Is Telephone Counseling a Good Alternative for Me?

by Robert Barnes

In today’s modern world, therapy takes many different forms; currently, there are possibilities for computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), telephone counseling, therapeutic groups, and 1:1 therapy sessions, to name but a few. Research suggests that one of the reasons why face-to-face therapy appointments are not attended or canceled is due to clashes with clients’ other obligations, such as not being able to work to attend, lack of childcare, not being able to afford bus or taxi fares and not being able to fit into the daily schedule.

What Studies Suggest?

Several studies support the effectiveness of online and telephone therapies:

  • Telephone counseling has proved useful and satisfactory in improving the specific issue that has led to advice and a worldwide improvement in the emotional state. (American Psychological Association, 2002).
  • People have almost similar levels of satisfaction with online/phone therapy as with face-to-face therapy, and technology-mediated therapies are as effective (American Psychiatric Association, 2007).

Telephone support has been available in many countries since the mid-1980s, followed shortly afterward by the momentous launch of ChildLine and other national organizations. Telephone support has grown in popularity over the last 10 to 15 years. Easy access and the ability to speak directly to a qualified counselor is an integral part of the appeal of this form of counseling. However, we should remember that telephone counseling is not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea.

When considering access to any form of therapy, there are specific fears, anxieties, and uncertainties about entering into counseling, but is there a difference, or are there other issues that should be taken into account when considering access to telephone therapy? If you are unsure whether telephone counseling is appropriate for you, we can address the pros and cons of telephone counseling here, which I hope will help you make a decision.

How does it work?

Telephone counseling is the place where you speak to your counselor and receive your session over the phone instead of face-to-face in the therapy room. As with face-to-face counseling, your counselor offers you the space to talk about how you feel and support you in identifying and making changes if you wish.

An essential part of telephone counseling is that you feel heard and understood by your counselor and that you know the process. Most counselors who offer sessions over the phone offer an assessment over the phone. This is a valuable opportunity for you to learn more about how that counselor works and for you to get a feel for counseling over the phone. Hopefully, at the end of the assessment, you will have an idea of whether you feel comfortable working with the counselor.

Should you decide to continue, you should: make an appointment with your counselor about how you are going to work together, consider the number of sessions, make payment arrangements, and schedule a regular telephone consultation time, usually weekly. On average, the sessions are a minimum of 6 weeks. To know more about how effective telephone counseling is, click here.

Advantages of telephone counseling:

We have listed below some of the main benefits of this type of therapy:

  • The majority of telephone counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Telephone counseling is often more affordable than in face-to-face sessions. Especially if you take into account the time and money needed to see a counselor in person, for example, our service can only cost 89p per minute, with the added advantage that you can be reached at any time.
  • You are not physically confronted with a therapist. This can be better for clients who feel particularly anxious about having counseling.
  • The client is in control of their therapy as they choose when to call instead of waiting for an appointment, which is empowering for clients.
  • Clients can arrange to speak to the same therapist every week on a set day and time if they wish. This promotes the continuation of the client’s therapeutic journey and saves time explaining the situation to another therapist the next week, which also encourages the strengthening of the therapeutic relationship.
  • Telephone counseling enables the client to remain as anonymous as he or she wishes.
  • The ideal form of therapy for those clients who do not have access to transportation or who may live in a remote location.

Before gaining access to any form of counseling, it is vital to ensure that you seek therapy for your reasons rather than being forced into counseling by a friend, family member, or professional. Having therapy is a big step that can be life-changing if you want it, introducing counseling is the beginning of a fascinating journey of self-examination and self-discovery.

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