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The Short Version: Imagine having hundreds of people ready to talk with you at any time, about anything — from everyday matters to deeper relationship issues. That premise is made a reality thanks to 7 Cups of Tea — an online platform that pairs users with trained listeners who are ready to lend an unbiased and nonjudgmental ear whenever they need it. Anonymous and compassionate listeners are always available on the website, which is chat-based and completely secure. Users can also be trained to help others as a listener and learn an interpersonal skill that can benefit all of their own relationships, romantic or otherwise.
One cold winter evening while I was working abroad, my now-husband asked me — via a text message — to be his girlfriend. It was unexpected as I had no idea that he was even interested in me. I also knew that, in his culture, dating is serious business. So my mind started to spin, and I needed to talk to someone.
It was 10:30 p.m., and my roommate was asleep. So were my friends and close colleagues. My only option was to pick up the phone and make an expensive international call to my mom. Of course, I was happy to speak with her; it just would’ve been nice to talk to an unbiased person, who would listen without adding their own thoughts about the situation. Plus, the cost of the call kept it short. I could have talked all night.
Finding a caring person to listen to your concerns, dating or otherwise, can be challenging. That is what makes 7 Cups of Tea such a unique place. There, you can find someone to bounce ideas off of, talk you through a situation, or just listen to you when you need to talk.
The website has multiple channels to connect you with other people at any time of the day or night. It doesn’t matter if you’re in your apartment in Boston or on the subway in Beijing. As long as you’re connected to the internet, you can find someone to talk to at 7 Cups.
At any given time, 7 Cups of Tea’s chat rooms are filled with people who are willing to support you through relationship issues or even provide a sounding board for your thoughts on getting back together with an ex. I could have certainly used 7 Cups of Tea on that life-changing night a decade ago. Though everyone remains anonymous, it doesn’t take long to feel a kinship between those with whom you’re interacting. This is, in part, due to the community guidelines which are in place to provide a safe place for everyone.
As a new member, you’re expected to pledge that you’ll speak respectfully to others, use proper communication skills, adhere to the rules of the community, and refrain from sharing personal information. Members can report violations, so administrators can take appropriate action and retain the integrity of the community.
Because members come and go from the group support chats as their schedules allow, there’s no guarantee that you’ll interact with the same person twice. But the people there are supportive and kind, offering appropriate — and often necessary — words of encouragement. More than a dozen different group chat rooms are dedicated to topics such as relationship support, members over 35, LGBTQ, family, and healthy living.
Members from around the world use the forums on 7 Cups of Tea, and because of that global reach, there’s bound to be someone to chat with whether your local time is 3 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon. The main language of the site is English, and a sister site is available for native Spanish speakers. The Around the World section of the forum is dedicated to countries and regions, and within these groups, you can find discussions in German, French, Japanese, and Portuguese, among other languages.
While the forums and group chats are designed to help everyone, it’s the active listeners and therapists who make 7 Cups of Tea really unique. Many websites offer forums as a way for members to connect, but they lack the specially trained listeners, who freely give of their time for one-on-one chats, that 7 Cups of Tea offers. The website even provides access to professional therapists with whom you can meet — virtually — on a regular basis.
We often come to recognize our feelings about a situation — for instance, what you’re looking for in a partner or need from the person you’re dating — by talking about it. But for talking to be effective, you need to have a sounding board. That is where the 7 Cups of Tea’s active listeners shine. They don’t just listen passively while you share your heart. They’re trained to ask relevant open-ended questions that guide you through your conversation in a supportive manner.
All interactions on 7 Cups of Tea are anonymous, so you can be assured that the information you share is safe, and you won’t feel judged.
Members of 7 Cups of Tea also have access to a trained therapist for a monthly fee. This is a great option if you’re interested in working with a professional, but need more flexibility in regard to time, location, and price. With 7 Cups of Tea, you don’t need to leave the comfort of your home to discuss relationship issues or work through the healing process after a breakup. Therapists set their own hours, so it’s easy to find one who is ready when you are.
You can browse therapist profiles, view backgrounds and specialty areas, and select one who will be a good fit for you. And if he or she isn’t? No worries — you can change therapists whenever you like.
The platform is HIPAA compliant, except in cases in which the therapist thinks there’s a danger of someone hurting themselves or someone else. All therapists are held to high ethical standards, and the platform welcomes feedback about any of the professionals on the network.
Anyone can participate in 7 Cups of Tea as both a member and a listener. Some people decide to stick with just one or the other, while others choose to do both. Many listeners feel that they’ve received so much value from their conversations through the site that they want to pay it forward by helping others.
When you choose to become a listener, you receive training in active listening, which is also an important life skill. Volunteers have free access to an active listening course, which teaches them how to become a better communicator. Additionally, listeners receive support and coaching from mentors on 7 Cups of Tea. Once listeners complete the training, they can log in to the site or app and help others any time of the day or night.
If you’re a relationship professional, or interested in becoming one, completing active listener training is a step in the right direction. Plus, the time you spend listening to others gives you valuable experience to draw on in future endeavors.
Whether you’re in need of help or looking to help others on their unique path through life, 7 Cups of Tea is a platform that offers opportunities for those necessary conversations.
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