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By: Nicksmith
“ I\'m depressed at the moment, and I don\'t know any counselling places that i can go at this time, I have heard there are 24hrs counsellor, they council you on the phone, does anyone have their number, and also I just can\'t seem to get any sleep. Please help me.”
(Ryan, a 15-year-old high school student)

Can you hear the desperation in the voice of 15-year-old Ryan, who is not only lonely and depressed and cowed down by the atrocious academic stress of the educational system and peer pressure, but also a kind of helplessness that arises from living in this dysfunctional reality of present times? Phone counselling under such circumstances might be an excellent way, to reach out to all these youngsters, as well as older patients, who are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the stresses of living in the current day and age.

Para-professional counsellors and therapists who provide help to patients who cannot reach the therapist in person, at times of emergencies or crisis, or during the conclusion of a long-standing therapy session, generally carry out phone counselling. However, these phone-counselling sessions, now, have been extended to include a number of services like childcare counselling, teenage counselling, healthcare counselling, drug abuse counselling, marital counselling, academic counselling, etc.

Phone counselling has been proved increasingly more effective with patients, with a wide range of mental maladies like depression to claustrophobia. A study shows that 58 percent of the patients who had been treated with both office counselling and phone counselling had preferred the latter case because they found it to be far less intimidating than real sessions in the traditional form of counselling. This makes them more honest and open to therapy, which is bound to be more effective.

Phone counselling is actually a part of the “crisis hotlines” opened in America with the primary objective of preventing suicides; however, these hotlines have now been replaced with the more mellow title of “emotional support hotlines” to attract all those patients who are looking for an outlet for their emotional and psychological woes. Phone counselling has been found to be very effective to avert small crises and depressions and anxiety among youngsters, usually still in high school and unable to cope with peer pressure. Child hotlines are actually a form of phone counselling which aims at preventing anxiety and alleviating stress among people who are 18 years of age or less. They also provide information to these youngsters regarding a wide range of topics like sex education, drug abuse, HIV infection, contraception usage, peer pressure handling, relationship advice, career counselling, etc.

Phone counselling has been disregarded by a few researchers saying that, in office counselling has greater impact compared to phone counselling because many patients find a deep connection with the counsellors in person, and hence find it more intimate and meaningful. Furthermore, with Para counsellors the problem of privacy might be compromised, which is seen as a great disadvantage by many of the patients with paranoid personalities, and hence might hamper the effect of phone counselling.

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