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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.

A mature woman participates in the best online therapy session.Share on Pinterest
Getty/Holly Ravazzolo

The American Psychological Association explains that online therapy, or teletherapy, can be a good alternative to in-person therapy. However, it notes that research has not yet definitively proven that it works as well as in-person therapy in every situation.

For this reason, people may need to try it for themselves and see whether or not it works for them.

  • People may find it easier to share personal or uncomfortable details about themselves online instead of face to face.
  • People are not limited to choosing a therapist within walking or driving distance.
  • People with disabilities that make it difficult for them to leave home can still access therapy.
  • Online therapy may be cheaper than in-person therapy.

There are a number of factors to consider when selecting the best option for online therapy and counseling, including:

  • range of therapy options and services
  • access to licensed mental health professionals
  • easy signup process
  • budget friendliness or ability to use health insurance
  • treatment of a wide variety of mental health issues

Recent advances in telehealth services mean that there are now many different options for online therapy. Below are some of the best choices available.

Please note that the author of this article has not tried these services and that this article is purely research-based.

Best overall: BetterHelp

BetterHelp

This e-counseling program provides access to trained, licensed professionals in a variety of areas. These professionals include psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and board licensed professional counselors.

The website matches a person with a suitable counselor. People can then interact with a BetterHelp counselor through live chats, messages, phone calls, and video conferences.

The site states that health insurance does not cover many of its services, but people can check their coverage to find out for sure.

Best for budgets: Talkspace

Talkspace

The Talkspace service allows licensed therapists and mental health counselors to meet with clients virtually.

A person can take an assessment and choose the therapy plan that fits their budget. The site then matches them with a therapist.

Talkspace’s site also includes a messaging option with a guaranteed response time frame so that people can contact a therapist any time. It includes options for adults, teenagers, and couples.

Best for teenagers: Teen Counseling

Teen Counseling

Teen Counseling, which is a sister site to BetterHelp, is specifically geared toward people between the ages of 13 and 19 years. 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.

The mental healthcare professionals assure 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 the payment.

Best for couples: ReGain

ReGain

With a focus on relationships and marital issues, ReGain offers both individual and couples counseling.

It says that its team of professionals comprises licensed, trained 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.

Most accommodating: Thriveworks

Thriveworks

With more than 100 physical locations in the United States, this organization also offers online counseling with licensed counselors.

The options include individual and couples counseling over either video or phone.

Best for emotional support: 7 Cups

7 Cups

In addition to offering online therapy with licensed therapists, this site provides the option of free chat with volunteer listeners. 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 also offers self-help and growth paths that allow people to explore and identify ways to help themselves feel better.

Best for psychiatry services: AmWell

AmWell

AmWell does not focus exclusively on online therapy. Instead, it offers a variety of telehealth services.

People can connect with board certified professionals for a variety of 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 all or any of 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.

Best for behavioral therapy: Online-Therapy.com

Online-Therapy.com

This site focuses on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and uses an online therapy toolbox.

People have contact with a personal therapist and access to a self-help course that allows them to find tools and tips for dealing with their individual issues. The site also includes yoga and meditation videos.

Live chat sessions and therapist messaging options come with some of the subscriptions, but lower cost plans do not have this feature. A free option allows people to access worksheets, yoga, and meditation at no cost.

Best self-guided: Bliss Online Therapy for Depression

Bliss Online Therapy for Depression

Bliss is a computer-based program that does not include live interaction with a therapist. Instead, it is a free online program based on CBT. According to some studies, self-guided online CBT is effective for treating depression.

The program allows users to monitor and manage their mood and practice techniques to improve their mental health.

People can complete the program at their own pace with no strict time commitments.

Some people may prefer to contact a mental health professional near their home, even if they never go there in person. Alternatively, they may be interested in a psychiatrist’s or therapist’s office that is not nearby. In that case, online therapy may allow them to become a client there.

More and more therapy services are offering online options, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If a person is interested in using a specific therapist, they may wish to visit the practice’s website or call them to ask about their teletherapy options.

Online therapy may be an effective option for people who are unable or who would prefer not to meet with a mental healthcare professional in person.

There are many ways to access online therapy, from specialized therapy sites to telehealth options with a current healthcare professional.

Before using any online therapy service, it is important to clarify the costs and required level of commitment.

Anyone who is 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.