It may come as a surprise, but 7 Cups of Tea is probably the largest e-counseling platform by far in terms of actual numbers. They claim to have helped over 25 million people since launching in 2013. So how did they become so large? How is their relatively bare bones service able to compete with today’s leading online counseling brands like BetterHelp and ReGain Counseling? Let’s take a look at why millions of people have flocked to 7 Cups of Tea for help.
How does a company in a very new industry attract so many customers in such a short time span? Simple. Like everything in life, money is a crucial factor. Thus, 7 Cups of Tea started as a 100% free platform while every other e-counseling service charged money. Having a free service to turn to is still a large benefit to countless potential customers. Most people want to evaluate its effectiveness for free, which is understandable given that this is disruptive technology in an area (therapy) that has always been an offline service. Hence the massive growth that 7 Cups of Tea experienced. Furthermore, 7 Cups of Tea is the only e-counseling service that acts as a social network of sorts. While you can speak to licensed professionals with 7 Cups of Tea, they also have a community of ‘listeners.’ These are not licensed professionals; rather, they are average Joe’s who really want to help people live better.
Signing up to 7 Cups of Tea is not as straightforward as other online therapy services. Keep in mind that you must choose what type of service you want. You can choose a free account whereby you speak to a listener or a paid account where you speak to a certified professional. Since I had tried other paid services before, the thought of getting advice from a non-licensed professional intrigued me. So I navigated to the ‘Browse Listeners’ section and chose a listener based on the user ratings this person had received. There is a ‘Chat Now’ button on the page. Once you click on that, 7 Cups of Tea takes you to a dedicated and private chat room. There was no need to sign up for an account or enter in any credit card information. I found this to be particularly beneficial, because many people (myself included) want a trial term to see how the system works and what level of support is provided. As for a paid account with a certified professional: it is similar to every other e-counseling service. You will need to answer a few questions that a 7 Cups of Tea ‘bot’ asks you. Once you have completed that short question and answer session, 7 Cups of Tea pairs you with a professional therapist. You will need to enter in your payment information prior to trying the service. This is standard in the industry. Moreover, with 7 Cups of Tea, there is a 3-day free trial on the paid service so if you don’t like it, you can simply cancel your account at any time.
As mentioned above, 7 Cups of Tea offers two types of support options – a 100% free service with a ‘listener’ or a paid service with a certified therapist. Since the paid service is very new to 7 Cups of Tea (they have been offering their service 100% free until very recently), it is very difficult for potential customers to find any information on their pricing. Go ahead – try to find any information online about 7 Cups of Tea’s price. Good news though – I have this information for you. 7 Cups of Tea charges $150 per month for unlimited chat with your therapist, which is pretty competitive. Additionally, users tend to love them specifically because of its community-based orientation.
Usability (Desktop & Mobile):
7 Cups of Tea provides for one heck of a user experience. This is quite surprising given the fact that it was originally a startup with no real funds for expansion. In the above section, I detailed how simple the free service is. The concept and usability is virtually the same with a paid account. Simply answer a few questions and you are directed to a dedicated chat room that only you and your therapist can access. If you’ve ever used an online messaging platform such as live chat, then this is nothing new for you. Even if you haven’t, the messages are laid out in a plain and simple manner. Your correspondence appears in a chat box while there is a separate box below to type your messages. The same features apply to their mobile app as well.
Counselor Support & Effectiveness:
Naturally, counselor support will vary from person to person, especially if you choose the free version (no certified professional). Moreover, unfortunately, oftentimes you are connected to listeners with no formal education and a limited knowledge of the English vocabulary. Thankfully, this was not the case with me. I browsed listeners and found ‘Lauren’ – a 20-year-old woman based in the UK. Perhaps it was luck of the draw but Lauren was currently studying psychology in the UK. Even though she wasn’t licensed, the truth is I found her to be as helpful as certified professionals on other e-counseling platforms such as BetterHelp. Forget the fact that she was insightful and had stellar communication skills; she genuinely cared about my issues and in fact made a personal connection with me. It did not feel like a therapy session; rather it felt like a conversation with a friend who was trying to help by bouncing different ideas off me. Furthermore, there was a very humanistic approach to it, as she told me about herself as well. In traditional therapy sessions, this is not the case. You don’t get to ask questions about a therapist and if you do, they often times sidestep your questions. Lauren connected with me on a personal level and this made me feel as if she cared for me like a friend. It is also important to note that because this was a free service, I knew her intentions were 100% not financially driven. This had a very big impact on my fondness for 7 Cups of Tea.
Confidentiality & Privacy:
You may hypothesize that 7 Cups of Tea security protocols are sub-standard. However, that assumption would be false. Even regarding listeners who are not licensed professionals, they are forbidden, by law and by the 7 Cups of Tea Terms of Service, to divulge any client information. More importantly, the licensed therapists working within the platform are required to stay HIPAA compliant. Additionally, both the website and dedicated chat rooms are SSL secured. And to top it off, 7 Cups of Tea does not retain any data from your correspondence with your listener or therapist.
7 Cups of Tea Counselor Qualifications:
If you have made it this far into the review, then you understand the counselor qualifications for 7 Cups of Tea. There are listeners who are essentially non-licensed life coaches and there are also certified (clinically licensed) therapists with various degrees. Though they aren’t required to show a certain amount of hands on experience prior to joining the 7 Cups of Tea network, therapists do need to show that they possess malpractice insurance. For the most part, licensed therapists who hold this type of insurance have several years of experience under their belt.
Specialties & Areas of Expertise:
Both listeners and therapists can help in virtually any area you need. Even if you are adamant about using a trained therapist, the ones within the 7 Cups of Tea network cover all areas of help. This includes:
- All Addictions
- Chronic Impulsivity
- Educational Assessments
- Life Transitions
- Social Behavior
- Substance Abuse
- Trauma & Abuse
7 Cups of Tea is certainly a unique company trying to incorporate a sense of community into the therapy industry. The ability to chat with a listener for free, as much as you’d like, in addition to a 3-day free trial for the paid service, makes 7 Cups of Tea a service certainly worthy of consideration.