Phone therapy, often called teletherapy, is not much different than traditional therapy, the main distinction being that, instead of going to a therapist’s office, counselling is conducted over the phone either through video or audio calls.
As technology advances, teletherapy gains more and more popularity, especially now, in the middle of a global pandemic where people are urged not to leave the house unless for essential needs.
Phone therapy is convenient for both counsellors and clients, and most research suggests it is just as effective as in-person therapy. This is why many UK publications such as The Independent, BBC and The Guardian have covered the subject on multiple occasions, reminding those who can’t leave the house that they don’t have to give up on receiving their much-needed help from therapists.
What benefits does phone therapy provide?
The COVID-19 pandemic is putting the world to test day after day, revealing a new range of challenges for the field of mental health. Scheduling an in-person therapy session becomes increasingly difficult as the virus continues to spread, and people are getting more and more concerned about it. Phone therapy can provide a range of benefits for patients, including:
- Fast access to treatment: Due to reasons such as physical disabilities, location and scheduling issues, many people are unable to use traditional therapy, but phone therapy eliminates those challenges and brings the counsellor to them no matter the place or time.
- Lower costs: Phone therapy removes the need for a physical office, many phone counsellors charge less, plus clients can cut down on transportation costs
- Privacy: A lot of clients quit going to therapy due to fear of being seen by someone, but phone therapy allows them to seek treatment in the privacy of their own home.
What does science say?
When it comes to phone therapy, the main concern is that counsellors can’t observe the patient, which is paramount in providing a proper diagnosis. However, tone of voice, body language and overall behaviour can give insight into the person’s well-being, and all of these can be analysed during a phone therapy session.
Despite these concerns, scientific research shows phone therapy can be just as effective as online therapy, with these studies being referred to many times in the news.
The Journal of Affective Disorders published a study in 2014, showing tele-treatment is just as effective as in-person treatment for depression and anxiety. Four years later, another study published in the Journal of Psychological Disorders showed the same results for online cognitive behavioural therapy in treating issues such as panic disorder, social anxiety and depression.
Phone therapy during a pandemic
To further prove the beneficial effects of only therapy, governments in many countries, UK included, have put up telephone helplines, so that those shrugging with mental health issues during the pandemic can get access to help. Those lines are not limited to patients with known mental health issues, but for anyone experiencing distress or a decline in mental health due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.