What is Telephone Counseling?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2018
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Telephone counseling encompasses any and all psychological services performed over a telephone. These may include counseling sessions, helplines, or crisis hotline calls. Phone counseling allows people who are without transportation, too embarrassed for live visits, or otherwise are unable to attend live psychotherapy sessions to receive psychological services from wherever they are.

Prices for telephone counseling vary depending upon the type of counseling being used. Many hotlines, for example, are free of charge. Most individual therapists or psychiatrists charge similar rates for phone sessions as they would for office visits. Insurance companies may cover these fees as well. An average session usually lasts from 30 minutes to an hour.

While individuals may be the most frequent telephone counseling patients, the technique can be utilized for couples or groups as well. Since telephone therapy is a remote service, therapists often have websites available for scheduling appointments. These websites usually list the fees that will be associated with the call. Some therapists are willing to pay for the phone call itself as long as the patient pays for the therapy services.

People who have previously engaged in office visits sometimes use telephone therapy as well. This may be used as support in the case of an emergency. Follow-up visits or occasional questions following a completed therapy treatment may also be conducted via telephone. Some therapists also ask that their patients call them for phone sessions when they are traveling.


Patients with conditions that make them reluctant to see a physician, such as agoraphobia, can often be helped through telephone counseling services. Studies have shown that phone counseling can be just as successful in treating various conditions, such as depression. Many patients also report preferring to discuss their problems over the telephone rather than in person.

It is worth keeping in mind that some telephone counseling services may exist as hoaxes or scams in order to obtain money and credit card information from consumers. Consumers should be wary of such scams and fully research their options before using any telephone counseling service. Referrals from other patients, such as family members or friends, as well as other doctors, can often help one avoid such situations.

In addition to telephone counseling, several other options are available for those who are unable to meet in person with a therapist. Many counselors are willing to conduct group therapy sessions in a chat room over the Internet. Technological advances also allow therapeutic services to be administered via e-mail or instant messaging. Some counselors even conduct initial interviews or sessions with clients over social networks or cellular phone texting.


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