“Today more than ever, virtually almost everybody owns a cell phone. This fact alone translated into greater demand for phone therapy.”
The therapists of today and tomorrow offering counselling are and will be confronted to a paradigmatic dilemma: Do I or do I not bring my practice into the 21st century and start offering technologically adequate counselling services? Should I learn about distance therapy with the goal of offering online services (including video counselling, email therapy & chat therapy) and phone counselling services to my clients? Asking the question is answering it, you may think, but the issue isn’t as simple as it seems.
The fact of the matter is that most people, including therapists themselves, are afraid of change and don’t participate in change. Just as some resist the propagation of web services into our businesses and day-to-day lives (including emailing and online technologies as a whole), the same resistance exists with regard to phone and online therapy. Some therapists choose to resist an inevitable shift away from the physical office toward a virtual office.
Mark my word: In twenty-five years from now, more therapeutic sessions will be conducted over-the-phone and online than in-office.
Whether we, as therapists and clients, want it or not, an unstoppable revolution in the field of psychology has been set in motion. Though this move hasn’t yet actualized, we are witnessing it happening now, as we collectively are shifting away from the physical toward the virtual. What this means for humanity isn’t yet known, but for good or worst and whether we agree with it or not, this is what’s going on: People communicate more by phone today than we do in person; we undeniably send more emails than we do letters; we sometimes spend more time chatting with our spouse than we actually talk with them in flesh and bone; we meet more often online or through chat than at the coffee shop. What does this all mean?
What does this shift to the virtual mean? The emergence of online presence, the abundance of cell phones; what does it all mean? Other than possibly feeding into the creation of AI (artificial intelligence) and speeding up time, this underlines a greater need for connectedness – which is the seed of togetherness. Even though embarking on the online avenue and living in virtual worlds may not ultimately be the way to reach there and to experience union, it may not hurt in the first stages. Considering the world is on the brink of self-destruction, spending time online to stay connected with friends all over the world, whether through video, chat or email, may not hurt on the path of togetherness.
But, don’t worry: Considering human togetherness is needed for our survival, traditional therapy or in-person therapy isn’t going anywhere and will still exist in thousands of years.
The therapists who are against phone and online therapy may have a point though; it is undeniable that nothing, however advanced technology may be, can replace the benefits of interacting with another human being. This is why traditional therapy, between therapist and client sitting in an office, will never completely disappear. However real online interactions may appear to be and good the quality of a video system may be, it cannot re-create the healing space produced by two or more individuals.
This is why online, but particularly phone counselling isn’t recommended to those needing the presence of another person or who get easily distracted. The intensity and depth of the connection established by having two individuals sitting in front or beside each other may not be reproduced virtually. Consequently, clients may have the tendency to drift more easily or take it easier when doing therapy over the phone. This is where the skills of a counsellor are put to test, as the way to keep a client interested and engaged is to pay close attention to details and to communicate insights using the least amount of words.
Most counsellors, and therapists out there are more concerned with making an impression on their clients then doing anything to really help.
Having accumulated my fair share of clinical experience – from conducting over 1500 hours of phone therapy and serving over 500 phone clients in the past four years – I know how to hold a space that facilitates change over the phone. One of the reasons why some therapists may not like phone counselling and don’t usually offer this service is because some of us are poor listeners. Unfortunately, some therapists are more interested in what they have to say than what their clients are saying. When therapy is conducted over the phone, the fact that some counsellors are inattentive and unaware becomes evident.
On the contrary, when a client feels that the therapy is about them, and that they feel heard and important when talking to a therapist, may it be over the phone or in person, any type of therapeutic modality would do. In my view, an efficient, attentive, and compassionate counsellor can effectively conduct any type of therapy, whether it is over the phone, in-person, or on-line.
Distance therapy (online & phone counseling) may be best suited for cleints with an active lifestyle, with a busy schedule, living in rural areas, wanting to preserve their anonymity, or working abroad or on the road.
Counselling has changed because the world in which we live constantly changes. As the Buddhists believe ‘impermanence is the only permanent thing in the universe.’ I know better than standing on the sideline, and I updated my practice to offer both forms of distance therapy, namely phone counselling and online counselling.
On top of offering in-person counselling from my office in Winnipeg, I offer online and phone counselling to clients who live outside the city or who cannot make it to my office. Since I offer both phone and online therapy, we can stay in touch and have counselling sessions at the most convenient time for you and wherever you are, on the road or in the comfort of your home. If you have online access or own a phone, there is no more reason to delay: Get quality and cost effective counselling services today.