We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission Here’s our process.
Medical News Today only shows you brands and products that we stand behind.Our team thoroughly researches and evaluates the recommendations we make on our site. To establish that the product manufacturers addressed safety and efficacy standards, we:
- Evaluate ingredients and composition: Do they have the potential to cause harm?
- Fact-check all health claims: Do they align with the current body of scientific evidence?
- Assess the brand: Does it operate with integrity and adhere to industry best practices?
Finding a therapist can be difficult. People can try directories, personal referrals, government mental health services, or online therapy.
People may go to therapy for various reasons, from managing a mental health condition to working through a difficult relationship or life event.
Knowing where to find a therapist can be difficult, as there are many options to choose from. There are also many factors to consider, such as the type of therapy needed, whether to choose in-person or online options, and budget. It is also important for a person to feel comfortable with their therapist.
This article discusses how to find a therapist and the differences between therapists, psychiatrists, and counselors. It also suggests some questions to ask a therapist in the first session and provides answers to frequently asked questions about therapy.
A quick look at the best online therapy services
- Best for offering financial aid: BetterHelp
- Best for comprehensive mental health care: Talkspace
- Best for LGBTQIA+ individuals: Pride Counseling
- Best for those new to therapy: 7Cups
- Best for teens: Teen Counseling
A person’s first step may be to look through their insurance plan’s provider network if they intend to pay with insurance. It is best to check if there are limitations to certain plans, such as the number of therapy sessions it covers per year.
Additionally, people may wish to seek assistance from local service providers or agencies.
People may wish to ask for recommendations from family or friends. Someone new to therapy may feel more confident about starting if people they trust have had positive experiences with a particular therapist or company.
If a person acts on a recommendation, they may be able to get a free 10–15 minute phone consultation to see if the service is the right fit. People can use these consultations to get a feel for the therapist’s style and understand the type of sessions they provide.
There are a number of reliable online databases of up-to-date lists of licensed therapists. These include:
- The American Psychological Association: This association consists of doctorate-level psychologists who work in different areas of the community to promote people’s overall mental and physical wellness.
- The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists: This organization specializes in marriage and family contexts and works with individuals as well as couples and families. It provides short-term therapy for an average of 12 sessions. The therapists have training in both psychotherapy and family systems.
- The Association of LGBTQ+ Psychiatrists: This organization provides a referral service for LGBTQIA+ people and connects a community of LGBTQIA+ psychiatrists to advocate for mental health care for this group.
People can search for a local therapist using any of the following information:
- zip code
- therapist’s name
- therapist’s practice area
People can contact their insurance provider to ensure it covers their chosen service.
It is important to note that these databases may not assess the qualifications or experience of the therapists they list.
Companies may offer employee assistance programs. Additionally, employees may wish to contact the company’s human resources team to see if they offer a workplace wellness program that includes therapy.
Students can check if their school or college has a health and wellness center offering therapy. They may offer free therapy, counseling, support groups, disability advocacy, and mental health education with psychologists, psychiatrists, or counselors.
If a person wants to speak with a therapist about a specific mental health condition or would like their therapist to understand a specific culture, they can look at a wide range of resources dedicated to particular conditions or communities.
The following organizations offer search tools to help people find specialized therapists in a specific area:
- The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA): The NEDA offers support options to individuals affected by eating disorders and their loved ones. The organization provides support throughout the treatment and recovery process.
- The Anxiety and Depression Association of America: This organization helps people with generalized anxiety disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other conditions.
- The National Center for PTSD: This organization provides support for veterans and nonveterans with PTSD. It offers locators for specific, trauma-focused talk therapies on its website.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: This organization focuses on helping people manage substance misuse. It offers a free, 24-hour crisis and suicide helpline as well as a 24-hour behavioral health treatment services locator.
- The Farmer Resource Network: This network provides useful resources about emotional stress, financial stress, disaster relief, and more for farmers, farm communities and families, and agricultural service providers across the United States.
- Agrisafe: Rural nurses run this network, which delivers healthcare to farmers and ranchers.
- The Yellow Couch Collective: This organization offers online support groups for Black females. Membership costs $9.99 a month.
- The Black Mental Health Alliance: This company helps Black females of all ages find local or online therapy.
