Telephone counselling - would it work for you?
What is telephone counselling like? Is it worth having? You may not have thought before of telephone counselling. However it may be worth considering for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, some people may not be able to find a suitable counsellor living near enough to them. Whether you live in a more rural area or are looking for a particular type of counselling, it could be that you just cannot find what you are looking for in your immediate locality. Telephone counselling can put you in touch with a counsellor in any part of the country. It therefore broadens your options.
It could be that even if there are local counsellors, it is hard for you to travel to their premises. Perhaps you have family commitments or little time with work. Limited time in itself can cause stress; and finding extra time to travel to see someone to talk about this may seem at the least counter-productive. It may just not be possible! On the other hand, perhaps travelling is difficult due to a disability. Telephone counselling can therefore increase access to services for those in need, who might not otherwise get help.
So, what is telephone counselling like? Generally, appointments are arranged on a regular weekly basis for a particular amount of time, usually fifty minutes as in face-to-face work. Therefore, if you are comfortable enough talking on the telephone, you may not notice much difference. Usually you call the counsellor and so you pay for the cost of the call, which is likely to be to the counsellor’s landline. (You can compare this to the cost of travelling, parking charges etc. Using the telephone may well be cheaper.)
It could be that you are unable to attend at a regular time due to work commitments and there could be more flexibility with appointments times for telephone counselling. Although this is worth checking with the individual counsellor, most counsellors offer a more flexible service for telephone work if appropriate.
Some people might find it more difficult to express themselves over the phone; while for others it can be almost too easy. The experienced telephone counsellor should be aware of this and make sure that therapy proceeds at a safe rate for the client. This means knowing how to provide a supportive, safe space for reflective work, giving time to process feelings. Having a safe space to talk and process your feelings applies to telephone counselling just as much as to face-to-face work.
If you do consider that telephone counselling might be for you, think about whether you have a time and space to talk on the telephone without interruption. Perhaps you need to agree with your partner to be in charge of the children for this hour (it is still less time than travelling to therapy after all)? Will others in your home be able to hear what you are saying and does this matter to you (it may or it may not matter)?
This short article gives some of my reflections on telephone counselling, including its similarities and differences to face-to-face work. Hopefully it may give you some ideas as to whether it might work as an approach for you.
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