“Use technology for good” is the motto of a global telecommunication company, and you’ve probably asked yourself how to use it for good, especially since you all think that good is all it can be used for. With the latest development with the corona crisis, one technology has finally been put to good use, and for good use to many people struggling the means to get to proper and professional help. Telephone counseling has shown that can be of use to many people, especially when conventional counseling is not even possible in many countries throughout the world.
What is telephone counseling?
Telephone counseling (here is a good example) is a way of getting help from a professional using a telephone or some other way of the online communication method (Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Zoom, etc.), and it can easily be described as a distance therapy. Unlike conventional face-to-face therapy, telephone counseling can be done remotely from any place in the world to any place in the world; of course, all you need is a telephone or internet connection. You will get in touch with professional counselors, psychotherapists, and psychologists with different areas of expertise, ready to help with any means necessary for any specific case. This way of therapy is especially convenient for people struggling with social anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, people who have difficulties going out in public, or talking to strangers.
Is telephone counseling the appropriate choice for you?
Whether you are suitable for telephone counseling or not is best decided by telephone counselors. You should probably first contact a certified counseling institution that offers this kind of service, and they will guide you the rest of the way. This way of therapy has been proven effective for particular circumscribed problems, such as anxiety and panic attacks, smoking cessation, PTSD, mild depression, however, the research on the effectiveness of general mental health concerns are yet to be researched. One of the main advantages according to the therapists practicing this way of counseling is that the telephone counseling method offers a more direct approach from the patients, and they feel more relaxed and open up more easily. If you are facing some embarrassing issues, and you wish to remain unexposed, this might be the right choice for you. If you do not wish to leave your house and lose time traveling back and forth, and if you do not wish to make appointments, all you need to do is just call and you are already in therapy.
The costs are significantly lower, so if you do not have the means to visit a conventional counselor, and want to save a lot of money, telephone counseling is a good way to start. You can change the counselor at any time, no matter the reason, if you see you are not making progress, just ask for another counselor, you’ll get another. Do check with your insurance agent, chances are this way of therapy is covered by your medical insurance, and even if it’s not covered, the costs are 3-4 times lower than conventional therapy, at least!
What do the studies say?
As telephone counseling gained popularity throughout the years, so have scientists and researchers gained interest in examining the effectiveness of it on the patients. A study was conducted in 1995, and it has researched the effectiveness of telephone counseling offered toll-free for employees of three large Fortune 500 companies across the US, Canada, and Mexico. Over three weeks period, the authors of this study surveyed a nonrandom sample of adults who have used telephone counseling for mental health, relationship, or job problems, and the authors examined the questionaries filled from the clients who have used this service. The counseling was performed by master-level mental health professionals and the session lasted for 30 minutes on average, with an average of four calls per patient. The results have shown that 68% reported felt very or completely satisfied with the service, while 53% said they felt somewhat better.
Another study published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology in 2002 researched the effectiveness of telephone counseling, examining 186 participants who have received this method of therapy, and then examining the ratings from the clients. Generally, telephone counseling proved to be helpful for both global and speck improvement and the responders were satisfied with the counseling received.
What are the benefits of telephone counseling?
Most of the benefits are already mentioned above, but the most important are listed below:
– It is easy and convenient and can be done from the comfort of your home, without the need to leave the house
– No need for appointments, you just pick up the phone and you are already in a therapy session
– It is a lot more affordable than conventional therapy
– Can even be covered by you medical insurance
– You can change the counselor at any time, for any reason
– You don’t need to expose yourself, just like regular face-to-face therapy, telephone counseling is strictly confidential, and so you don’t need to feel any embarrassment for any reason.
What are the disadvantages of telephone counseling?
If you are suitable for telephone counseling there are not many disadvantages as there are steps of precaution you need to take. Make sure you are seeking help from a licensed company that offers this kind of service, and if you live in the US, check if the counselor is licensed in your state because they can operate only in the state they are licensed.
If you are using an online platform, check the safety of the information you will provide, the online site or app must be at least HIPAA-compliant. This also applies to the method of payment, because you will surely use online payment, using credit cards or other methods.
Also, if you are sharing texts and e-mails, do have in mind that this data can be hacked, or even sent to wrong email sometimes. And sadly, technology can fail us in the moments we need it the most. The most obvious example is the electricity shortage, where you won’t be able to communicate with your counselor.
Telephone counseling is not the right choice if you are struggling with serious mental issues like schizophrenia, severe depression, bipolar disorder, or suicidal thoughts. Also, if you are not comfortable sharing your private matters using telephone or online services, or you are just not comfortable using technology, please seek professional help right away where you will get much more help using the conventional therapy.