Newsletter #535 – 7 Cups of Tea

Last week CBS news described findings from a new Pew Research Center report on caregivers (http://www.westwood-backup.com/pg/jsp/osgood/transcript.jsp?pid=36635). Thirty-nine percent of Americans care for adults and children with significant health Issues (up from 30 percent in 2010).  Statistics 7cupsofteaweren’t reported from other countries but in the US these caregivers are primarily 30-to-64 years old, still working, and connected to the Internet. Most caregivers are not counseling or medical experts but they go online to find support and resources that help them deal with the stress of caregiving.

What if there was a way in which caregivers or anyone else could find emotional support on line, available 24-7, free or at minimal cost? What if callers could remain anonymous, connect with trained active listeners, and even select the kind of listeners they prefer? Suppose a caller wants a listener who has cared for a spouse with Alzheimer’s, experienced an amputation or post-traumatic stress, overcome a pornography addiction, is a preferred age or a member of the caller’s occupational group, denomination, or even the same church. What if these listeners and callers could be connected? The possibilities are mind-boggling but so is the technological expertise to make this work.

This has not deterred psychologist Glen Moriarty, one of my faculty colleagues at Regent University. Glen is one of the most innovative people I know, working this summer with expert advisors and partners in the Silicon Valley to make this vision a reality. Already caregiver organizations, businesses and churches are signing on to participate in a sophisticated test run of this technology. Technology even exists to evaluate every call to determine if and how this works. Dr. Moriarty calls this venture 7 Cups of Tea. He describes it as providing emotional support online, “whether you’re feeling stressed, confused, or just want to get something of your chest… It connects callers with real people from diverse backgrounds who have been trained in active listening. They do not make judgments, solve problems, give advice or to provide professional counseling or coaching.”

A team of lawyers has determined that this conforms with professional licensing laws. For more information go to www.7cupsoftea.com. To learn how this connects with churches see www.7cupsoftea.com/communitie/faith.php. To connect with Dr. Moriarty directly go to glen.moriarty@7cupsoftea.com. Please leave a comment to give your input on this concept.

P.S. Anyone who wants to be a listener can go to the following address and put “Gary Collins” in the affiliation box: www.7cupsoftea.com/listener.

    • Horace Lukens
    • July 2nd, 2013

    Gary,

    As usual you find gems of articles and concepts to keep moving others forward. An interesting article and a very interesting concept. Reminds me of an online version of Stephens Ministry.

    What are the qualifications for someone to become a listener? How are they screened? Trained? Monitored?

    I noticed that a number of the faith based listeners are either mental health professionals in graduate training or are licensed and practicing MH professionals. This then raises the question of credentialing and licensing. My understanding of the applicable ethics is that a licensed professional would be held to the standard of their profession even if they were only functioning as a “listener”. How would issues such as confidentiality, abuse reporting, and risk assessment and intervention be handled ethically and appropriately? How would the ethics committees/boards view these activities?

    As you noted, there are many technological issues and professional issues to resolve.

    Thanks for keeping the creative juices flowing.

    HCL
    Boston, MA

    • Horace, your comments are right on target. Thanks for raising them. I brought up similar questions when Dr. Moriarity first presented the 7 Cups of Tea concept to me.

      Let’s start with the easiest question. Does this sound like the Stephens Ministry on-line? Absolutely and it is my understanding that the SM folks are interested in partnering with 7 Cups of Tea in a way that will greatly expand their local churches perspectives.

      I shared your comments about listener qualifications, screening, vetting, training, monitory and the others. Many of these have been addressed or are being addressed. It is my understanding that the 7 Cups of Tea leadership team will be posting clear answers to these questions on a question and answer post soon. I have expressed my opinion that these things need to be addressed clearly before the current blossoming expansion of 7 Cups goes too much further.

      A team of legal experts has determined that none of this conflicts with state licensing laws. I wonder about trained counselors doing what is simply listening apart from their professional work. I suspect that most professionals would agree with your interpretation of the law. But it makes me wonder how far the licensing laws can extend into and control our personal lives as citizens, church members, pastoral counselors, and family members. This is interesting stuff isn’t it!

      Thanks for raising these tough questions so graciously and so succinctly.

    • Larry Skahill
    • July 9th, 2013

    Hi Gary. Sorry for the lateness of this comment. For years my youngest daughter (age 25 and living in San Francisco) was upset by my Christian stance on homosexuality. It took her years to see that my concern is truly and in love for their best interests (the joys and yes, trials of having and raising a family). Every statement I made was highly guarded so as not to be interpreted as hateful. Years, but she now sees the love.
    Too many Christians ARE judgmental and this has negatively impacted our own impact on culture. I think the best biblical stance on this is that put forth in 1Cor.4:5: ”
    “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.”
    Like so many Christians I’ve waited for the God-sized fly swatter to hit, but God in His unfailing love will lavish praise on us. Great example for us.
    blessings,
    Larry

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