Understanding Therapy in Malaysia

What is Therapy?

Therapy—also called psychotherapy or talk therapy—refers to the process where an individual undergoes sessions with a therapist to talk through issues or problems they are facing. Over time, therapy can help the individual identify and change negative thoughts and behavioural patterns, and develop tools to better manage their mental health.  

Therapy can be an effective treatment for mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD or eating disorders. It can also help you address problems you may be currently facing—such as workplace challenges or relationship problems—or to make sense of past experiences and trauma. 

Keep in mind that you don’t always need to have a specific issue to go to therapy. It also serves as a safe space for you to process your thoughts and emotions, and explore other areas of your life. 

If you’re looking to make positive changes in your life, a therapist can help you with aspects like developing wellness goals, reframing your thinking, or creating more structure and stability in your daily routines.

Mental Health Statistics in Malaysia

Mental health statistics among youths

  • The National Health and Morbidity Survey 2022 showed that one in four teenagers had experienced depression, one in eight had suicidal thoughts, and one in ten had attempted suicide.
  • Twice as many girls (36.1 percent) reported feeling depressed compared to boys (17.7 percent). 
  • In a 2022 mental health and wellness survey by Rakuten Insights, 59 percent of respondents (aged 16 - 24 years) indicated that they experienced a higher level of stress or anxiety in the past 12 months. 

 

Top reasons why individuals are not seeking professional help for mental health issues

  • Statista outlines insights from a survey of respondents who have experienced mental health issues. 
  • The top reasons why respondents did not seek professional help include: being unsure about where to get help (56 percent), having concerns about cost (50 percent), having concerns about being embarrassed/ social stigma (38 percent) and having concerns about the time commitment (25 percent).

 

Types of Therapy Services in Malaysia

1. Online

ThoughtFull World

ThoughtFull is the first digital mental health company in Asia that provides seamless end-to-end mental healthcare. 

Individuals can access mental health support through our digital platform, ThoughtFullChat. The platform offers a wide range of services—including text and audio messaging, mental health coaching, self-care resources and progress tracking tools—to meet the needs of our users, no matter where you are in your mental health journey.  

Or speak with a mental health professional through our online video therapy service. Our team of mental health professionals are fully certified and specialises in diverse areas, including relationship issues, abuse issues, career and academics, financial wellness and more. 

  • Sessions: In-person and online
  • Rates: RM150 - 250 per session. Package rates are also available. 
  • Hours: This may vary depending on the availability of your therapist. You may check for available timings when you book an appointment
  • Contact: +603-2935-9339
  • Address: MBE Suite 328, LG13A, 1 Mont Kiara Mall, 1 Jalan Kiara, Mont Kiara, 50480 Kuala Lumpur

 

2. In-Person Offline

HumanKind

HumanKind is a social enterprise offering a range of services, such as mental health screening, individual therapy, art therapy, youth counselling and couples counselling. 
  • Sessions: In-person and online
  • Rates: RM50 - 220 per session. Package rates are also available. 
  • Operating hours: Monday to Sunday (9am - 9pm)
  • Contact: (+60 1) 2-235 5463
  • Address: Human Kind operates from four locations. The addresses are available here.

 

Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA)

MMHA is a non-profit organisation founded by faculty members from the medical faculty of the University Malaya. They offer a wide range of services and support, including therapy support, peer support services, mental health education, corporate training, and more. 

  • Sessions: In-person
  • Rates: RM50 - 120 per session
  • Operating hours: 
  • Kuala Lumpur (Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm)
  • Petaling Jaya, Selangor 
  • Contact:
    • +603-27806803 / +6017-6133039 (Kuala Lumpur)
    • +603-7772 2899 / +6011-3338 8567 (Petaling Jaya, Selangor)
  • Address: MMHA operates at two locations: Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, Selangor. 

 

Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association (MIASA)

MIASA is an NGO that serves to promote the importance of mental health, and provide support to the community. Services that the organisation provides include mental health assessment and consultation, individual and group counselling, peer support services, psychological services and more. 

