Therapy is more than just simply “talking to someone”.
Don’t get us wrong, speaking to a friend or family member about what you’re going through helps, a tonne. It relieves pent-up frustrations, feelings, and it helps foster meaningful communication. But there’s a difference between that and emotional dumping (explained further below). Which is why online therapy may be something you’d want to consider in Singapore.
- Venting vs. Emotional Dumping
- Therapy vs. Counselling: What’s the difference?
- Why therapy helps
- Mental Health vs. Mental Illness: Are they the same?
- Where to seek online therapy in Singapore
- Telephone Helplines + Online Chatlines
Venting vs. Emotional Dumping
To vent is to “verbally express your thoughts and feelings,”. It is a form of communication that often involves a speaker and a willing listener. Venting helps a speaker “feel heard” by the listener and is often self-reflective. By venting, an individual is allowed to navigate their emotions through verbalisation – showing an awareness in one’s accountability and willingness to explore solutions to the problem. The listener can also choose to provide support by simply empathising and listening, or helping the speaker arrive at a compassionate, reasonable solution (however the speaker may so choose).
That said, not everyone is able (and ready) to listen and help “process” these emotions. Which is why, before one wishes to communicate any form of sentiment, it doesn’t hurt to ask for permission. A simple, “Hey, is it okay if I tell you about this thing that happened at work?” is one way to allow a listener the choice to decide if they’re at a place that’s ready to receive one’s emotions, compassionately.
On the flipside, “emotional dumping” is any unsolicited form of venting. It occurs when an individual dumps one’s emotions onto someone who’s not exactly ready to share in that same vulnerable space, or receive it. Emotional dumping often does not respect a listener’s boundaries and is not consensual. In short: It’s not a form of active communication, but a one-way street. This often happens during a state of heightened reaction in response to a triggering event – “projecting” thoughts and emotions onto an unwilling party as a result of poor coping mechanisms.
Which brings us to our point: effective communication is key. And therapy provides a safe environment to do just that.
Therapy vs. Counselling: What’s the difference?
Therapy and counselling share many similarities, which is why these two terms are often used interchangeably. In general, counselling may be helpful to address a specific issue for a limited amount of time. Once a problem is brought under control, counselling would have done its job. For example, married couples can choose to go for marriage counselling in order to be equipped with skills to improve communication. Or, if you’re experiencing stress from home or work, a counsellor can provide an individual with tools to better manage their stress levels.
Therapy, however, is a long-term process that focuses on an individual’s self-improvement. It seeks to unravel and understand past incidents or events that, in turn, shape a person’s thoughts, beliefs and values. It unearths underlying issues that contribute to a person’s behaviour or thought pattern, and this can often be very uncomfortable. Why? Because a key requirement for therapy to work is the willingness to be vulnerable. Therapy takes time; it’s like learning how to walk, we must first strip our understanding of our bodies to the very basic: learning how to move our muscles.
Why therapy helps
Therapists are licensed mental health practitioners trained in psychotherapeutic treatments like “talking therapy” (and more). Counsellors are similar; they often hold at least a post-graduate degree in Psychology (and/or related fields) and are licensed to “counsel” their patients using talking therapy. Because of their similarities, “therapists” and “counsellors” are often used interchangeably, depending on the comfort of the patient. Both are ideal consensual communicators and listeners.
Anyone can listen, if they want to. But therapists do more than just that. With their experience and training, they provide clients with a safe and *confidential environment to speak their mind freely with no judgement. Therapists aim to understand a person – their values and beliefs, what motivates them, what circumstantial factors facilitate or hamper certain behaviours and/or emotions – with a goal to give them the tools to understand themselves in order to lead better, healthier lives.
Which is why therapy isn’t simply “all talk”, it’s an active process between speaker and listener. It’s a safe space where the speaker learns how to healthily process and navigate their feelings and emotions.
*Disclaimer: Do note that in the event where a speaker divulges information that is unlawful, the seal of confidentially may be infringed to ensure the safety of the persons involved.
