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A wide range of online therapy options is available for people to try. Online therapy can be convenient but expensive, and health insurance only sometimes covers the cost.

Medical News Today’s methodology

Medical News Today includes apps that are reputable, well-received, and with a range of price points and features.

Additionally, MNT looks at some of the following:

  • Health claims: MNT includes companies that make no questionable health claims.
  • Trust: MNT includes companies that operate transparently regarding their products, services, and leadership. Also, where relevant, those companies have certifications from reputable, third-party organizations.
  • Business standards: MNT will choose companies that follow safe and ethical business and marketing practices.
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Below, we look at 16 of the best online therapy options a person can consider.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Disclaimer: All the services tested below were tried by Medical News Today editors. All opinions are their own. Due to the sensitive nature of the services in this article, the editors chose to write anonymously or used pseudonyms for their reviews.

Best overall: BetterHelp

Betterhelp logo
  • Price: $60–$90 per week, depending on the chosen service.
  • App: Yes.
  • Therapy platforms: Live chat, messages, phone calls, and video conferences.
  • Insurance: The company states that health insurance plans do not typically cover its services, but individuals can contact their plan provider to check their benefits.

This counseling program provides access to trained, licensed professionals in various areas. Professionals include psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, and board-licensed professional therapists.

The website matches a person to a suitable counselor with who they then interact via live chats, phone calls, and video conferences.

The billing period is monthly, and a person can cancel their subscription anytime for any reason.

This service gives a wide range of platforms for a person to access sessions at affordable prices and has a good reputation online.

Read our full review of BetterHelp.

Our testers’ experiences

Two of our editors tried BetterHelp and had this to say about the service:

“I usually book therapy sessions to discuss specific problems I’m facing that week or will face in the near future. I wanted to use BetterHelp to dig deeper into some topics that have affected me longterm that I haven’t discussed before due to the cost of regular sessions.

“It was very easy to sign up for BetterHelp. You just answer questions about your goals for therapy, the conditions and topics you’d like to talk about, and your preferences for a therapist. This includes whether you want the therapist to have certain cultural competencies. Then you give the usual personal information you provide when signing up for an account online.

“I’d recommend BetterHelp to readers. It’s simple to sign up, easy to use when you’re scheduling, changing, or joining appointments, and it may well be cheaper for those without insurance.”

– MNT Editor

“I wanted to try online therapy as I’ve primarily only tried in-person therapy before. I wanted to see if consistent sessions with a virtual therapist helped me with my mental health and felt like an effective and sustainable option.

“It was very simple, and a lot quicker than I expected! I was matched with a therapist in under a day.

“I think it’s a good fit for people who have busy or varied schedules and have a hard time fitting therapy into their week. One hour sessions virtually are easy to fit into a busy life, and the scheduling is flexible. In previous therapy experiences, sessions were held at the same time and day every week.

BetterHelp lets you book in whatever available time and day works for you, so you can book at times that work for you. I think this would be good for people with busy work schedules, students, parents, etc.”

– MNT Copy Editor


  • BetterHelp only uses licensed therapists
  • anonymity is possible
  • a person can choose their communication method
  • a person can cancel their subscription at any time


  • no free trials
  • insurance does not typically cover the services
  • therapists are chosen for a person, although they can change if they wish
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Best for smaller budgets: Talkspace

talkspace logo
  • Price: Between $69–$109 per week.
  • App: Yes.
  • Therapy platforms: Messaging and live video.
  • Insurance: Some insurance plans may cover Talkspace services. Talkspace also accepts FSA and HSA cards.

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.

Talkspace plans and their approximate costs are as follows:

  • Messaging therapy: Daily messaging responses from a therapist five days a week starts from $69 per week.
  • Video and messaging therapy: Video sessions and messaging start at $99 a week.
  • Video, messaging, and workshops: Access to all Talkspace features, including weekly workshops, costs $109 a week.
  • Psychiatry: An initial consultation costs $299, and follow-up appointments cost $175.
  • Couples therapy: This includes live sessions and unlimited messaging and starts at $436 per month. People can buy additional live sessions for an extra $65 per session.

Read our full review of Talkspace.