- The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association: This is a nonprofit association dedicated to the mental health and well-being of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
- We R Native: This organization provides physical and mental health tools for young Native American people.
- Therapy for Latinx: This provider offers therapy to Latinx individuals, couples, groups, and families. People can search by language, payment type, sexuality, and more.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline: This organization offers support in over 200 languages to people experiencing domestic abuse and violence. It also offers legal help and has specific services for hard-of-hearing, deaf, or blind people. There are also services dedicated to Black, Latinx, and Native American people.
- DotCom Therapy: This organization offers family-centered care at home for children via an online therapy platform. It provides mental health, speech, and occupational therapies.
People may wish to opt for online therapy rather than seeing a therapist face-to-face. It may be more affordable and convenient for those who cannot easily travel to in-person appointments. Some people may feel more comfortable talking with a therapist via live chat, phone, or video calls.
Online therapy is unsuitable for people in a mental health crisis or those at risk of suicide.
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.
Medical News Today chose services that meet the following criteria:
- Communication methods: Services offer a range of communication methods, such as by phone, text, or video.
- Specialization: Services offer access to therapists that specialize in different areas of concern.
- Cost: Services fit a range of budgets.
- Best practices: Companies use licensed healthcare professionals and comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Below are some telehealth sites people looking for ongoing care may wish to try.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. 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 for offering financial aid: BetterHelp
- Price: $60–90 per week
BetterHelp provides online counseling at a lower cost than other providers. People can choose between text, audio, and video calls. The service caters to individuals, couples, and teens. People can switch therapists easily.
Although BetterHelp does not accept insurance, there is financial help available.
Therapy costs $60–90 per week. Costs will depend on the person’s location, preferences, and chosen therapist.
Best for comprehensive mental health care: Talkspace
- Price: from $69–109 per week
Talkspace provides comprehensive mental health care for teens, couples, and individuals through video calls, text, and phone calls. It also provides psychiatric evaluations and medication.
There are flexible plans available, and people can switch providers easily and at no extra cost.
Talkspace accepts insurance, so a person should check whether their provider will cover Talkspace therapy sessions. Without insurance, the cost of therapy starts from $69–109 per week. People can prepay for a quarterly or biannual plan to save 10–20%.
Best for LGBTQIA+ individuals: Pride Counseling
- Price: $60–90 per week
Pride Counseling provides online support for LGBTQIA+ people. People can discuss issues relating to mental health and identity via live chat, video, and phone sessions.
It provides access to licensed therapists, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, and social workers.
The cost of therapy is $60–90 per week. Prices vary according to a person’s location and preferences and the availability of therapists.
Pride Counseling does not accept insurance. However, the company offers financial aid for those who cannot afford to pay out of pocket.
Best for those new to therapy: 7Cups
- Price: $0–150 per month
7Cups provides on-demand emotional health services and online therapy via one-to-one chats. People can also support their mental health through the self-help app.
The company offers support for conditions such as depression and anxiety. Users can discuss relationships and LGBTQIA+ issues in chat rooms, forums, and scheduled group support sessions.
7Cups also offers teen community forums and chat rooms for people aged 13–17 years old.
Trained volunteer listeners run the company’s online chat service. They are not licensed therapists, psychologists, or psychiatrists. People who would like to try therapy for the first time may find this an accessible option. It is also anonymous.
If a person would like to see a licensed mental health care professional online through 7Cups, they will need to pay for a membership. This costs $150 a month and includes unlimited messaging. 7Cups does not accept insurance.
Best for teens: Teen Counseling
- Price: $60–90 per week
Teen Counseling is a sister site of BetterHelp that offers professional therapy to teenagers and their caregivers by text, phone, video, and live chat.
People can talk about anxiety, depression, eating disorders, issues relating to bullying, personal identity, and more. Caregivers can also use the site to receive guidance and support in improving their relationships with their teenage family members.
Learn more about the best teen counseling options.
Therapy costs from $60–90 per week, and the company bills customers once per month. The cost will depend on location, preferences, and therapist availability.
Teen Counseling does not accept insurance, although it does offer financial aid in some cases. Individuals will need to provide details about household income to qualify.
