Online Therapeutic Chat Alternatives
By: Danni Peck
Updated January 20, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Fawley
In this day and age, it's easy to meet someone new—all you need is a computer. Countless websites can help you connect with strangers across the globe. However, there are only a few therapeutic chat websites that allow you to connect with people who can listen and help you work through issues.
While this is only a short list, below are some useful websites you can visit if you're looking for chat therapy. These first three suggestions are professional platforms that use trained volunteers to support users.
(Disclaimer: None of these websites are guaranteed to provide you with therapeutic benefits or give you a positive chat experience. The person you connect to may not be equipped to handle your situation, and there is always a possibility that someone will respond poorly or negatively to your chat. Always take necessary action when this happens—seek out a new chat or look for a new website if the current one isn't working for you.)
- Vibrant Emotional Health
Vibrant is a service that connects you with one of several different hotlines, so that you can chat with a mental health expert when you’re experiencing complex emotional issues. If you or someone you know is dealing with addiction, substance abuse, or psychological distress, Vibrant can put you in touch with a professional who can give you advice, and, if necessary, refer you to a doctor or specialist for further treatment. According to their website, 2.5 million people a year are provided assistance through their services.
iPrevail, connects users to trained peer volunteers for basic support. Unlike other sites, iPrevail allows minors to connect with volunteers as long as they have consent from a parent or guardian. In addition to chat support, iPrevail offers a support community and the option to take a basic health exercise test that provides users with personalized online therapy programs based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
IMAlive is an online chat resource that is part of the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, a nonprofit organization with an emphasis on spreading awareness and providing education about suicide prevention. IMAlive consists of trained and certified volunteers who can handle crisis situations, including suicidal ideation, violence-related trauma, and family issues.
The volunteers on the following platforms are not trained. Practice caution when using these services.
BlahTherapy is a basic chat service that can be best compared to Omegle. Listeners on this platform have no training and act instead as a friend who will let you vent. For people who want to discuss minor issues, this site should be sufficient. For people who may be dealing with heavier issues, another site is recommended, particularly one of the sites mentioned in the previous section. However, BlahTherapy does offer a $25 pay-as-you-go plan for individuals who prefer to speak to a licensed therapist.
Founded in 2017, MellowTalk is a website that was "built on the kindness of strangers." Like BlahTherapy, MellowTalk is a site that allows a listener and talker to connect with each other. This website also features a reward system for talkers and listeners. Talkers can give thanks and other rewards to listeners who help improve the community. They can also give the listeners feedback. MellowTalk is free, but it's not recommended for people who need the assistance of a mental health professional.
Unlike many of the other options on this list, Huddle is a free iOS application that allows you to join groups, share videos about personal experiences, and chat with other users in your groups. (It's worth noting that they have a zero tolerance policy for bullying.) Some of the groups that you can join include:
- LGBTQ groups
- Anxiety groups
- Depression groups
- Eating disorder groups
- Addiction groups
4. The Comfort Spot
The Comfort Spot is a website designed by the creators of the Quiet Place Project, and it connects users going through similar situations. Although it's more of a community than a chat room, people can still chat about mental health topics. If you enjoy this website, you may also enjoy some of the other resources offered by the creators of the Quiet Place Project.
5. HopeNet 360
HopeNet 360 is another online chat website that connects users with spiritual coaches. It also employs crisis counselors to speak to people over the phone. This website is available for everyone over the age of 13 and is filled with caring volunteers. However, the site operators encourage anyone feeling suicidal to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or talk to one of their crisis counselors over the phone. Numbers for both of these resources are listed in the description of the website.
Chatnow is a chat resource that gives people the opportunity to receive advice from Christian volunteers. Their chat services base much of their advice on the Bible, and they advise on a wide range of mental health and substance abuse issues. Still, they state on their website that their volunteers are not equipped to treat mental illness and that visitors should seek help from a professional if they're dealing with something beyond the volunteer's scope.
If you're feeling alone, connecting with others for support via chat can be enormously helpful. However, the list above does not include platforms that strictly offer online therapy with a licensed professional.
There is evidence supporting the utilization of online platforms when helping people confront complex issues related to mental health concerns, including those related to loneliness. For example, in a study published in Behavior Therapy, researchers looked at the effectiveness of online therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in particular, when treating symptoms of loneliness. Treatment was an 8-week online cognitive behavioral therapy program. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a widely accepted form of treatment that helps individuals reframe negative thought patterns that are underlying problematic behaviors and feelings, such as those related to solitude or the need for connection. After treatment, participants reported significantly reduced feelings of loneliness, in addition to a decrease in social anxiety and an increase in overall quality of life. These findings are in line with those of similar studies, which have found online therapy to be an effective method of helping individuals cope with a range of different mental health issues.
If you are looking for more support than a volunteer can provide, online counseling may be a better fit for you. With online counseling through BetterHelp, therapy is discreet and secure. You can access BetterHelp's network of licensed counselors from the comfort and privacy of your own home (or wherever you have an internet connection), via live chat, messaging, voice call, or video conference. You will also have the option of participating in therapy completely anonymously—simply select a “nickname” when you sign up, and you contact information will remain private, if you prefer. A licensed counselor can guide you on the path to improved mental health. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people who have sought help in the past.
"Absolutely brilliant! He helped me out of a pretty dark place and was nothing but helpful! For men who are looking for a counselor who understands what it is like to be a man in today's world with a family, with kids and responsibilities, job, etc, I was extremely impressed with his ability to get down to it and understand what I was talking about. He's great at getting to the root of the issue too. No need to slog through 8,000 words to find out what point he's trying to make. He has a knack for asking exactly the right question in about 2-3 sentences. If you're looking for a counselor who isn't the typical counselor, he's your guy!"
"Dr. Norton has helped me tremendously with my self confidence and self-kindness. She responds in a very timely manner and is always sweet and professional. I've been living under a fog of depression for several years and working with her has lifted that heaviness. While I still have problems, living without that gloom hanging over me has been amazing. I feel more confident about solving whatever problem comes my way. She has equipped me with tools to take care of myself better than before and I will carry these lessons throughout my life. Thank you, Dr. Norton!"
There are plenty of ways to get help online. Whether you want professional help or a casual ear, we encourage you to reach out when you're experiencing difficult emotions. Mental illness is tough to handle by yourself, but it's manageable with the right support. Sometimes all you need is someone to listen and understand. Take the first step today.
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