  • unlimited access to therapists available with some plans
  • a person can get prescription medication
  • people can choose their communication method


  • potentially costs more than other providers
  • an algorithm matches a person to a therapist
  • text therapy may not be suitable for all
  • more limited platforms for sessions than other providers
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Best for teenagers: Teen Counseling

teen counseling logo
  • Price: Around $60–$90 per week.
  • App: Yes.
  • Therapy platforms: Messaging, live chat, phone calls, and video conferences.
  • Insurance: No coverage.

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.

Teen Counseling assures teenagers of confidentiality, and parents or caregivers cannot access their virtual counseling room. However, the teenager will likely need an adult to oversee their account and handle payment.

Payment is due every 4 weeks.


  • specifically for teenagers, so therapists should be specialists
  • can contact therapists at any time
  • teenagers can speak to therapists in private


  • no insurance coverage
  • only suitable for those ages 13–19
  • may require adults to manage accounts
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Best for couples: ReGain

regain logo
  • Price: Around $60–$90 per week.
  • App: Yes.
  • Therapy platforms: Messaging, live chat, phone calls, and video sessions.
  • Insurance: No coverage.

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

Its professional team comprises 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. People can choose how they would like to communicate with their therapist.

Payment is due monthly.

Our tester’s experience

“[I used ReGain] to help with a marriage stalemate: Communication roadblocks, resentment, avoidance, parenting conflicts, financial disagreements.

“[To switch services it was] very easy. We actually had to switch several times until we landed on a culturally competent therapist who was the right fit for us, and the process of changing therapists was smooth and guiltless.

“[I would recommend this service to] couples or relationship-minded individuals open and patient to work on their relationships. The flexibility of choosing therapists is great if you’re open to try a session or two until you vet and meet with a therapist that can meet your needs. The homework offered between sessions and journal reflections do help you open up, introspect, and expand your viewpoint beyond your own thinking traps or traumas. But you have to be open to take advantage of what’s offered, since it’s self-driven.”

– “Lea”


  • people can choose whether they would like their partner to join or have individual counseling
  • counselors specialize in couples counseling
  • a person can choose their communication method


  • no insurance coverage
  • a person cannot choose their therapist
  • only suitable for relationship counseling
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Best for flexibility: Thriveworks

Thriveworks logo on green background
  • Price: Prices vary depending on location and session type.
  • App: Yes.
  • Therapy platforms: Video or phone.
  • Insurance: Yes, many major insurance companies accepted.

With more than 380 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. There are also physical locations in some states.

People may appreciate the more flexible service Thriveworks offers. It accepts insurance and offers self-pay rates to make its services more affordable. However, prices will vary depending on a person’s location, payment method, insurance plan, and other factors.

A person can also cancel their sessions with 48 hours’ notice.

Membership offers access to a person’s therapists in between sessions through phone and email. The company states waivers are available to people who cannot afford a subscription fee.


  • also offers physical locations if a person would rather have face-to-face counseling
  • online counselors are licensed
  • both individuals and couples therapy is available
  • very flexible regarding pricing


  • only video or phone counseling is available online
  • no 24/7 access
  • physical sessions are not available in all states
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Best for free support: 7 Cups

7 Cups
  • Price: Free, or around $150 per month.
  • App: Yes.
  • Therapy platforms: Live chats, chat rooms, forums, and messaging.
  • Insurance: Not accepted.

In addition to offering online therapy with licensed therapists, this site offers free chats with volunteer listeners. 7 Cups is suitable for adults and teenagers.

Volunteer listeners may not be licensed therapists. However, all therapists leading paid sessions are licensed mental health professionals.

There are chat rooms and forums where people can discuss issues like anxiety and relationships.

The site offers self-help and growth paths that allow people to explore and identify ways to help themselves feel better.

This service may be best suited to people looking for free support with issues on an ad-hoc basis, although people can access sessions with licensed therapists for $150 per month.

Our tester’s experience

“I wanted to see how effective a free mental health counseling service could be for the conditions I was managing at the time, and whether the volunteer listeners were experienced enough to help me through difficult periods. I didn’t use the paid therapist service.

“[I would recommend it to] younger people, people looking for a free counseling-like service, those looking for casual chats about things they’re struggling with.”

