In this blog post, we are going to discuss what online counselling is, how therapists counsel via chat, and what are the possible advantages and disadvantages of free online counselling chat 24/7. In the end, I have also listed a few popular websites which provide online counselling services.
What is Online Counselling?
Online counselling has multiple terms such as ‘e-therapy’, ‘cybertherapy’, and ‘web counselling’. It involves a therapist providing mental health services via the internet. There are many ways to deliver these services, a therapist can provide counselling and support through email, text messaging, video call, online chat, or internet phone call.
This form of therapy can take place in real-time or in delayed time format, such as live chat and emails respectively. Online Counselling became an emerging modality of counselling, after the establishment of the International Society for Mental Health Online (ISMHO), an organisation that encourages the use and development of online technologies amongst mental health professionals.
How does online counselling work?
Online Counselling is a practice of professional counselling that takes place when the client and counsellor are in separate or remote locations and make use of computer-mediated communication to communicate with each other.
Mental Health Professionals use certain tools for communicating during online therapy, which includes: emails, text messaging, real-time chat, mobile device apps, etc.
These services can be easily accessed through desktop computers, laptops, or mobile phones.
The significant growth of mobile phones and internet usage has made online counselling easier. People can connect with therapists via websites, mobile apps, etc.
Online Counselling through chat has become very popular recently, especially during the lockdown
The majority of the therapists had to move to an online form of therapy due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation.
How effective is Online Counselling?
A study that reviewed the motives and experiences of the young crowd who is more likely to use the Internet for counselling assistance showed that there are various positive aspects of online counselling:
- Adolescents felt safer and less emotionally exposed when engaging in online counselling via chat.
- They felt as if they were not that exposed interpersonally when it came to their details.
- Some participants reported feeling more protected and less criticised.
Few general benefits of online therapy include:
- Easy accessibility: Clients can connect with therapists from any part of the world.
- It is a very good option for remote areas, and people with physical limitations.
- The treatment is more convenient.
- Affordable subscriptions and packages are available.
Free Online Counselling chat 24/7
Various websites, organisations, and mobile apps have emerged to facilitate this need. You will come across many websites that provide free online counselling via chat. Some of them are available 24/7.
Therapists usually volunteer to provide free therapy, or in some cases, the website/organisation creates fundraisers to help their projects and pay therapists. This is a widely emerging concept and people are starting to provide such services for free to make therapy more accessible and spread awareness about mental health.
You will also come across some websites that give you free trials for the first few sessions and then charge you for the remaining ones. Majorly, two kinds of services are provided on these platforms: Listening and Counselling.
- Listening: It involves volunteers who become certified listeners and provide emotional support via chat through one on one texting or support groups. They are available 24/7 and help with daily life struggles which involve depression, anxiety, anger-management, maintaining work-life balance, etc.
- Counselling: Generally, you have to pick a subscription and book an appointment with an online therapist on one of the online counselling platforms. The therapist will provide therapy via a chat session, video call, or telephone call. The subscriptions may vary on different platforms.
Disadvantages of Free online counselling chat 24/7
- Confidentiality – It is the responsibility of every mental health practitioner to protect and maintain the confidentiality of their clients. But due to the written nature of the internet, it is a possible risk that a security breach might occur to client records and case-related information.
- Absence of verbal and non-verbal cues – Counselling involves a process where the therapist identifies verbal and non-verbal cues. This particular model of communication does not allow the therapist to observe the client’s facial expressions, body language, eye contact, etc.
This may hinder the part where the therapist needs to gain an insight into the client’s thoughts and feelings through observing and interpreting cues.
- Therapist credibility – the client receiving online counselling may not always receive assurance about the Counsellor’s credibility as there is no way to verify it personally.
- Ethical considerations – Since online counselling services are emerging, we also need to consider certain ethical codes. For instance, if the counsellor does not have enough identity proof or details about the client, then it becomes difficult for the therapist to call for help in case of an emergency, such as s**cidal or h**icidal behaviour.
Some worldwide recognised platforms that provide free online counselling chat 24/7
Many websites provide free online counselling chat 24/7, out of which we will be listing some. However, you must pick one depending on your needs and expectations. You can always explore and come up with a decision.
7 Cups is a very popular emotional support and online therapy provider. No matter what you’re going through, 7 Cups is a place that assures that you will be heard and cared for.
They provide online therapy and counselling for those aged 18+ for $150 per month. Although, chatting online with caring listeners anonymously is completely free of cost.
