Phone counselling -
Expert tips for getting the best professional help

Nowadays you can get access to phone counselling anywhere, at any time.

Yay! No more having to commit yourself to weekly counselling sessions at huge cost, just because your counsellor thinks that's the only way to go.

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Any counsellor will tell you that there's huge value in committing to weekly face-to-face counselling. And though he or she may well be right - you may simply not be able to, or want to, make that work.

So, if telephone counselling is something you're considering, this article will help you evaluate if that is indeed the right sort of help for you. I will also give you some tips on how best to prepare for a session so you get just what you need.

6 Practical benefits of phone counselling

Here are the benefits of telephone counselling:

  • Telephone counselling offers a greater sense of anonymity, if that's important to you
  • It has no geographical boundaries
  • It eliminates the need to make special childcare (or other care) arrangements
  • Telephone counselling is time efficient
  • It is ideal for you if traveling is difficult
  • It is a potentially effective way to access counselling particularly, for example, to deal with short-term issues, simply to off-load and/or get an expert's viewpoint on your troubles.

What are the benefits of telephone counselling?

This is what you potentially get: peace of mind! And what isn't that worth when you're having a crisis? Or you walk around with worries and questions you just can't shift?

Here is specifically what phone counselling does for you:

7 Personal benefits of talking to a counsellor on the telephone

  1. It gives you a sense of control - you're taking action: you are doing something positive
  2. You'll be able to talk to someone who's understanding and won't judge you, someone who has your best interests at heart
  3. If you're telling people around you what you're doing, they're likely to feel reassured that you are doing something to help yourself (and it may get them 'off your back' if necessary!)
  4. Someone unconnected with your problems will be casting an eye over what is happening, you're no longer alone with it all, which can be the case even if you have people who care around you
  5. You'll potentially come away from that session with a new perspective - the counsellor can help you look at your problem from a new angle
  6. At the end of that call you can feel like a weight is lifted of your shoulders
  7. You may have a new way forward - a step-by-step action plan perhaps
  8. You will feel better - more optimistic, because of all of the above

You can talk to a counsellor on the phone right now. Click Here for further information.

Why is telephone counselling not suitable for everyone?

Here are just some reasons why telephone counselling is not suitable for everyone:

  • your counsellor is unable to see your non-verbal communication and thereby miss important cues
  • your counsellor will only have very limited knowledge of your situation, unless you set up regular sessions
  • if you only speak to the same expert every now and then, he or she may suddenly not be there anymore
  • if someone is suicidal, there is no opportunity to act on your behalf - if it was thought to be desirable to do so (this would normally be discussed during the first face-to-face session, as not every counsellor or therapist would act)

Therefore adult phone counselling is often not offered if:

  • you are suicidal at the time of your call
  • you have a complicated history of psychiatric illness
  • you are younger than 18 years (there are specialist hotlines for children in need of help and support)

Not sure if telephone counselling is right for you?
Click here for further information.

Woman and text: It's important to make someone happy and it's important to start with yourself. Anonymous

Here is why telephone counselling may not be ideal for you

There are disadvantages to getting help only via telephone counselling. For example:

  • It can all too easily be 'squeezed in' rather than give it the time you and the problem deserve
  • The very fact that you don't need to commit to regular sessions deprives you from what counselling is so helpful for: to build a 'real-life' client-counsellor relationship with someone who can give you feedback on how you communicate non-verbally as well as verbally.
  • It is too easy to break off the conversation when you become emotional, you're asked a difficult question or given some feedback - however gentle, thereby depriving yourself of that professional support and increased insight
  • It deprives you of the opportunity of working through a problem over time, for example during the course of a relationship break-up.

Having said all that, depending on the service you access it may well be possible to arrange to speak with the same expert. Be prepared though, that he or she may suddenly not be available anymore.

Doubt about talking to an expert over the phone?

Very few problems are of an ‘all or nothing’ nature. If you are in any doubt that telephone counselling is right for you - no problem. Your counsellor or therapist will quickly help you decide.

Your counsellor or therapist too may suggest that phone counselling is not ideal or effective for the problem you're dealing with.

Don't worry - it says nothing about you as a person or implies any judgement on how you are dealing with the situation. So, try not to take it personally! You are okay, it's just that there are limits to what can be done to help someone over the phone.

I much prefer they talk themselves out of a job, rather than giving you a poor service!

What should you tell your counsellor?

The first decision you'll make is whether or not to give your real name.

It's absolutely fine for you to remain anonymous. You can access services with a username - no problem!

Once your counsellor knows what you're calling for, he or she may also like to know any of the following - if relevant:

  • Your marital status and age of your children (if you have any)
  • Information about your background - family, work, religion, education, etc
  • A bit about your relationship history
  • What, if anything, you've done so far to try and sort the problem out (don't worry, they won't judge you, however you've tried to solve your problems)
  • Any current medical condition(s)
  • Any medication you're on

Prepare yourself!

Prepare yourself by ensuring that:

  • you have sufficient time - don't be tempted to squeeze it in between meetings or the children shouting if you can help it
  • you can't be overheard
  • you're sitting comfortably
  • you have a pen and paper in case you want to make some notes (no screen - too distracting, unless you have chosen online counselling)
  • you switch off any notification sounds on your phone for the same reason

Don't do what one of my clients did one day. I heard him chopping food as we were talking!

You can get phone counseling right now

I've got you covered!

You can speak to a counsellor by telephone right now if you wish. On any of the following pages you'll be able to choose a counsellor you think you'll feel comfortable with (you can then phone or chat online):

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Other helpful links

FOH - Implementation and evaluation of a formal telephone counselling service PDF (EAP)

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Elly Prior

It's me - Elly Prior, I'm the Founder and Author of this site. I'm a 'real' person! I'm hoping to make a positive difference, small or large, to every person who visits my site.

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