Take Your Pills, and I'll Call You in the Morning
Phone Therapy Plus Pills Lifts Depression Better Than Meds Alone, Study Finds
By Jennifer Huget
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, April 3, 2007; HE01
Can psychotherapists just phone it in?
A new study in which patients receiving psychotherapy for depression improved without ever meeting their therapists face to face may encourage some psychologists to consider telecommuting. The research spotlights the changing role of the telephone in psychotherapy, its potential to extend help to reluctant or hard-to-reach patients and its limitations as a therapeutic tool.
In the study of 393 patients diagnosed with depression and placed on antidepressant medications, most (77 percent) of those who also received periodic psychological counseling over the phone found their depression "much" or "very much" improved after 18 months, found Evette Ludman, senior research associate at the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle, and colleagues. Of those who received medication without phone counseling, only 63 percent saw similar gains, according to the study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and published in the April issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.