Phone therapy can banish the blues

May 11th, 2010 - 4:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 11 (IANS) Phone therapy can banish your blues — almost as face-to-face consultations do, says a new study.
The trial run included people newly-diagnosed with major depression. Instead of eight scheduled visits to the clinic, the participants covered the same material during a series of phone calls with the therapist.

Calls varied in length, ranging from 21 to 52 minutes. The patients did not receive antidepressant medication.

At a six month follow-up, 42 percent of participants had recovered from depression. For comparison, similar therapy conducted in person has a 50 percent recovery rate.

“Offering a phone or webcam option for psychotherapy does appear warranted from an efficacy point of view,” said Diane Spangler, a Brigham Young University (BYU) psychology professor and study co-author.

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

Over-the-phone therapy may not be for everyone. One-third of eligible participants declined the option for telephone consultations, preferring the psychotherapist’s couch to the one in their living room, says a BYU release.

But for those comfortable with phone calls, therapy could soon be cheaper, more convenient and minus awkward waiting rooms.

The study appears in the June issue of Behaviour Therapy.

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