How You Can Safely Talk Online To Strangers

Medically reviewed by Majesty Purvis
Updated January 31, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

People generally need social connection in their lives, and when they’re feeling lonely or want someone to turn to about a difficult issue, they may seek out an online chat avenue to expand their social circle and make friends. When it comes to getting support for your mental health, when you discuss topics with people through an online chat, they may not be qualified to support you. The internet can be a great place to vent, meet new people, and speak your thoughts and feelings. However, seeking support for your mental health from people who aren't medical professionals may prevent you from getting the treatment you need.

When it comes to discussing your mental health with a stranger online, you may want to look for a licensed therapist. A review of the literature about online therapy showed that out of 16 studies with clients seeking treatment for various challenges, including addiction, anxiety, depression, and PTSD, 14 studies indicated strong working alliances between adult clients and therapists. This metric predicts successful therapeutic outcomes.

Discussing your mental health with a supportive online therapist may help you manage any mental health challenges you experience.

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Telling Your Mental Health Journey With Others Can Help You Heal

Online websites for talking about mental health

The online world offers a wide array of options for mental health support, including chat rooms and messaging platforms where people can connect with peers and listeners through a non-judgmental, open community.  You can perform an internet search for the most popular cha site or look for another popular chat site that specializes in a certain kind of chatting related to your interests. For example, you can find a chat room that allows you to connect with a female stranger, specifically. You can look for a good website or social app that gives strangers safe ways to chat online. You’re not alone, and some people could be going through similar real-life problems as you. 

Plenty of free chat websites have public chat rooms where you can chat online with complete strangers. Online free chat rooms can be a starting point to chat with strangers with people who may even become new friends. When you meet strangers online, you can start chatting right away and freely talk within the rules of the chat room. You can look up conversation starters and ask strangers related questions, and you can stop talking whenever you wish. 

Some chat rooms may involve typing while others use video calls to connect you with strangers. Some websites also offer exclusive one-on-one chat rooms where you can speak with a dedicated listener. Different chat rooms will have different rules and structures. 

Stranger chat rooms and free chat sites allow you to have a text chat with others from around the world completely free of charge. Many of these online chatting platforms also offer video or voice chat options, enabling you to connect with others on a more personal level.

The risks of talking to strangers through a chat

Many free chat rooms offer options for chatting with a range of different demographics, including male or female strangers, online. Free online chat rooms can offer the opportunity to meet strangers and chat with them without being face-to-face. To make the most of your online chatting experience, search for a reputable and safe chatting website that focuses on connecting random people online with similar interests and values. These new people may quickly become new friends, but there can also be risks when you talk to strangers in a chat room.

It's important to be mindful of chat rules and etiquette when using these platforms to ensure a positive experience for everyone involved. These rules typically include maintaining a respectful tone, avoiding offensive language or behavior, and not giving sensitive information about yourself or others. Before talking to an online stranger, children under 18 should get permission from their parents or guardians. Adhering to these guidelines helps create a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone. 

Online chat rooms are a potential way to find friends and have engaging conversations. You can also talk to your friends online in these chat rooms. Still, meeting strangers in certain situations or turning to random strangers for advice is not always a good idea. If you decide to try out a chat website for mental health support, make sure it’s dedicated to mental health support, not just a random chat site. You may want to avoid random chat rooms, especially if you see strangers talk in judgmental or unfriendly ways. Random chat rooms are generally less likely to be helpful than chat rooms specifically dedicated to certain topics.

Talking to virtual therapists compared to strangers

You may feel more comfortable expressing your thoughts and emotions. However, keep in mind that the support received from strangers might not be professional or adequate for mental health concerns. Online chat with strangers should never take the place of therapy or guidance offered by a licensed professional.

Talking about your mental health challenges online with unknown people may expose you to unqualified or unprofessional advice, which may compromise your path to mental well-being. That's why seeking help from a professional mental health expert may be the most effective in improving mental health symptoms.

Some mental health challenges, like anxiety or depression, may be improved by targeted treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). However, only licensed mental health professionals are qualified to perform assessment tests to make a mental health diagnosis and provide CBT if needed. Additionally, a medical provider may be able to recommend or prescribe medications to help treat mental health conditions. Even if a random stranger online claims to be qualified to discuss your mental health concerns with you, you may need to acquire proof, as a complete stranger in an chat room may be likely to lie. 

Suppose you prefer to discuss your mental health online rather than in person. In that case, several websites are specifically designed to allow individuals to speak with qualified mental health counselors or trained volunteer listeners. This type of online chat with strangers can be a helpful form of support.

These platforms can enable you to discuss treatment plans, trauma, relationships, life questions, or other concerns from the comfort of your home. Sites like these can connect you with qualified professionals who will put your needs first and keep your mental health information safe. This is usually a more effective option than choosing to talk with strangers in a free chat room.

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How Does Online Therapy Work?

From choosing a therapist to getting help during a session, there are a few aspects you may need to know about getting support for your mental health with an online therapist.

Choosing A Therapist

When choosing a therapist, you may first want to verify their credibility. A licensed therapist will likely display their certifications on their web page. They may also indicate professional areas of interest, like addiction or multicultural counseling.

