition to our group, encourage them to attend if they are within 45 minutes’ driving distance. It’s reasonable for a person to drive 45 minutes to get to our group. This shows their motivation.

If they say that our group is too far away from them, you can look in the Gold Pages and refer them to one of half a dozen support DBSA groups in the area. Or they can go online at and find a closer group. However, our group is the best around.

If Caller is not suitable to ND, always give them another resource. Our philosophy is that everyone who comes to ND leaves with something, even if it’s another resource.

If you can’t find an appropriate match, give them the number of United Way First Call for Help at 215-568-3750. This never happens!
INFORMATION TO GIVE CALLER – plus sample dialogue

Caller wishes to know about New Directions. You return their call. Here is info you will offer them.

Sample dialogue (you can do it in any order you wish):

(YOU: “Hi. My name is Sally Martin from New Directions. I’m returning your call. Thank you for calling. Is this a good time to chat? (Yes) “OK, first I need to know if you’re under the care of a physician for bipolar disorder or depression?”)

They’ll say yes. Again, don’t ask for doctor name, as this is perceived as intrusive. Then you’ll ask for their diagnosis. Do this tactfully, saying something like, “And may I ask your diagnosis?”

After you’ve ascertained their eligibility criteria, ask how they heard of us. Again, write this down so we can know how people find us.

Next is asking them tactfully whether they have a substance abuse problem. Almost no one has a substance abuse problem who callus. This is because people are aware of who we are when they call, plus substance abusers already attend a program.

By the way, many of us have indeed had substance problems in the past, but new members must be clean and sober for a year. People with substance abuse issues are quite often, but not always, different from our regular members. They must first address the sobriety issue before coming to ND.

After you’ve ascertained their sobriety, you can then launch into a brief description of the group.

YOU: ”Let me tell you a little bit about our group.”

Put yourself in their shoes, and pretend you’re attending for the first time. The first thing they want to know is how people look. Tell them we look normal, not drugged up.

The biggest thing that will surprise them is our large attendance. So prepare them for this, but assure them we break down into small groups.

Also, many family members call us. Encourage them to attend with or without their ill family member. Sometimes the ill family member refuses to come. The best strategy in getting the ill person to attend is to have the family member come first, check us out, and then go home and report their findings. Or, oftentimes, the reluctant ill member will come with the parent or spouse.

– Meeting place and time. Give directions, (same side of street as Abington Hospital, 5 blocks south of hospital toward Philly, across from YMCA, next to Abington Library. Right after Susquehanna Road, go slow, it’s hard to see driveway at night, etc.)

Give them the specific date of the next meeting. Tell them the third Tuesday is the speaker meeting. Tell them who the speaker is. To find out who the speaker is, check our website,, Calendar.

Also tell the caller to check our website.

Always use the Caller’s name in a sentence. It makes people feel important and that you’re paying attention to them.

Things to say:

– We meet in 3 separate small discussion groups according to your diagnosis – bipolar disorder, depression or family member & friends. (YOU: “We talk about things concerning our illness. People talk about their medications, their doctor, work situations, family members, anything that’s on your mind about your illness.”)

– We’re a friendly, casual group. Tell them to look for you at the meeting. This is a good way for them to feel comfortable at their first meeting.

– Average attendance at meeting is about 50, but assure them we break into small groups so everyone has an opportunity to talk.

“We ask a donation of $3 per person or $5 per family.”

Should they ask what the donations are for, say: mailings, postage, telephone, photocopies of handouts, etc.

– Regarding ND’s other activities. You can also say, ‘We offer a variety of other activities which you’ll find out about at the meeting.” Don’t necessarily go into detail because it’s too confusing. But you may if you wish: Mornings at the Mall (2nd and 4th Thursdays) – Wednesday Outing for People Home During the Day, once a month.

– Refer them to our web site:


If caller is a difficult case or if you can’t figure them out, ask them to call me.

It’s important that the caller call ME, rather than I call them. This is because if it is really important to them, they will put in the effort to call. Otherwise, the phone call may not be a serious inquiry.

If they want a doctor referral tell them to attend a meeting and speak to Ada, who maintains our Doctor/Therapy list, unless you wish to recommend someone.

SUITABILITY: If people are not suitable for our group, we have to tell them very tactfully. People take it personally if they are not suitable. Avoid phrases like, “Well, you just don’t fit in.” Instead, say something like, “Our area of expertise is bipolar disorder. There are specific groups you can go to for BOTH bipolar and substance abuse.”

Or, “It sounds to me like you’re depressed because of the death of your wife. A bereavement group is the place for you.”

Let’s you and I touch base every now and again to see what kinds of calls you receive.

Also, one of the important things to realize is that not everyone who calls will come to meetings. Sometimes they never come, other times they show up 6 months later. It is not uncommon for them to keep our number handy for quite some time and then decide to attend.

Thank you again for being one of our very important Phone Greeters! Any questions, give a holler!

All of these jobs help all of us as much as they help New Directions!


Comments are closed.