They Laughed When I Suggested Phone Counseling…

by Jonathon G. Peterson

First, what is phone counseling? The name pretty much tells it all. Phone counseling takes place between a therapist and a client. The numbers of individuals seeking help online by searching for “phone counseling” are rising each month and have been for over 8 years. On my site someone will read about the service, pay online for a session, then my intake coordinator calls and schedules an appointment usually within 24-48 hours from payment. This makes turn-a-round time very quick. Contrast that with the normal wait periods of the majority of hospital clinics of 2 to 3 weeks before one can be seen for an intake session. Other times, a client may have questions so they might email first, asking for clarification or wondering if we can help with their particular problem.

Is Phone Counseling Private?

For the most part, phone counseling is as private as you make it. In a Nielson privacy study, they found out that the largest 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 webpage 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.

Comparing Live Counseling Sessions With Phone Counseling

I believe nothing beats face-to-face counseling. So why have I offered phone counseling for the past 10 years? Because it works! And individuals specifically request it more and more. Over the years I’ve noticed some powerful advantages of phone counseling over sitting with a client.

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 on 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.

So what’s the outcome? I have found in phone sessions that we “get down to it” much quicker. Clients feel more empowered to stop you in mid-sentence and tell you straight-away if your approach doesn’t seem to be a fit for them. This is immensely helpful as it makes the therapist adjust to exactly what the client needs. This all makes for a much more efficient session and a happier client outcome.

Phone Therapy Is Flexible!

Can we count the ways you can do phone therapy? How about in the car? What about on lunch break? Can you talk in your private office in the midst of a business day? How about in your pajamas? Can you work in a call while your child is taking a nap?

We all live in a busy world with busy lives. This is one way practitioners can adapt to people’s lives. Clients are very grateful for it. Other clients suffer so severely from issues such as agoraphobia that they cannot leave the house. We’ve counseled and prepared people to leave the house while on a cell phone and work directly with their anxiety right in the moment. Now that’s meeting a client exactly where they are at.

What Is The Cost Of Phone Counseling?

Phone counseling is no more expensive that live sessions. And some mix up online email counseling with phone counseling for even better results. The bottom line is that phone counseling is affordable and efficient.

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