My experience as a 7 Cups of Tea Listener & Asker
7cups and websites like it offer others "online therapy" where you can chat free with a listener or pay to talk to a real counselor. 7 cups is the only one I have used but there are others like talkspace and iprevail. As a Listener:
When you log in to chat, we are the volunteers that answer the call. You go through a short online training to become a listener, then you are told to not give out advice, only to listen. This mean asking questions and letting the asker come to their own conclusions.
Not giving advice is difficult when someone is asking you "What do I do? I don't know what to do! What would you do?"
I usually tell them about a time in my life when I had a similar situation. Or give them positive reinforcement that they will find the answers as long as they are doing what they believe is right and healthy.
Sometimes my idealism causes them to downright exit the chat. I try to remind askers to stay optimistic but I understand sometimes pessimism is all we can see in the moment.
Being a Listener is rewarding when I read my feedback and know I'm helping someone I don't even know. Lots of good feels! 7 cups also has a mentorship for listeners to improve their skills. I have considered it, since I enjoy listening. As an Asker:
You are given a wait time to speak to someone, while a bot ask you some assessment questions. Depending on a number of factors (number of listeners online, day of the week, etc.) the wait time can be from 1 - 4 min. Currently, at 8PM on a Saturday, the wait to speak to a listener is 2 min 47 sec.
There's an option for group chats, which can help you find listeners that are available right away, and sometimes it's easier to ask one of the listens in the chat to talk one-on-one.
My experiences have been positive. I went in feeling depressed or anxious and came out feeling like I had talked to an anonymous friend. I'm sure not everyone has the same great experience, but the two times I have talked to someone as an asker they were very quick to respond and understanding.
I really like the community on 7cups. Please give it a try and let me know your experience at this or other counseling website.
I hope that helps you. Be well!
My 7Cups Username: @Ajani