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Can you really do therapy over the phone?

September 30, 2017

A recent study in the Journal of Counseling and Development showed that people are generally more satisfied with phone counseling than face-to-face counseling. A much higher percentage (93% for telephone compared to 63% for face-to-face) said they would seek counseling again. It also found that more than half (58%) of people who had experienced both phone and in-person counseling preferred phone. Other studies found that people who are experiencing depression were less likely to drop out of telephone therapy and consistently showed improved mood.


A 2002 study published in the Journal of Counseling and Psychology revealed that counseling clients rate their relationship with their therapist very similarly to in-person clients. In addition, telephone counseling has also been recognised an effective treatment for depression.


I’ve discovered some surprising benefits to phone sessions with clients:


#1: I find myself listening more carefully to my clients, because I have no visual clues on which to rely.

#2: Phone sessions tend to be much more convenient for folks, which means fewer missed sessions.


#3: Talking by telephone in the privacy of one’s home can feel much more comfortable for many people, which means our sessions often flow more easily. 


#4: Clients have the ability to choose therapists based on who they like the best, without having to worry about geography.

I remember years ago wishing I could see a therapist who lived about 5 hours from me. Had telephone counseling been available then, I could have had sessions with him and anyone else who seemed as though they’d be useful to me. Now, that’s possible!


Many of my clients have connected with me by phone. I find that it’s very easy to establish solid counseling relationships, even with people experiencing fairly severe difficulties. Just knowing there is someone there to receive, acknowledge and respond to your problems without judgement can provide an enormous sense of comfort and support to anyone attempting to navigate a difficult period in their life. As well, people can now contact me when they need me, without worrying about whether or not they can make it to my office. This means if you’re having difficulty at work, you can call me on your lunch hour, or even during a break. In this way therapy can be more consistent - we can connect when you need me.





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