Become A PSG Volunteer
Applications for 2021 are now closed!
Thanks to everyone who applied. Please check back in 2022!
The AJET Peer Support Group (PSG), the JET community's overnight telephone
support and referral service, seeks new volunteers in spring every year.
What We're Looking For
Basic Eligibility Requirements:
Be a current JET Participant (ALT, CIR, or SEA—PAs are also welcome to apply!), beginning their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th Year at the start of the next JET year (i.e. late-July/ early-August).
Have a reliable home Internet connection. A smartphone or pocket Wi-Fi alone is not sufficient.
Be willing to commit to staffing the line for usually two evenings in a typical month.
Be available to complete approximately 25 hours of training and role-play sessions throughout May and June.
Open-mindedness. One of PSG’s guiding principles is offering non-judgemental support, and an ability to appreciate different points of view is critical to our success.
Listening and support skills. PSG is rarely in a position to “solve” problems. Instead, it seeks to listen compassionately, and help JETs develop their own solutions in a safe environment.
A willingness to learn. PSG is an organisation that is carefully tailored to meet the needs of the JET community, and operates within some firm constraints. A willingness to learn PSG’s specific way of supporting JETs is essential, as is a desire to learn new skills and proactively contribute new ideas and skills.
A broad interest in improving the JET support network. PSG is a deliberately independent organisation, but our volunteers collaborate frequently with the PA community, CLAIR staff, and privately practising mental health professionals. Volunteers will be called upon to support those projects.
The ability to maintain absolute confidentiality. Volunteers may not discuss specific calls, or information they may learn through their work, with anyone outside the organisation, and only in very specific ways within the organisation. PSG cannot function without ironclad confidentiality.
An ability to work independently. PSG is a team with a commitment to mutual support, but our volunteers are scattered throughout Japan, and one person cannot easily cover for another. PSG volunteers must be able to complete tasks on schedule, and manage their time carefully.
Prior training/ qualifications NOT required. PSG volunteers are NOT counsellors, but peers who train to be an effective resource for other JETs. As such, prior training in psychology or counselling, or service in support roles such as a Resident Assistant or a PA may be somewhat helpful, but is absolutely not required. We’re looking, first and foremost, for great listeners, and we recognise that they come from all sorts of backgrounds.
Flexible. Members typically volunteer two evenings each month to staff the PSG phone line. Volunteers must submit at least ten open weekday evenings each month, as well as two weekend nights from which their shifts will be assigned.
Mid-May and June training requirement. Successful applicants will take part in mandatory training sessions throughout mid-May and June. While multiple sessions will be scheduled, in principle new volunteers will have to devote one full evening per week for five weeks to complete training, with individually scheduled practice role-plays to follow
Q: When will applications be available?
A: Applications are available from mid-February to mid-March. During this time, a download link to the application form will be made available on this page.
Q: You say that prior experience isn’t required, and that PSG isn’t a professional counselling service. I have professional qualifications—can I still apply?
A: Yes, absolutely! Our work is very distinct from counselling — which, among other things, is based on the sort of ongoing relationship that PSG cannot have as an anonymous support line —but it is based on many of the same principles, and there’s a some skill overlap. As long as you recognise that when working as a PSG volunteer you are not in a position to provide counselling, that experience can only be a plus. Many JETs with professional credentials have lent their skills to PSG over the year.
Q: Are PSG volunteers paid?
A: No, PSG volunteers receive no compensation for their service.
Q: Does PSG have an office or a call center? Do I have to travel to volunteer?
A: We wish! We use VoIP technology to connect our national hotline to our volunteers’ personal computers or telephones, so you can work the line from the comfort of your kotatsu. Training is also conducted through conference calls, so you can do that at home too. We do try to arrange a few volunteer meet-ups or activities throughout the year, though.
Q: PSG operates from 20:00 to 07:00—how does that work? Do I have to stay up all night?
A: Typically, one volunteer staffs the line for the entire shift period. Volunteers are allowed to sleep on shift, provided that they are able to respond quickly to any call that may come in.
Q: I work for a non-JET company in Japan. Can I still volunteer?
A: Sorry, PSG volunteers must be current JET programme participants. Even PSG volunteers who stay in Japan have to leave the group upon the end of their time on JET. You might try looking at the Tokyo English Lifeline if you’re interested in being involved with something similar.
Q: I’ll be leaving JET this summer, but this sounds like a great learning opportunity. Can I still volunteer?
A: Sorry, training is a very intense and time-consuming process, and we have to reserve our limited spots for volunteers who can make a commitment for the entire year.
Q: Who runs PSG? Does it report to anyone?
A: PSG is an independent organisation, which we think is critical to offering JETs unbiased support and guidance. We are supported by National AJET, but operate autonomously and do not report calls to it, CLAIR, Prefectural Advisors, contracting organisations, or legal authorities. Callers who seek PSG’s assistance are therefore guaranteed that it has no financial or professional stake in their situation, only a concern for their well-being. The only exception to our confidentiality policy is if someone poses an imminent threat to themselves or the safety of others. We have to take action if there are lives at stake.
Q: Hey, you didn’t answer my question!
A: No problem! Just send us an e-mail over at firstname.lastname@example.org when applications are open, or to the Volunteer Coordinator at email@example.com while applications are closed, and we’ll be happy to give you more information. We ask however that you do not contact the hotline with recruitment-related inquiries.