Beating Finals Week Blues

recolored Features - Elyse Yang
Dealing with stress from school can be a challenge. It helps to have a friend! Art by Elyse Yang.

Finals Week can be a difficult time for everyone.

Students seem to have tried everything to cope with the demands that come along with the end of the quarter, with campus organizations providing everything from free snacks to puppies to try to make students feel more at ease. But as the pressure ramps up from one quarter to the next, it might be time to embrace the latest wave of therapeutic remedy: online counseling.

Enter 7 Cups of Tea, a new website that connects students to active listeners. The website and app allow students, or anyone looking for someone to lend an ear, the chance to connect anonymously to a wide network of trained listeners and could potentially be just the cure that students are looking for to curb their Finals Week stress.

Founded by psychologist Glen Moriarty, 7 Cups of Tea is run by a team of trained professionals dedicated to spreading knowledge to an audience who was previously unreachable.

Here’s how it works: Moriarty and his staff have devised a training program aimed to teach anyone who wants to fill their free time by helping others to be an “active, compassionate listener” without having to leave their homes. The program takes those interested through a course that instructs how to help with a variety of different issues, ranging from relationship problems to ordinary, everyday stress. Those who complete the course move on to practice sessions and interviews with qualified staff members. Even after this is all done, interested listeners can complete further training in areas that they are specifically passionate about. The training program appears to be a success, now boasting over 70,000 listeners in 130 different languages.

While having such a large quantity of staff members can make the site appealing, users also must be wary that, chances are, they aren’t talking to professionals. While the training program is comprehensive, it doesn’t provide the same level of depth that proper schooling does and can’t replace the experience of a real psychologist. Still, having someone to talk to can be a very useful stress outlet.

Jillian Ellis, a public relations spokeswoman for 7 Cups, says that employing younger, more inexperienced college students to be listeners can actually be seen as a positive. Having students talk to people who can relate to exactly what they’re going through gives them a safe place to vent their feelings.

7 Cups [is] a safe space where students can vent or share what is on their mind and be listened to by another non-judgmental, caring and compassionate college student,” Ellis told the UCSD Guardian. “The opportunity to become an active listener has also empowered students to know that they can give back and make a difference in the world.”

Moriarty says he started the company because he noticed that there was a niche that needed to be filled.

“My wife’s a therapist, and I was doing this research and talking about an entrepreneurial problem and talking to her about it and I felt better,” he said in an interview with TheVenture.com. “And I thought, what do people do who don’t have a therapist in their family? It struck me this is the offline behavior that hasn’t yet been online that we should put online. Listening, as a service, should be available for people.”

The site appears to be growing exponentially, as more and more students on campuses across the country and world are discovering that the power of online communication can be put to good use. For students who have a particularly daunting slate of exams coming up, or just need someone to talk to for any other reason, 7cupsoftea.com could be just what the doctor ordered. As the site says: “Our listeners just listen. They understand. They give you the space you need to help you clear your head.”