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Telephone therapy brings more Veterans into treatment

A brief therapeutic technique called motivational interviewing, administered over the telephone, was more effective than simple check-in calls in getting Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans with mental health diagnoses to begin treatment for their conditions, according to a pilot study at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco. Participants receiving telephone motivational interviewing also were significantly more likely to stay in therapy, and reported reductions in marijuana use and a decreased sense of stigma associated with mental health treatment. Lead author Karen Seal, MD, MPH, director of the Integrated Care Clinic at SFVAMC and an associate professor in residence of medicine and psychiatry at UCSF, says motivational interviewing is a proven, relatively low-cost method in which counselors encourage clients to explore and talk about discrepancies between their core values and their actual behaviors. "Articulating to the counselor how they want to change can motivate them to make actual behavioral changes, such as engaging in treatment," says Seal. (General Hospital Psychiatry, May 25, 2012)

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