Telephone Counseling Therapy: How Distance Therapy Can Change Your Life

Updated April 15, 2024by MyTherapist Editorial Team

The number of US adults who experience a mental illness in a given year is 43.8 million, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness—and even more than that may go through a challenging situation or have complicated emotions that a therapist could help them process. Traditionally, however, seeking therapy was difficult or even impossible for many. Newer formats for mental health treatment—such as telephone counseling therapy or online therapy—are changing that.

You deserve support for whatever you're going through

How telephone counseling therapy is different from traditional methods

Telephone counseling therapy is simply a different medium for receiving mental health care from a licensed professional. It can take place on a phone call or on a video call, depending on your preferences and what options your provider offers. Once the call has begun, however, the process is essentially the same as in an in-person session. Your therapist will ask you about what’s going on in your life and what you may need help working through, and they’ll listen as you talk, providing guidance or encouragement as needed along the way. So even though you’re not physically in the same room as your therapist, research suggests that you can still get the same kind of benefits from the session.

Benefits of telephone counseling therapy

With tens of millions of adults in the US facing mental health challenges, it’s clear that one size couldn’t possibly fit all when it comes to treatment. Telephone and online therapy are two relatively new options that allow even more people to seek the care they may need. Plus, telephone and online therapy are typically more cost-effective for individuals who are looking for free online therapy, since the mental health professional has less overhead to cover and can therefore offer lower prices.


Why you might seek telephone or online therapy

There are lots of different reasons a person may choose to seek therapy. Some people may be experiencing symptoms of a mental illness or could have had one diagnosed before, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or others. Seeking therapy in cases like these can be useful because a therapist can help you manage symptoms through different strategies and techniques. They can also help you identify and shift any unhelpful thought patterns, improve skills for things like handling stress or communicating with others, and more.

However, having or suspecting you may have a mental health condition is not the only reason you might choose to seek therapy.

A therapist can be helpful to virtually anyone in any life situation because their job is to provide a safe, nonjudgmental space in which individuals can openly and honestly express their feelings. They’re trained in active listening, which one study found can make the person speaking feel more understood and more satisfied with the conversation. They can help you work through complex emotions or situations in your life and provide you with the support you may need to take care of yourself and make positive decisions for your future.

Note that while research has found online therapy to be a viable treatment option for certain conditions (like generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and depression, for example), it may not be right for others. For those experiencing more severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder, for instance, seeking in-person treatment instead is typically recommended. 

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You deserve support for whatever you're going through

How to find a therapist who offers telephone sessions

For therapy to be most effective, it’s best to find a provider and a method you feel comfortable with. Since you also have to find someone who fits your budget and your schedule, there may be some research and even some trial and error involved in the process, but finding the right mental health care provider for you is usually worth it. 

To get started, you can try a therapist matching services like  It can provide you with a listing of licensed, experienced therapists that provide telephone or online sessions. With services like these, you’ll fill out a brief questionnaire about your situation and your needs so you can be shown relevant providers. For example, you might be asked if you're seeking therapy for yourself, yourself and your partner, or for your teen or child, what your age is, and what mental health concerns you may have been experiencing lately. You’ll then receive options for providers who you can meet with virtually.

Once you’ve been matched, you’ll be able to start scheduling meetings with a therapist via phone or video. So, how much does therapy cost? The rate is determined by the choice of therapist you consult. For weekly sessions, the typical therapy cost is between $65 and $90—comparable to the co-pays of most insurance plans. For comparison, the average cost for an in-person therapy session in the United States is between $100–$200, making telephone or online therapy a more cost-effective method for many.


Virtually anyone can benefit from connecting with a mental health professional. Thanks to telephone and online counseling options, it’s now easier than ever to find a provider you can speak with. Consider trying out a therapy matching service to connect with a therapist who may be able to help you with any challenges you’re facing.

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