Therapy is for everyone. And for the record, you don’t need to be clinically diagnosed with a mental illness to seek therapy. Sometimes we all need a little help figuring out our thoughts and feelings. And there’s no shame to want some clarity and/or comfort. However, it is important to know the difference between mental health and mental illness, for the two are often conflated with common misconceptions.
Mental Health vs. Mental Illness: Are they the same?
Mental illnesses are a range of neurological conditions that occur chemically within the brain, and is often clinically diagnosed by a psychiatrist. These include (and are not limited to) anxiety, depression, bipolar disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, schizophrenia and more. Also, it is important to note that one can suffer from a mental disorder without necessarily being diagnosed.
On the other hand, mental health – like physical health – is the state in which the mind is in. The state of our mind isn’t always in constant, tip-top condition. Sometimes, depending on where we are in our lives, it can get really dark and might need a little support. Managing your emotions well, maintaining healthy relationships, having healthy coping mechanisms and good boundaries are some examples of good mental health management. But life happens, and triggering events like loss (of any kind) can cause the state of our mind to take a dip. That, though, might not always mean a bad day or experience equals a mental illness.
Occasional episodes where one feels troubled, disturbed, or experiences symptoms of depression and anxiety are completely normal. Take comfort in the fact that everyone experiences this at some point in their lives. (It’s the beauty of what being human is all about.) That said, we need to know when our mental health needs support. Because while poor mental health does not always mean a mental illness, when left unchecked, it may lead to mental illness in the future.
It’s therefore important to recognise the difference between mental stress (as a result of poor mental health habits) and mental illnesses. Let’s not overlook or discount the reality of someone suffering from a mental illness (e.g. bipolar disorders) as simply having “poor mental health management”. Individuals with mental illnesses endure a great deal every single minute because it’s just how their brains chemically are – and they have no control over it. Case in point: Poor mental health does not always equal mental illness. It’s key not to conflate the two and trivialise the sufferings of those struggling with a mental illness.
Remember, it’s okay to want better for yourself and therapy is not something to be ashamed of. With everything that’s happening in the world today, it can be easy to get caught in it all. Which is why, in order to help support you in your journey to better mental health, we’ve sifted out a list of places to seek online therapy in Singapore.
Where to seek online therapy in Singapore:
While it’s no secret that therapy services often cost a bomb, we understand that not everyone has the capacity or financial means to seek them. But we’re here to assure you that help is available no matter your circumstance.
Here is a list of places that offer a range of support, from regular-priced sessions to affordable rates within an individual’s means. (Some are even free!) Peruse our list below for a mix of options that might work for you.
1. Safe Space
Think about this service as a platform that connects individuals to a library of freelance mental health professionals. It “matches” you to a suitable therapist based on your needs. Simply book an appointment on its website, fill up a questionnaire about what kind of support you need and get assigned to a therapist in real time. This platform also regular discounted rates posted on its Facebook page.
Price: Approximately $80 for video therapy sessions. Schedule an appointment here.
2. CPH Online Counselling
CPH Online Counselling specialises in providing support for individuals going through divorce, parenting challenges and family violence. It offers three forms of online counselling: live web chat, telephone and email counselling. As a pilot national programme, its service are offered free-of-charge for Singapore residents above 18 years old.
Price: Free. Schedule an appointment here.
CPH Online Counselling
Contact: Sign up via its website for contact details.
Counsellingconnectz is known for supporting couples and to-be parents with its various online and in-person services. Founded by Tanja Faessler-Moro, a certified fertility coach and psychological counsellor – relationship, fertility, IVF and donor counselling, pregnancy and birth counselling are just some areas she and her team specialise in. It even provides hypnotherapy for children and young adults in order to address anxieties, childhood trauma, school problems and sleep disorder.
Price: $285 for the first session of 75 minutes ($315 after 6 p.m. or weekends), subsequent sessions are $190 for 50 minutes ($210 after 6 p.m. or weekends). Couple sessions go for $285 ($315 after 6 p.m. or weekends). Schedule an appointment here.
4. Mindful Space
As the first parent-child physical platform in Singapore, Mindful Space is committed to promoting wellness in the family with its various activities, enrichment workshops, professional courses and family programmes. Having gone through fertility loss herself, founder and owner Vernessa Chuah is dedicated to help other women navigate their emotions during their pregnancy journeys with her Pregnancy Loss Coaching.
