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Best Online Therapy Sites and Services 2021 – Reviews
1. BetterHelp – Best Overall
BetterHelp has become a significant player in the online therapy marketplace, with over a million users. They have a few unique characteristics that set them apart from their competitors, from the onboarding process to their interface, and a lot of users have lauded their easy-to-use system.
BetterHelp has over 5,000 licensed therapists and counselors with more than 3,000 hours of experience. The counselors specialize in the whole spectrum of mental health issues, from PTSD to addiction, relationships, and couples counseling. They employ their counselors through a rigorous screening process, including a case study exam and video interview.
BetterHelp sign-up process starts by answering a series of questions ranging from “What is your relationship status?” to “Are you currently experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, or have any phobias?” You are matched with a therapist within 24 hours of completing the questionnaire.
BetterHelp algorithm finds the best online therapist for you based on your answers and any preferences like gender, race, etc. This process is particularly helpful for beginners without any therapy experience because finding a therapist can be overwhelming. You can also request to change your therapist any time if you find he/she is not a good fit.
Once matched, you can virtually connect with your therapist through messaging and live sessions in a private chatroom. The chatroom is similar to any social media chat app like Watsapp, Messenger, etc.
Betterhelp also has a mobile app that is compatible with Android, Apple, and other operating systems. You can send messages and conduct live sessions with your therapist from either your laptop or mobile.
Therapists usually reply to the messages once every day from Monday to Friday. Live sessions require scheduling a time with your counselor that can easily be done through the scheduling calendar on the BetterHelp website.
BetterHelp has straightforward pricing plans without any hidden costs. The subscription cost is based on the length of your commitment.
- Weekly plan cost $80/week
- Monthly plan cost $260/month
- Quarterly plan billed after every 3 months cost $540 (about $180/month)
- Yearly plan cost $1820 (about $152/month)
BetterHelp users get unlimited text messaging with one 30-50 minutes live Video/Chat/Phone session per week with their counselor on all subscription plans. Read our detailed BetterHelp Review.
2. Talkspace – Best Chat Features
Talkspace represents the world’s largest online counseling platform. They have an accordingly robust network of therapists specializing in a wide range of mental health issues.
Talkspace employs experienced and accredited psychologists (Ph.D. / PsyD), licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW / LMSW), and licensed professional counselors (LPC). Talkspace also checks references, licensure standing, and hours of experience before employment.
Talkspace has an interactive sign-up process. After registering your account and answering a few basic questions about yourself, you get a free initial consultation with a matching agent. The agent will chat with you to understand your issues and use that information to find the best therapist to suit your needs. It can take anywhere from 30 mins to 2 days to get matched with a therapist.
Just like BetterHelp, you have your chatroom on the Talkspace website where you interact with the therapist but there are additional features in their messaging system. You can also send video messages to your therapist along with text messaging. The therapist responds once every day from Monday to Friday.
Talkspace basic plan only includes the Messaging feature and the Live Video sessions are available in the Premium and Ultimate plans. Here is the breakdown of Talkspace monthly pricing:
- Basic Plan – $260/month
- Premium Plan with 1 Live session (30 mins) per month – $316/month
- Ultimate Plan with 4 Live sessions (30 mins each) per month – $396/month
- Couples Therapy Plan – $396/month
- Teen Counseling Plan – $260/month
All the above plans include unlimited text, video & audio messaging with the therapist. Additional Live Video sessions can be included at the cost of $65 per 30 mins. Read our detailed Talkspace Review.
3. Online-Therapy.Com – Best Online CBT
Online-Therapy.com platform specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which works on the principle that changing one’s thought patterns can eliminate many of their stresses, anxieties, and personal conflicts. As such, CBT requires real work on behalf of the client. The counselors walk you through a variety of exercises in addition to traditional sessions.
