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Losing a loved one is one of the most challenging, difficult things we may have to face in our lives. The emotional pain can be overwhelming, to say the least, and sometimes the feelings this loss bring up can be too much for us to cope with on our own.
That’s why online grief counseling might be helpful. It can validate our feelings and teach us coping strategies, all while also helping us address other underlying mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. It might also be helpful in reducing the risk of prolonged grief disorder, a condition that was recently added to the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental health disorders), which can lead to symptoms like identity disruption, numbness, social isolation, and being unable to find meaning in life.
So, to help you find reputable, helpful grief counseling online, we worked with three licensed counselors to evaluate 55 online therapy companies and 25 directories, and surveyed over 10,000 users of these services. Here are the ones we recommend.
Best Online Grief Counseling of 2023
- Best Overall: Octave
- Best for Grief and Anxiety: Talkspace
- Best for Text-Based Therapy: BetterHelp
- Best for Peer Support: Peer Collective
- Best for Group Therapy: Circles
- Best With Insurance: Amwell
- Best Without Insurance: Open Path Collective
- Best for Grief With Depression: Array Behavioral Health
- Best for Long-Illness Related Grief: Doctor On Demand
- Best for Pregnancy and Infant Loss: Thriveworks
- Best for Spouse Loss: Soaring Spirits International Widowed Village
Best Overall : Octave
- Price: $75 to $275 per session
- Insurance Accepted?: Yes
- Types of Counseling: Group, individual, family, couples
Octave provides scientifically backed individual, couples, and family counseling for grief and loss in a virtual environment. Its providers offer a more human connection than some other online practices that can feel more clinical.
Family and group therapy available
Many counselors specialize in grief and loss
Easy sign-up process
Expensive without insurance
Not available in every state
When you’re working through grief, it’s important to have a counselor who has ample experience treating it, as well as the ability to offer support for your partner and family—since they, too, may also be feeling the effects. Octave offers all that and more, such as specialized workshops, both in-person and virtual, that address common questions people have about complicated issues like grief and help build skills to cope with them.
Octave has a diverse team of counselors, a warm online aesthetic, and the convenience of all your mental healthcare needs taken care of in one place. It’s partnered with Violet—a company that helps counselors become more culturally competent with the help of online training and classes—to ensure that its providers can attend to the needs of a diverse client base. Aside from providing evidence-based care for issues like grief and loss, it also says its counselors try to make a "real human connection” with their patients.
The company transitioned to entirely virtual services in April 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and never looked back. Since then, it has expanded from offices only in New York and California to serving four other states plus Washington D.C.
Octave offers a full suite of talk-based counseling to its clients. These include:
- Individual therapy
- Family therapy
- Couples therapy
- Group therapy (including a group for those experiencing grief or loss)
The company makes sure that your provider will meet your needs by asking you to complete a rigorous assessment before it matches you with a counselor. However, you can also choose your own provider if you find one on Octave's website that you think would make a particularly good match. This level of care is vital, since evidence suggests that grief negatively impacts the ability to complete executive function tasks and make decisions.
Octave doesn’t offer counseling to anyone under the age of 18. But for adults, the range of counseling available means that you can get the care you need regardless of how your grief is impacting you, even if you just need to talk to people who are going through the same experience.
Octave's rates vary based on which state you're in. Here are the range of prices you would pay without insurance:
- Individual therapy: $170-$250 per session
- Group therapy: $75 per session
- Family and couples therapy: $190 - $275 per session
Octave does not accept Medicare or Medicaid, but it does accept certain flexible spending account (FSA) and health savings account (HSA) payments and the following insurance plans:
- Anthem Blue Cross of California
- Health Net and Managed Health Network (MHN) (in California only)
- UnitedHealthcare UMR plan for Mount Sinai employees
The 105 users of Octave who we surveyed generally had a positive experience with the company. Eighty-two percent of them said that their counselor met most or all of their needs, and 66% would be likely or very likely to recommend Octave to a friend or someone similar to themself. Fifteen percent of our users sought therapy specifically for grief and loss. One of our reviewers felt their provider had an innate ability to built rapport with her clients.
Best for Grief and Anxiety : Talkspace
- Price: $276 to $516 per month
- Insurance Accepted?: Yes
- Types of Counseling: Couples, individual, teen, medication management
Talkspace specializes in treating anxiety while also offering therapists who can provide grief counseling. This means that you can have all of your mental health needs addressed by one provider.
