Given the fact that much of the work I do with recovering addicts and leaders is done over the phone, I was encouraged by the results of a study reported in the Journal of Counseling Psychology. This study gave a favorable review to counseling done over the phone.
“The researchers … found that telephone counseling was beneficial and satisfactory, marked by specific improvement on the issue that lead to counseling and global improvement in emotional state. 68 percent [of those surveyed] reported feeling very or completely satisfied with the telephone counseling and 53 percent said they felt somewhat better as a result of counseling.”
Just to be clear … what I offer people is coaching over the phone, not counseling or therapy. Check here for a good article outlining the differences between coaching and therapy. It is oriented to business or leadership coaching, but we can apply its insights to recovery coaching as well. The bottom line in recovery from addiction is that often issues of past trauma need to be worked through, and this is best done in face-to-face therapy.
But a lot of what happens in counseling offices is more about strategizing about meeting the challenges of day to day living … and this is done very well in the context of coaching, and can be done over the phone just as well as in person. In fact, in some ways it can work better over the phone! As the article puts it: “The authors also point out that without an office, clothes and physical appearance to potentially distract them, clients being counseled via phone may be inclined to focus better on what the therapist says.”
The study showed that the people less likely to benefit from help over the phone were “people who reported feeling very poorly.” This also makes sense. People who are struggling — people who are “feeling very poorly” — would be the ones that coaches would refer to face-to-face therapists anyway.
All this to say … if you are needing help, maybe your best step is to pick up the phone!