Price: $180 per 90-minute sessions (a min. of 6 sessions). Pre-Covid this was in-person, but arrangements can be made (on a case-by-case basis) to accommodate online sessions. Schedule an appointment here.
Tel: 6910 5770 / 9783 7313 (WhatsApp)
5. eCounselling Centre
eCounselling Centre is a service created by Fei Yue Community Services for Singaporean youths aged 13 to 25 years old. Speak to a trained counsellor about any issues you might be facing with a simple click on its ‘Quick Chat’ button. Alternatively, you may wish to make an appointment to be assigned to a fixed counsellor.
Price: Free. Schedule an appointment here.
6. Talk Your Heart Out
Talk Your Heart Out is a Singapore-based online therapy platform providing counselling services that are private, convenient and facilitated by qualified therapists. Whether you prefer video, telephone or live chat sessions – be assured that help will be provided whenever you’re most comfortable. You can also choose your preferred therapist based on their profiles listed here. Whatever you’re going through, talk your heart out, because you’re ready to be listened here.
Price: $90 (1-hour introductory sessions), $120 (1-hour single sessions), $330 (for 3 sessions, no expiration date). Schedule an appointment here.
Talk Your Heart Out
Tel: 6502 2840 / 9831 0005
Operating hours: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Daily)
Similar to Safe Space, BetterHelp is on a mission to make professional therapy accessible, affordable and convenient to all – no matter who or where they are. It’s an international therapy platform that matches you to a suitable trained therapist from various parts of the world. Its sessions take place via live chat, video conferencing or audio calls. The best part about BetterHelp? It encourages you to find the right therapist. So don’t feel afraid about switching if you feel uncomfortable with your assigned therapist at any point.
Price: From USD $60 to $90 per week (billed every month). Membership can be cancelled at any time, for any reason. Sign up here.
8. Singapore Counselling Centre (SCC)
Singapore Counselling Centre (SCC) provides professional counselling, psychotherapy and psychological services for anyone needing it. It offers counselling sessions for various struggles, more notably: addiction, anger management, eating disorders, financial troubles, premarital challenges, first responder trauma and PTSD, pet loss, workplace harassment and issues and more. Video counselling is available, too.
Price: $170 for an individual 60-minute session (see website for more group package details). Schedule an appointment here.
Singapore Counselling Centre
Tel: 6339 5411 (Call and WhatsApp available)
Operating hours: 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Mon. to Fri.), 9: 30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sat. + Sun.), Closed on PH
9. Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE)
The Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) is dedicated to providing affordable and ample support for women experiencing challenges involving discrimination, violence, harassment of any form, sexuality, stress, grief and more. As an organisation, it aims to create a society free of gender barriers, where all individuals are free to live their lives to their fullest potentials.
Price: 2-percent of one’s salary; for unemployed individuals or those earning below $3,000, a flat fee of $35 per session will be incurred. Schedule an appointment here.
Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE)
Tel: 1800 777 5555 (Helpline), 6779 0282 (Sexual Assault Care Centre)
Operating hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Mon. to Fri.)
10. WINGS Counselling Centre
Run by the Ramakrishna Mission as a non-profit community project, WINGS Counselling Centre first began in 1995 to help provide counselling services to youths from troubled families. Today, it offers various therapy sessions for individuals regardless of background and history. This centre places its client at the heart of everything – it is not commercially motivated and adjusts its fees to suit the financial ability of each client (upon request and approval). Video conferencing sessions are also available upon request.
Price: $80 for a 60-minute first session (subsequent sessions are $60). Fee adjustments can be made on a case-by-case basis. Schedule an appointment here.
WINGS Counselling Centre
Tel: 6383 5745
Operating hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Mon. to Wed. + Fri.), 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Thu.), 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (every second and fourth Sat. of the month)
11. Therapists Asia
Available 24/7, Therapists Asia consists of a “network of professional therapists offering counselling, psychotherapy and alternate therapy,” online and in-person. There’s no problem too big or “new” here. Why? Head to its website and you’ll see a wealth of specialisations including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy alternatives, recovery mentoring, relapse prevention for addiction and substance abuse and relationship counselling.
