Virtual Counseling

Many people contact CCS for phone, online, and email sessions. These are excellent treatment options for people who need tune-ups between sessions, travel a lot, or live out of town. For some people, especially the elderly, sick or disabled, treatment would be unavailable if they had to drive to an office. For others, the increased confidentiality is more comfortable.


Reported by Susan Aldridge, PhD, medical journalist

Patients beginning antidepressant treatment can benefit from phone and outreach-based psychotherapy too, according to a study. Ideally, depression is treated by a combination of antidepressant drugs and psychotherapy. But, often, face-to-face psychotherapy is not available or the patient doesn’t show up for it.

A team at Group Health in Seattle USA has been looking at whether patients can benefit from phone therapy – possibly a more convenient way of delivering treatment. They assigned a group to usual care, usual care plus phone therapy (including outreach visits) and usual care with care management and cognitive behavioral therapy delivered by phone.

Those in the phone therapy groups did better than those receiving just usual care. It’s true that phone therapy lacks some of the depth of the person-to-person approach. But clearly it can be of great benefit and is more easily accessible to more people in need of therapy. The team, backed by the National Institute of Mental Health, is now looking at how phone therapy compares to conventional psychotherapy.


by Jan Eickmeier

Less than a third of people with depression get adequate treatment, often because they have trouble adjusting to medications or they have too little time for psychotherapy.

In the August 25, 2004 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers reported on a study in which they evaluated if telephone interventions could improve the treatment for depression.

One intervention consisted of the usual primary care for depression plus care management designed to help patients adjust to using antidepressants. The second intervention included eight cognitive-behavioral therapy sessions in addition to care management and the usual primary care.

After 6 months of treatment, patients assigned to get psychotherapy plus care management had significantly lower depression scores, greater subjective improvements in their depression symptoms, and greater satisfaction with their treatment than people who just got the usual primary care for depression. The effects of care management on subjective improvement and satisfaction were smaller, and there were no significant improvements in depression scores in that group.

Source: Journal of the American Medical Association 25th August 2004