Can Crisis Text Counseling Really Help Someone?

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated June 14, 2024by Regain Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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Despite the stigma still sometimes attached to mental health challenges, most people will experience mental health issues in their lives. In fact, it is estimated that one in five Americans live with at least one mental health issue at some point during their lives. From depression to anxiety to feeling hopeless, these problems can sometimes come and go quickly or end up becoming more long-term issues that we often have a hard time grappling with.

Professional counseling can be a great tool for dealing with a mental health issue, but what if it isn’t an option in your area or if you can’t afford the fees? Technology has brought about some changes in how people can help in online counseling and, more recently, text counseling. 

But can text counseling services really help someone?

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How does crisis text counseling work?

Text counseling services usually employ live trained crisis counselors and are typically available 24 hours a day. Though many options call themselves “crisis” text lines, that doesn’t mean that you have to be in serious trouble or danger. They usually define a crisis as anytime you need emotional support or are experiencing a painful emotion. 

Using a crisis text line is quite simple. After you pick the service you’d like to use, you initiate a conversation through their text line. Depending on how many people are using the service at that time, you may have to wait a bit before being connected to a crisis counselor. Once connected, a crisis counselor will introduce themselves and ask questions about you and your situation. The crisis counselor can then help you examine your feelings, engage with you in an empathetic way, and actively listen to what you have to say. You don’t have to answer anything that you don’t want to, and you can end the conversation whenever you want to.

Some text crisis lines allow you completely unknown if it makes you more comfortable. This option is one of the most significant differences between online or text therapy and traditional in-person therapy.

The benefits of crisis text counseling

One of the biggest challenges people may face in getting help for their mental health is reluctance or inability to open up in a face-to-face setting. Crisis text lines give people the option to discuss their mental health without the pressure of in-person meetings. For some people, such as those with physical or mental limitations that make it difficult to leave the house, reaching a live trained crisis counselor via text is actually more effective. 

Another benefit of using a crisis text line is putting your words down in written form rather than speaking them aloud. Writing is more comfortable for some people, and writing makes you slow down and think about what you want to say. It requires more thought and can often help people consider their feelings more fully as they decide how best to express them to their crisis counselor. This is especially true for young people, who are typically more likely to text someone than call them. Because it is a form of communication that they are more comfortable with, text counseling can be more appealing and easier. 

Crisis text lines are a valuable resource for people who do not have health insurance and can’t afford to see a traditional therapist, which can cost upward of hundreds of dollars per visit. Because volunteer crisis counselors staff crisis text lines, these services are free for anyone to use. It is also a great option for those with no or limited by transportation, people who live in very rural areas with no traditional therapist nearby, or those who reside home with a person who would frown upon seeing a therapist.

People often have concerns about whether text counseling actually helps someone with their mental health concerns. Research around this area has found that text counseling and other digital counseling forms are just as effective as traditional counseling. 

Five different crisis text line options

As stated before, you do not have to be in an actual crisis to utilize a text crisis line. These services’ trained crisis counselors can help with any mental health concern whenever you need to talk to someone. They can also help people with friends or family members experiencing a crisis, symptoms of depression, anxiety, domestic violence, abuse, addiction, or many other issues.

There are currently five major text-based crisis counseling services available to people who need to talk with a crisis counselor.

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is a crisis intervention hotline specifically aimed at LGBTQ+ youth that offers crisis counselors via text 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The organization added a crisis text line to serve young people in the LGBTQ+ community that needed help. An outside evaluation of The Trevor Project’s programs found that 63 percent of people that utilized their text option did so because they thought it would be easier to “be themselves” when discussing their problems with a crisis counselor via text instead of in a traditional therapy session.

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Crisis Text Line

Crisis Text Line assists anyone who is experiencing a crisis, depression, anxiety, and more. They also have crisis counselors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and serve all people who need help. Users can text the Crisis Text Line to speak with a trained crisis counselor who will “bring texters from a hot moment to a cool calm through active listening and collaborative problem-solving.”

Teen Line

Teen Line provides support for teens through their crisis texting service between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. PT. Teens often report feeling more comfortable discussing their issues with a peer rather than someone older than them because they feel that older people had far different life experiences when they were young. Teen Line is different from some other crisis texting services because they connect users with teen crisis counselors who can help with anxiety, depression, family issues, and more.


Much like Teen Line, YouthLine connects teen users with teen crisis counselors, who are reachable via text from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. PT.


Need2Text is also a service that is aimed at connecting teenagers with a crisis counselor. But unlike our two previous options, Need2Text utilizes masters-level crisis counselors to help teens deal with issues stemming from depression, anxiety, relationship trouble, bullying, and more. This service is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Text and online therapy for various mental health challenges

Text therapy may seem a little unusual but is, in fact, just as viable as traditional therapy. Anyone who would benefit from traditional therapy can benefit from text therapy. Text line crisis counselors can help you deal with just about any mental health issue, including anxiety problems, addiction, depression, eating disorders, ADHD or ADD, family problems, relationship issues, and more. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or urges, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text 988 to talk to someone over SMS. Support is available 24/7.

If you have utilized a crisis text line and find that you need more support than the crisis counselor could give you, consider taking advantage of an online therapy option such as Regain. With Regain, we offer convenient online sessions that can be done from your computer, tablet, or phone whenever it best suits your schedule. This means that even if a text crisis counselor wasn’t meeting your needs, you could still get help without having to leave the comfort of your home with counseling online. Remember that, no matter what avenue you choose, what is important is that you ask for help whenever you need it. Talking about your issues can help get you through rough times or learn how to process or better handle whatever is bothering you.

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