Price: Get a quote from its website and schedule an appointment here.
Tel: 3163 1879
Operating hours: 24/7
12. Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH)
Since 1981, SAMH is one of the longest-running counselling services providing helpline and in-person support for individuals who need help. At the SAMH Insight Centre, individual and family counselling are offered via an appointment-only basis via its hotline. Sessions run approximately 45-minutes to an hour, and varies across each individual and their needs.
Price: By donation. Schedule an appointment here.
Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH)
Tel (Toll-free hotline): 1800 283 7019
Operating hours: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Mon. to Fri., closed on PH)
13. All in the Family Counselling
With a track record spanning over 15 years, All in the Family Counselling offers both online and in-person therapy sessions. It is run by Tammy Fontana, a US-certified hynotherapist and sex therapist specialising in many areas including sexual abuse, victim trauma and gender-identity struggles. She has worked with various local organisations, including AWARE, Alife, The Star Shelter, Singapore Anti-Narcotic Association and Simei Health Care. Tammy also provides intensive treatment for child clients at residential care through the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS).
Price: $250 for a single 50-minute session (Visit website for more package pricing or contact Tammy via WhatsApp for online rates). Schedule an appointment here.
All in the Family Counselling
Tel: 9030 7239 (WhatsApp)
Operating hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Mon. to Sat.)
14. The Counselling Paradigm
Known for its Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), unpack and resolve deep-seated emotional issues to allow more peace into your life with The Counselling Paradigm. Opt for Individual, Couples, Marriage, Family or Art therapy services that can be conducted in-person or via Skype. Its counsellors and therapists are trained to support various issues, including anger management, depression, anxiety, grief and more.
Price: $180 per 60-minute session. Schedule an appointment here.
The Counselling Paradigm
Tel: 8408 0010
Operating hours: 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Mon. to Fri.), 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Sat.). Closed on Sundays.
This non-profit organisation is on a mission to eradicate powerlessness caused by poverty, mental illness and social inequality. It offers free and/or subsidised counselling sessions to address issues surrounding relationships, trauma, mental health, self-image and behavioural challenges. Alternatively, you may also call its helpline for more immediate support.
Price: Free or subsidised according to financial abilities. Schedule an appointment here.
Telephone Helplines + Online Chatlines
If you are experiencing any distressing emergencies, do not hesitate to give these following organisations a call.
1. Samaritans of Singapore (SOS)
Although largely known for its 24-hour emergency helpline, Samaritans of Singapore also offers email and text message service for anyone who requires professional emotional support. You may choose to write an email to its professional counsellors using its Caremail service or send a message to its trained volunteers via Care Text. Other services like Specialist Counselling are also available (via appointment-only) for individuals experiencing thoughts of suicide or who have experienced suicidal loss.
2. Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT)
If you’ve ever felt like something is wrong but can’t quite put a finger to what it is, CHAT is for you. Though not exactly a counselling service, CHAT is a useful for those who have no clue where to begin. It’s a mental health check service that allows young individuals (aged 16 to 30) to assess their mental state by speaking to a mental health professional over the phone. Note that this is not counselling – the counsellor over the phone will simply listen and help individuals identify potential problems, of which they can help refer them to various professional organisations for further treatment. Before a counsellor is assigned, individuals will need to complete a questionnaire on its website.
Community Health Assessment Team (CHAT)
Tel: 6493 6500
Operating hours: 12 to 9 p.m. (Tue. to Sat.)
3. Tinkle Friend
Run by the Singapore Children’s Society, Tinkle Friend is a help- and chat-line specially catered for all primary school level children in Singapore. It provides a listening ear and professional advice to little ones who are undergoing distressing situations, or experience loneliness whenever their parents or caregivers are not around.
Tel (Helpline): 1800 2744 788
Operating hours (Helpline): 2:30 to 5 p.m. (Mon. to Fri.); 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Mon. to Thu.), 2:30 to 5 p.m. (Fri.) for online chat.
By Willaine G. Tan, August 2021
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