When people contact a prospective therapist for the first time, it is a good idea to ask questions to get a sense of the therapist’s manner and way of working. This will help ensure as much as possible that the individual and the therapist will have a good rapport.
Some useful questions to consider asking include the following:
- Are you a licensed therapist?
- How many years have you been practicing?
- What are your areas of expertise?
- What experience do you have in discussing my condition or culture?
- What treatments do you use, and have these methods been effective?
- What fees do you charge?
- Do you accept insurance, and will you bill directly to my insurance company?
Additionally, people may wish to ask:
- Do you prescribe medication if necessary?
- Do you offer online therapy?
- Do you offer any self-help methods that may help me?
- Is there a time frame for recovery?
One of the most important factors in determining whether therapy is successful is the relationship between a person and their therapist.
Feeling at ease is important. A person should feel safe and comfortable talking with a therapist and not feel judged.
Some experts suggest that people may wish to consider certain cultural factors when choosing a therapist, as having similar lived experiences may increase the chance of a positive therapeutic relationship, particularly if the person is of a socially marginalized identity.
It is also important that a person feels comfortable discussing concerns they have about therapy, including the steps they should take after the end of their sessions.
Additionally, a good therapist should:
- be an active and attentive listener
- value what the person is saying
- show empathy and understanding
- not talk down to the person
- provide achievable steps for the person to take during and after the sessions
- specialize in the person’s particular issue
A therapist may not be a good fit if a person feels they do not help them feel heard and understood.
Below is a comparison chart of the telehealth companies in this article.
|Pricing||Accepts insurance?||Financial aid||Best for|
|BetterHelp||from $60–90 per week||no||yes||affordability|
|Talkspace||from $69–109 per week||yes||no||comprehensive mental health care|
|Pride Counseling||from $60–90 per week||no||yes||LGBTQIA+ people|
|7Cups||$0–150 per month||no||no||those new to therapy|
|Teen Counseling||$60–90 per week||no||yes||teens and their parents or guardians|
A therapist helps others understand and overcome challenging emotions, thoughts, behaviors, experiences, and situations. They may help resolve conflicts between loved ones or assist a person in navigating problems in a relationship or at work.
A therapist must have a license to practice in their state and must hold a master’s degree in their area of specialty. Therapists may also be known as psychotherapists or mental health counselors.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental health conditions. While this is similar to a therapist, psychiatrists can prescribe medications and perform medical and psychological tests to assess a person’s physical and mental health. They complete a 4-year program in medical school and need a medical degree in order to perform psychological tests, counseling, and other duties.
Below, we answer some questions people commonly ask about therapy.
How do I see a therapist when I have no money?
Most health insurance plans cover mental health services. However, people should check with their provider to ensure it will cover the cost of therapy sessions or medication.
People may be able to access low cost or free services through telehealth companies such as BetterHelp, Talkspace, or 7Cups. They may be also able to use free services through
What is the difference between a therapist and a counselor?
People often use the terms therapist and counselor interchangeably. However, there are subtle differences between the two. According to the American Counseling Association, counseling is goal-focused and tends to work with people’s life challenges, such as relationships or career changes. Counselors work with the client on a short-term basis for a fixed number of sessions.
Therapists are more likely to treat mental health conditions and work with people on an ongoing basis.
Why is it so hard for me to find a therapist?
One reason it may be difficult for people to find an appropriate therapist is that not many therapists may specialize in their specific area of concern.
According to an American Psychological Association survey, just over 40% of practitioners provide treatment for anxiety, compared with only around 5% for addiction issues and under 5% for OCD.
There are also larger, systemic issues that may cause barriers to finding a therapist, such as insurance companies not reimbursing well for mental health services.
People use therapy for many different reasons and conditions. However, finding a therapist can be difficult. When looking, it is best for people to consider their therapy goals, any mental health conditions they may have, the therapist’s specialisms, and the cost of services.
It is important that the individual feels at ease and has a good rapport with their therapist to achieve the best possible outcome. They should feel free to change therapists if a person is not the right fit.
It is always best to ensure that a chosen therapist is licensed to practice in a person’s state, specializes in their particular condition, and is clear about pricing and what people can expect from therapy sessions.