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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 may not always cover the cost.

A quick look at the best online therapy options

Online therapy is a type of 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 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, such as 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 do this from the comfort of their own homes. 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.

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.

How we chose

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.
  • Reputation: MNT will choose companies that have no warnings from governing bodies, unresolved lawsuits, and that have positive standings with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Below, we look into nine of the best online therapy options a person can consider.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these services. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

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

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.

Pros

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

Cons

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

Read our full review of BetterHelp.

Best for smaller budgets: Talkspace

talkspace logo
  • Price: Between $69–129 per week.
  • App: Yes.
  • Therapy platforms: Messaging and live video.
  • Insurance: Some insurance plans may cover Talkspace services. FSA and HSA cards are also accepted.

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: Unlimited text, video, and audio messaging with a therapist from $69 a week.
  • Live therapy: Four 45-minute online monthly sessions for $99 per week.
  • Live and messaging therapy: Unlimited messaging and four online 45-minute sessions for $109 per week.

The company also has two programs. Its Talkspace Psychiatry program costs around $249 for an initial consultation, with follow-ups costing $125. Its 8-week Talkspace Insomnia Therapy program does not list a price.

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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

Read our full review of Talkspace.

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 do not have access to 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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • no insurance coverage
  • only suitable for those aged 13–19
  • may require adults to manage accounts

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 both 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.

Pros

  • people can choose whether they would like their partner to join or have individual counseling
  • specific focus on couples counseling so counselors are specialized in the field
  • a person can choose their communication method

Cons

  • no insurance coverage
  • a person cannot choose their therapist
  • only suitable for relationship counseling

Best for flexibility: Thriveworks

Thriveworks logo on green background
  • Price: Prices vary depending on location and session type. A membership fee of $39 per month applies in addition to session costs.
  • App: Yes.
  • Therapy platforms: Video or phone.
  • Insurance: Yes, many major insurance companies accepted.

With more than 310 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 23 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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • only video or phone counseling is available online
  • no 24/7 access
  • physical sessions are not available in all states

Best for free support: 7 Cups

7 Cups
  • Price: Free, or around $150 per month.
  • App: Yes.
  • Therapy platforms: Live chats, chat rooms, and forums.
  • 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 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.

This service may be best suited to people looking for free support with issues on an ad-hoc basis.

Pros

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

Cons

  • 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

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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • video sessions are the only option
  • no 24/7 contact with a therapist
  • no free trial

Best for behavioral therapy: Online-Therapy.com

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 only, 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.

Pros

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

Cons

  • mainly uses CBT
  • insurance not accepted
  • only suitable for adults

Best self-guided: Bliss Online Therapy for Depression

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

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

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.

Pros

  • no cost
  • no time commitments
  • based on the theory of CBT

Cons

  • only suitable for treating depression
  • no app available
  • no live interaction with therapists

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$69–129 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
AmWellpsychiatry servicesaround $109–129 per sessionyesyesvideo
Online-Therapy.combehavioral therapy$50–110 per weekno no self-guided
video,
phone,
and text chat
Bliss Online Therapy for Depressionself-guided freen/ano self-guided

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.

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 here.

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 with a doctor to see what kind of financial help they may be entitled to.

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.

Online therapy is suitable for 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 not like speaking 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.

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.

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

Pros

  • Sharing personal information: A person may find it easier to share personal or difficult details 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.

Cons

  • 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.

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

How much does online therapy typically cost?

However, 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 cheaper than Talkspace. BetterHelp charges $60–90 per week, while Talkspace prices range from $99–129 per week, and initial psychiatry sessions cost $245 with a $125 fee per subsequent session.

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.