CBT has a long and experimentally-tested record of success, but the exercises mean treatment depends on a specific program. Online-Therapy.com has a slightly more limited list of conditions targeted than some other online mental health services.
- Weight Issues…and more
When you sign up for Online-Therapy.com, you are assigned a licensed therapist with whom you will get one-on-one sessions and feedback on the activities through which you work.
The therapist will give you assignments in the form of online worksheets to help you identify your thought process and overcome your problems. You will receive feedback and help daily via text messaging from your therapist.
The website has additional tools like Journals to document your everyday life, an activity planner, and Yoga videos to help cope with anxiety, depression, or stress.
Online-Therapy.com starts at $39.95 per week for the basic package, including eight sections and 25 worksheets with feedback from your counselor. For $59.95 per week, the standard package adds a live session once per week.
The $79.95 per week premium package adds one more live session and express replies and messaging support. All packages have a 20% off per week deal for the first month.
4. Regain – Best Online Couples Counseling
Regain specializes in couples counseling. Unlike other websites, Regain has chosen to focus exclusively on couples therapy. This limits their usability a bit, but it does mean they commit to solving relationship-specific issues.
Regain counselors are fully licensed, and experienced in couple and marriage counseling. They carry a range of qualifications from Ph.D./PsyD to Masters level, though all of their therapists have at least three years of experience and over 2000 hours of service.
The sign-up process consists of an automated questionnaire used to connect you with an appropriate therapist. The survey identifies what kind of issues you’re having in your relationship and requires an emergency contact, but other than that the service is entirely confidential. Upon completion of the questionnaire, users connect with a therapist.
Regain utilizes a chat room interface, wherein messages can be sent from either member of the couple and their therapist. It does have the option for either party to schedule a private session if they have the information they’d rather not share with their partner.
The treatment revolves around messaging in the chat room, but they do have an option for phone or video chats on an appointment basis. Regain’s cost runs from $60-80 per week for the couple, but their billing requires paying for a full month initially.
5. Teen Counseling – Best for Minors
Teen Counseling has existed since 2013 to help teenagers get meaningful assistance when they have problems in their life. Teen Counseling has a commitment to confidentiality based on a belief that all people need to be honest to get anything out of talk therapy.
Teen Counseling has a roster of licensed psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and professional therapists. Their therapists each carry licensure for their state of practice and specialize in many issues related explicitly to teens like bullying, career choices, conflict, or eating disorders.
Both teens and parents can sign up, though in either case, the parents will have to make the ultimate sign off on a counselor. After a brief questionnaire, users get connected with a therapist with whom they can connect by message, live messaging, video chats, or phone calls.
All communications take place in a secure chat room. Teens can send a message any time, and get an alert when their counselor responds. For live messaging, video chats, or phone calls, users will need to schedule appointments, possibly at an additional cost.
Teen Counseling has a few different pricing plans based on the needs of the teen. For $180 per month ($45 per week), users get unlimited messaging with their counselor and live sessions at $25 per session.
For $260 per month ($65 per week), users can get unlimited messaging and 4 live sessions each month. Teen counseling does not work with any insurance plans.
6. Faithful Counseling – Best for Christians
Faithful Counseling offers online mental health services with a Biblical perspective. It connects users with the licensed therapist that share the Christian background. The goal of Faithful Counseling is to bring Biblical wisdom with clinical expertise to improve the clients’ mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Since Faithful Counseling is the sister company of Betterhelp, it follows the same rigorous standards for choosing its therapists. Additionally, therapists identify themselves as practicing Christians by signing a testimony about their faith. The therapists treat a wide range of mental health issues, including common problems like anxiety, stress, depression, and family conflict.
Getting in touch with a therapist starts with a simple sign-up process, consisting of a typical set of questions regarding your reasons for seeking treatment. But in addition to those queries, Faithful Counseling asks about the level of spirituality you would like incorporated into your treatment.
In this way, you can tailor your counseling to address your psychological needs and your spiritual needs as well.
