Innovation summary

Hundreds of millions of individuals around the world struggle with mental health issues.12 These issues vary widely, but a common need is for basic emotional support. Active listening—the basic ingredient in most therapeutic protocols—is a simple solution that can help people better cope.6,15,16,18

7 Cups of Tea is a web platform that trains active listeners online to provide anonymous emotional support through a web-based active listening service. Visitors can access 7 Cups of Tea via the web or on mobile devices with iOS (Apple) or Android operating systems. At present, 7 Cups has over 1,200 active listeners from more than 80 countries—many of whom will listen for free. The web platform also provides a support forum and more than eight interactive protocols for common mental health problems.

Impact summary

  • Active listening services currently accessed by 15,000+ people each week, with 15% more users each week
  • $1.2 million USD funding, largely through investment by venture capitalists

“Our goal is to build the emotional support system for the Internet.”

-Glen Moriarty, Psy.D., Founder and CEO

Innovation details

7 Cups of Tea is an on-demand emotional health and well-being service, available via the web and on iPhones, Android phones, and tablets. The main components of the 7 Cups of Tea platform include:

  • Trained listeners: Trainees create a listener profile, complete an e-learning active listening course, and commit to at least 2 hours of listening per week.
  • Active listening: 7 Cups of Tea’s bridging technology anonymously and securely connects members to trained active listeners in one-on-one chat sessions or phone calls.
  • Support forum: Members and listeners discuss issues in an open forum format.
  • Self-care guides: All visitors have access to 8+ research-backed protocols on specific mental health problems to help support self-care.1-11,13-14,17,19 Topics include:
    • Alcohol and drug issues
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Eating disorders
    • Managing emotions or dialectical behavior therapy
    • Panic attacks
    • Trauma
    • Work stress

Key drivers


7 Cups of Tea aims to network and partner with mental health organizations around the globe and has developed partnerships with over 20 organizations at present. Through these partnerships, we are able to target members who are struggling and link them to active listeners from their own organization.

Harnessing social media

7 Cups of Tea also works closely with larger social networks to better help their members who are struggling. For example, we have partnered with Tumblr to better help their users struggling with depression and self-harm.

Focus on growth

The key metric we focus on is number of conversations per week. We have set a target to continue to increase this number by 10% each week, which we have been able to achieve.


Listener training

Listener training is key. One challenge has been how to best train listeners in an online format. We now have a solid training model down that consists of text, video, and quiz questions. Additionally, listeners now earn badges for each training course completed.

Listener recruitment

We initially really struggled to find enough listeners to meet demand. We then realized that many people seeking help have the resources and the desire to provide support to others. This has helped address the recruitment issue.


There are times of high demand and low demand. In the past, we often did not have enough coverage during times of high demand. We used a variety of tools, prompts, reminders, and messages to address this issue. Our coverage problem is now largely solved.


The innovation is designed to scale across populations and settings. The primary limitation we face now—with regards to scaling up—is that the service is only available in English. However, we do have listeners from over 80 countries. Further, we would like to publish a variety of evidence-based protocols addressing the needs of people living with a number of additional mental health problems. We have eight at present and plan to expand.


7 Cups of Tea has developed partnerships with over 20 organizations at present.


Evaluation methods

Site performance

The performance of the site itself is monitored through traditional web analytics (e.g. bounce rates, time on site) and gamification components (e.g. growth points, cheer points, badges for listening or for receiving help). Data is collected and analyzed through a variety of tools (mixpanel, an internal stats dashboard, google analytics, alexa, quantcast).

Guests, members and listeners review helpfulness, empathy, response time and professionalism on a 4 point scale  A space is also provided for guests or members to make qualitative reviews of individual listeners.

User outcomes

An evaluation is planned that will capture outcome data using self-report inventories such as DASS 21, but this has not yet been implemented.

Cost of implementation

Most active listeners do not charge for their services, meaning the site is generally free to users. 

Impact details

  • Over 1,000 listeners have been trained and have served over 157,000 people at present
  • 7 Cups currently serves over 15,000 people per week, and this number is growing by 15% per week


  1. American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Overwhelmed by workplace stress? You’re not alone
  2. Barlow, D.H. (2008). Clinical handbook of psychological disorders: A step-by-step treatment manual (4th ed.). New York City, NY: The Guilford Press.
  3. Bourne, E.J. (1995). The anxiety and phobia workbook. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.
  4. Daley, D. C., & Marlatt, G. A. (2006). Overcoming your alcohol or drug problem (2nd ed): Workbook. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc.
  5. Duff, C. T., & Bedi, R. P. (2010). Counsellor behaviours that predict therapeutic alliance: From the client’s perspective. Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 23(1), 91–110.
  6. Frone, M., Kelloway, E., & Barling, J. (2005). Handbook of work stress. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE
  7. Fulton State Hospital. (2004, January). Dialectical Behavior Therapy skills handbook
  8. Greenberger, D., & Padesky, C. A. (1995). Mind over mood: Change how you feel by changing the way you think. New York City, NY: The Guilford Press.
  9. Linehan, M.M. (1993). Skills training manual for treating Borderline Personality Disorder. New York: Guilford Press.
  10. Martin, G., & Pear, J. (2002). Behavior modification: What it is and how to do it (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  11. National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.) The numbers count: Mental disorders in America.
  12. NHS Choices. (2013). Workplace stress self-assessment
  13. NHS Foundation Trust. (n.d.). Mindfulness based stress reduction.
  14. Rautalinko, E., & Lisper, H. O. (2004). Effects of training reflective listening in a corporate setting. Journal of Business and Psychology, 18(3), 281–299.
  15. Rautalinko, E., Lisper, H. O., & Ekehammar, B. (2007). Reflective listening in counseling: Effects of training time and evaluator social skills. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 61(2), 191–209. 
  16. Resick, P.A., Monson, C.M., & Chard, K.M. (2008). Cognitive Processing Therapy, veteran/military version: Therapist’s manual. Washington, DC: Department of Veterans Affairs.
  17. Ridgway, I. R., & Sharpley, C. F. (1990). Empathic interactional sequences and counsellor trainee effectiveness. Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 3(3), 257–265.
  18. Sivak, K. (n.d.). Heartfulness psychotherapy: Mindful walking. Retrieved from  
  19. Watson, S. B., Goh, Y., & Sawang, S. (2011). Gender influences on the work-related stress-coping process. Journal of Individual Differences, 32(1), 39-46.
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