Having volunteered as a telephone listening volunteer for Samaritans for ten years, experiencing the emotional connection and immediacy that is possible with this mode of communication, I wanted to find a way to offer therapy in this way. In the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic, I undertook training in how to adapt therapy and work with the opportunities that this method of communication offers.
What are the benefits of telephone counselling?
Flexibility of location – you can talk from your own home, from the car (parked up!), or outside.
Geographical reach – maybe you’d love to have therapy with me but live the other side of the country – no problem! As long as you are based in England this isn’t an issue with telephone therapy (due to Professional Standards Authority and different regulations and requirements in different countries)
Flexibility of time – perhaps you don’t have the time in your week to travel for a session, but could fit in an hour on your lunch break? Or maybe you have young children and can’t leave the house in the evening, but could speak on the phone.
Less intimidating – some people might find they can talk more freely without being with someone in person, or without eye contact.
Things to consider
Privacy – can you find a place where you can focus on the session and not be overheard?
Phone signal – sometimes more reliable than the internet, sometimes less. What’s it like where you are?
Comfort and emotional safety – do you feel safe and comfortable enough where you are to talk about what you want and need to in the therapy sessions?
Other opportunities of telephone counselling
Working over the phone requires us to be creative in itself, we cannot see one another and so frequent checking of feelings and physical sense needs to be explicit. We can also work with metaphor, visualisation and can use email to share images and creative work which we can then view and talk through during the session.
Talking explicitly about what is happening (body language, changes in your surroundings, thoughts and feelings) helps to identify any assumptions or things we might take for granted if we can see one another. This can really help deepen your awareness and understanding of self.