I have written about phone therapy in the past but new studies and new information have recently been reported. The research continues to show that therapy, via phone, is proving useful with patients suffering from depression.
Part of the success of this type of treatment is due to a lower drop out rate than for those who are doing in-person sessions. Many people who are given referrals to therapy never actually follow through. In part, there may be a general resistance but issues of time, travel, and finances often explain why some do not seek out treatment.
It turns out that while both in-person patients and phone patients reported improvement six months after therapy ended, those who sought face-to-face treatment still faired slightly better. Some of the researchers believed this could be attributed to the fact that the phone patients may have begun the process with a more severe condition or with more struggles in their daily lives. This may, in fact, be one of the reasons they chose the phone sessions initially.
The major advantage to this relatively new practice is that it is making therapy available to those who may not have otherwise sought it out. Approximately 85% of clinicians are practicing, at least part of the time, over the phone.
It seems clear that there are still some patients, such as those with more severe mental health issues or those who have suicidal behavior, who may not benefit from this type of treatment. Clinicians are divided into different camps on the subject but the practice is fast becoming more acceptable.
While I certainly would not want to trade my couch in for a telephone, I believe there is a good use for this type of therapy. I still like to see my clients in person but I also recognize the need, at times, to have a session on the phone. While the researchers found that equally meaningful bonds were formed using both methods, I prefer to use a combination of the two when necessary. This gives me an opportunity to get to know a client face-to-face and in my opinion, gives more meaning to later phone sessions. The fact that phone therapy reaches people who would not otherwise be exposed to treatment is reason enough to embrace the practice, at least to a limited extent.
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