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Does Counseling by Telephone Work?

In 1989, when His Needs, Her Needs became a best-seller, couples living outside of Minnesota would fly to the Twin Cities to see me for marriage counseling. They would stay for a week of intensive counseling, and then I would follow-up with telephone counseling after they returned home.

This arrangement worked very well for those who could afford to make the trip, but it was expensive when you consider the time off from work, and the expense for travel, hotel and meals. Some couples spent over $3000 for the week they were here, not counting my counseling fee. In today's dollars, it would amount to over $10,000.

In the interest of economy, I began suggesting to couples wanting to travel here for a week of face-to-face counseling that they consider telephone counseling instead. The intake interview and the diagnostic assessment were done by telephone, and questionnaires were delivered by fax. After a few couples tried it, we were all quite surprised to discover that telephone counseling from start to finish worked just as well as face-to-face counseling. Before long, I and many other counselors in my clinic had ever-increasing numbers of clients that we counseled by telephone. By 1991, most of my counseling was by telephone, and from 1993 on, all of it has been that way.

The advantages of telephone counseling over in-office face-to-face counseling are startling. The primary advantage is that you can counsel with someone that is simply not available in your area. Some communities have no trained marriage counselors, and telephone counseling is the only way to get help. But even in large metropolitan areas, it is sometimes difficult to find someone trained in a particular method that you trust.

The convenience and privacy of the telephone are also tremendous advantages. Getting to and from a counseling office can sometimes take hours, and you never know who you'll meet in the waiting room! Telephone counseling, on the other hand, is something that does not even require a baby-sitter. Most of my clients are able to entertain their children with a video while they are talking to me.

The idea that a counselor's physical presence is essential to counseling success is simply not true. In fact, I've discovered that I can help people by telephone that I could never have reached in person. They were either too embarrassed to come to an office, or not motivated enough to make the trip. But by telephone they get all the help they need with complete privacy and very little initial effort. And the results are dramatic.

Of course, rebuilding a marriage does takes effort. There are questionnaires to complete to discover the weaknesses in marriage. And couples must discipline themselves to learn habits that meet each other's emotional needs and overcome habits that hurt each other. Couples have to stick to the program until it's completed. But the counseling itself requires very little effort when done by telephone.

If your marriage needs help, try our telephone counseling service. If you've been to other counselors, you will be very pleased with the effectiveness and convenience. You will also appreciate the warm and friendly way you are treated. We're here to help you rebuild your marriage.


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