Telephone Therapy For Depression And Anxiety, Does it Work?

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A brand new study published in the June edition of Behaviour Therapy has found that telephone consultations with a therapist can be just as effective as clinic visits involving face to face meetings with a therapist for depression treatment.

The trial run was carried out by Brigham Young University and led by Diane Spangler, a psychology professor at the university.

The study included 30 people who had been newly diagnosed with major depression. The participants received no anti-depressant medication or visits to a clinic during the trial and instead had a series of phone calls to a therapist which covered the same information that would have been covered in a face to face meeting. The calls lasted between 21 and 52 minutes.

Six months later at a follow up, the researchers found that 42 percent of the participants had recovered from their depression. By comparison, the recovery rate is 50 percent for those who have face to face visits.

“Offering a phone or webcam option for psychotherapy does appear warranted from an efficacy point of view,” said Dr Spangler,

“It’s more user- friendly — no commutes, more flexibility of place and time — and has no side effects.”

However, it’s important to note that some people appear to prefer the face to face contact with a therapist as a third of those originally identified as suitable for the study, declined the offer of telephone sessions and opted for face to face sessions instead.

Although this was a small scale study, it still shows that for those who really don’t want the hassle of travelling to see a therapist, who don’t enjoy busy waiting rooms and who don’t mind sitting in the comfort of their own home whilst talking to an understanding voice at the end of the telephone, this type of therapy would not only be cheaper but could be just as effective.

Statistics show that around 1 in 4 people are suffering from some form of depression at any one time, which represents around a fifth of the population.

However, what isn’t known is how many people there are out there who might be suffering from depression and who for any number of reasons don’t go and seek help.

Perhaps if the option of telephone consultations was available, more people would seek help when they need it.

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