Messaging-only plan available
Medication management available
Family therapy unavailable
Cannot choose your own counselor
Anxiety often accompanies grief—you’re often suddenly dealing with many obligations that you didn’t have before, which can be stressful for anyone. Talkspace is a well-known online counseling service that has numerous providers who specialize in treating both anxiety and grief, either independently or together. It’s also one of the only online companies on this list that offers text-based counseling, which may be helpful for people who are too overwhelmed by anxiety to speak with someone and feel more comfortable texting.
Talkspace has a messaging-only plan where rather than meeting with a counselor on a regular basis, you can only contact your counselor via instant messaging through the Talkspace app. However, there are more expensive plans that include actual talk counseling as well. Medication management is also available, should you need it, and all services can be covered by insurance. While its prescribers can't prescribe the short-acting, controlled substances sometimes used to treat anxiety, they offer more long-acting medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), used to treat both anxiety and depression.
Although there is no free trial available, Talkspace’s prices make it accessible to those who want to dip their toes into therapy. When paying out-of-pocket, Talkspace offers three payment options, each with different features:
- A messaging-only plan that starts at $69/week
- A live therapy plan which includes messaging and four live sessions and starts at $99/week
- A video, live therapy, and workshop plan that starts at $109/week
Those needing psychiatric care will pay a much higher fee:
- An initial evaluation costs $249.
- Follow-up sessions begin at $125 each.
Talkspace accepts most major insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare. You can enter your insurance information to check if it accepts your particular plan during sign-up.
Ninety percent of surveyed Talkspace users rated it as good, very good, or excellent overall. Half said that they would likely still be seeing the same counselor six months from now. And the fact that it's a large company doesn't detract from the qualifications of the counselor: Ninety-two percent of respondents said that the counselors' qualifications were good, very good, or excellent. While 55% of users reported seeking Talkspace services for anxiety, 17% were looking for grief counseling. One of our reviewers appreciated that you can be connected with a counselor in just 24 to 48 hours.
Best for Text-Based Therapy : BetterHelp
- Price: $60 to $90 per week, billed monthly
- Insurance Accepted?: No
- Types of Counseling: Individual, group
BetterHelp delivers straightforward mental healthcare to treat grief and loss through multiple communication channels, including instant messaging.
Financial aid available
Engages in surge pricing
Cannot provide diagnoses or medication management
Someone grieving may have a hard time meeting someone face-to-face or even speaking on the phone about their feelings. In this case, text-based counseling may be a good option for them, which is why we felt BetterHelp deserved a place on this list. The company offers messaging-based therapy, as well as live video sessions, all in one simple plan so you can switch from one to the other when you need to.
While BetterHelp only offers a single plan, we felt this plan was actually pretty inclusive: you get unlimited text-based therapy, four live therapy sessions, and access to workshops led by a licensed counselor on any number of topics, including coping with grief. You can message your counselor 24/7 and expect to receive a timely reply during typical work hours. Furthermore, you can schedule live chat sessions with your counselor, wherein you chat back and forth to each other during a scheduled session time, so you'll have your counselor's full attention.
All in all, this plan can help you feel fully supported when you’re ready to talk. There is also an e-journal where you can share your feelings with your counselor, and they can offer advice and support in response. The BetterHelp website also has a blog post about coping with grief that provides insight into what you might experience.
BetterHelp doesn't prescribe medications, however, and its providers can’t give diagnoses. With these limitations, it isn't a good fit for those with preexisting serious mental illness or a complicated mental health history.
BetterHelp does not accept any insurance nor will it submit reimbursement claims. It costs between $60 to $90 per week, billed monthly. The variation in pricing is due to the fact that the company engages in the unethical practice of surge pricing: This means that the more demand there is for therapy in your area, the more you will pay to access it.
BetterHelp's user survey results show that the company is excellent at providing therapy after just a few clicks. Seventy-six percent of respondents said that signing up was easy or very easy, and another 77% said that they were likely or very likely to recommend the service to a friend or someone like themself. Twelve percent of the users we surveyed sought treatment specfically for grief and loss. One of our reviewers felt the live chat service was useful, and the counselor set a good pace for active conversation.
