Research Shows Telephone Coaching Works Better
Numerous studies show that getting help over the telephone works, and in some cases, it works as well or better than meeting in an office.
Does telephone coaching work? Most people want to meet with their coach or counselor face-to-face.There’s something comforting about sitting in the office across from the person who’s helping you. But, according to research, telephone coaching works as well or better than meeting in person. If you feel resistant to working with a coach by Skype or telephone, here’s some surprising news to consider.
A study published just this month followed 325 people suffering from depression. Those who received help over the phone were far less likely to quit treatment than those who saw a counselor in person. According to study director Joyce Ho of Northeastern University, “Telephone therapy was able to reduce dropout. Four out of five who got therapy over the phone could complete 18 weeks of treatment, while only two out of three assigned to face-to-face therapy could complete treatment.” Even more, those who received phone therapy made progress equal to those who stuck with the in-person treatment for the first three months. After six months, the in-person group had a slight advantage, but it was so negligible as to be statistically insignificant.
Similarly, a 2008 University of Florida study concluded that telephone coaching worked as well as in-person coaching for weight loss clients. The study involved 234 obese women who were followed for a year. Those who received in-person coaching ended up in a dead-heat in terms of weight loss with those who received phone support.
Apparently, many clients find they prefer working by telephone. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Counseling and Development found that 58 percent of all clients who had gone through both telephone and in-person counseling preferred the telephone. Other research has found that long-distance coaching works well for clients who want to quit smoking, and also, that phone counseling clients consistently rate their experience as at least equal to in-person treatment.
Why do clients end up preferring phone coaching? For one thing, there’s the convenience factor: no driving hassle, no parking, and less time spent since there’s no commute involved. Then there’s the fact that coaching by phone offers a bit more anonymity, and that may encourage you to open up more and to feel less compromised after a session. You can talk from the comfort of your own home, in an environment that feels safe and nourishing. Also, some coaches feel they can focus better in a phone session because they aren’t distracted by visual stimuli as they are in person. it’s true that body language can add clues that can enrich sessions, but a well-trained coach can pick up important clues from inflections in your speech—and they might have missed those subtleties if they were busy watching your face. You as a client might also be able to concentrate better without the visual distraction of watching for the coach’s reactions.
Of course, if you do need to see the coach, you can always Skype. There isn’t much research yet on the effectiveness of Skype in coaching, but my own experience with clients tells me it’s extremely powerful—offering the advantages of both in-person and phone sessions.
If you’d like to arrange a phone or Skype session to see how it works for you, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.