  • Sessions: In-person and online
  • Rates: RM100 - 400. Free for B40 Group. 
  • Operating hours: 
    • (Selangor) Monday to Friday (9.30am - 6.30pm), Saturday (9.30am to 1.30pm)
    • (Terengganu) Sunday to Thursday (9.30am - 6.30pm), Friday (9.30am - 12.30pm)
  • Contact: 
    • 03 - 7932 1409 (Selangor)
    • 09 - 6674409 (Terengganu)
  • Address: MIASA operates at two locations: Petaling Jaya, Selangor and Kuala Terengganu. 

 

MINDAKAMI

MINDAKAMI is an initiative that aims to raise mental health awareness and provide accessible services to the community. They provide individual therapy, group therapy, couples therapy and career assessment services, in addition to running various online projects on mental health issues. 

  • Sessions: In-person and online
  • Rates: RM60 - 240 per session. Package rates are also available. 
  • Operating hours: Monday - Sunday (10am - 10pm)
  • Contact: +6011 5636 1366
  • Address: Unicorn Hub, 27M, Jalan SS21/56B, Damansara Utama, 47400, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

 

Thrive Well 

Thrive Well is a social enterprise that aims to expand trauma-informed mental health services to the community. The organisation offers various mental health services, including mental health screening, individual therapy, couples therapy, family therapy and career guidance. You may schedule a session via a registration form on their website. 

  • Sessions: In-person and online
  • Rates: RM150 - 450 per session
  • Operating hours: Tuesday to Saturday (9am to 6pm)
  • Contact: +6018-900 3247
  • Address: Thrive Well, Unit 5-11, Wisma BU8, 11 Lebuh Bandar Utama, Bandar Utama, 47800, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

 

Religious Counselling (Christian, Buddhist and Muslim Associations)

Buddhist Gem Fellowship

The Buddhist Gem Fellowship operates a phone counselling service to provide support to individuals, families and groups. Individuals may also call the helpline for mental health information and referrals. 

  • Helpline: +6011-5994 4384 / +6011-2528 9610
  • Operating hours: Monday to Friday (2pm – 4pm & 7.30pm – 9.30pm)

 

Mitra Line (Than Hsiang Temple)

The Than Hsiang Foundation was set up to promote Buddhist education and welfare. The Than Hsiang Temple—one of the temples under the foundation—operates a helpline and email counselling service for individuals.  

  • Helpline: 011-36018303 / 010-8217681
  • Email: mitraklcounselling@gmail.com
  • Operating hours: Monday - Friday, Sunday (8pm - 10pm)

 

Eirini Counseling Services

Eirini Counseling Services is a platform under Every Nation Church Malaysia offering counselling sessions, as well as psychological assessments (for individuals below the age of 18 years). 

  • Sessions: In-person
  • Rates: Suggested contributions range from RM80 - 250
  • Operating hours: Counselling sessions are scheduled on Fridays (and on the occasional Saturdays)
  • Contact: +60 12 3926539
  • Address: 4, Jalan Rajawali 1a, Bandar Puchong Jaya

 

Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department

Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family is a not-for-profit organisation that collaborates with government agencies to support families through preventive programmes and crisis measures. The organisation provides counselling services to individuals, couples and families dealing with mental health issues, bereavement, behavioural challenges and more.

  • Sessions: In-person and online
  • Rates: The sessions are available for free. Individuals may opt to donate a recommended contribution of RM70 per session.
  • Operating hours: Monday - Friday (10am – 4pm)
  • Contact: +6 03 3310 0792
  • Address: 6-2 Jalan Bersatu 13/4, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

 

National Association of Christian Counsellors (NACC Malaysia)

NACC is an association of Christian counsellors which aims to promote and equip the community in Christian counselling. In addition to maintaining a register of Christian counsellors, the organisation also operates Emmanuel Online Chat, a free service that provides mental health support.

NACC

  • Contact: +60179860860
  • Address: G-10-3A, Block G, Setia Walk, Persiaran Wawasan, Pusat Bandar Puchong, 47160 Puchong, Selangor Darul Ehsan
  • Operating hours: Monday & Wednesday (9.30am - 4.30pm), Friday (10am - 4pm)

Emmanuel Online Chat

  • Sessions: Sessions are conducted remotely via phone or video call
  • Rates: A RM20 registration fee applies. Individuals may opt to donate a fee of RM50 per session.