Faithful Counseling boasts a straightforward and affordable pricing structure. For $65 per week – billed monthly – users get truly unlimited messaging with their therapist. In addition to 24/7 messaging, users get live chat, phone, or video chats each month.
Of course, practitioners keep relatively regular business hours, and live sessions require scheduling. So while the “unlimited” tag does have some limits, most users can schedule an appointment anywhere from 24 to 72 hours.
Insurance typically does not cover services from Faithful Counseling, but users may be able to get a reimbursement in a few distinct circumstances.
7. Amwell Therapy – Best Telemedicine Platform
Amwell Therapy is a service of Amwell, a leader in the telemedicine industry. Amwell offers virtual treatment on everything from pediatrics to urgent care in addition to their online therapy services. This gives them a strong back-end in terms of their ability to deliver care but means that the company divides its attention between mental health and other services.
They employ over 400 licensed therapists. The providers include a mix of master’s level therapists and Ph.D. level psychologists. Additionally, Amwell has a network of doctors who can recommend and prescribe medication for appropriate conditions, which sets them apart from other online mental health platforms.
The process begins with a simple, confidential sign-up, after which you see a list of available therapists. Each therapist has a profile that includes credentials and specialties so that you can find the right match for your needs. The drawback here is that you need to search and choose the therapist yourself and pay for each appointment.
Amwell pricing comes in significantly under the cost of traditional face-to-face therapy but above some of its competitors. Pricing ranges from $99 per session for master’s level practitioners to $110 per session for a doctorate-level therapist. Also separating Amwell from other online services: payment happens on a session-by-session basis, rather than a subscription. Amwell also accepts health insurance from a variety of insurance providers.
Unlike a few of the other services on our list, Amwell Therapy has no messaging or text-based interaction options. All sessions with your counselor require an appointment and are conducted through live video.
Amwell’s video platform has a unique feature to hide your face during the counseling session. It brings you closer to the experience of in-person therapy where you will only see your counselor and not be distracted by your face during the conversation. The same applies to your therapist who can closely watch your facial expressions.
8. MDLive – Best Psychiatrists
MDLive offers a great, simple online platform for finding help from qualified mental health professionals for various issues. While most other platforms offer counselors or therapists, MDLive has some best psychiatry options, through which you can get medical prescriptions depending on your condition.
To sign up with MDLive, you go through a roughly 15-minute registration process that includes a few questions about your background and reasons for seeking treatment. Once registered, you search through their therapist directory and choose one that fits your needs.
While MDLive has a slightly less expansive network of counselors, they do have excellent accreditation standards. Their therapists treat various conditions, including anxiety, depression, bipolar, trauma, and more.
Sessions through MDLive consist of a video chat paid session by session. For counselors, sessions begin at $99, while psychiatrists run $259 for the first session and $99 for follow-ups. MDLive does accept many insurance plans.
9. Doctor On Demand
Doctor On Demand features an excellent option for online mental health treatment, particularly for those seeking shorter-term treatment or simple inquiries since the platform does not require a subscription.
Doctor On Demand employs a roster of licensed psychologists and psychiatrists, so whether you want talk therapy or medication-based treatment, they can provide the treatment you need.
They have licensed therapists specializing in anxiety, depression, insomnia, panic attacks, and more. The range of mental health conditions treated has a little less depth than other platforms, however.
The onboarding process consists of free mental health screening. From there, you schedule a video chat appointment with a therapist of your choosing – after searching through their bios, qualifications, and specializations – and pay on a per-session basis.
Doctor On Demand does accept health insurance plans, but their out-of-pocket cost runs a little higher than other services at $180 per 50-minute session.
10. 7 Cups of Tea – Best Free Online Chat Therapy
7 cups (7Cupsoftea) offers free online therapy via its trained “listeners”. It should be noted that all listeners on the platform are not trained therapists and counselors. Anyone can become a listener on 7cups by completing their Active Listening training course and scoring a perfect score in the accompanying quiz.
