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"The dialogue that occurs online is much more shallow and transient.It's like comparing an artificial sweetener to honey, or instant coffee to slow-brewed." I suspected as much, but I wanted to see for myself.1.

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The site also includes free therapist-run forums where users can air their mental-health challenges; a therapist will respond to up to 5 posts per user before charging a fee.

MY ISSUE: I decide to hit up Talktala's free forums.

In the "How to Manage Stress and Depression" forum, I spill out a paragraph about how Fear of Missing Out and social comparison are making me miserable (hey, it's true). It does sound like you are struggling with your own self-value. "I write back that I have no "reasons" to doubt myself—instead I've got an exciting smorgasbord of your average everyday depressive tendencies and low self-esteem, yippee!

Confession time: I've been in talk therapy for more than 20 years (I started when I was 15—today I'm 37).

Nope, I'm not proud of that—it's vaguely embarrassing, this commitment I've made to worship at the altar of my most deep-seated issues.

I go to therapy because I have to, because I've been doing it for so long that I can hardly remember what it was like to have that cozy, womb-like little room to heave myself into on a weekly basis.

Therapy has become a customary part of my self-care song-and-dance, despite the sad truth that I haven't seen tons of progress when it comes to my struggles with depression, relationships, et al.

Frankly, all those aforementioned deep-seated issues are still very much alive and kicking, therapy be damned.

So when I heard about free "Internet therapy" websites, I was curious.

Could spilling my guts to faceless strangers on an online message board or chat room possibly compare to "real" therapy? Paul Hokemeyer, a NYC-based addictions and family therapist, is dubious.

"Therapy that changes people's lives is a nuanced process," he says.

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