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My Therapy Couch rather charmingly calls itself a " social counseling site." So ...it's like Facebook had a baby with a virtual shrink's office! Like Talktala, MTC features free forums where users can vent about their issues, but if you want real therapeutic guidance (aka "Direct Counseling") from a professional, you'll need to cough up some cash.
Before jumping in, I must confront a slightly scary disclaimer: "Venting to a stranger can be incredibly dangerous if you are at a very mentally sensitive state.I also write, "I just moved 3,000 miles across the country, back to my hometown, in the dead of winter on the East Coast. I've had depression since I was 16 (I'm in my late 30s now) and seem to forget that it doesn't just magically go away [following a relocation]."THE RESOLUTION (OR LACK THEREOF)An hour goes by. So I jump onto another board (one that an actual therapist is supposed to frequent!) and try posting in the "Relationships & Family" section instead.Still, as our back-and-forth winds down, I feel totally underwhelmed. Hokemeyer suggested, my Talktala experience feels like Self-Reflection Lite—it's not in-depth enough to provide any real insight.Not for me, anyway—a therapy newbie might find Regina's advice illuminating.Frankly, all those aforementioned deep-seated issues are still very much alive and kicking, therapy be damned.
So when I heard about free "Internet therapy" websites, I was curious.
THE THERAPY SITE: is the slickest of the three sites I tried.
It has the most appealing design, and it helpfully provides sympathetic-looking photos of its roster of online therapists waiting, with bated breath, to help me. For "everyone [to] have real-time, simple, and affordable access to professional advice whenever and wherever we need it."Talktala offers paid online support from legit online therapists—it costs $9 for an "initial help" session; $29 for a one-on-one "chat for a week" service in which you get to, yes, e-chat with a therapist one-on-one for a week; and $29 for a 30-minute one-on-one video session with a therapist of your choosing.
Could spilling my guts to faceless strangers on an online message board or chat room possibly compare to "real" therapy? Paul Hokemeyer, a NYC-based addictions and family therapist, is dubious.
"Therapy that changes people's lives is a nuanced process," he says.
They felt more like social outlets than mental health resources. Hokemeyer expresses major concern about sites like Blah Therapy, where "non-trained professionals [are] giving advice to other individuals.""There is just too much room for harm," he notes.