Best for Peer Support : Peer Collective
- Price: $14 to $28 per session
- Insurance Accepted?: No
- Types of Counseling: Peer support
For those experiencing grief, it can be helpful to have support from those who’ve also been through it. Though Peer Collective does not employ licensed professionals, Peer Collective trains its peer support workers to provide you with emotional support and a listening ear to help you through your grief at an affordable price point.
Screened peer support workers
Support staff has experience with grief
Cannot replace actual therapy
Does not accept insurance
If you’ve experienced a loss, sometimes the best support and advice can come from someone who’s experienced grief and loss themselves. Peer Collective has counselors who have that specific experience, and are “at the intersection of a trusted friend and a traditional counselor"—meaning they can be active listeners for anyone in need.
To be clear, Peer Collective doesn't provide therapy—it offers peer support, with services specifically for those experiencing grief and loss. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), peer support is when two people with similar diagnoses or experiences emotionally support each other regardless of the fact that neither is a licensed professional. Research suggests that peer support services can be useful, especially for those struggling to access mental healthcare.
If you become a Peer Collective client, you will be paired with a support worker who has gone through a vetting process. Before hiring, Peer Collective tests potential workers' warmth and emotional skills to make sure they can work with clients well.
Sessions cost between $14 and $28. Peer Collective cannot accept insurance since it doesn't provide a medical service.
We did not survey Peer Collective's users in 2022 since we’d surveyed them the previous year. However, our 2021 survey revealed that 67% of the 105 users found its services to be good, very good, or excellent. Eighty-four percent thought their peer counselor’s qualifications were good or very good, and 96% were satisfied with Peer Collective’s counselor options. And even though the peer counselors are not licensed professionals, 88% of survey respondents said that they would likely still be working with a peer support provider a year from now.
Best for Group Therapy : Circles
- Price: Free or $79 per month
- Insurance Accepted?: No
- Types of Counseling: Support groups
Circles provide a variety of support groups addressing grief and loss for those who need to speak to those with similar experiences while also connecting with a mental health professional.
12-week groups with the same members every week
For adults only
Does not accept insurance
Similar to peer support, grief groups can be invaluable resources for those experiencing grief because they’re populated by people who either have gone through grief themselves, or are currently in the thick of it. Circles offers this type of group counseling, which is also a more affordable form of mental healthcare that can supplement traditional therapy, especially if your current counselor doesn't specialize in grief or loss.
Circles has a group specifically for those experiencing grief as well as one for navigating divorces/separations. When you sign up for a Circles+ grief and loss therapy group, you will join a 12-week program where you meet with the same support group each week. Groups are led by a trained, professional counselor, although they're more driven by the group members' discussions and specific needs.
Outside of weekly meetings, you can message the facilitator and other members via the app. This enables you to access both the support of peers and the guidance of a mental health professional whenever you need it. Your membership also gives you access to helpful resources such as blogs, webinars, and self-help exercises, many of which focus on the mind-body connection.
For $79 per month, you have access to a group led by a professional as well as the availability to message your group or access resources 24/7. Although Circles doesn’t accept insurance, the first week is free, and there is financial support available if you contact the company.
There is a free option for those who just want to drop into anonymous, peer-led support groups.
Eighty percent of Circles' surveyed users gave it a rating of good, very good, or excellent overall. The same number gave a positive rating of the service's value for the money. Ten percent of our 105 users sought services at Circles specifically for grief and loss, and 77% said that all or most of their needs were met using these services. One of our reviewers felt Circles provides great support for those dealing with loss, and would recommend the service to others.
Best With Insurance : Amwell
- Price: $99 to $279 per session
- Insurance Accepted?: Yes
- Types of Counseling: Couples, family, individual, teen counseling, medication management
Amwell offers a full suite of services for those seeking grief counseling, and accepts more insurance plans than any other company we reviewed.
Therapy available for kids ages 10 and up
Easy to switch counselors
Medication management available
If you arer facing financial struggles along with coping with grief, it may feel impossible to also afford grief counseling. Amwell understands this obstacle to mental health support, so it accepts insurance from over 126 companies—the largest number of the companies on this list.
Amwell is a general telehealth provider that offers not only mental health services but also medical care such as dermatology and pulmonology. This breadth doesn't take away from Amwell's ability to provide mental healthcare, however. In fact, it enables the company to provide specialized care to meet a variety of patient needs. Its providers are equipped to deliver grief counseling while also treating comorbid conditions such as PTSD and depression.
