What is Telephone Therapy?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 January 2020
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People do much business with phones and Internet connections these days, and it shouldn’t be any wonder that one use of the phone has been as an instrument of connection between clients and their therapists. Telephone therapy is usually mental health therapy conducted between a therapist and a client over the phone, or it can be a combination of phone sessions and in person sessions.

There’s growing evidence that telephone therapy may be just as effective as in-person work. Certainly, there exists a lot of reasons why telephoning a therapist might be easier and reduce therapy drop out rate. Especially in urban environments, driving anyplace can take up a lot of time, time many people simply don’t have, particularly when they add to that the hour they will spend conversing with a therapist. Some people literally can’t get to the doctor if they can’t drive, are on psychiatric medications that impair their driving ability, or if they afraid to leave their homes.

Other reasons can exist for choosing telephone therapy. People in small town areas may not have a local therapist they want to see. Another potential reason why people might want the comfort of phoning is that it increases anonymity. Some people feel that seeing a therapist at any time is an embarrassing thing, and others have specific issues they want to discuss in therapy but simply feel they can’t do so in a face-to-face manner.


The way telephone therapy is conducted may vary. People might have an initial face-to-face meeting with a therapist. Alternately, all work may be conducted over the phone, and the therapist might not be local. A number of companies exist which offer only telephone therapy, or that offer a combination of telephone therapy and online therapy.

It’s important for anyone considering this form of therapy to use a reputable therapist. Many of these people are appropriately licensed, but it’s a good idea to get an organization or a private individual’s credentials before starting sessions. Just as with in person sessions, it may be a good idea to know the areas of focus of the therapist, their years in practice and their philosophy on therapy.

Even though there is research suggesting telephone therapy can be effective, it may still not always be ideal. Therapists use more than spoken language to understand their clients and to help them find wellness. They also look at facial expressions, gestures, and the other forms of non-verbal language that a client uses. In couples and family therapy, which may also be conducted by phone, observing the non-verbal communication between people can inform therapy and make it more effective. This is why, while phone therapy can certainly have a place, it is unlikely to replace traditional face-to-face therapy.



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