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The organisational culture of Telephone Counselling

Updated on April 17, 2013

Continued professional development

Continued professional development depends on the organisation in which the telephone counsellor is employed. There are organisations which promote this development; however, therapists can discuss these needs with their supervisor.

Suggested ways to continue professional development are attending a short course regarding specific aspects of the therapist’s telephone work, and reading relevant articles and books to keep current with any developments.

Payne et al (2006) propose that the practise of telephone counselling is accredited by the BACP, and that by gaining this accreditation the therapists show themselves to have the appropriate skills and knowledge to do their job.


Costs

It is impossible to determine the cost-effectiveness of telephone counselling services, but large voluntary organisations do benefit from significant economic savings (Masi and Freeman 2001). Limited funding in telephone counselling has an impact on the amount of sessions a client may undertake, and this may be considered one of the reasons most services offer short-term counselling.

There are organisations which get their funding through charities or local authorities, whereas others are church-based (Davies 1982). Totally independent organisations only charge for the telephone call, usually at a standard rate. Moreover, the staff members are usually volunteers and do not get paid for their services. Supervisors get paid by the organisation or by the counselor, but the number of supervisors is relatively small compared to the number of volunteers within an organisation. According to Aldbridge and Rigby (2004), during supervision the therapist can talk about any issue they are facing with their supervisor, such as any ethical dilemmas concerning their clients or their practise.

Payment, when working privately, may vary as each counsellor charges different rates. Telephone counselling has been found to cost less than half of face-to-face counselling (Mermelstein and Holland 1991), but smoking-cessation services may cost more (Curry et al1995).

The organisational culture of telephone counselling

The organisational culture usually found within telephone counselling services is the people culture. According to Handy (1999), the individual is the central point within this culture. Telephone counselors within organisations that use the people culture are the ones whose existence is based only on serving or assisting other individuals.

People employed in these services usually offer their services voluntarily, though some do offer their services for a fee. There are also larger, global organisations in this style. These organisations are more likely to develop a role culture due to the many departments and divisions working independently toward the success of the organisation’s services (Handy 1999).

Telephone counselling organisations that follow the role culture may cause issues for some employees, especially because their performance comes secondary whereas their role within the organisation comes first. This could cause frustration to counselors who are interested in more successful results, as radical changes could have a negative effect on the organisation’s services.

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