You can meet with the same providers for each appointment, and switching providers is incredibly easy. Amwell's providers also specialize in a variety of therapeutic techniques so that you can find the strategies that work best for you. These techniques include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), both of which are considered gold standard therapeutic treatments for grief.
Amwell accepts over 125 insurance plans, including:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield
Without insurance, pricing is as follows:
- Therapy: $99 per appointment
- Psychiatry: $279 for the initial visit, $109 for 15-minute follow-up visits
Eighty-eight percent of the 105 Amwell users we surveyed rated their experience as good, very good, or excellent overall, and 91% said the same about their counselor’s qualifications. Furthermore, 86% said that their counselor met most or all of their needs. Eight percent of our survey respondents went to Amwell specifically to address grief and loss. While one of our reviewers didn’t connect well with their first counselor, they were able to quickly and easily switch to one they worked better with.
Best Without Insurance : Open Path Collective
- Price: $30 to $70 per session
- Insurance Accepted?: No
- Types of Counseling: Varies by provider
If you’re looking for a counselor who has experience treating grief but need to keep costs down, Open Path Collective is an excellent choice. It enables you to pay discounted rates for counseling if you don't have adequate health insurance to cover it.
Racially diverse directory of counselors
Affordable couples therapy and medication management available
Both virtual and in-person therapy available
Cannot use insurance
Few psychiatrists available
Looking for a grief counselor that you can afford doesn’t have to be hard. Open Path Collective is an online therapy directory that matches counselors willing to offer discounted rates with clients needing low-cost mental health services. To sign up, you fill out an application, pay a one-time membership fee, and then are free to contact one of the counselors in its directory.
The directory lists counselors from a wide range of backgrounds and areas of expertise, including grief and loss. When I searched for counselors in my area (a neighborhood right outside of Boston) who offered grief counseling, 11 results came up. This may seem like a small number, but if you need discounted therapy, this is actually a fairly large number of choices. Furthermore, it also allows you to search for counselors who specialize in grief and loss, including "ecological grief"—a form of grief caused by observing the damage that the climate crisis does to our environment. You can also search by race, gender, sexual orientation, and whether the counselor offers virtual therapy. There are counselors on the platform who treat kids and teens as well as a few providers who can prescribe medications.
Regardless of the type of grief you need counseling to address, Open Path Collective is a great place to look for help if you are in financial need and lack adequate insurance.
Open Path is a directory, so you don’t pay for counseling directly through it. However, there is a one-time membership fee of $65. Each session with a fully qualified provider costs between $40 and $70, and you can meet with a pre-licensed counselor (under the supervision of a licensed professional) for $30. Some counselors charge up to $80 for couples and family therapy.
Ten percent of 180 surveyed users of Open Path turned to the directory to find a counselor to address grief and loss, and 81% of Open Path users we surveyed were still using the same counselor they chose when they first sought help. Nearly half of them reported they were very satisfied with the counselor options on the site, and another 35% were satisfied with the options. If you search for a counselor on Open Path, do not fear that you're sacrificing quality in order to meet your financial needs.
Best for Grief With Depression : Array Behavioral Health
- Price: $75 to $350 per session
- Insurance Accepted?: Yes
- Types of Counseling: Individual therapy and medication management for adults; medication management for children
Symptoms of grief often overlap with symptoms of clinical depression, and as such, it can be difficult to know if what you’re experiencing is situational or related to ongoing depression. Array Behavioral Care emphasizes the importance of an accurate diagnosis of underlying mental illness.
Medication management available
Psychiatric assessment available
Limited appointment availability
Grief and depression often go hand in hand. However, in some cases, the depression might have been there long before you experienced grief; it was just undiagnosed. Array Behavioral Care can identify situational depression associated with grief and correctly diagnose mental health conditions such as depression. Plus, it can provide the interdisciplinary care sometimes needed to treat them, which sets it apart from other online counseling companies we reviewed.
Array Behavioral Care began providing telehealth care the same year it was founded by Jim Varrell, MD: 1999. Since its merger with Regroup Telehealth in 2019, it has grown to be one of the largest telepsychiatry companies in the country. It offers both talk therapy and psychiatry and medication management to adults as well as psychiatric assessments for kids ages 12-18.
Providers can complete psychiatric assessments that can be used in a legal context as well as determine the level of care you need to treat symptoms of grief and/or depression. This in-depth process is especially important if your mental health history is complicated. If you don't need such an assessment, you can still book an appointment with one of Array's psychiatrists or talk counselors who specialize in grief and loss.
