"Reasons to Consider Phone Therapy" by Shobana Nuland, LMHC

For many who don't have time to commute, phone therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy.  In our busy, often over-scheduled lives, time has become a very valuable commodity.  Although getting support and guidance with life's challenges is a very nurturing form of self care, taking the time to visit a therapist in person in and of itself can be counter productive.

Reid lives an hour from work and even farther from my office.  After several in-person sessions, he shared that the commute was getting too stressful.  After discussing his doubts, he decided that he wanted to try phone therapy.  After the first phone session, Reid revealed how relieved he was.  After getting home from work, he spent time "unwinding" and then called for his appointment.  He shared that not only was he able to discuss the same issues that he would have discussed in person, but that in not being stressed over the long commute, he was more relaxed and receptive to  solutions.

Living too far away for in-person therapy is another good reason to consider phone therapy.  Several of my clients who live out of state have been referred to me by clients that see me locally.  Whether looking for a good restaurant, a new dentist or a summer camp for the children, it's always comforting to have a referral from someone you trust.  Susan and her sister, Stephanie have both seen me in-person.  When they referred me to their sister who lives in Boston, there was an immediate connection and phone therapy worked well for her.  Of course, a referral is not always possible.  Clients who had not previously heard of me used an initial interview to ask questions and have their concerns addressed.  In either case, it is important to interview a potential therapist to make sure that your concerns are treated with confidentiality, compassion and utmost respect.

Elderly clients or the disabled find that phone therapy can be empowering.  Rather than being dependent on friends and relatives to get to appointments, this is a time when they can be self sufficient.  People in these circumstances are frequently dealing with loneliness, anxiety and depression.  Being able to talk through and resolve these emotional issues adds to the quality of their lives.

Phone therapy can be very effective in treating depression.  Depression and its symptoms affect people in all walks of life.  At certain times, we all can feel sad, lonely, worthless and/or pessimistic.  Depression is when these feelings become extreme, constant and keep people from functioning in a healthy way.  Depression can bring on symptoms such as sleep disturbance, lethargy, social withdrawal and change of appetite.  According to the results of a randomized trial reported in the October 2009 Archives of General Psychiatry, "When people get brief, structured, phone-based cognitive behavioral psychotherapy soon after starting on antidepressant medication, significant benefits may persist two years after their first session, with only modest rises in cost."

When clients simply prefer the comfort of their own home or office, phone therapy is a good solution.  Carol had wanted to work on some issues for quite awhile but did not like the idea of revealing such personal information in a strange setting.  She put off getting help until a friend of hers told her about phone therapy.  After doing some research as to its effectiveness, Carol gave me a call.  She told me that it would be easiest for her to be honest and open if she could be in the comfort of her own home.  Carol felt relieved that her feelings were validated.  Carol listened to her needs and phone therapy turned out to be quite successful for her.

It is important to note that phone therapy is not appropriate or in the best interest for individuals:

  • ...who are experiencing crisis.
  • ...who are suicidal and in need of immediate assistance.  Call 911.
  • ...who have serious unresolved trauma and family of origin issues.
  • ...who have severe mental health issues such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder.
  • ...with alcohol or other drug dependency issues.
For more information or to make an appointment call Shobana Nuland, LMHC   206-546-5390

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