Phone therapy is almost as effective as in-person therapy for people with depression, a new Brigham Young University study found.
The phone therapy remission rates were 42 percent compared to a 50 percent recovery rate for in-person therapy in a sample of 30 people with major depression, according to ScienceDaily.
These results demonstrate that for those who may have transportation issues or an extremely busy schedule, phone therapy can be a useful therapy option.
However, some people might prefer traditional therapy, and “one-third of eligible participants declined the option for telephone consultations,” according to ScienceDaily.
One psychologist in the article brought up the option of using a webcam, which could lead to the consideration of e-mail and Internet therapy.
Thomas Nagy, an independent practice psychologist in Palo Alto, Calif. And an adjunct clinical professor at Stanford University, has a few issues with phone therapy.
For example, when a psychologist and patient are in different states, this can be a legal issue.
“It’s providing a service in a state where you’re not licensed,” Nagy said, except in cases where a psychologist is licensed in multiple states.
A few years ago, he said there was a tragic case where a psychiatrist in Colorado provided phone therapy and medication to a student in California. Later on, the student committed suicide using the antidepressants the psychiatrist provided.
“For the most part, we feel you have to be face-to-face to evaluate someone to see their non-verbal cues [and] to take their history,” Nagy said. “You can’t even tell when someone is tearful, you can’t tell when they’re avoiding contact, you can’t tell about the changes in their breathing…a lot of things therapists use to make diagnostic decisions.”
Also, it would be especially difficult to tell if someone has an eating disorder by just conducting phone therapy.
Videoconferencing is a better option than phone or Internet therapy, he said, since you can actually see the person.