Array Behavioral Care is a pay-by-appointment service that accepts insurance. It doesn’t list which insurance providers it accepts online, and its billing structure is overly complicated. Here are the price ranges for various services:
- Adult medication management: $85 - $225
- Pediatric medication management: $150 - $350
- Talk therapy: $75 - $115
Nearly 80% of the 105 Array Behavioral Care users we surveyed said that the services were a good, very good, or excellent value for the money. Seventy-two percent rated their provider's qualifications as good, very good or excellent, and 71% felt the same about their experience with Array overall. Thirteen percent of the users we surveyed specifically sought treatment for grief and loss through Array Behavioral Care.
Best for Long-Illness Related Grief : Doctor On Demand
- Price: $129 to $299 per session
- Insurance Accepted?: Yes
- Types of Counseling: Individual therapy, medication management, teen counseling
Doctor On Demand offers care for both trauma and grief, allowing its providers to help you navigate the process of healing after watching a loved one die from a long illness.
Unique treatment for caregivers’ grief
Cannot choose counselor based on identities
Expensive without insurance
Caring for someone with an ongoing illness can be incredibly taxing, physically and mentally. Caregivers often put the needs of the people they’re caring for well above their own, which, over time, can wear heavily on their mental health. A 2017 study of caregivers of people dying of cancer in Iran found that most of them had unmet social and psychological needs as well as high rates of anxiety and depression. Doctor On Demand is a company uniquely equipped to deal with the aftermath of being a caregiver. It is a general telehealth company that treats physical conditions as well as mental health issues. Its mental health treatment plans include treatment for grief and trauma, as well as anxiety and depression, from counselors and psychiatrists.
Doctor On Demand was founded in 2013 in the hopes of providing everyone access to affordable medical care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While you can't access your mental health providers 24/7, there is 24/7 access to coaching services as a supplement to therapy. These services enable the company to address the complex needs of those recovering from the loss of a loved one due to a prolonged illness.
Doctor On Demand accepts most major insurance plans as well as Medicare. Like many services, a list of accepted insurance plans is not available until you start the sign-up process, where you select your insurance from a drop-down menu. If you don’t have insurance, the rates are high:
- A 25-minute therapy session costs $129; a 50-minute session costs $179.
- An initial 45-minute psychiatry appointment costs $299; 15-minute follow-ups cost $129.
The results of our survey indicate that Doctor On Demand provides high-quality care. A whopping 94% of our 105 users rated its service as good, very good, or excellent overall, with nearly a third of those rating it as excellent. Another 47% said that it was likely or very likely that they would still be seeing the same counselor six months from now. Thirteen percent reported that they specifically sought therapy for grief and loss at Doctor On Demand, and 17% needed treatment for trauma. One of our reviewers said they appreciated the practical solutions their counselor offered, and felt the treatment overall was comparable to more traditional therapy they’d experienced in the past.
Best for Pregnancy and Infant Loss : Thriveworks
- Price: Varies by provider
- Insurance Accepted?: Yes
- Types of Counseling: Couples, family, group, individual, medication management, teen counseling
Thriveworks specializes in providing multiple levels of care for members of the same family, enabling it to navigate the loss of an infant or pregnancy with not only the parents but also siblings.
In-person therapy available
Treats entire families
Overly complex billing system
Not only does Thriveworks have counselors who specialize in birth trauma and postpartum anxiety and depression, but it also has the breadth of services needed to address the impact of a pregnancy or infant loss on the entire family. Thriveworks is a mental health company that offers mental healthcare to both children and adults.
Parents can receive therapy together through couples therapy; a teen can meet with a counselor individually; and/or the entire family can meet together to help a young child navigate their grief. Thriveworks also offers medication management for those who would benefit from it.
One of Thriveworks' most unique features is that, in addition to its virtual care offerings, it also has 380 in-person offices around the country, including one in almost every state. If you or your family decide that you prefer in-person care over virtual care, you can still remain Thriveworks clients.
Different Thriveworks locations and providers accept different insurance plans. Fortunately, you can filter counselors by what insurance plans they accept. These are the plans each provider potentially accepts:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield
- Cigna | Evernorth
- UnitedHealthcare | Optum
Without insurance, variable per-session fees start at $99.