– MNT Editor


  • chat is available 24/7
  • has a platform for teenagers and adults
  • chat rooms and forums available for people to share experiences and techniques


  • licensed professionals do not monitor chat rooms and forums
  • no access to video or phone therapy
  • some therapists are volunteers who may not be licensed
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Best for psychiatry services: AmWell

amwell logo
  • Price: Depending on the service, around $109–$129 per session. Psychiatry services have an initial cost of $279.
  • App: Yes.
  • Therapy platforms: Video only.
  • Insurance: Yes, many major insurance companies accepted.

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 mental health conditions. 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. They can then choose a healthcare professional and set up a telehealth appointment.


  • accepts many insurance plans
  • can provide psychiatry services in addition to therapy
  • a person can choose their therapist


  • video sessions are the only option
  • no 24/7 contact with a therapist
  • no free trial
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Best for behavioral therapy: Online-Therapy.com

  • Price: Around $50–$110 per week.
  • App: No.
  • Therapy platforms: Self-guided sessions. Some plans give users access to video, phone, or text chat.
  • Insurance: Not accepted.

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 to find tools and tips for dealing with their problems. The site also includes yoga and meditation videos.

Live chat sessions and therapist messaging options come with some subscriptions, but lower-cost plans lack this feature.

The approximate costs for each plan are as follows:

  • Basic: This plan includes online therapy, self-guided sections, 25 worksheets, yoga and meditation videos, journal-keeping exercises, activity plans, and daily therapist replies on weekdays, costing around $50 a week.
  • Standard: This plan includes all the benefits of the Basic package plus one 30-minute live therapy session per week via video, voice, or text chat. This costs around $80 per week.
  • Premium: The Premium plan includes all the Basic and Standard package benefits, plus express replies, and costs around $110 per week.

The company bills all plans monthly.

The company also offers a free option that allows individuals to access worksheets, yoga, and meditation at no cost.

Our tester’s experience

“The [sign-up] process was easy; first you have to choose a package, such as wanting live sessions or unlimited messaging with a therapist. Then a therapist will be in contact, you will fill in questions about any issues, problems you want to discuss, and they will arrange a meeting with you.

“I would recommend this service if you communicate well over live video or in text, but not if you feel you need a therapist sitting in front of you.

“I am definitely the kind of person who prefers to communicate in person, as it is good to bounce off a therapist in real life. Sometimes there was issues with the live video which ruins the flow of opening up, and creates a jarring experience.

However, it is nice to communicate through writing too, so your therapist can see what you want to discuss before a live video meeting. First hand, I would say I prefer to speak to a therapist in person, but this is a nice medium since the therapists are engaged and constantly communicating through the platform. The price is a little expensive weekly, but the different packages are a nice touch.”

– MNT Copy Editor


  • a person can work through at their own pace
  • self-guided resources available alongside therapy sessions
  • multiple options to communicate with a therapist


  • mainly uses CBT
  • insurance not accepted
  • only suitable for adults
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Best self-guided: Bliss Online Therapy for Depression

  • Price: Free.
  • App: No.
  • Therapy platforms: Self-guided online CBT sessions.
  • Insurance: Not applicable.

Bliss is a free online program from the Centre for Interactive Mental Health Solutions (CIMHS), a non-profit organization that uses technology to make accessible mental health services.

Bliss uses CBT theory and does not include live interaction with a therapist. According to a study into individuals experiencing grief, self-guided online CBT is effective for treating depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and persistent complex bereavement disorder (PCBD).

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 without strict time commitments.


  • free service
  • no time commitments
  • based on the CBT theory


  • only suitable for treating depression
  • no app available
  • no live interaction with therapists
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Best for children: Talkiatry

Talkiatry logo
  • Price: Dependent on a person’s insurance provider, their needs, and the length of their visit.
  • App: No.
  • Therapy platforms: Virtual appointments.
  • Insurance: Works with many major insurers, including Medicare.

Talkiatry is an online platform that connects people with psychiatrists and therapists. The company says it works with over 300 mental health professionals, and people search through the list of Talkiatry’s team by specialty, location, and language.

An extensive range of psychiatrists specialize in care for children as young as 5 years old.

