Get Free Online Therapy. Should You Use Free Counseling?

Updated November 19, 2018

Reviewer Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC Counsel The Mind, LLC


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Although online therapy has been around for a while, many people still have no idea what it is or how it works; particularly as it relates to dealing with mental health issues with the help of a licensed therapist. Also, the people who do know what online therapy is tend to think it is not as effective as traditional face-to-face therapy or counseling, thus failing to realize that features like unlimited text chat, video chat, and phone sessions help many people reach their desired goals which scheduling the best suits their needs.

Some think it is just a passing phase and many even believe that it may also be a hoax. However, online therapy is one of the most effective ways to get therapy for many people; and that includes not just people dealing with mental health problems. Especially those who are busy or do not want to take the time to find a therapist they like. This type of therapy is also great for people with depression or anxiety disorders who have trouble committing to counseling.

The History of Online Therapy

Online therapy has been around since 1986 when Dear Uncle Ezra, an online advice column, was started at Cornell University. This online mental health advice service was provided free of charge. Free sounds great, right? However, no matter how great it sounds... you cannot expect to get free counseling in person; despite how vital and impactful it can be to a person's life to have the support of a licensed therapist. After about 40 years of free service, Dear Uncle Ezra was discontinued. In 1993, Depression Central was started, which is an online depression support group that is still around today.

In 1994, the Samaritans, another online volunteer group, started a crisis center. They are still around today and have 68 branches all over the world. Today, there are four basic types of online therapy: E-therapy, mental health advice sites, adjunct services, and telepsychiatry. BetterHelp.com offers online therapy, at an affordable price, and you do not even have to leave your house. You do not even have to get dressed!


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Is Free Online Therapy Really Free?

So, what about free online therapy? How could it really be helpful if it is free? As previously mentioned, many counseling websites were free in the beginning, and some still are. Of course, there are many who are not and some that are more expensive than others. In all honesty, the price of the therapy is not an indicator of how effective it is. In other words, just like anything else, just because something is expensive does not make it any better than something that is free; particularly as it relates to the platforms that are unable to guarantee that a licensed therapist will be available to help... but we don't have that problem with our services here at BetterHelp.com.

There are thousands of websites online that offer free chat rooms for specific issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Of course, these are just rooms with others who share these conditions and want to talk about it; not necessarily professional mental health services that an individual might want or need. They are not actually online therapy service providers where you talk to a licensed therapist. If you are looking for that specifically, consider taking a closer look at our online licensed therapists that provide mental health services accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

Yes, if it's not obvious at this point... BetterHelp.com offers free online counseling as a trial to help you determine whether or not it's a good fit for you. Also, please keep in mind that our more than 3,000 licensed therapists are here and ready to help you live they've done with more than 34 MILLION counseling sessions.

Free Online Chat Rooms vs. Free Online Therapy

So, what are the differences and the pros and cons? With free online chat rooms, you are basically sharing your troubles with anonymous people who have the same (or similar) issues as you... not professional therapists with experience and credentials. These anonymous people can also share their advice, what has helped them, what hasn't helped them, etc. and you can share your advice as well. There is no group leader or other online therapists overseeing the chat rooms. They are a free for all type of settings where anyone can pretty much say and do whatever they want. That is a pro and con right there.

While you have the freedom to say and do whatever you like, so does everyone else and there is usually no censorship, so you never know what is going to happen. However, with free online therapy, you are talking to a professional therapist or counselor who is trained in the issue you want to discuss. So, for example, if you are depressed, you will talk to a therapist or counselor who specializes in depression. They are there for you and only you, but they do not give advice lightly and usually prefer to give guidance rather than solutions. They do give you tips and help guide you to the path that will help you heal the way you need to.


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Does It Work?

According to studies, over half of all the online patients who participated reported less depressive symptoms and 65% reported less anxiety; this is excluding other studies involving other mental health issues. Other studies showed that those with PTSD responded almost 75% better with online therapy than traditional therapy. This is thought to be because they do not have to leave the house to go see the therapist. Being able to sit in the comfort of your own home makes it so much easier to try therapy even if you are not sure that you need it. Also, it is free so how could it not be worth it? Give it a try and see what you think.


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