You may also want to start by finding a reputable counseling platform where therapists are certified and experienced. Platforms like these often offer a list of therapists you can reach out to. The process may work like this:

  1. You sign up for the platform.
  2. After signing up, you are given a list or matched with a counselor that fits your needs.
  3. You can review each counselor's profile to learn about their qualifications, specialties, and interests.
  4. If you need to, you can request a new counselor if the one you have doesn't work out.

Professionals may have different skills, backgrounds, state certifications, and overall beliefs about their practice and office. Once you've found a counselor you think you’ll feel comfortable with, you can begin scheduling therapy sessions.

What To Expect In A Virtual Therapy Session

When you meet with a qualified therapist, you may talk about symptoms, thoughts, ideas, and other diagnoses you have. To make the most out of your session, you may want to think about what you want to talk about before the session begins.

During the first session, your counselor may ask why you decided to start therapy and what you hope to gain from it. In subsequent sessions, you may delve deeper into your thought patterns, experiences, and potential traumas.

Your counselor might give you homework or worksheets to try between sessions. These exercises may be things to read or activities to try. Write down your experiences between sessions so you can easily tell them to your therapist later. If you have questions or concerns that arise between sessions, you may be able to bring them up with your therapist via emails or text messages between sessions, depending on which therapy platform you use. In many cases, your therapist will respond to your message within a day or two.

If you're nervous about expressing your feelings with a counselor, it may help to create a comfortable environment for your first session. Because your therapy is online, you can attend your session from your bedroom, in front of your fireplace, in your home office, or outdoors. Studies show that many individuals report feeling most comfortable and safe at home which can help them feel more comfortable as they chat with their therapists.

Wherever you choose to attend your session, ensure you have a good internet connection. You might also choose to bring snacks, tea, or tissues.

Expressing Emotions In Sessions

It may feel challenging to express your emotions in a therapy session, but when you are ready, you can reach out. No matter what feelings you reveal, your counselor is there to offer a non-judgemental ear to listen. The counseling session is a safe place to discuss your mood, medication history (such as antidepressants), symptoms, treatments, and daily activities.

Online strangers may take advantage of you when you feel vulnerable or leave the chatroom when you need their support the most. A licensed therapist is trained to support you through the emotional ups and downs of a therapy session.

Counseling Can Create A Safe Emotional Space

In an individual counseling session, it can be normal to discuss yourself. The session is usually dedicated to you and no one else. While friends, family, or strangers in an online chat room may grow impatient listening to your mental health challenges, your counselor is open to hearing these feelings.

An individual therapy session is focused on your needs, and you may spend each session discussing anything on your mind. If you're attending couples therapy online, you can discuss issues you may be facing in your relationship with your partner. Some therapists also offer family therapy to iron out problems and solutions with family.

Your Relationship With Your Counselor

Building strong, healthy relationships with strangers online can be challenging because you may not be sure they are who they say they are. Your relationship with your therapist might be different. A therapeutic relationship is a professional and healing connection that can allow you to grow over time.

You may feel your therapist is your teacher, mentor, or confidant. While your counselor should continue to maintain professional distance, you might become comfortable enough with them to tell what you need to heal and grow as a person.

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Telling Your Mental Health Journey With Others Can Help You Heal

Does Therapy Work?

Research confirms that online therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy, particularly in treating anxiety, depression, and stress. Engaging in treatment from the comfort of your home may help you feel more comfortable opening up to someone new for the first time.

Virtual Therapy Platforms

The internet has often made it easier to find help for those seeking to improve their mental health. However, self-help information online, such as articles, may not be backed by research, and not everyone giving mental health advice online is licensed to help others.

If you're considering online therapy or other mental health services, online therapy platforms like BetterHelp have numerous licensed counselors and therapists who can help you reach your goals. The counselors and therapists create a nonjudgmental space for clients to express a full range of emotions and thoughts.

You can meet with a therapist online via video chat or online chat services at a time convenient for you. Read below for counselor reviews from users with similar concerns.

Counselor Reviews

"This is my first time in therapy, so I wasn't quite sure what I was going to get out of it or really what I needed. I went into this experience looking for an attentive ear to help me process my life. Coming out of quarantine, I was left really mentally and emotionally shaken and defeated. At the time, I didn't realize I could feel so supported through a computer screen. I have been so happy to have made the leap to doing online therapy. Maggie is nothing but attentive, patient, and helpful every session. I feel listened to, respected, and invested in no matter the topic of discussion. I respect her perspective and so appreciate what she's already done to help me. Thank you so much Maggie!"

"Judy is truly amazing. She listens and offers great advice and is very calming. I'm grateful to have found her and not given up on trying online counseling."

Takeaway

Reaching out for support online can be a double-edged sword. While there are numerous resources available to connect with others and receive guidance, some resources can be unsafe or unproductive, particularly when seeking advice from unqualified strangers. To ensure your well-being and obtain effective assistance, it's important to consider professional online therapy options and telehealth therapists who have the appropriate qualifications and experience.

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