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An online therapy session allows a person to communicate with a qualified therapist from their home. The cost depends on the therapist’s credentials and experience, but many companies offer subscription plans that an individual can cancel at any time. A person could also receive mental health coverage through their insurer.
This article explores the different types of therapy available and how individuals may recognize that they need to see a therapist. It also describes factors that could help people choose affordable therapy options online and the different platforms available for counseling.
An individual can attend different types of therapy, including:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): The American Psychological Association (APA) states that CBT is effective in treating depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other conditions.
- Interpersonal or talking therapy: The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) states that interpersonal therapy helps people with depression identify and address relationship challenges.
- Emotion-focused therapy: A ongoing
2018 studysuggests this type of therapy shows potential in helping individuals with conditions that include depression, trauma, and social anxiety.
- Group therapy: A person joins a group session with individuals who have similar experiences to share their feelings and offer peer support. Sessions are typically run by a qualified mental health care professional.
During therapy sessions, therapists use different methods to help their clients, such as talking therapies, helping manage negative thoughts, interacting with others, and mindfulness techniques.
However, an individual may consider contacting a therapist if their symptoms do not improve or last more than 2 weeks or if they experience any of the following:
- difficulty concentrating
- thoughts of harming themselves or others
- lack of motivation
- reduced appetite
- feeling down or blue
- feelings of frustration or nervousness
There are various criteria to consider when looking for affordable therapy:
- Cost and insurance: Some companies operate on a subscription-based service that allows people to cancel anytime they choose. Health insurance could reduce the overall cost, but some mental health services are not eligible under some insurance plans. Therefore, it is best for a person to confirm their coverage with an insurer or employer before seeking therapy.
- Reviews: A person can use impartial services, such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or Trustpilot, to check a company’s reviews and reputation.
- Credentials: Some counseling services allow individuals to view their therapists’ qualifications, experience, and specialisms. This may allow a person to estimate fees.
- Ease of use: Many therapists host online sessions through video, phone, or instant messaging chats, which individuals may find more cost effective.
Below are some companies that offer affordable therapy sessions online.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.
Prices and reviews are correct at the time of publishing this article.
BetterHelp offers counseling sessions for individuals, couples, and teenagers. The platform requires a person to complete a questionnaire so the company can pair them with a therapist.
An individual can talk with a therapist via instant messaging, phone, or video chat.
BetterHelp also offers:
- group sessions
- easy scheduling features
- digital worksheets to support the counseling process
The platform works with licensed psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and counselors.
Counseling costs around $60–90 per week, and individuals can cancel their membership at any time. However, health insurance plans do not usually grant coverage for BetterHelp services.
BetterHelp has an average rating of 4.1 stars out of 5 and an A grade with the BBB. According to reviews, sessions are very convenient, while therapists are helpful and supportive.
Amwell’s therapists provide counseling for various mental health conditions, including:
A person can choose a therapist with a Master’s degree or Ph.D. in their field. Costs are usually around $109–129, and the price varies depending on the therapist’s experiences and credentials.
The company also has physicians and psychiatrists who can prescribe medication and manage urgent care.
Amwell works with many insurers, and a person should contact their insurance provider or employer to check their benefits.
Trustpilot users give Amwell a review rating of 3.1 stars out of 5, with reviewers commenting that its doctors do not prescribe all medications, and the cost can be higher than in-person visits. However, individuals stated they received a diagnosis and treatment plan quickly.
The ReGain platform offers therapy sessions for individuals and couples by matching them with a licensed mental healthcare professional.
For couples therapy, both people must be at the same location — ReGain does not currently offer live three-way sessions.
Once people log on to the website, the company’s chat room saves all written information for reference, but only the counselor and individual or partners have access.
ReGain operates a subscription-based plan, with sessions costing around $60–90 per week. The company does not currently work with private medical insurers.
The company has a rating of 1.8 stars out of 5 on Trustpilot, with less favorable comments mentioning having to pay for a month upfront and that the service could not fix an appointment with a counselor. At the time of publishing this article, there were no positive reviews.
Doctor on Demand is a platform specializing in physical and mental health conditions.
It offers therapy sessions with licensed mental health specialists qualified to help individuals with anxiety, depression, trauma, and stress. A person can also chat with a psychiatrist who can provide therapy sessions and, if necessary, prescribe limited medications. Should individuals require a prescription for a controlled substance, such as anxiety medications, they may have to attend an in-person appointment with their doctor.
Doctor on Demand prices depend on the session length or therapist type and range from $130 to $300.
A person can check if their insurance covers Doctor on Demand’s telehealth visits during the registration process.
The most frequently asked questions about online therapy are below.
Is an online therapist qualified or certified?
Therapists who hold online therapy sessions have the same credentials as those who see clients in person.
They often have a Masters’ degree, Ph.D., Psy.D., or Doctor of Psychology qualification in their field.
Is the session information shared or confidential?
During an online therapy session, the information shared is confidential, but therapists may keep session notes for reference.
However, if the client has suicidal ideations or a severe mental health problem that requires urgent care, the therapist is authorized to contact the police or an urgent care facility.
Additionally, a person aged under 18 years old may require consent from their parent or caregiver to sign up for counseling.
Is online therapy for everyone?
According to the APA, online therapy sessions can benefit a person as much as in-person visits.
However, the organization advises against using online companies if a person has or could have a severe mental health condition that requires immediate attention, such as schizophrenia or addiction.
Many companies offer affordable therapy options online, which can be a suitable choice for individuals who prefer or need to attend virtual consultations.
Some offer subscription plans, allowing a person to choose the number of visits with the therapist.
An individual can also check whether their insurance plan covers telehealth and online therapy services.
However, online counseling is not suitable for people who have suicidal or self-harm thoughts, as they require immediate urgent care.
If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 800-273-8255. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 800-273-8255.