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How to Find Free Online Therapy

Positive mental health communities on social media

Navigating social media can be stress-inducing—or it can actually help boost your mental health with the right follows. Add some quality content to your Insta feed with Small Talks, an IGTV series on which therapists answer questions; The Anxiety Healer, an account focused on anxiety management techniques; Dr. Mariel Buque, a psychologist and intergenerational trauma expert; Queer Sex Therapy, an account addressing (you guessed it) sex in the LGBTQ+ community; Therapy With Charlotte, which offers helpful breathing exercises and tips for managing negative emotions; and The Body a Home for Love, which focuses on resources for healing sexual trauma among Black women.

Mental health podcasts

Want to put your phone down and headphones in? Check out Yale professor Dr. Laurie Santos’s The Happiness Lab; Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s Therapy for Black Girls; for the aspiring meditator, Dan Harris’s Ten Percent Happier (it’s got an app with personal coaching too, and a COVID-19 sanity guide); and for couples therapy, Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin is a must-listen.

Academic therapy trials

Academic institutions often offer therapy interventions as part of their mental health resources. In other words, while they’re furthering the field of knowledge or testing out new therapeutic approaches, you can get free therapy (some studies will even pay you). If you’re interested, start with the MindTrail’s Project, a collaboration between the University of Virginia and the National Institute of Mental Health to treat anxiety.

Science-backed mental health apps

Wellness apps have boomed, targeting anxiety, meditation, grief, and self-improvement. But which ones are actually backed by science? To help you make the most effective download, One Mind PsyberGuide, a mental health nonprofit, has you covered. Explore filterable reviews on 166 free mental health apps, rated for their scientific credibility and user experience.

Give an Hour

Via Give an Hour, all military members and their loved ones are welcome to free therapy. The organization connects therapy seekers with licensed mental health providers. Services are also provided pro bono for those affected by specific natural and manmade disasters, like the ongoing U.S. border humanitarian crisis and 2020 wildfires. Currently, Give an Hour also offers six sessions free for hospital-based employees and their families in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Chaplains on Hand

For many people, spirituality plays a major role in mental and physical health. Board-certified chaplains are spiritual care specialists who work with health care teams on integrated mind-body health. Chaplains on Hand offers Chat with a Chaplain for those in “spiritual pain.” Given that existing can feel like, well, an existential crisis, you’re likely qualified to speak with a skilled chaplain via email, phone, or video all day.

Student-run therapy sessions

Therapists-in-training need practice—and many therapy students practice on clients via free or low-cost clinics at their schools. Accredited social work, marriage and family therapy, or psychoanalysis graduate programs near you may offer training clinics for as low as $10 per session. Don’t be shy in emailing or calling to ask about the options.

Free therapist-run and peer-led support groups

“When we look at how people most successfully heal from trauma, it’s often through relationships and community,” says Casey Tanner, LCPC, a Chicago-based therapist working with the queer community. Therapist-run and trained-peer-led support groups offer a free way to get support. The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers local chapters across the country and compiled a list of online therapy and support groups, and Mental Health America has a guide to 20-plus specialized support groups, like Alcoholics Anonymous, Caregivers, Overeaters, and so much more.

Body Politic

For those who have tested positive or survived COVID-19, and the direct caretakers and family of those suffering from the virus, Body Politic COVID-19 Support Group offers a therapeutic community. More than 18,000 people have signed up since March, and there are 50-plus channels for different topics from financial stress to medical advocacy and local communities.

Postpartum Support International

For new moms—who are at risk for postpartum mental health symptoms—Postpartum Support International hosts facilitator-led support groups for parents including subgroups personalized to specific communities: queer, Black, birth moms, dads, Spanish, South Asian, NICU parents, loss, and more.

7Cups

7Cups is a free peer-to-peer counseling platform and community with 24/7 support and 140 languages available. “Sometimes sitting with someone with a shared identity can be more healing than sitting with someone with a clinical background,” Tanner says.


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