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As the world of online video, messaging, and chat continues to grow, a vast range of online therapy options has become available for people to try.
- Best overall: BetterHelp
- Best for budgets: Talkspace
- Best for teenagers: Teen Counseling
- Best for couples: ReGain
- Most accommodating: Thriveworks
- Best for emotional support: 7 Cups
- Best for psychiatry services: AmWell
- Best for behavioral therapy: Online-Therapy.com
- Best self-guided: Bliss Online Therapy for Depression
Online therapy is a talk therapy service. A person may use online therapy in place of a face-to-face appointment with a therapist or counselor. Some reasons a person may choose online therapy include:
- finding it difficult to leave their home
- having a busy schedule
- living in a remote area
- feeling safer online
Some of the pros and cons of online therapy are as follows:
Recent advances in telehealth services mean there are now many different options for online therapy.
The American Psychological Association (APA) explains that online therapy, or teletherapy, may provide a good alternative to in-person therapy. However, it notes that research has not yet proven that it works as well as in-person therapy in every situation.
For this reason, individuals should try it for themselves to see if it works for them. Below are some of the best choices available.
Please note that the author of this article has not tried these services. All information presented is purely research-based.
All guide prices are correct at the time of publishing this article.
This e-counseling program provides access to trained, licensed professionals in a variety of areas. Professionals include psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and board licensed professional counselors.
The website matches a person with a suitable counselor who they then interact with via live chats, messages, phone calls, and video conferences.
The company states that health insurance plans do not typically cover its services, but individuals can contact their plan provider to check their benefits.
Betterhelp costs $60–90 per week, depending on the chosen service. The billing period is monthly.
Best for budgets
Talkspace allows licensed therapists and mental health counselors to meet with clients virtually to provide services for adults, teenagers, and couples.
To access individual therapy, a person takes an assessment and chooses the therapy plan that fits their budget. The site then matches them with a therapist.
The table below shows Talkspace plans and their rough costs.
|Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus||unlimited messaging with a therapist for 5 days per week||around $60 per week, billed monthly|
|Unlimited Messaging Therapy Premium||unlimited messaging and one live 30-minute session per month||around $75 per week, billed monthly|
|Unlimited Messaging Therapy Ultimate||unlimited messaging and four live 30-minute sessions per month||around $90 per week, billed monthly|
The company also has two programs. Its Talkspace Psychiatry program costs around $200 for an initial consultation, with follow-ups costing around $130. Its Talkspace Sleep Therapy service costs around $500.
Best for teenagers
Teen Counseling, a sister site to BetterHelp, is specifically geared toward people who are 13–19 years old. It offers online therapy for mental health challenges that may be unique to teenagers.
Teenagers can talk with a counselor through messages, live chats, phone calls, and video conferences.
Teen Counseling assures teenagers of confidentiality, and parents or caregivers do not have access to their virtual counseling room. However, the teenager will likely need an adult to oversee their account and handle payment.
Teen Counseling costs around $60–90 per week.
Best for couples
With a focus on relationships and marital issues, ReGain offers both individual and couples counseling.
It says that its team of professionals is made up of licensed psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and professional counselors.
Two users can share a joint account to talk with a counselor together. Private live sessions are also available.
Plans cost around $60–90 per week, billed monthly.
With more than 100 physical locations in the United States, this organization also offers online counseling with licensed counselors.
Online options include individual and couples counseling via either video or phone. Each appointment costs $65–140.
Best for emotional support
In addition to offering online therapy with licensed therapists, this site provides the option to chat with volunteer listeners for free. 7 Cups is suitable for adults and teenagers.
There are also chat rooms and forums where people can discuss specific issues, such as anxiety and relationships.
The site offers self-help and growth paths that allow people to explore and identify ways to help themselves feel better.
Services cost around $150 per month.
Best for psychiatry services
AmWell does not focus exclusively on online therapy. Instead, it offers a variety of telehealth services.
People can connect with board certified professionals for various health concerns, including those related to mental health. Psychiatry and therapy are two of the services that AmWell offers.
As many insurance companies cover telehealth, people may not have to cover the costs associated with this service. After enrolling, a person can enter their insurance information to check. Then, they can choose a healthcare professional and set up a telehealth appointment.
Depending on the service, therapy appointments cost around $100–130.
Best for behavioral therapy
This site focuses on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and uses an online therapy toolbox.
Live chat sessions and therapist messaging options come with some subscriptions, but lower-cost plans do not have this feature. The following table shows the plans and rough costs:
|Basic||online therapy, self-guided sections, 25 worksheets, yoga and meditation videos, journal-keeping exercises, activity plans, daily therapist replies on weekdays only||around $40 per week, billed monthly|
|Standard||all the benefits of the Basic package plus one 30-minute live therapy session per week via video, voice, or text chat||around $60 per week, billed monthly|
|Premium||all the Basic and Standard package benefits plus express replies||around $80 per week, billed monthly|
The company also offers a free option that allows individuals to access worksheets, yoga, and meditation at no cost.
The program allows users to monitor and manage their moods and practice techniques to improve their mental health.
Individuals can complete the program at their own pace with no strict time commitments.
There are several factors to consider when selecting the best option for online therapy and counseling, including:
- Type: A person should think about whether they would like to speak with a licensed therapist or if they are looking for other options, such as peer support, group sessions, or life coaching.
- Cost: A person should consider their budget and whether their health insurance will cover some or all of the costs.
- Transparency: Individuals may consider how the company protects personal data and whether it has a clear pricing structure.
- Freedom of choice: Some companies allow a person to select their therapist, while others may match individuals with a therapist in line with their therapy goals.
Below are some questions people frequently ask about online therapy.
Is online therapy effective?
Some forms of online therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy for certain mental health conditions, depending on the circumstances. The APA advises that online therapy may be a good alternative to in-person appointments.
Is online therapy secure and confidential?
Individuals can ask their intended therapy provider if it complies with rules set out in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), such as the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule.
Security and privacy are extremely important, and most companies should have robust protective systems in place. However, as with any online service, there is always a risk of data theft, computer viruses, and hacking.
Does insurance cover online therapy?
The answer to this question will depend on a person’s insurance benefits.
Some plans may cover some form of online therapy. A person should contact their plan provider to confirm their benefits.
Is online therapy covered by Medicare?
As of 2019, Medicare plans cover some telehealth services, including mental health services.
Who is online therapy best for?
Online therapy may benefit those with mild to moderate mental health conditions. People may wish to discuss online therapy with a doctor to determine its appropriateness.
If a person is in crisis or requires immediate or urgent care, they should call the emergency services on 911.
Online therapy may be an effective option for people who would prefer not to meet with a mental healthcare professional in person or are unable to do so.
There are many ways to access online therapy. Before using any online therapy service, it is important to clarify the costs and required level of commitment.
Anyone concerned that they may pose a danger to themselves or others should not use online therapy. Instead, they should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.