We Are Active Listenersvent over tea

About Vent Over Tea

Mission: Vent Over Tea offers a free, in-person, and confidential active listening service to all members of the local community to promote mental wellness and connection.

Vision: A community defined by connection rather than isolation; where mental health is as important as physical health and those who need support are able to access it without barriers.

Vent Over Tea is a free active listening service that pairs people who need to vent with a trained empathetic listener to chat in a local coffee shop. Based in Montréal and founded in April 2015 by McGill psychology graduates, our goal is to provide a casual, confidential, and non-judgmental outlet for members of our community. Our program is based on studies that have shown the benefits derived from expressing one's self to a compassionate listener. We do not offer counselling, psychotherapy, or advice. We provide you with a listening ear and a safe space to vent. We developped a unique training program with Stephane Bensoussan, holistic health and educational psychologist and director of PsySanté, which teaches our listeners how to actively listen and guide the conversation in a meaningful and empathetic way. Our volunteers can help you work through your problems by asking reflective questions and showing empathetic regard. All you need to do is select an available time and a coffee shop that you would like to meet in. One of our friendly volunteers will meet you there.

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What isActive Listening

  • An intentional and purposeful way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding
  • Whole and undivided attention, free of distractions 
  • Suspension of judgment or reaction
  • Includes reflective questions in order for you to gain deeper insight into your situation and come to your own conclusions
  • Empathetic regard 
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Your first meetingWhat to Expect

  • You select a time and a café that works for you (if you can't think of one - don't worry we have a list of recommended ones that are cozy and ambient.)
  • Your listener will reach out to you by email to confirm the vent session, let you know what they'll be wearing, and answer any of your pre-venting questions.
  • The two of you meet up at the café the day of your vent session. You each purchase your own beverage. 
  • You get venting! 
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Meet our teamThey are awesome

Sarah Fennessey - Co-Founder


Sarah Fennessey graduated from McGill University in 2016, completing a Bachelor of Arts degree. Sarah majored in Psychology and did a double minor in Behavioural Science and Economics. Through her own personal experience with PTSD, Sarah developed a passion for psychology and the study of the mind. This passion led her to study psychology and eventually create what we now know as Vent Over Tea.

Chloe Chow - Co-Founder


Chloe Chow graduated from McGill University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a double minor in Management and German. Chloe's passion for spiritual and emotional health as well as community engagement is what led her to connect with Sarah in her final year of undergrad. Since graduating, she has been working as a Psychology Consultant at a holistic psychology clinic. 

Nimra Khan - Co-Founder


Nimra Khan successively completed a B.Sc. and an M.Sc. in Pharmacology from McGill University, and is expected to complete a B.Sc. in Psychology in 2018. Nimra’s firm belief in active listening and empowerment strategies has brought her to get involved with Sarah and Chloe. She strives to continuously improve the Vent Over Tea organization as an accessible mental health initiative.

faqFrequently asked questions

How does the conversation start?

The conversation usually begins with the listener asking you about yourself and what brought you to the vent session.

Do I have to stay for a full hour?

No, you are under no obligation to stay for a full hour and can leave at any time.

What if I want to stay longer than an hour?

That is up to the listener. If they have extra time and are able to, they often will stay for longer than one hour. Some sessions do last longer than an hour.

Who pays for the beverages?

You each pay for their own beverages - except during promotional offers. Keep your eyes peeled for them on our Facebook and Instagram pages!

What if the cafe is closed?

If the cafe is closed, wait for the volunteer and the two of you will go to another one nearby. Our volunteers are prepared with a list of nearby cafes!

Is what I say confidential?

Absolutely. All volunteer listeners sign a confidentiality agreement upon being selected to be a Vent Over Tea volunteer. The only time the listener is required to break that confidentiality agreement is if you indicate that you pose a harm to yourself or others.

Who are the listeners?

The listeners are volunteers that are carefully selected and given extensive training in active listening and mental health first aid. Most of them are pursuing careers in psychology, social work, medicine or community service.

How does Vent Over Tea select its listeners?

Listeners undergo a rigorous screening process in order for us to evaluate if these are people we ourselves would feel comfortable opening up to.

What if I know my listener?

We try to avoid this situation by having our volunteers notify us if they’ve been assigned a name they are familiar with. However, in the event that you arrive at your session and you do know your listener, you are under no obligation to proceed with the vent session. Our listeners will be more than understanding. You’ll simply have to rebook another session and we’ll ensure you don’t get the same listener.

What if I don’t like my listener?

We love our listeners and we expect you will as well! But if you find that you don’t like your listener, aren’t enjoying the process, or feel uncomfortable in any way, then we encourage you to end the session and let us know in the feedback form that you will receive shortly after the vent session.

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