To use Talkiatry, a person must complete an online assessment to match with psychiatrists licensed to practice in their state. Most people can see their psychiatrists within 5 days after signing up.

Treatment plans can include virtual visits and medication management. The first visit will last 60 minutes, and subsequent visits last 30 minutes.

While Talkiatry works with many major insurers, including Medicare, a person can only access care and learn the cost of that care through an in-network insurer.


  • child and adolescent psychiatrists can treat children ages 5 and up
  • works with many major insurers, including Medicare
  • appointments are somewhat longer than many online therapy providers
  • the psychiatrists offer care in a wide range of languages


  • does not operate in all 50 states
  • there are a lot of variables for cost
  • can only access treatment through in-network insurance
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Best for appointments 7 days a week: Teladoc

Teladoc logo
  • Price: varies depending on insurance and type of care
  • App: Yes.
  • Therapy platforms: Phone and video.
  • Insurance: Yes.

Teladoc offers various online healthcare services, including 24-7 care for non-emergency conditions, primary care check-ups, dermatologists, medical experts, and wellness consultations.

The company’s online mental health options include appointments with psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists, plus dedicated adolescent mental health care. People can schedule appointments 7 days a week, making it an accessible and flexible service for those who may otherwise find accessing appointments difficult due to work or study commitments.

Teledoc works with many insurance providers, and prices for a person’s appointment will vary on their coverage and the type of care they need.


  • access to both therapy and medication management
  • some therapists are available at night and on weekends
  • works with many insurance companies
  • provides mental health care for those without insurance


  • the cost will vary depending on insurance coverage
  • difficult to access information about therapists
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Best for culturally responsive treatment: Therapy for Black Girls

Therapy for Black Girls logo
  • Price: Dependent on the provider a person chooses. From $9.99 a month for Sister Circle.
  • App:no
  • Therapy platforms:in-person and virtual appointments
  • Insurance:individual therapists may accept insurance

Therapy for Black Girls is an online space designed to promote mental wellness for Black women and girls. The website is home to a national directory and referral network that helps Black women and girls connect with licensed, culturally responsive therapists virtually or in person.

The directory is free for users to browse, but joining the company’s “Sister Circle”, a space for Black women to discuss issues, support each other, and engage with live events, costs $9.99 a month or $99 a year. The cost of therapy will depend on the healthcare professional a person chooses.

The company also hosts a blog, podcast, and Therapy for Black Girls University, which features resources specially selected for traditionally college-aged Black women.


  • focuses on making mental health accessible and meaningful for Black women and girls
  • works with licensed therapists
  • the service is available in all 50 states
  • there are many different types of therapy available
  • some therapists may accept insurance


  • does not have a chat option
  • in-person therapy choices are limited
  • costs will vary by healthcare professional
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Best for additional health services: MDLive

MDLive logo
  • Price: $0-$108 for talk therapy, $0-$284 for psychiatry
  • App:yes
  • Therapy platforms:video
  • Insurance: yes, most major plans

MDLive offers various telehealth services, including mental health therapy and psychiatry. In addition, MDLive offers urgent care, primary care, and dermatology services.

Signing up to MDLive is free. A person only pays when they visit a doctor. A visit costs between $0-$108 for talk therapy, depending on insurance coverage. For psychiatry, costs range between $0-$284.

Therapy sessions take place via a video conference that last for 45-60 minutes. Psychiatry sessions last for 15-30 minutes.

A person can choose their own therapist from MDLive’s large network. Appointments are available seven days a week.

MDLive accepts most major insurance policies.


  • works with licensed therapists
  • the service is available in all 50 states
  • people can use one platform for mental health and physical health needs
  • company accepts most major insurance plans
  • appointments available seven days a week


  • does not have a messaging option
  • prices vary based on insurance plan
  • the service cannot offer therapy to children under the age of 10
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Best without insurance: Open Path

Open Path logo
  • Price: $65 for a lifetime subscription, then $40-$70 per session
  • App:no
  • Therapy platforms:video or in-person
  • Insurance: no

Open Path offers an affordable network, allowing individuals without insurance to find a therapist within budget. The company’s aim is to provide accessible mental health services to those in need.

A person simply pays a one-off fee of $65 for a lifetime subscription. Sessions cost between $40-$70 each.