You can choose a listener according to their profiles, interests, and ratings (based on feedback and number of chats). You can start messaging them for free in a private chatroom.
The listener will listen to your life challenging problems and provide support. But they will not give you any psychological or medical advice.
7cups also has a paid version where you can chat with a professional therapist or counselor. It costs $150/month with 3 days free trial. 7cups doesn’t have a live video option, you can only talk to your counselor via text messaging and receive replies twice daily.
7cups also has a forum and group chatrooms that anyone can join for free. They are manned by volunteers who understand mental health challenges. It’s a safe space to talk about anything, from big to small, with a huge range of self-help resources.
7cups is perfect for anyone with mild symptoms of anxiety or depression or people who can’t afford therapy. It’s a good platform to make new connections if you feel lonely or need support from like-minded people.
The drawback is that everything is done via text messaging. It’s not suitable for serious mental health problems, crisis management, or people who don’t communicate well via text.
Free counseling at 7 cups is self-directed – listeners listen but don’t give advice. This is too unstructured for many people but might still be helpful as a supplementary therapy.
Thriveworks offers online therapy services only to users in states where they have one of their brick and mortar practices. Fortunately, this covers 20 states and the District of Columbia, so Thriveworks manages to cast a broad net for coverage in the United States.
Clients connect with therapists via live video chat or telephone calls. You can search for the therapist or counselor in your state and book the session online. The live video sessions are conducted on the Zoom Platform and very convenient to attend.
Thriveworks has a wide range of Providers including Licensed Therapists, Psychologists, Clinical Social Workers, and Psychiatrists. They also have Licensed Family Therapists to offer marriage and family counseling. Thriveworks prides itself on a network of quality therapists and provides a platform for continual professional development.
Thriveworks cost is almost similar to in-person therapy and it varies depending on the qualification of the therapist and they also work with most traditional health insurance companies.
12. Ginger – Best Mental Health App
Ginger.io is a mental health app that allows users to input information about their behavior and mental health status. It utilizes that information to keep track of your personal growth or identify times when you need help.
Using machine learning, Ginger identifies mental health problems and connect users to behavioral health coaches, licensed therapists, and psychiatrists based on the treatment required.
Users interact with the coaches using text messaging in real-time 7 days a week. Coaches can help to manage minor anxiety, depression, sleep, or eating disorders.
If there is a need, users can also interact with a therapist via a live video session.
Plans range from $129 to $349 per subscription package, depending on the amount of interaction you need from your therapist or psychiatrist. Some costs may be reimbursed by insurance, depending on your plan.
13. Just Mind Counseling
Just Mind offers online therapy services for children, teens, and adults in the Austin, Texas area. Therapists connect with clients via Google Meet which is a secure HIPAA compliant platform. You can easily attend the sessions from your laptop, mobile, or tablet.
Their therapists deal with a range of issues, from ADHD and Asperger to PTSD and trauma. They also provide family and couples counseling, including LGBTQ couples counseling.
Just Mind employs a team of licensed professional counselors and therapists, with a pricing structure based on the therapist experience. The lowest rate comes for junior therapists, running from $100 per hour for individuals to $115 per hour for couples, while at the upper-end practice owners William and Teri Schroeder charge $150 per session.
Some insurance plans, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, cover a portion of the costs associated with counseling at Just Mind.
Is Online Therapy Effective?
In one word, Yes. Studies published in the Journal of Effective Disorder and Journal of Anxiety Disorder have concluded that internet-based intervention for anxiety and depressive disorders is effective, practical, and acceptable health care.
There are features unique to online therapy that just aren’t available with in-person therapy, like multiple avenues of communication and 24/7 text messaging with your therapist. The online format also means you and your therapist can refer to messages and chat history any time and the online worksheets are always a click away.
