What are the merits of telephone counselling?

Telephone counselling is becoming more popular as an alternative to face to face work. In terms of practicality, it has the benefits of being cost effective due to having no travelling expenses attached. It's also generally cheaper than face to face counselling. It's also less time consuming so it's suitable for very busy people who just don't have time to spare. It's ideal for people who live in geographically isolated areas, those who don't have access to transport or have difficulty with mobility. There is also no stress from having to find a baby sitter or parking spaces.

If a prospective client is feeling low and unmotivated then telephone counselling takes much less effort than having to get ready to see a face to face counsellor. From the familiarity of their own homes clients can feel safe and secure and phone the counsellor at a pre- arranged time. They can even have their tea or coffee ready at hand. The skilled counsellor will listen attentively to, not only the content of what the client is expressing, but also to the pitch and tone of their voice. The paragraph below conveys well how tone can betray how a client is really feeling in contrast to what they are saying.

"For words come from the mind, grow by study and art, but tone leaps from the inner self, revealing the state of the heart. Words may be mild and fair but the tone may pierce like a dart. Words may be soft as the summer air but the tone may break my heart"

Of course, the counsellor who is seeing a client for a face to face session also has visual clues about their clients. This is the main difference of course but needn't be seen (no pun intended) as an obstacle when choosing telephone counselling. There are other factors which can be cited in telephone counselling's favour. For instance, the close connection which can be created through the shared exchange of voices, each person listening and responding in that intimate space. Conversely, the physical separation between client and counsellor can help the client express their emotions more freely. Issues which might make the client inhibited or self conscious might be less daunting to bring up, given the anonymity that phone counselling affords.

For some clients the very nature of telephone counselling means that they might 'risk' disclosing to the counsellor sooner than they might in a face to face encounter. This can 'speed' up the counselling process allowing the client to feel a sense of progress more quickly. Just two or three sessions of telephone counselling can greatly benefit the client. In the end of course it comes down to personal choice as to whether a prospective client chooses telephone or face to face counselling. This has been a very brief look at the merits of telephone counselling but there's no doubt that it is a very valuable alternative form of counselling.

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