Thriveworks users are satisfied with their care regardless of what form of care they received. All but three of the 105 people we surveyed said that Thriveworks' medication management services were good, very good, or excellent. Seventy percent said that if they had to find a new counselor, they would start their search at Thriveworks again. Fifteen percent of users turned to Thriveworks for therapy to address grief and loss, and 87% found their counselors’ qualifications to be good, very good, or excellent.
Best for Spouse Loss : Soaring Spirits International Widowed Village
- Price: Free
- Insurance Accepted?: N/A
- Types of Counseling: Peer support
Soaring Spirits International is an organization dedicated to helping widowed people rebuild their lives after losing a spouse. Its virtual Widowed Village program allows you to connect with those who have also lost their spouses so that you don't feel alone.
24/7 virtual community available
Virtual programming is free
Weekly meetings about researched-backed coping strategies
Specifically for surviving spouses, not other family members
In 2005, both Michele Neff Hernandez and Michelle Dippel lost their husbands in their mid-thirties. After meeting through family members, the two formed a friendship and soon realized the helpfulness of knowing another widow throughout the grieving process. One day, Michele came up with the idea to start a weekend retreat for widowed people, and Soaring Spirits International was born.
Soaring Spirits International is a nonprofit dedicated to serving those who have lost a spouse, regardless of whether the spouse died 10 years ago or 10 days ago. In-person offerings include Camp Widow, a weekend retreat for widows, and regional social groups. Its virtual programs are even more extensive. It hosts an online forum where widowed people of any gender can speak to each other 24/7. It also facilitates a pen pal program that matches you with a peer of the same gender, a similar age, and who lost their spouse within six months of when yours died. Finally, if you lost your spouse less than a year ago, you can join the newly widowed virtual program after becoming a member of the online forum. This program offers weekly Zoom meetings that provide research-based information to guide you through the grief process.
While Soaring Spirits International is not a therapy company, its services are vital while navigating widowhood.
All of Soaring Spirits International's virtual programs are free, as are some of its regional meetings. Camp Widdow costs $700 per person, but it offers subsidized rates of $425 per person if you can't afford the standard rate.
We did not get a chance to survey the users of Soaring Spirits International. However, online reviews are generally positive. We feel comfortable recommending Soaring Spirits International because of the specific niche it fills, allowing those who have lost their spouses to connect with others experiencing that same specific type of grief.
"Losing your partner is incredibly isolating, especially at a young age," our subject matter expert, Amy Marschall, PsyD, told Health. "I love that [Soaring Spirits] has a free packet for newly widowed folk to find support and comfort as well as outreach activities. It's great that they are connecting folk to support resources and community during an impossibly difficult time."
Octave is our choice for the best online grief therapy. Its certified counselors offer the breadth of expertise required to deliver such delicate care while also being culturally informed. Additionally, it offers group therapy focused on grief, so that you can interact with people with similar experiences, and couples therapy so that you and your partner can navigate grief together.
However, if you’re dealing with both anxiety and grief, Talkspace is a great resource; if you've lost your partner, Soaring Spirits International Widowed Village is the best place to start given the organization's collective expertise. For those wanting to try text counseling, BetterHelp has a few different options to choose from.
Compare the Best Online Grief Counseling
|Company||Price||Insurance Accepted?||Types of Counseling Offered|
|Octave Best Overall||$75 - $275 per session||Yes||Group therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, and couples therapy|
|Talkspace Best for Grief and Anxiety||$276 to $516 per month||Yes||Couples, individual, teen, medication management|
|BetterHelp Best for Text-Based Therapy||$60 to $90 per week, billed monthly||No||Individual, group|
|Peer Collective Best for Peer Support||$14 - $28 per session||No||Peer support|
|Circles Best for Support Groups||Free or $79 per month||No||Support groups|
|Amwell Best with Insurance||$99 to $279 per session||Yes||Couples, family, individual, teen, medication management|
|Open Path Collective Most Affordable Without Insurance||$30 to $70 per session||No||Varies by provider|
|Array Behavioral Health Best for Multiple Diagnosis||$75 to $350 per session||Yes||Individual therapy and medication management for adults; medication management for children|
|Doctor On Demand Best for Long-Illness Related Grief||$129 to $299 per session||Yes||Individual therapy, medication management, teen counseling|
|Thriveworks Best for Pregnancy and Infant Loss||Varies by provider||Yes||Couples, family, group, individual, teen, medication management|
|Souring Sprits International Widowed Village Best for Spouse Loss||Free||No||Group therapy. peer support|
Guide to Choosing the Best Online Grief Counseling
How Can Grief Counseling Help Me?
