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Although the term “having a zoom call” has only recently become commonplace, video calling is not a new technology. Many studies, going back decades, highlight the effectiveness of therapy delivered by video-conference and over the good old telephone. However, who benefits and why miss out on face to face human interaction?

Research has shown it is especially helpful for busy people and also for disabled people – anyone who finds it difficult to travel or to find appropriate access. It can also benefit people who travel abroad often for work and expats who prefer a familiar face. Also, those who have transport problems, childcare considerations and those who prefer the comfort and familiarity of their own homes.

Several studies have shown that online psychotherapy and counselling is just as effective as physical face-to-face therapy. One such study into the effectiveness of the treatment of anxiety disorders online versus face-to-face (1) found both were equal in effecting a positive outcome.

Telephone therapy, although not always preferred by therapists themselves (as we do like to see your face) is also highly effective. Again, one such study into telephone administered CBT for the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD,2), said the telephone was equivalent to
physical face-to-face therapy.

Whilst the personal touch is preferred, web and telephone therapy can especially benefit you if you:

  • Are a busy professional
  • Don’t like to travel
  • Travel around the UK or world
  • Have been recommended a therapist out of your area
  • Have children but not childcare
  • Prefer the comfort of your own home

Group sessions are best carried out face to face, as the dynamics and interactions between people are important to interpret. It is usually less productive to try and assess these via a video conference, and certainly impractical over the telephone.

So, why not use all that technology – Zoom, Skype, Facetime, Duo, smartphones, and tabs – to make a connection, for counselling?

1. Cohen & Kerr. Computer mediated counselling: An empirical study of a new mental health treatment.
Computers At Home 15, 1998: 13-26
2. Lovell, Cox, et al. Telephone administered cognitive behaviour therapy for treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder: randomised controlled non-inferiority trial. BMJ, 2006: 333.