When I first heard about 7 Cups of Tea through a friend (who was a trained listener with the service), she described it as one of the highlights of her day, allowing her to help people and spend her free time productively. I was however a little skeptical about sharing personal problems with total strangers and that too via the internet.
After a couple of weeks of her pushing me to give it a try, I finally went onto their website and after clicking on “Connect to a Listener Now” I had to verify that I was over 18 years old and didn’t have any objectionable tendencies. Once that was out of the way, within seconds they gave me a random username and brought me on as a guest.
You can also use the service if you are under 18 (but over 13) and the only difference is that you will be restricted to connecting with teenage listeners (who can better relate with you).
Moving ahead, I was added to a queue and had to wait for about a minute before a listener welcomed me and asked about my day. The small chit chat was quickly wrapped up as the listener politely asked whether something was troubling me. I told him that I was struggling with a few tough choices, and after he patiently heard me out he started by relating to my issues and gave me personal advice on how to cope better.
Having gone through the whole experience, I understood its appeal and utility, especially when you just need someone to talk to and get neutral, unbiased advice. I then made an account and downloaded their Android app to try it out too, and the experience was largely the same. I was however curious about the listeners and whether there was a process in place to ensure that everything was done in a responsible manner.
To test that out, I applied to become a listener and underwent a small training course (for close to an hour) in which I was presented with various situations, appropriate responses and general rules and etiquette. After this I was tested with problems and had to select the best options, and having passed that I became a listener. Even though I am not as active as most listeners, I still try to take time out on weekends to help people out as much as I can.
Since I have the 7 Cups of Tea app on my Android phone, I can connect it on the go and do my part. As a user, you will also be able to browse for specific listeners by categories to find someone who can better cater to your issues. Moreover, you can connect with multiple listeners at the same time, browse through the community forums or simply join the common chat room. If you find a listener offensive or inappropriate, you can also report him/her and such reports are taken seriously and investigated.
All things considered, I would highly recommend the 7 Cups of Tea Android app if you’re interested in counseling, but it is not a professional solution, nor one you can rely on in a life threatening situation. At the heart of it, it’s mainly about sharing your issues with other considerate people anonymously and getting new perspectives and solutions for anything that may be stressing or worrying you.
Both the Android app and the service are free and fast, providing an uncluttered interface that focuses on what’s important – getting you connected with a good listener.
Will you be using 7 Cups of Tea on your Android phone or tablet? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience.