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Teen counseling is a talking therapy service for those aged 13–19 years. Its parent company is BetterHelp, and online counseling services such as these can assist teens and their caregivers by offering affordable remote counseling.

According to the most recent data from Mental Health America, over 15% of American youth had a major depressive episode in the past year, and that percentage is growing. Over 60% of youth with severe depression do not get any mental health treatment at all.

Depression is only one of the mental health challenges teens can face, but counseling services, such as Teen Counseling, may be of benefit.

Teen Counseling is a platform offering affordable counseling with licensed therapists to people aged 13–19 years in a private, online environment. A person needs an internet connection to use this service.

However, Teen Counseling is unsuitable for someone in crisis or who requires immediate treatment.

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 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.

The Teen Counseling website describes the company’s mission as building, maintaining, and supporting a platform that allows individuals and therapists to communicate effectively.

A person connects with an assigned therapist when they sign up for the platform, but they can switch therapists if they choose.

The individual and their therapist are responsible for scheduling sessions, and interaction methods can include:

  • Text messaging: Teens and parents or caregivers each have their own secure and private chat rooms, available 24-7, for sending messages and receiving messages with their therapist.
  • Live chat: Providing the immediacy of real-time communication in a texting environment, people and therapists schedule live chats in advance.
  • Live phone calls: A person must also schedule live phone calls in advance and begin within an individual’s private therapy chat room.
  • Video conferencing: Similar to live phone calls, these sessions are similar to using Zoom or Skype. A person arranges these sessions in advance and initiates them through their private therapy room.

The therapists work as independent contractors, so Teen Counseling is not their employer and does not supervise their work.

However, Teen Counseling is not always a suitable replacement for face-to-face mental health care, because its licensed therapists cannot prescribe medication, make an official diagnosis, or meet the responsibilities of court-ordered treatment.

Teen Counseling makes every effort to keep user data and what they say during sessions private. And even if a person uses their private phone for a session, their therapist does not obtain their personal phone number. The Teen Counseling system provides the connection through an individual’s secure online link.

However, under the following circumstances, a therapist must, by law, break a person’s confidentiality and inform authorities if:

  • an individual is seriously thinking about harming themselves or others
  • a person under 18 years of age reveals that they are experiencing abuse or neglect
  • an individual knows a minor is experiencing abuse or neglect
  • a person reveals that an older adult person is being abused or neglected

Teen Counseling costs $60–90 per week, depending on where a person lives, their preferences, and the availability of their therapist.

Neither the Teen Counseling company nor its therapists submit bills to Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurers. This means it is up to the parents or caregivers of the person using Teen Counseling to seek reimbursement from their insurance.

The company website notes that many insurance plans will not cover mental health care in full. However, a person should check with their insurer to confirm benefits.

Below, we look at the advantages and disadvantages of Teen Counseling.

Pros

  • multiple communication methods: text, live chat, phone calls, and video conferencing
  • licensed therapists
  • more affordable than in-person sessions
  • online services may prevent teens from feeling embarrassed or self-conscious

Cons

  • Teen Counseling does not directly work with private insurers
  • relying on technology can lead to connection difficulties
  • reports of customer service issues

After a parent or guardian signs up for Teen Counseling, they complete a questionnaire about the teen’s behavior and areas in which they may need support. The company will then assign a therapist according to this information. A person can also change therapists whenever they choose.

The service’s therapists can be psychologists, marriage and family therapists, social workers, or professional therapists, and they are all fully accredited and licensed in the states where they provide services.

The Better Business Bureau gives Teen Counseling’s parent company, BetterHelp, a rating of 4.07 stars out of 5 according to more than 400 reviews. The service also has accreditation and an A rating on this review platform.

Positive comments mention that Teen Counseling is easy to use, has good complaint resolution, and is cost-effective. Specific counselors also have many compliments.

However, negative comments revolved around a lack of therapist response and availability, overcharging, and customer service issues.

Trustpilot gives the company a rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 from more than 4,100 reviews.

Favorable comments include ease of use, flexibility, and excellent choice of therapists. However, negative reviews stated a lack of pricing transparency, customer care issues, and unprofessional therapists who lack empathy.

Online alternatives to Teen Counseling include:

  • Talkspace: This online service provides online counseling for individuals, couples, and teens through video, messaging, and phone. It accepts many forms of insurance. It also has an option for online psychiatric counseling, which could make it possible for a person to obtain prescriptions for medications, such as antidepressants.
  • MDLive: In addition to urgent care, primary care, and dermatology services, MDLive offers online talking therapy and psychiatric care from licensed therapists and psychiatrists, addressing issues such as addiction, anxiety, stress, and trauma. A person can obtain prescription medication if appropriate, while registration is free.
  • Synergy eTherapy: One of the specialties of this online company is counseling support for teens and adolescents. Sessions take place over video chat and the phone. The company emphasizes that many teens prefer using digital devices to communicate, so its methods reportedly help younger clients feel more comfortable about therapy. However, it does not operate in all 50 states. Some of its therapists may be in-network for some clients with insurance.

If a person’s mental health issues, whether they relate to anxiety, depression, or stress, are frequently causing distress or interfering with their ability to live their lives, they should consult a doctor for evaluation and treatment options.

Online counseling can provide significant help, but it is unsuitable for a person in a crisis situation or who may be at risk of hurting themselves or others. Instead, individuals should speak with a qualified professional.

Below are some common questions and answers about Teen Counseling.

Does teen counseling accept insurance?

Neither the Teen Counseling company nor the therapists who work with it submit bills to Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurers. This means it is up to the parents and caregivers of the person using Teen Counseling to seek reimbursement from their insurance.

Does teen counseling have a free trial?

Teen Counseling does not currently offer free trials.

Can I sign my child up for Teen Counseling?

A parent or caregiver can sign up for Teen Counseling without their child present. After they have registered, the company will match a person’s child with a licensed therapist, with whom they can schedule an appointment. They can then invite their child, who will receive an email and a text inviting them to the session.

Which is better, BetterHelp or Teen Counseling?

BetterHelp is Teen Counseling’s parent company and therefore operates the service.

Online counseling offers people of all ages a more convenient, private, and potentially cheaper way of accessing mental health treatment.

Teen Counseling focuses on providing adolescents with access to mental health care using their preferred method of communication. It can serve as a useful tool to help them manage what can be a challenging time of life.