Therapists are available for in-person therapy, but some offer online video services too.

Open Path does not accept insurance or FSA/HSA cards.


  • works with licensed therapists
  • only requires a one-off fee for a lifetime subscription
  • the service is available in all 50 states
  • suited to individuals without insurance


  • not all therapists on the platform offer online therapy
  • does not accept insurance
  • waiting times will vary based on the therapist a person contacts
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Best for medication: Cerebral

Cerebral logo
  • Price: $99-$365 per month
  • App:yes
  • Therapy platforms:video or phone
  • Insurance: yes

Cerebral offers three plans:

  • Medication only: From $99 monthly, this plan provides a person with a thorough mental health assessment by a professional who prescribes and monitors medication. Medications ship directly to a person’s home, or they can pick this up from a local pharmacy.
  • Therapy only: From $295 a month, the therapy-only plan provides a person with a 45-minute weekly video or phone session with a licensed therapist.
  • Therapy + Medication: From $365 a month, this plan includes both of the above plans combined in one.

The company matches a person to a therapist or prescriber based on their needs.

Using the app, a person can easily book and reschedule therapy appointments.


  • works with licensed therapists from all 50 states
  • people can receive prescription medication if they choose the appropriate plan
  • accepts many popular insurance policies
  • a person can receive medication directly to their home or to their local pharmacy


  • only suitable for people over the age of 18
  • unsuitable for people with severe mental health problems
  • in 2022, the company was investigated for controlled substance violations
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Best for a free consultation: Synergy eTherapy

Synergy eTherapy
  • Price: between $50-$250, depending on location and therapist
  • App:no
  • Therapy platforms:video or phone
  • Insurance: varies between therapists

Synergy eTherapy offers a free consultation to all new members. The company caters to individuals, couples, and teens, and a person can have therapy over the phone or via a video call.

Most therapy sessions cost between $100-$250, depending on a person’s location and the therapist. The company states therapist interns are sometimes available at a cheaper rate of $50.

Insurance is sometimes accepted, depending on the therapist. Synergy eTherapy says some therapists are in-network whereas others are out-of-network. However, if out-of-network, a person can pay with a HSA card if they wish.

Synergy eTherpay does not appear to have an app and there is no mention of the service having the ability to prescribe medications.


  • offers a free consultation
  • provides therapy for individuals, couples, and teens
  • sessions with intern therapists available for a discounted price


  • not available in all states
  • does not appear to provide a medication prescription service
  • some therapists are out-of-network
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The table below compares each online therapy service’s price, session platforms, and more.

Best forPriceInsurance accepted?Prescription medication available?Therapy platforms
BetterHelpoverall$60–$90 per weekno no • live chat
• messages
• phone call
• video call
Talkspacesmaller budgets$69–$109 per weeksomeyes• messages
• live video
Teen Counselingteenagers$60–$90 per weekno no • messages
• live chat
• phone call
• video call
ReGaincouples$60–$90 per weekno no • messages
• live chat
• phone call
• video call
Thriveworksflexibilityvariesyesyes• video call
• phone call
7 Cupsfree supportaround $150 per monthno no • live chat
• chat rooms
• forums
• messaging
AmWellpsychiatry servicesaround $109–$129 per sessionyesyesvideo
Online-Therapy.combehavioral therapy$50–$110 per weekno no • self-guided
video and text content
• text chat
• audio call
• video call
Bliss Online Therapy for Depressionself-guided freenot neededno self-guided online program
Talkiatrychildrendepends on insurance provideryesyesvideo call
Teladocappointments 7 days a weekdepends on insurance and type of careyesyes• phone
• video
Therapy for Black Girlsculturally responsive treatment• free to browse the directory

• from $9.99 a month for Sister Circle
nonoin-person and virtual appointments
MDLiveadditional health services$0-$108 for talk therapy

$0-$284 for psychiatry
Open Pathpeople without insurance$40-$70 per session

plus one-off payment of $65
nono• in-person
• video
Cerebralmedication$99-$365 per monthyesyes• video
• phone
Synergy eTherapya free consultation$50-$250depends on therapistno• video
• phone

Some of the advantages and disadvantages of online therapy are as follows:


  • Sharing personal information: A person may find sharing personal or difficult details easier online than in person.
  • Travel: Individuals do not need to account for traveling time or costs.
  • Illness or injury: Those unable to leave their homes can still access therapy.
  • Cost: Online therapy is typically more cost-effective than in-person therapy.
  • Convenience: A person with a busy schedule can arrange sessions at convenient times.


