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As the world of online video, messaging, and chat continues to grow, a vast range of online therapy options are available for people to try.

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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

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 COVID-19 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 disorders.

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 for them.

If a person is in crisis or requires immediate or urgent care, they should call the emergency services on 911.

Is online therapy secure and confidential?

Most online therapy providers have a privacy policy and should offer transparent information on how they store and protect 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 in place. However, as with any online service, there is always a risk of data theft, computer viruses, and hacking.

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).

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

  • 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 a variety of 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.

Pros

  • they only use licensed therapists
  • anonymity is possible
  • a person can choose their communication method

Cons

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

Read a full review of BetterHelp here.

Best for budgets: Talkspace

  • 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.

The table below shows Talkspace plans and their approximate costs.

PlanServicesCost
messaging therapy unlimited text, video, and audio messaging with a therapistfrom $69 per week
live therapyfour 45-minute live online sessions per monthfrom $99 per week
live and messaging Therapyunlimited messaging and four live online 45-minute sessions per monthfrom $129 per week

The company also has two programs. Its Talkspace Psychiatry program costs around $249 for an initial consultation, with follow-ups costing $125. Their 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

Read a full review of Talkspace here.

Best for teenagers: Teen Counseling

  • Price: Around $60–90 per week.
  • App: Yes.
  • Therapy platforms: Messages, live chats, 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.

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

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

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

It says that 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

Most accommodating: Thriveworks

  • 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.

Pros

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

Cons

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

Best for emotional support: 7 Cups

  • Price: 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 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.

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

  • 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

  • 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 individual issues. 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 following table shows the plans and rough costs:

PlanServicesCost
BasicOnline therapy, self-guided sections, 25 worksheets, yoga and meditation videos, journal-keeping exercises, activity plans, daily therapist replies on weekdays only.Around $50 per week, billed monthly.
StandardAll the benefits of the Basic package plus one 30-minute live therapy session per week via video, voice, or text chat.Around $80 per week, billed monthly.
PremiumAll the Basic and Standard package benefits, plus express replies.Around $110 per week, billed 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

  • 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

Best forPriceInsurance accepted?Prescription medication available?Therapy platforms
BetterHelpoverall$60–90 per weekno no live chat, messages, phone calls, and video conferences
Talkspacebudgets $69–129 per weekSomeyesmessaging and 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 calls, and video calls
Thriveworksbeing accommodatingvariesyesyes video and phone
7 Cupsemotional 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

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 are seeking help. People may wish to view the therapist’s qualifications if this is available.

A person should 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 being 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 are people with 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 even religion.

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

Various therapy services accept insurance. A person 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.

A person can also discuss with their 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.

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 is dependent upon technology, which may sometimes fail.

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

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

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.

Click here for more links and local resources.

  • 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.