What Are The Benefits Of Phone Therapy?

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated March 15, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Content Warning: Please be advised that this article mentions suicidal thoughts, trauma, substance use, and other potentially triggering subjects. Read with discretion. 

As technology advances, many products and services, including healthcare, may become easier. This accessibility extends to the mental healthcare space, where therapy over the phone has become a widely used form of treatment. Phone therapy allows clients to circumvent barriers to treatment often present with in-person therapy, including geographical limitations, time constraints, and cost-related concerns. 

Phone-based therapy allows participants to connect with a therapist through convenient channels, with entry from anywhere in the world. Using the unique features of online and phone therapy, clients can benefit from mental health treatment from home.  

Online Therapy Is A Research-Backed Form Of Mental Healthcare

What Is Phone Therapy?

Phone therapy is a modality that allows individuals to work with mental health professionals through internet-enabled devices, such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets, often through a mobile-based therapy platform.

Using this technology, individuals can talk to therapists from almost any location, overcoming geographical obstacles to treatment. 

Due to the increasing use of phone therapy platforms, an extensive body of research has accumulated on its efficacy. The research shows that online therapists can effectively treat various mental health concerns. Evidence suggests that phone therapy services can be more effective than traditional face-to-face therapy when managing symptoms of mental illnesses.  

The online format of this type of therapy may also be more comfortable for specific individuals. For example, those with anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), may experience challenges in public or through talking to strangers in a new environment. In addition, those living with depression may struggle to leave home on days when they are experiencing symptoms.

In a phone therapy session, therapists can call clients and talk to them over the phone like a regular phone call. The call may be connected to an internet-based platform for safety. During the call, the client cannot see their therapist or be seen by them, but both individuals can hear each other and partake in therapy.  

Who Might Benefit From Phone Therapy?

Almost anyone considering therapy can utilize an online platform to receive care. Often, all that is necessary to receive support is a phone or an internet-enabled device with calling capabilities. The client may also need a phone plan or VoIP app that allows them to receive calls. 

A common misconception is that online mental health services only apply to individual counseling formats. People may imagine a client having a video call with their licensed therapist. However, online therapy can come in several forms, including couples counseling and family therapy. Some platforms may also provide group therapy services.

People experiencing a mental illness can find support through phone-based therapy. A few mental health conditions that phone therapy might address include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Depression

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Insomnia

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD

In addition, phone therapists can support clients with life challenges, such as struggles regarding self-esteem and other mental health-related concerns. You do not have to have a diagnosis to attend therapy. However, if you have a diagnosis, you can still receive support from a therapist through phone counseling on a platform. 

If you're seeking a diagnosis or medication, seek a doctor or psychiatrist for support first. Some non-public practice therapists that offer phone counseling as part of their practice may offer diagnoses to clients, but be sure to ask in your initial consultation. In addition, contact a doctor before changing, stopping, or starting any medication for mental health or medical purposes. 

The Benefits Of Therapy Over The Phone

Phone therapy can bridge the treatment gap that often exists due to barriers to care. The following are several of the benefits that online therapy can provide.


Regardless of the nature of their challenges, many potential clients struggle to afford traditional face-to-face talk therapy. In a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) survey, 41% of respondents reported avoiding seeking care because of the cost. With many health insurance policies not covering or partially covering mental health treatment, therapy can be out of reach for some. 

Online therapists often have fewer expenses than in-person therapists, who often pay for office rentals, payroll, utilities, office supplies, and transportation. Without these forms of overhead, online therapists can pass their savings on to clients.

Though phone therapy is often not covered by insurance, this factor can depend on the platform, your insurance company, and the particular insurance plan you have. Some insurance companies may reimburse mental health care costs or have similar arrangements that can make treatment more affordable.  

Convenience And Ease Of Use

As many in-person counseling practices keep standard business hours, work and family obligations can make it challenging for many people to pursue traditional modes of therapy. With phone therapy, you may have more flexibility when choosing times to chat with a professional. You may also be able to reach out to an online therapist outside of sessions. 

The convenience of phone therapy can be helpful if you'd like to clarify a point made during therapy or have a question you forgot to bring up. Through your phone or another device, you can send a message to your therapist anytime and receive a response whenever they are available instead of having to wait until your next session. 

The Option To Change Therapists 

Many platforms make switching providers straightforward if you and your current therapist are not a match. After you begin treatment, you may decide that your therapist's treatment options are unsuitable for your specific areas of concern. This occurrence can be normal and not necessarily an indication of failure or an inability to receive care in the future. 

Access To Previous Conversations 

Some phone therapy services may allow you previous in-app messaging conversations you've had with your therapist. Using this feature, you can reference certain points they have made or reinforce specific concepts. It can act as a record of treatment, which might not be readily accessible with a traditional therapist. 


Online therapy can be helpful to those living in rural areas with fewer mental health providers. It can also benefit caregivers and parents without a babysitter or professionals who cannot afford to miss work. Finally, it is often an option for those who struggle to or cannot leave home for any reason. 

Who Should Not Use Phone Therapy?

In some circumstances, phone therapy may not offer an appropriate form of care. Those experiencing suicidal thoughts or a mental health crisis should instead contact a crisis line. Additionally, phone therapy is not recommended as a treatment method for some severe mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia. 

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text 988 to talk to someone over SMS. They are available 24/7 to offer support. 

An online therapist may not be able to control the individual's environment like an in-person counselor nor provide the reassurance of a physical presence when particularly sensitive or traumatic issues are being discussed. It could also be difficult for some clients to connect emotionally with their therapist over the phone.  

Phone therapy may not be effective or preferable to every person. Deciding whether to pursue phone-based therapy can depend on your preferences. If you aren't comfortable connecting with a therapist virtually, phone therapy may not suit you. 

If you want to talk to someone about your thoughts and feelings, have concerns about your mental or emotional health, or seek advice, telephone counseling can offer practical support. In addition, you may have the option of video chatting or live messaging with your therapist if you don't like the phone option.

Online Therapy Is A Research-Backed Form Of Mental Healthcare

Phone Therapy Options 

Research shows that online therapy platforms, including phone apps and other online resources, are useful counseling tools. A broad-based online therapy study found that phone-based therapy is an effective alternative to traditional face-to-face therapy. One of several tools counselors and clients can utilize with online therapy is messaging via phone.

With phone therapy, you can chat with a mental health professional from home through live video, voice calling, or in-app messaging. Because online therapists often don't pay for expensive office space, sessions are affordable through platforms like BetterHelp, which offers phone counseling plans starting at $60 per week (billed every four weeks). 


An increasing amount of evidence suggests that phone therapy can be an effective way of improving mental well-being. Online therapy provides new avenues for mental health treatment, allowing participants to receive care from almost anywhere and providing increased flexibility to therapists. If you're interested in online therapy, consider getting matched with a licensed mental health professional. 

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