For teens, you can find certified listeners on their page as well as teen support groups.
They also provide you with chat rooms and forums where you connect with people for support regarding various issues like depression, anxiety, LGBTQIA+, etc.
As stated in their statistics, 7 Cups had:
- 1,323,893,312 messages sent
- 53,978,449 people reached
- 429,571 listeners
TalkSpace is accessible 24/7 and you can reach out to them whenever you need help. They provide therapy at affordable rates and you can switch between therapists with no extra cost.
It is online as well as a mobile app where you can start by creating an account.
Then they guide you with the whole process, which normally involves answering a brief assessment of your preferences, picking a therapist from a list of recommendations, and selecting a subscription.
The various subscriptions that they provide are:
- Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus: $65 per week (Charged as $260 monthly)
- Unlimited Messaging Therapy Premium: $79 per week (Charged as $316 monthly)
- Live Talk Therapy Ultimate: $99 per week (Charged as $396 monthly)
- Couples Therapy: $99 per week (Charged as $396 monthly) or $86 per week (Charged $1068 every 3 months)
TalkSpace online therapy is way more affordable than face-to-face offline therapy. They have a wide range of therapists who have specialised in fields like anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and more.
They also work with various employers, health plans, employee assistance programs (EAPs), and educational organisations to make their services accessible and affordable.
They have published more than ten efficacy studies in peer-reviewed journals, have more than 15 premier research partners, and have 5 leading health insurers with in-network agreements.
BetterHelp can be accessed worldwide. Its mission is to make professional counselling accessible, affordable, and convenient. Anyone struggling with life challenges can get help anywhere, anytime.
They provide you with access to mental health professionals who are licensed, trained, and experienced therapists. They have accredited psychologists (PhD / PsyD), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW / LMSW), and board licensed professional counsellors (LPC).
You can find various counselling plans ranging from $40 to $50 per week and are billed monthly. They don’t have any free online counselling chat rooms available on their page.
They have partnered up with various organisations like the International Society for Mental Health Online (ISMHO), Mental Health America (MHA), Telemental Health Institute, etc.
In this brief guide, we have learned what free online counselling chat 24/7 is, discussed how online counselling works, how it works, and how effective it is. We’ve also highlighted some disadvantages of online counselling.
What one needs to always remember is that online counselling is not meant to replace the effectiveness of face-to-face counselling and that we must always pick a counselling model based on our needs.
Towards the end, I have listed three popular websites that provide online counselling services. You can always explore your options as there are many available.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Free Online Counselling Chat 24/7
What can I do if I can’t afford therapy?
You can start by checking your insurance plans, and see what options are available. Try a community mental health centre or attend support groups. Various websites provide online counselling at affordable rates, some even provide free online counselling, you can always check them out.
Can I talk to a counsellor online for free?
Yes, you can talk to a counsellor online for free. This article has covered up certain details about free online counselling chat 24/7. You will find various websites and mobile apps that provide such services.
How can I get free therapy sessions?
Community centres, hospitals, counselling websites, and many more places sometimes offer free therapy sessions. You can check for these services based on your needs, and find the nearest/most accessible option. You can also check for discount offers that various online counselling websites provide.
Is online counselling safe?
Ethical and security considerations come into play when we opt for online counselling. It is natural to be worried about security issues because of the written nature of the internet, but other than that online counselling is safe and you need not worry about anything else.
Can I chat with a therapist online?
Yes, you can chat with a therapist online. You will find various programs, online counselling websites, and mobile apps that provide such services. Some websites match you with a therapist based on your counselling needs and expectations.
Agboola, J. (2021, March 5). Free online counselling chat 24/7. OptimistMinds. https://optimistminds.com/free-online-counselling-chat-24-7/
Chester, A., & Glass, C. A. (2006). Online counselling: A descriptive analysis of therapy services on the Internet. British Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 34(2), 145-160.
King, R., Bambling, M., Lloyd, C., Gomurra, R., Smith, S., Reid, W., & Wegner, K. (2006). Online counselling: The motives and experiences of young people who choose the Internet instead of face to face or telephone counselling. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 6(3), 169-174.
Mallen, M. J., Vogel, D. L., & Rochlen, A. B. (2005). The practical aspects of online counseling: Ethics, training, technology, and competency. The counseling psychologist, 33(6), 776-818.
What is online therapy? (n.d.). Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-online-therapy-2795752