Grief counseling can help you reduce your negative feelings around grief, honor what or who you lost, and understand the variations of the grieving process.
Grief counseling can be provided by any licensed counselor or counselor with experience guiding someone through grief. This includes the following credentials:
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
- PhD or PsyD (in psychology)
- MD (as in a psychiatrist)
- Licensed Marriage and Family counselor (LMFT)
- Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
What Does Grief Counseling for Prolonged Grief Look Like?
The Center for Prolonged Grief at Columbia University advocates for Prolonged Grief Disorder Therapy (PGDT), a form of talk therapy that focuses on walking people through the H.E.A.L.I.N.G milestones of grief:
- Honor yourself and who you lost
- Ease negative emotions by embracing them
- Accept your grief
- Learn to live with reminders of your grief
- Integrate memories into your growth and healing
- Narrate the story of the death to build acceptance of it
- Gather your social supports
The 16-week H.E.A.L.I.N.G. program walks you through these steps and teaches you to avoid patterns that could derail your healing.
Who Is Online Grief Counseling Right For?
Online grief counseling is for anyone who is experiencing grief, regardless of whether it's triggered by death or another form of loss. However, if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings or have psychotic symptoms, online therapy of any kind is probably not a good fit for you.
Comparing Online Grief Counseling Services
There are various factors to consider when choosing which online grief counseling is best. Some of these include:
- Price: Online therapy varies widely in cost. Make sure you can afford whatever treatment you sign up for and understand the payment structure.
- Modality: Ask yourself who needs to be in treatment with you. If you think having your partner or family there would aid your healing, make sure the service offers couples and/or family therapy.
- Treatment types: Depending on the severity of your grief and/or any comorbid mental health disorders, you may respond to different levels and types of treatment (such as medication or cognitive behavioral therapy). Make sure the company you receive service from has the treatment you need and/or can provide an assessment to determine which type of treatment might be best for you.
- Scheduling: If you need weekend or evening availability, check the company's schedule before signing up. Contact customer service if you're unsure.
- Method of counseling: While live video calls are generally best for therapy, if you need text or phone therapy for accessibility reasons, check to see if the company offers it.
- Ease of switching counselors: Finding the right counselor often involves trial and error. If your first provider isn't a good match for you, you will need to switch. Check the company's policy on switching counselors before signing up.
Frequently Asked Questions
On Average, How Long Does It Take to Properly Grieve?
Grief may never completely go away; you might feel the effects of it in waves throughout the rest of your life. However, the more severe symptoms of grief (e.g. intense emotional pain or feelings of detachment) usually dissipate six months to a year after the loss. If they don't, this is considered a sign of prolonged grief disorder.
Does Your Brain Change After Grief?
Recent research indicates that it does. A 2022 study of mothers who had lost a child indicates that there are significant changes to the brain caused by grief. The grieving mothers not only had impaired learning and memory skills, but their brains showed distinctive over-responsiveness in areas associated with emotion as well as stronger connections between different parts of the brain associated with emotion.
Can You Fully Recover from Grief?
Grief never entirely goes away. It is something you learn to live with as you continue to develop a relationship with your loved one long after they're gone. However, the more negative symptoms associated with grief do diminish over time. You will be able to incorporate grief into a happy and fulfilling life.
Does Medication Help With Grief?
Some studies have shown that taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can help in cases of prolonged grief, and there are clinical trials using anti-addiction medication to address grief. However, scientists don't agree on when or how these medications should be used with regard to grief. There are concerns that we are medicating away a normal part of being human.
We considered 55 different companies when writing this review. We chose the ones that explicitly stated they treated issues around grief and loss. We made sure that they either hired licensed counselors or provided clear resources for peer support with experts helping behind the scenes. By prioritizing those which examined grief through a scientific lens, we tried to select companies who would provide treatment shown to actually help those navigating loss. For the majority of companies, we compared the results of a survey of over 100 users so that we could understand what their treatment felt like from a client's perspective instead of what they just put on their website.
While we admire companies like Talkiatry and Circle Medical for their strong medication management services, we wanted to emphasize options that also provide a strong talk therapy program. We also avoided companies like Brightside and Online-Therapy.com, which provide evidence-based care for anxiety and depression but may not be equipped to care for those experiencing grief.
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