  • State licenses: Some therapists may not have a license to operate outside their home state.
  • Crisis: Online therapy is not appropriate in a mental health crisis. A person should seek immediate assistance by calling 911.
  • Insurance: Many insurers do not cover online therapy. Individuals should contact their insurance provider to confirm benefits.
  • Specific psychiatric conditions: Online therapy may not be appropriate for some mental health conditions.
  • Security and privacy: As with all digital communication, people cannot guarantee the security of private and personal information online.
  • Communication errors: Online therapy depends on technology, which may sometimes fail.
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Online therapy is a type of talk therapy service. A person may use online therapy instead of a face-to-face appointment with a therapist or counselor. Some reasons a person may choose online therapy include the following:

  • finding it difficult to leave their home
  • having a busy schedule
  • living in a remote area
  • feeling safer online

The American Psychological Association advises that online therapy may be a good alternative to in-person appointments.

A 2021 study states that online therapy during the COVID-19 pandemic was effective in helping with anxiety and depression. A second 2020 study agrees that teletherapy can effectively treat mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Online therapy may benefit those with mild-to-moderate mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and panic disorders. It may also be suitable for those interested in relationship counseling.

People may find online therapy convenient as they can have sessions from the comfort of their homes or another location of their choice. However, a person must have a reliable internet connection and a private room where they will not be disturbed during therapy sessions.

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.

Online therapy suits people seeking a convenient option to talk with a licensed mental health professional. It suits people who cannot easily access in-person sessions due to location, price, or health conditions that stop them from leaving the house.

People experiencing the following may find online therapy useful:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • relationship problems
  • stress

It is suitable for children, adolescents, and adults, and it can be more affordable than in-person therapy in some cases.

People in a mental health crisis should not use online therapy. They should instead call emergency services or the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline on 998.

Additionally, some people may prefer not to speak with a therapist virtually. They may find it difficult if they do not have a private space to have their session or have issues connecting to the internet. Therapists may not respond to messages outside of scheduled appointments quickly.

As such, people should pick the platform they feel best suits their needs and preferred communication style. Messaging may be better than video calls if a person prefers greater anonymity. Video calls are a good option for people looking to balance the experience of in-person therapy with the convenience of online therapy.

Suicide prevention

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 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Click here for more links and local resources.

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Online and in-person therapy can be similar in many ways. However, there are certain differences a person should expect if they choose online therapy.

A person may not always be able to pick their therapist before their first session with online therapy. This may not be suitable for people who want to feel comfortable with the therapist before they start working with them.

The first session

The first online therapy session will typically involve conversations about what a person wants to gain from online therapy. The therapist may ask a person about the following:

  • goals for the sessions
  • previous experience with therapy
  • any mental health diagnoses
  • any medications they are taking
  • issues currently affecting their mental health
  • traumas or triggers

The therapist may also review any assessments a person took with the company before their first session.

To get the most out of virtual treatment, people trying online therapy for the first time can consider the following proactive steps before their appointment:

  • making sure the therapist is licensed to practice locally
  • using a platform (video, chat, telephone) that feels comfortable
  • checking the payment process ahead of time
  • getting familiar with using the technology and following the provider’s instructions for signing in
  • setting up a private, quiet space for the session
  • preparing specific topics and questions ahead of time to refer to during the session

People should be aware that therapy is a process, and it may take several sessions before a person starts to feel better. Being open-minded about goals and expectations can help a person get the most out of their therapy sessions.

A person should consider their main reasons for visiting a therapist. They should aim to find a person who specializes in the field in which they seek help. People may wish to view the therapist’s qualifications if this is available.

A person should always ensure their therapist is licensed.