 

Al Khaadem

Al Khaadem is an Islamic NGO based in Malaysia. Their mental health programme, Mind, Heart and Soul integrates professional practice with spiritual solutions. There are various levels in the programme, which comprises talks, an online self-evaluation test, counselling sessions and activities at the organisation.

  • Sessions: Online (level 1) and in-person
  • Rates: RM60 - RM900
  • Operating hours: Monday - Friday (9am - 5pm)
  • Contact: +603 7726 4146 / +603 7724 1590
  • Address: Lot 1034 Jalan Cempaka, Sungai Kayu Ara, 47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

 

Mental Health Helplines and Free Mental Health Checks

Befrienders

Befrienders is a not-for-profit organisation providing emotional support to individuals who are dealing with difficult emotions, or having suicidal thoughts via a free helpline. The organisation also offers in-person appointments, and conducts outreach programmes on mental health.

  • Helpline: 603-76272929
  • Operating hours: 24/7

 

Buddy Bear

Operated by the team from HumanKind, Buddy Bear is a helpline for children and youths in Malaysia. It is accessible to individuals aged six to 18 years old, and available via phone or Facebook Messenger.

  • Helpline: 1800 18 2327
  • Operating hours: Monday - Sunday, 6pm - 12am

 

LifeLine Association Malaysia

LifeLine is an NGO that aims to support individuals affected by social and psychological issues. In addition to operating a helpline, the organisation also provides services such as counselling, play therapy, psychoeducation and more. 

  • Helpline: 03 - 4265 7995
  • Operating hours: Monday - Friday (9.30am - 10.30pm), Saturday (2.30pm - 5.30pm)

 

MIASA Crisis Helpline

MIASA provides a free crisis helpline that provides support to individuals coping with mental health or emotional issues. Individuals can access the service by calling the helpline, or sending a text via WhatsApp. 

  • Helpline: 1-800-180-066
  • WhatsApp: 03-97656088
  • Operating hours: 24/7

 

Pertubuhan Kebajikan Sneham Malaysia (SNEHAM Malaysia)

SNEHAM is a non-profit organisation that aims to promote mental wellbeing and create public awareness on suicide prevention. 

  • Helpline: 1800 225 757
  • Operating hours: 4pm - 8pm daily

 

Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) 

WAO is an NGO that provides free shelter, counselling, and crisis support to women and children who experience abuse. A team of trained volunteers help to operate the support helpline (also available via text on WhatsApp), which provides advice and support to callers.

  • Hotline: 03 3000 8858
  • WhatsApp: 018 988 8058
  • Operating hours: 9am - 5pm daily (hotline), 24/7 (WhatsApp)

Mentari Malaysia

Mentari is a program developed by the Ministry of Health Malaysia to expand its specialist psychiatric services into the community. Their website offers several self-screening tests to help individuals assess their mental health status. 

 

MINDAKAMI

MINDAKAMI offers various self-screening tests on its website, to help individuals assess their symptoms for ADHD, OCD and more. 

 

Online Therapy vs In-Person Therapy Options

How To Choose Your Ideal Therapy Medium

There are advantages to both in-person and online therapy, and what is considered the right fit will vary from one individual to another. 

Below, we’ll dive into the details on how in-person and online therapy sessions are conducted. We’ll also outline key factors you need to consider when choosing your ideal therapy medium.

 

1. In-person therapy sessions

With in-person therapy sessions, you’ll meet your therapist face-to-face at a designated location, such as a clinic or private office. During the session, your therapist is responsible for holding space, and creating a safe environment where you can feel comfortable sharing your thoughts, feelings and issues. 

Your therapist will also provide support and offer therapeutic interventions. These are actions or practices that can help individuals improve their wellbeing, and may include identifying triggers, imagery training, mindfulness, gratitude intervention, and more.

In-person therapy sessions are typically conducted on a weekly basis, but may also take place more or less frequently depending on your circumstances. An individual therapy session may have a duration of 45 - 60 minutes, while group therapy sessions usually lasts about 75 - 90 minutes. 

The costs of in-person therapy sessions will vary, depending on your mental health provider, the qualifications of your therapist, and the type of therapy you choose. 

