Our Philosophy

The Counselling Online Forum is a recovery orientated peer support community for people affected by their own or someone else’s substance use. Our community celebrates the journey of recovery by embracing the path of change. Whilst acknowledging where we have come from, and being mindful of this moment in time, we focus on where we are going as we take our steps forward.

This is a confidential, anonymous community in which people over 18 and living in Australia can connect to and share support with others who are living similar experiences. It is a community where you can feel comfortable and confident to share stories and strategies, document your journey and gain the support and motivation of others.

To ensure the community remains a safe and supportive environment for all members, there are some guidelines we adhere to.

When writing in the forums:

  • Keep it respectful – Be kind to one another.
    Never discriminate, defame or belittle others. This includes but isn’t exclusive to offensive statements based on gender, sex, religion, race, colour, political opinion, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability or impairment. Offensive words will be filtered.
  • Be supportive – Consider the feelings of others.
    Bullying, hostility, embarrassment or trolling of other members or facilitators will not be tolerated. Do not promote personal beliefs in a way that is offensive to others.
  • Stay anonymous – Staying anonymous allows you to post honestly.
    You should not share information about yours or others’ full name, email or post address, workplace, or any other identifiable information. Whilst choosing a profile picture image please remember to stay anonymous. All profile pictures disclosing someone’s identity will be removed.
  • Focus on recovery – Consider the journey of yourself and other members.
    Do not promote substance use of any kind or in any capacity, including the re-introduction of substances. Support recovery-oriented behaviours.
  • Recognise others’ triggers – Some topics can be triggering or upsetting for others to hear. While triggers can vary depending on the individual there is some content that we do not allow.
  • This is a peer space – The forums are a place for communication among peers.
    Any commercial or professional advice from anyone except for our facilitators will not be allowed. This includes legal, financial or medical advice, SPAM activity, or posts demonstrating commercial interests. Individuals are only to have one account.
    Research requests / recruitment need to get ethical approval before posting. You can make contact through the website’s Contact us form.

To ensure that this is a safe environment, posts containing the following content will be removed:

  • Quantities/amounts of substances. General terms such as ‘some’ are more suitable.
  • Alcohol specifics such as branding. General types such as ‘Beer,’ ‘wine’ and ‘spirit’ are fine.
  • Specific drugs. Instead please keep descriptors to classes of drugs rather than specifics. Eg. ‘benzodiazepines’ rather than ‘valium’ etc. ‘Opiates’ rather than ‘oxycontin’, and we prefer general terms for other drugs.
  • Describing methods of consumption beyond general terms such as ‘took’, ‘had’, ‘drank’ ‘smoked’ etc.
  • Graphic or specific details of self-harm, suicide or violent actions

From time to time people accessing the forum may be experiencing suicidal thoughts. While getting support is important, graphic or specific details of self-harm, suicide or violent actions could be distressing for others and so will not be allowed. It’s important that if you feel at risk of harming yourself in anyway, you contact the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, or Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you are in immediate danger please call 000. Note that these forums are not a crisis or counselling service.


Although we prefer to take a back seat in conversations, facilitators are always here to help with any questions you may have.
To ensure the integrity of our community, we do ask that all posts are in alignment with our philosophy and guidelines.


As a member of the community you have the right to feel safe.
If there is something which you feel breaches these guidelines or doesn’t feel right for you, , select ‘Flag’ option from the drop down menu next to the post to report it to a facilitator.

Removing account access

Spam posts and the promotion of alcohol and other drug content will be removed from the forum. All accounts suspected of Spam will be frozen, and access to the forums will no longer be available. If you feel your account has been frozen incorrectly you may email us at [email protected] and a member of the team will assess your eligibility to regain access.

Occasionally posts may need to be removed due to their inappropriate or triggering nature. We understand problems with content are usually unintentional. If this does occur, we will send you an email with a suggestion on how you could rephrase your post and ask you to re-post it.

If after this support is provided, you fail to respond and continue to breach guidelines, the team at Counselling Online reserve the right to remove your access to the forum. 

Removing forum access for members who repeatedly or intentionally breach the community guidelines is a last resort.

Length of time an account is frozen will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. This will be reviewed by taking into consideration member history and any previous guideline breaches. We will reach out to you to develop a reengagement plan. You can reach out to a member of the team at [email protected] at any time.

Lastly, we understand that the forums may not be the most appropriate recovery space for everyone, and in that scenario we will work with you to provide you with other support options.

Any other questions you have may be addressed in the Feedback, Queries and Announcements Group, or the terms and conditions.

We very much look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in the forums soon.