A few different types of therapists include:

  • Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists can provide prescription medication to a person if they feel this is necessary. They are medical doctors in addition to psychologists.
  • Psychologist: Psychologists cannot prescribe medication. They have training in the mind and behavior and how these two intertwine. They usually specialize in the treatment of mental health disorders.
  • Licensed marriage and family therapist: These professionals specialize in relationship and family counseling.
  • Licensed professional counselor: These counselors have a master’s degree and treat groups or individuals with mental health disorders or substance misuse issues.
  • Licensed clinical social workers: Social workers support people with interpersonal issues and support their well-being. They can refer people to community or government services for support or help them resolve problems by directing them to relevant resources.

Get tips on how to access therapy without insurance.

They should also consider how they would like to communicate with their therapist. Some services offer one form of communication, whereas others have communication options.

Some services allow a person to provide preferences for their therapist’s gender, age, or religion.

Many online therapy services allow people to change therapists if they wish.

Various therapy services accept insurance. People should look for these services and determine which insurance plans cover them. Some insurance policies may also partially cover the cost.

In addition, there are various resources online that are free to access.

Learn about free online therapy here.

People can also discuss what kind of financial help they may be entitled to with a doctor.

Insurance coverage

Some insurance plans may cover some form of online therapy. A person should contact their plan provider to confirm their benefits.

As of 2019, Medicare plans cover some telehealth services, including mental health services.

Read more about Medicare and mental health services here.

Most online therapy providers have a privacy policy and should offer transparent information on storing and protecting a person’s personal information.

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. However, as with any online service, there is always a risk of data theft, computer viruses, and hacking.

As a form of telehealth care, online therapy is regulated in several ways, although regulation can be inconsistent and difficult to understand. Licensed therapists must meet the standards of the state in which they operate and where their clients live. Some healthcare organizations and some states have multi-state compacts that simplify the process.

Additionally, reputable online therapy providers must meet federal and state regulations addressing:

  • privacy, as in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, better known as HIPAA
  • breach of privacy notification
  • the therapist’s duty to warn or protect the public from potentially dangerous clients
  • mandatory reporting for child or elder abuse
  • age of consent for children in therapy

Below, we answer some of the most frequently asked online therapy questions.

How much does online therapy typically cost?

Costs for online therapy vary according to provider, platform, and type of treatment. Online talk therapy typically costs $50–$70 per week and can increase to around $129 a week. Psychiatric care generally costs more, from $109 to $299 per session. Free options are available, although these may not use licensed therapists.

What is the best online platform for therapy?

BetterHelp offers more affordable online therapy services than many other companies, and people can access a wide range of platforms to have their sessions. It also has a positive reputation on trusted review sites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot. This may make it a suitable option for many people.

Is Talkspace or BetterHelp cheaper?

BetterHelp is more affordable than Talkspace. BetterHelp charges $60–$90 per week, while Talkspace prices range from $69–109 per week, and initial psychiatry sessions cost $299 with a $175 fee per subsequent session.

Is BetterHelp therapy legit?

Yes, BetterHelp is a legitimate company that uses licensed healthcare professionals to deliver mental health care online. The BBB accredited BetterHelp in 2015.

Does online therapy really work?

While research indicates that online therapy can effectively reduce psychological stress due to depression, anxiety, interpersonal sensitivity, and obsessive-compulsive disorders, every person’s experience with therapy, whether in-person or online, will be unique.

To have the best chance of a productive and positive experience with therapy, a person should find a therapist that specializes in their condition or concern, understands their culture, identity, or lifestyle, and provides professional and sensitive support.

Is Talkspace worth it?

Talkspace is a popular platform for online therapy from licensed mental health care professionals. However, people can expect to pay from $69 a week for its therapy services and around $299 for an initial psychiatry appointment, making it a significant investment.

To make the service worth the cost, Talkspace offers a user-friendly website, personalized match-ups with therapists, and convenient video and messaging platforms for appointments.

That said, online therapy will not suit everyone, and people should check that Talkspace’s healthcare professionals offer the type of therapy they want on a platform that suits them.

Can BetterHelp prescribe Xanax?

At this time, BetterHelp does not have the ability to prescribe any medication, including Xanax.

Is 7 Cups legit?

7 Cups is a legitimate site and has a good customer rating on Trustpilot. However, the free service only allows a person access to forums and chat rooms. The listeners are volunteers and not trained professionals.

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

There are many ways for people 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.