on Jan 13 2014
If you are struggling and/or lonely you really only have 2 options: family/friends or therapy. 7 Cups of Tea is the place that exists between those two options. It is for people who do not have close family/friends and do not want/need professional counseling. It uses listeners (normal people who take an active listening course, pass a background check and screening process); it does not use licensed mental health professionals.
Many people do not have close family or friends that they can turn to when struggling. For the fortunate people that do, they are often afraid to open up to them out of fear of being judged or a sense that their family and friends are too distracted or not good listeners. That leaves professional therapy or counseling.
This option can be helpful, but it has several limitations. It can be inconvenient due to limitations on insurance, geographic location, and availability. It is costly ranging from $70-$150/hour. Finally, and most importantly, it is not anonymous.
There are many people that are afraid of being seen in a waiting room or having their mental health record follow them. They also have concerns about stigma and the fear that "something is wrong with me if I go to therapy." We answers the problems that therapy is unable to address.
Our service is very convenient. Users can call whenever they like. Their kids can be screaming in the background or they can be on their way home from work. They can even text their listener. None of the standard rules of therapy apply.
I'm a licensed clinical psychologist and I also have a good bit of technology/startup experience. 7 Cups of Tea integrates these 2 areas.
I know people need what I'm making because of the sheer size of the mental health industry. ~70 million Americans have a mental illness; and two new cases of mental illness occur in the US every second. That's 60 million new cases each year (World Health Organization). The US Mental Health Market is $45 Billion, or 2.5% GDP (World Health Organization)
Millions seek mental health services weekly and even more remain undiagnosed and searching for listeners. .~60 million or 20% of US population are lonely. 12% have no one to talk to. This number is not only growing, but has tripled since 1984.
Our competitors include mental health counselors, online mental health counselors, and online support groups. Mental health counselors are inconvenient, costly and not anonymous. Sessions run from $80-$200/hour. Online counselors are convenient and a bit more confidential, but very cost prohibitive. They average $120/hour. Finally, online support groups are helpful, but they do not provide one to one contact or active listening.
On 7 Cups, users can get started for free and have the one on one contact needed for good listening.
The most efficacious part of therapy is the therapeutic alliance. This basically means that the therapist cares for you and you feel like the therapist is on your team. This is mostly accomplished through an empirically proven process called active listening.
Active listening consists of paying close attention to what the client is saying. People can easily be trained in this process by learning techniques called microskills.
I understand that listening is not counseling. Counseling is defined as behavior change, but the industry operates as if only professional licensed counselors can listen to you. This is simply not true. This is the "secret" I know that other people do not seem to understand.
We have a free component and a premium component. Ultimately, the revenue model is scalable and supports multiple revenue streams, including: 1. Monthly / annual “connect now” subscription; 2. Revenue from each call, price is determined by the listener (70% commission for listener; 30% commission for 7 Cups); 3. Augment existing Mental health clinics, hospitals and private practices with after hours care and assistance; 4. Website monetization from advertising; 5. Affiliate programs with doctor's offices, nonprofits and other organizations. They refer clients to 7 cups and we split revenue with them.
Each listener takes an advanced course in active listening, passes a background check, and is screened by a member of our team.
The biggest risk is us getting the listener community right. Listeners are the key to making this a wonderful service.
We have 200 active listeners approved today and we have another several hundred in process.
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