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Learn exactly what you can expect from engaging with the eFriend program and much more…

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect from my first session with eFriend?

Your first session with eFriend will differ depending on how you answered our online screening questions when signing up. If you answered yes to certain questions, your first call will be a suitability conversation, in order to figure out whether we are the right service for your needs. Over 80% of people who speak to eFriend start with a suitability conversation, so it is a very normal part of the process. If you did not answer yes to any of these questions, your first call will be an introductory call. 

In a suitability conversation, the eFriend peer will start by saying hi and introducing themselves. They will then run through the drier part of the session – getting a few details from you, letting you know what will happen on the call, and explaining exactly what our program can/can’t provide. From there, the peer will ask some questions about what’s been going on for you, and what you’re looking to get out of the eFriend program. They will also need to ask further questions around the content that came up in the online prescreen, in order to make sure that eFriend can safely support you without causing more harm than good.  

If we find that eFriend can be a suitable service for you, we will use the end of the session to book you in for your next call. If we find that eFriend doesn’t have the expertise to address your current needs, we will give you information about other services that have the specialised knowledge required. This is not a rejection of you from the service, but a recognition that sometimes eFriend will not be the best service to support you at a particular point in your recovery. We believe strongly in staying within our scope and not harming vulnerable people by offering more than we can safely provide, which sometimes means suggesting alternative options for suitable services. 

For an introductory call, the eFriend peer will also begin by saying hi and introducing themselves. They will then get into some housekeeping – reminding you of the key points in the eFriend agreement (which you must agree to on signing up for the service). After this, the floor is yours to begin telling us your story, and explain what you might like to focus on over the calls. From here, the conversation is unstructured and led by you. 

Whether your first session is a suitability conversation or an introductory call, the peer you speak to next time may be different, but after the following call you will remain with the same peer worker. This gives us the opportunity on the first call to find out if you have any preferences for the type of person you’d like to speak to ongoing. 

(Please see the “Will I be matched to an eFriend peer with the exact same lived experience as me? Can I choose my eFriend peer?” question below for more info on this aspect). 

What can I expect from my following sessions with eFriend?

After your first call, your following eFriend sessions (from 1-15) will usually be less structured, focusing on whatever needs you’ve outlined. This might include venting about your week, workshopping through a particular problem together, or just having a casual conversation to connect.   

How will I know when you are calling?

If you have opted for a phone session, your eFriend peer will simply give you a call at the time of your booking. These calls will come through from a “silent number”, without any caller ID, in order to protect the private number of your peer worker. If you miss our first call, don’t panic! We will call back a second and third time, waiting a couple of minutes in between. 

If you have booked in for a video session, please ensure that you have Zoom installed on your device ahead of time (click here to download). You will have been sent a link and a password through your designated email address, which you can use to enter the call. Please leave a couple of minutes beforehand to get your device and app ready, just in case of any unexpected updates or restarts! 

 No matter what type of call you have booked, you should receive an email and SMS notification 24 hours prior to your booking. If you know that you won’t be able to talk at the time of your appointment, please log in to the website to cancel or reschedule your call. 

How do I book another session?

The easiest way to ensure regular sessions with eFriend is simply to book with your peer at the end of each call. This way they can book it straight into the calendar. We also encourage you to book a week or two in advance if you would like to maintain a regular time. However, if you have a changeable schedule, or simply prefer to book at your own convenience, please let your peer know and you will be sent an email with a link to book. 

 To ensure that you get booked with the right peer, our system will only allow you to make this booking through an email link. For this reason, if you simply log into the website, you won’t find an option to create a new booking – only options to cancel or reschedule an existing booking.  

If you have not received a booking link via email but wish to make a booking, please email the eFriend Team on efriend@icla.org.au to request a link or send us your phone number so we can call to arrange your next booking. 

I can’t log in to the eFriend website, what’s happening?

While we can’t say for certain what your issue is, we can provide a few ideas that might help… 

  1. Your username will be the name you signed up with, including a space between first and last name e.g. John Doe. Alternatively, you can use the email address you signed up with as your username.
  1. The system will lock you out after four failed login attempts. We know this can be frustrating if you’re a real participant who simply forgot their details, but this function keeps our system (and your information) safe from hacking. Don’t worry, you won’t be locked out forever – the account will allow you to try again after four hours.
  1. You can easily reset your account password by following this link. If this doesn’t work for you for any reason, please email efriend@icla.org.au and we can reset it manually.
  1. If you are able to log in but not able to book an appointment, please see the “How do I book in another session?” question above for more information.
Why can’t I book a video call?

If your first call is a suitability conversation (see first question for further explanation) we require that this call be done over the phone, as the peer will need to take more notes than in a regular session. As video calls require adequate eye contact and appropriate body language, this is harder to ensure during a suitability conversation, and we don’t want anyone to feel invalidated while discussing the difficult topics that might come up. 

We know it can be frustrating or nerve-wracking to start with a phone call if you have a strong preference to communicate in another way, but once you get through this first call, we will be happy to book you in as a video call for the rest of your time with us! 

Can eFriend provide me with referrals to other services?

At eFriend, our key purpose is to provide peer support. While we want to help our participants get access to the services they need, we also don’t want to set ourselves up as the “experts” in what is right for you. One of the core principles of peer support is that we are experts on ourselves only, and that we do not do any work for you (which can damage the equal nature of the peer relationship). We also don’t have the in-depth knowledge of what the most useful services might be in every area across Australia. 

For these reasons, we do not provide direct referrals to other services. This means we cannot set up meetings or pass your details on to other services. We also do not make suggestions of individual providers or services. 