Based on the list we’ve provided above, the average costs for an individual therapy session lies in the range of RM50 - 250. Your actual costs may fall outside of this range, depending on whether you’re able to access free or subsidised mental health care, or seek the services of a private healthcare provider. 

2. Online therapy sessions

Online therapy sessions, also known as teletherapy, are held remotely. You may opt for live sessions, whereby appointments with a therapist are scheduled in advance. This is similar to an in-person session, except that it is provided over the phone, through a video call, or via text messaging. 

Online therapy can also take place primarily through messaging. With this option, you may send text, voice or video messages to a therapist via a platform. Your therapist will respond within a specified timeframe, which can be within 24 hours or up to a few days—depending on his or her schedule. 

 

3. Key factors to consider

Accessibility

The first factor you need to consider is accessibility. 

Start by assessing your personal circumstances and routines, including your work schedule, responsibilities, and how comfortable you feel when you communicate with someone new. This can help you decide on the type of therapy that works best for you. 

For example, in-person therapy sessions may not be readily accessible for certain individuals—such as people with physical disabilities, employees juggling a hectic work schedule, or individuals who struggle with social anxiety. In such situations, online therapy can plug the gap by providing easier access to mental health support. 

 

Effectiveness

Various studies point to the effectiveness of online therapy, showing that both in-person and online therapy can provide effective mental health care:

  • A 2022 study showed that online counselling interventions can be as effective as face-to-face counselling, particularly for psychological distress. 
  • Another study, which compared face-to-face and online psychotherapeutic interventions, revealed no differences in effectiveness.
  • A research was conducted to evaluate client satisfaction and one-month mental health outcomes for clients who underwent telepsychiatry and face-to-face psychiatric consultations. Telepsychiatry clients reported that they could present the same information as they would in an in-person session (93 percent), were satisfied with their session (96 percent), and were comfortable in their ability to talk (85 percent).  

It is important to keep in mind that crisis situations should be navigated with care. As highlighted in a Forbes Health article, online therapy may not be as effective in cases where immediate intervention or physical assistance is needed. 

 

Cost

Various factors can affect the cost of therapy, and whether it would fit into your budget. 

This includes your income level, whether your insurance provider covers the costs of therapy, and the type of therapy you opt for. For instance, individual therapy sessions tend to cost more relative to group sessions. The costs of online therapy can also vary, depending on the level of support that you require. 

 

Benefits Of Online Therapy in Malaysia

Expanding on the factors we’ve outlined above, the benefits to choosing online therapy in Malaysia include:

  • Accessibility: With online therapy, you’re no longer limited by geographical boundaries. This allows you to widen your search, which can help you with finding a therapist with a good fit. Additionally, having access to online therapy ensures that you can continue working with your preferred therapist or provider, even when you have to travel or relocate for work or personal reasons. 
  • Immediacy: The easy accessibility of online therapy means that you can quickly schedule a session, and access mental health support when you need it. 
  • Comfort: Online therapy sessions can be conducted at any location of your choice, as long as you have access to a reliable internet connection. Being in a familiar environment can help you feel at ease, and encourage you to share your concerns more easily. This is particularly helpful for individuals who feel uncomfortable with face-to-face interactions.
  • Affordability: Mental health solutions like ThoughtFullChat can help to bridge the gap by providing access to therapy at affordable costs. Our platform offers the option of paying a monthly, three-month or six-month billing cycle, so our users can pay a lower fee depending on their subscription duration. This allows you to achieve cost savings when you commit to long-term care.

 

Conclusion

Finding a therapist, or navigating the landscape of mental healthcare providers and services can seem challenging. By understanding the key factors and differences, you can narrow down your options more easily to decide on a therapist or provider that can be the right fit.

Earlier in our article, we elaborated on:

  • Understanding what therapy is, and how you can benefit by undergoing therapy.
  • Types of online and in-person therapy services in Malaysia, including not-for-profit organisations, mental health helplines and religious counselling. 
  • Choosing between online or in-person therapy, and the key factors you need to consider. These include accessibility, effectiveness and cost.
  • Understanding the benefits of online therapy in Malaysia, including accessibility, immediacy, comfort and affordability.

References:

 

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