The almost sudden appearance of the COVID 19 crisis has led to an increase in the number of people seeking mental health therapy. At the same time, with all the lockdowns and shutdowns across the United States, more people are seeking telephone therapy, or counseling via telephone instead of in-person phone sessions. But does phone therapy work for everyone?
The obvious answer to this question is NO. Although telephone therapy offers the benefit of receiving the required counseling at the comfort of your home and avoiding risks of accidents and infections commonly associated with going out in public, the distant therapy via phone isn’t helpful in certain cases.
Take hearing-impaired people for example, commonly called the deaf. They can either not hear at all, in which case they are dependent on sign language, or they can hear to various degrees using hearing aids. In case of those depending on sign language, it’s a big challenge to get the required counseling on phone. The therapist needs to work with them via videoconferencing but even that requires hearing what the therapist is saying so an individual therapist offering counseling sessions online is likely to find to very difficult.
Those patients who can hear using hearing aids can benefit from phone therapy, though the effectiveness of the session will depend on the degree of their hearing loss and the quality of their hearing aid’s function.
Then there are people with serious mental health issues, like extreme anxiety and clinical depression. BetterHelp suggests that for these patients, the traditional in-person therapy usually works better than telephone therapy. For them, if the therapist must work via phone, video-conferencing is likely to be more helpful as it gives a better, fuller sense of the therapist’s presence and attention—which is an important part of their therapy.
One factor that may keep at least some patients to choose conventional therapy instead of phone therapy is privacy concerns. Although phone or videoconferencing is considered strictly confidential, there are people who may not feel very comfortable talking highly personal or confidential details over phone or online. They need the assurance of being one-on-one with their therapist without a line or digital medium connection. But then this works both ways because there will be people who find it easier to share sensitive details via a medium/connecting line instead of their therapist’s personal presence.
It is worth mentioning that telephone therapy is notably less costly than conventional therapy. And in emergencies and certain difficult situations when leaving home may not be possible, counseling via phone or video chat maybe the only viable means of therapy.
Whether you choose conventional counseling or telephone therapy as the better one of the two options would depend on a number of factors: financial, emotional, physical, and so on. It’s recommended that you make a checklist of pros and cons and mark each comparison for its level of importance to you. This will help you decide whether you choose in-person or phone therapy to help you cope best with your issues.