On the other hand, we do want our participants to be empowered to seek longer-term supports (after all, eFriend is only a short-term service). We can talk you through different pathways to investigate in order to find the right services and get in contact. The services we recommend regularly are listed in our National Recovery Services Directory, which you can always find in the Referrals and Resources section on the eFriend Homepage. 

We can also help you get over any nerves you might have in reaching out, from talking through any barriers to doing role plays of conversations. All of our peers have overcome their past fears in order to get help for their mental health and can understand how you might be feeling! 

Will I be matched to an eFriend peer with the exact same lived experience as me? Can I choose my eFriend peer?

At eFriend, we don’t currently have a system in place to allow for detailed matching, or for you to make the choice of which eFriend peer you will speak to. If you do have any specific preferences, please let the eFriend peer know during your first session and we can work to accommodate you as best we can (according to available staff and scheduling). As an example, a queer person might be more comfortable speaking to a peer who is also queer.

In tandem with this, we strongly believe that our lived experience does not need to match perfectly in order to have meaningful, supportive conversations. In fact, we find that peers and participants often discover surprising points of commonality over their sessions together, even if they aren’t immediately obvious. Sometimes a slightly different perspective can also be helpful in uncovering options you haven’t been exposed to before.

What if I don’t connect to my eFriend peer?

While we try to match each person with one peer for the duration of their eFriend journey (in order to develop a relationship and avoid repeating your story) we understand that sometimes people simply don’t “click”. If at any point you feel that you could benefit from speaking with a new eFriend peer, simply let your peer know in a friendly manner. Alternatively, if asking directly feels too confrontational, please email efriend@icla.org.au and we can organise to book you with another peer worker. Either way, no eFriend peer is going to hold that decision against you, as we all want you to have the best experience you can!

Why can’t I talk about details of my trauma? Isn’t that the point of speaking to someone?

When we think about a recovery journey for our mental health, some of us might think about “processing” our deepest trauma as the way forward. And it’s true, that might be a really helpful avenue to explore. However, this type of mental health treatment should only be performed by a mental health professional who has been through specialised training. Unfortunately, this is outside the bounds of most peer work in general, and of the eFriend program specifically. 

At eFriend, we understand that trauma is part of the stories of many people who experience mental health struggles or other difficulties in life. It is never our intention to remove the topic of trauma from the table entirely. We know that being able to speak these things out loud can be powerful, especially if you haven’t felt safe to disclose them to other people in your life. We don’t want any participant to feel shame for having experienced trauma and we hope our approach doesn’t send the message that people should never speak about their trauma to anyone. 

However, in order to keep everyone on the call safe, both participants and peer workers agree to avoid going deep into details of any specific trauma they have experienced. 

When a person has experienced trauma, going into details of the event can often lead to them becoming activated (also known as triggered). This turns on the body’s stress response, which can lead to retraumatisation if it’s not handled by a trained trauma specialist. Each eFriend call goes for only 30 minutes, so we do not have time to have you fall into a trauma response and take you back out of it safely. If we end the call while you are still experiencing a visceral reaction to being activated, you might end up feeling abandoned, and this will only compound the existing trauma you’ve experienced. 

In addition, if the details you disclose lead to a trauma response in your peer worker, their brain might not be able to stay present with you in the moment. This will have a big impact on their ability to do their job well and might leave you feeling like you didn’t get the empathy or validation that you needed from the session.  

For these reasons we aim to focus not on what exactly happened to you, but more on how it makes you feel in the present and the ways this affects your life. If you would like to work directly on your trauma, this is possible, but it falls outside the scope of what eFriend can offer and should only be done with a psychologist or counsellor with specialised training.  

How do I become a peer worker? Can I work at eFriend?

Peer work is a modality of support that has been around for decades but has only recently gained more traction within the formalised mental health system. Thankfully, this means that the importance of peer work is being more recognised, more mental health services are incorporating it, and more people are now being paid to do this essential work. You can read some profiles of peer workers here to learn about examples of different roles within the industry. 

Currently, there are no standard entry requirements for peer positions across organisations in Australia. Lived experience and the ability to speak about it safely are the most essential attributes, which will always be a relevant factor. However, many organisations that employ peer workers now require a Certificate 4 in Peer Work, or the willingness to obtain one within the first year of work. There are also short training courses you can undertake to equip yourself with useful skills. Please take a look at the links in our National Services Directory for information and training that might help you enter the field (this section is labeled “Peer Support – Workforce Training & Resources”).

At eFriend, we do not require any specific qualifications to become a peer worker, although previous training/experience in community services or mental health might be beneficial to your application. More important is where you are at in your recovery, how well you can connect with others, your ability to be self-reflective, and your willingness to be honest with the rest of the team about your mental health. You don’t need to disclose every little detail, but we need to know when you’re not okay so that we can ensure the safety of our participants and our staff – including you! 

When peer support worker positions at eFriend are available, they are usually advertised on Seek.com.au and posted on our ICLA social media profiles (Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn). Please note that while we are a virtual service, our peer workers must work at least some days each week in our head office in Sydney, Australia (subject to Covid restrictions and measures). 

I have a question that isn’t mentioned here or want more information before I sign up to eFriend. How can I get in touch?

To ask a question about the eFriend program, please send an email to efriend@icla.org.au. Let us know what we can help you with and we will get back to you with an answer as soon as possible.

eFriend is here to help

Because we’ve had experience of our own, we don’t judge.
We’re here to chat over phone or video sessions – ready to listen, empathise, validate and provide hope.