Stranger Chat Vs. Professional Online Counselor

By: Toni Hoy

Updated February 10, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Fawley

Stranger chat has been on a steady increase since social media has become globally popular. The old warnings of "Don't talk to strangers" that many parents taught their children in the '80s and '90s have become all but outdated. Talking to strangers can be commonplace now, whether it's on a public Facebook page, via Instagram message, or to an online "live" friend on Omegle or Snapchat.

With the ability to reach out to people all over the world at the same time it's become even easier to make new friends and to stay in touch with old friends who may have moved away. This has been a great experience for a lot of people who otherwise would have lost touch. But it's also a way that people have started to meet and talk to strangers and that can be a good thing or a dangerous one.


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Stranger Chat Statistics

Popular apps and non-filtered websites can make chatting up a stranger instantaneous. According to one conservative estimate, Omegle sees 30,000 users logging in per second. Facebook boasts 1.15 billion daily active users many of whom are chatting with fellow page surfers or friends of friends. Some of this is great and encourages children and adults alike to make new friends and to get to know new people. On the other hand, it can also become a problem.

It is important for parents to monitor their children's internet usage and prevent them from making any "real life" acquaintances while they're underage and to be aware of who they are talking to online. Adults also need to be safe and careful about the contacts they make. New friendships can be great, but sharing too much information with a stranger could lead to assault, identity theft and a whole lot more. Even well-meaning people could end up causing more harm than good when providing advice.

When one is feeling suicidal, depressed or can't handle their emotions, asking advice from an internet stranger is a big risk. Many people take on a false persona on the internet and have no problem saying things with content they would never say in real life. This may mean they say cruel, rude or dangerous things because they think the anonymity of the internet will protect them or it could mean they give advice thinking they know what they're talking about when they might not. The last thing an emotionally troubled person needs is to be bullied by an anonymous user; which is why we covered anonymous chatroom pros and cons here.


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Even if the stranger chat website or forum has some nice people on it, there's no guarantee they are giving you sound advice, read more here https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/chat/theres-no-harm-in-an-online-chat-with-strangers-or-is-there/. They are not medically supervised nor qualified by their state to give any advice related to mental health care. Unfortunately, we can all get caught up in giving or taking medical advice. We tell our friends and family what to do when they are sick. We listen to what they tell us to do when we are sick and even though none of us really knows, we expect that the help is going to work.

Unfortunately, online this extends to far more than giving advice about how to get over a cold. Instead, people are giving and taking advice about depression, suicide, relationship troubles and a whole lot more. Well-meaning strangers are giving less than ideal advice and less well-meaning strangers are giving downright dangerous advice or even bullying the individual. What this results in is a whole lot more harm than good.

If you have serious concerns about your mental health, substance abuse, relationships, or other problems, seeking online counseling is a better option. Not just anecdotally, as in "This is a qualified person!" but even statistically, online counseling has been proven to help. According to a study by the Lancet, real-time chat therapy is effective in treating depression on a clinical level. Online cognitive behavioral therapy proved just as effective as traditional therapy.

What's important, however, is making sure that you're speaking with an actual doctor. Going to an online forum and asking for help with making dinner or sewing a pattern is great, but going to a forum for help with a mental health issue is definitely not a good idea. You want to talk with someone who really knows what they're doing and knows what they're talking about. That means someone who has gone through the training to know what mental health disorders really are and how to treat them.

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Important questions to think about when turning to someone on the Internet for help are:

  • Are they qualified to give advice about my issue?

That means, do they have licensing and certifications and do they have the background and experience necessary to truly understand what you're experiencing and what can help?

  • Have they been trained and licensed by their state to address mental health concerns?

That means they need accurate and verifiable records of their licensing and the added training that they've completed and they should be able to provide them to you on demand. Better yet, they should be posted somewhere that you can see them without having to make a request.

  • Do they have good reviews and a positive reputation online?

Have they worked with others who have similar situations to you before and have they gotten positive feedback? Don't just ask them if they have positive feedback, look for feedback that's been posted about them, especially on sites that they don't control. That's where you'll find the best information.


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If you're looking for professional help online you want to start by searching for online therapists. Don't look for just any website or any person to help you make important changes in your life. Instead, look for someone who can prove that they know what they're talking about and who you can also feel comfortable interacting with. Communicating with a professional online is not a bad thing. You just need to make sure you're actually communicating with the right person.

BetterHelp.com is a professional, online counseling resource available to people every day. There are online counselors as well as chat-formats available to get you connected to people who can truly give you the guidance, support, and skills that you are seeking. Don't take advice from someone who doesn't really know what they're talking about and definitely don't let some stranger try to convince you that there's something wrong with you. No matter what's happening in your life you are an important part of this world and you deserve to be happy. Finding the right person to talk to about what you're going through will help you to see that and experience it for yourself. It may take a little effort to find the right therapist, but you're going to find someone who makes your life a whole lot better.


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