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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.

I write, "I constantly compare myself to other women—not just women I know, but friends of friends, famous people, etc." before acknowledging that my life is fine overall, save for my obsessive quest to "constantly think about how little I have in comparison to some friends and acquaintances (especially when it comes to my love life)."A therapist named Regina M. "It is so difficult to be a woman in our culture these days," she writes. I explain that I've been in therapy for years and have tried a zillion types of treatment.

THE RESOLUTION (OR LACK THEREOF)OK, so the therapist's response seems a bit... I wasn't expecting much more, honestly, so I continue my exchange, explaining more details about my mental-health history.

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.

And I can't help but agree with his assessment that "deeply entrenched and persistent emotional and relationship issues cannot be adequately addressed through an online therapeutic relationship.

They felt more like social outlets than mental health resources. Hokemeyer expresses major concern about sites like Blah Therapy, where "non-trained professionals [are] giving advice to other individuals.""There is just too much room for harm," he notes.

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.

THE THERAPY SITE: is the slickest of the three sites I tried.

Not for me, anyway—a therapy newbie might find Regina's advice illuminating.

My Therapy Couch rather charmingly calls itself a " social counseling site." So ...

While my new, Colorado-based buddy is certainly no therapist, it feels sweet and genuine, making a connection with a stranger like this.

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