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Phone Counseling - How Does It Measure Up?

Aug 22, 2008
A phone counseling session is just like a sit-down counseling session. You set an appointment, and at that time, your therapist calls you on the phone and give expert counseling advice for 50-60 minutes. The difference is that you don't meet face-to-face.

Just How Private Is Phone Counseling?

For the most part, phone counseling is as private as you make it. In a Nielson privacy study, they found out that the larges privacy breach with any online activity happens in the home. You read that right. The personal privacy scare is certainly a threat, but the most current research would shave that concern down dramatically. Basically what they are telling us is that mom, who was purchasing a phone counseling session online at a website, leaves that website open and her child sees the web page and inquires about it. This is the kind of breach we're looking at. The other privacy potential problem is having someone pick up on the telephone line you're using for your session. Keep these things in mind as you start phone counseling.

How Is Phone Counseling Different Than Face-To-Face?

There are pros and cons of each. Often individuals assume live counseling is the best option but here are some issues for you to consider. In phone counseling a client will often share up to three times more personal information than in a single live session.

Most all of us have a need to please other people. A client sitting in a session should be focused on their needs, not the therapists needs. However, would you think a client still wants the therapist to like them in a live session? Phone counseling has taught me that there is a lot more of that going in in live sessions than we might like to admit. I came to that conclusion years ago as I noticed how direct phone clients can be. If they feel I'm heading down the wrong path, they're quick to tell me. Other times, they share pertinent information that they may have held back for a number of sessions, maybe because they would have felt embarrassed sharing it live.

Phone clients also tend to share more deeply very quickly. There's something about being behind a phone that feels safer and therefore clients disclose private information easier than in face-to-face. These are two fantastic facts that lead to a shorter number of sessions to complete our goals.

Phone Therapy Fits Busy Schedules

Those who are attracted to phone counseling love the convenience of it. For example, I've counseling people while they were on a train, in an airport, commuting to or from work, changing a diaper, on lunch break at work and at work in the privacy of their own office. This list could go on.

I'm sure you're beginning to see that phone counseling is a robust and quite flexible tool for you to use.

Is Phone Counseling Expensive?

You may have already put this together from the previous paragraphs. How much would you estimate it might cost you to take time off work? Get child care? How much is it worth to you to travel to and from appointments? Live sessions across the US range anywhere from $65-$140 per hour. When adding in the items I mentioned above you can add another 15-20%. Using phone therapy can cost you 15-20% less than a scheduled sit-down appointment.

Can You Really Get The Right Connection Through Phone Counseling?

We know that the literature shows that all therapies have about the same level of success. What makes the difference is the alliance between therapist and client. I've been pleasantly surprised at how powerful the connection can be, even in the very firt session of phone therapy. I've been counseling by phone for 10 years now. I don't do things that don't work! I like to see my clients making progress and happy in their lives. Phone counseling definitely answers the call, so to speak.

Will Your Insurance Carrier Cover Phone Counseling?

Very few insurance companies cover phone counseling as of the writing of this. However, due to the capitalistic nature of these organizations, just as soon as they see an opportunity to have more efficient therapy, for shorter duration of time. That equals less money paid out to providers and more in their pockets, you can be assured they will be jumping on board. Just last year my counseling practice was sought out for deliver of Employee Assistance Program (EAP) sessions for 8 organizations in South Dakota. We recently renewed that contract and now provide email and phone counseling assistance to over 8000 employees.

Do you really want your insurance company to get involved? The ugly truth is that there is a national health record database. This database can be used to deny you insurance due to "pre-existing conditions." Of course we'd be hard pressed to get an insurance company to admit this, but many of you have already been laid victim to the nasty "pre-existing condition" clause. Keeping therapy private can be a huge life saver when you don't get turned down because you've sought out mental health care in the past.

Phone Counseling Wrap Up

Phone counseling is definitely not for everyone. Clients who are suicidal or afraid they might hurt someone should seek immediate help from a quality, local counseling center. In fact, these folks should seek emergency care immediately. The other gray area is working with someone under the age of 18. We get requests from teenagers for phone therapy and we do work with some of them. As long as they seek permission from their parents and we get the appropriate consent forms signed it can work. It does take longer as we expect a notarized consent form in the mail before we'll even consider working with a teenager.

That being said, it should be obvious by now that phone counseling works. In one study, over 97% of those who'd sought online or phone therapy would do so again. It's fast, efficient, private, flexible and affordable. If you're struggling it's definitely a try to contact a phone counselor.
About the Author
Phone counseling meets you where you're at.. any time, on your schedule and it's cost-effective, private and works. Go on over to http://www.CounselingPros.com and learn what you need to in order to make the right decision for you.
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