The anonymity, convenience, and accessibility are especially effective for people who otherwise might not seek therapy at all. This includes those with social anxiety or disabilities and those living in remote areas.
The technology that allows teletherapy to exist is constantly evolving and advancing. For this reason, we can expect online therapy to keep getting better and perhaps even outperform traditional therapy in the future.
How to ensure safety and Privacy in online therapy?
Mental health practitioners operating in the US must adhere to strict HIPAA laws in protecting patient confidentiality. Our best online therapy websites above offer encrypted communications and complete anonymity during the sign-up process.
That said, online therapy does pose a higher risk of compromised security than traditional therapy. You and your therapist should always have a shared understanding of the technology and personal expectations regarding the communication medium’s safety, especially when sharing sensitive or personal information.
Anything from computer viruses to device theft can create a privacy breach on your end, so ensuring you understand and use the protections to keep your data safe is a personal responsibility. Any online therapy platform should be open and transparent in how it handles user data and ensure its safety. The therapists should also be trained and encouraged to destroy data and private information according to APA guidelines.
Is Skype safe for therapy?
Skype is unsafe for therapy because it is not HIPAA compliant and does not provide end to end encryption in video calls. Thus, it is a real risk that your Skype chats with the therapist can be hacked and intercepted.
Although many therapists are now providing their services using Skype during the COVID breakout you can ask them to use an alternative video platform that is safe and secure like Zoom or Google Meet.
How much does the online therapy cost?
The cost of online therapy platforms that offer both text messaging and live video sessions like Betterhelp and Talkspace ranges between $250 – $400 per month. The cost mainly varies by the number of live sessions with the therapist and the length of the subscription you choose.
The cost of other telemedicine websites, like Amwell which only offers live video sessions, usually starts from $99 per session.
Talking to therapists online is significantly cheaper than in-person which usually starts at $150 per session and maybe even higher in some states like New York. Some of the cost savings come from the virtual setting, which cuts down on the therapist overhead by eliminating the need for an office space.
Is there free counseling online?
Free counseling does exist online. A variety of sites and platforms use a peer-to-peer model for talk therapy. Users connect with a stranger (a vetted stranger, usually) to vent or exchange ideas and concerns. Depending on the platform, these strangers may have some degree of training, or even certifications attained voluntarily.
Therapists who provide clinical, evidence-based therapy generally do not work for free. However, free online therapy using the peer-to-peer model can work wonders, especially for people needing support for issues like depression, anxiety, or LGBTQ issues. Sometimes, connecting with a sympathetic ear can help put you on the right track.
Platforms like 7cups, Blah, Huddle, and iPrevail all use the peer-to-peer model.
Is online therapy right for me?
While still a relatively young practice, studies have demonstrated that online therapy can help in many of the same ways traditional face-to-face therapy can.
For issues like generalized anxiety, depression, trauma, conflict, or life changes, online counseling may offer you a meaningful solution.
However, severe mental illness, emergencies, and crises should not be treated with online therapy. Court-ordered or counseling also requires more stringent therapy standards than you can find online. Minors also cannot independently sign up for online counseling.
Lastly, any therapy online or otherwise will depend on what you put into it. You first have to want to get better. If you do, we hope this article helps you find the help you need.
Is Online Therapy Worth the Money?
Online therapy is based on the same methods, developed through research, as traditional therapy. If traditional therapy is worth the money, and it is, so is online therapy. In purely practical terms, online therapy saves you time and money compared to in-person therapy.
Any money devoted to improving mental health is money well spent as these challenges can affect all aspects of your life. If you look at online counseling as an investment, the dividends can pay off hugely over time.
Getting professional help with issues like depression, anxiety, and past trauma leads to better personal and work relationships, more confidence, and greater clarity of purpose.
Online therapy can give you a better understanding of yourself as well as the ability to manage stress in healthier ways. It can also give you invaluable tools to deal with the problems that are sure to crop up in the future.