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Therapy is one of the few things that is equally as daunting to shop for online as off. The sheer volume of companies claiming that they offer the best online counseling available can make even an experienced therapy seeker close their laptop without choosing a service. Fortunately, the variety of options available means that potential clients do not have to settle for a service that doesn’t work for them.
The best virtual therapy options empower clients to make their own decisions regarding treatment options. While most advertising for online therapy references anxiety and depression, online counseling can also address other issues such as relationship problems and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and provide medication management. By comparing different companies’ offerings, users can find convenient therapy that addresses their mental health concerns. We looked at 55 online therapy companies, surveying 105 users of each, plus 25 directories, surveying 180 users; we also rigorously tested each service. Using that data, as well as in-depth research into each company’s offerings, we compiled this list some of the best online therapy options available.
Best Online Therapy Services of 2023
- Best for Talk Therapy: Talkspace
- Best for Psychiatry: Talkiatry
- Best Flexibility: BetterHelp
- Best for Substance Use: Monument
- Best for Couples: Couples Therapy Inc.
- Best for BIPOC Communities: Kip Therapy
- Best for LGBTQIA+: National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN)
- Most Affordable: OpenPath Collective
- Best Availability: Thriveworks
- Best for Eating Disorders: Eating Recovery Center
- Best With Insurance: Teladoc
- Best Directory: Inclusive Therapists
Best for Talk Therapy : Talkspace
- Cost: $69 to $109/week for talk therapy. $125 to $249 for one session of psychiatry
- Types of Therapy Offered: Individual, couples, teens, psychiatry
- Insurance Accepted? Yes
Talkspace makes it easy to tailor your mental health treatment to your particular needs by offering multiple services and payment plans, all while accepting insurance.
Medication management available
Multiple plans available
Chooses therapist for you
Text therapy may be ineffective
Talkspace's specialty is breadth. Regardless of whether you're looking for a psychiatrist to prescribe you medicine to treat depression, a talk therapist to explore gender identity with your teen, or a counselor to help you and your partner heal from infidelity, Talkspace has a service for you.
Furthermore, Talkspace understands that different people need different levels of mental healthcare and have varying budgets, which is why it offers an affordable plan that only includes a messaging service. It also has specific landing pages for veterans and those in the LGBTQ+ community. But its most standout feature is that it does all this while accepting insurance.
Talkspace offers medication management, individual talk therapy, and therapy for teens and couples.
Potential users should be aware that while text therapy can be a useful tool, it is not always as effective as face-to-face therapy since the therapist cannot react to your facial expressions or tone of voice. While the text-only option may be useful for those with a low budget and a need for someone with whom to troubleshoot everyday problems, it should not be considered a replacement for mental healthcare. That said, the accessibility of Talkspace outweighs its weaknesses. If you are looking for online therapy, Talkspace most likely has what you need at a price you can afford.
Talkspace offers three membership plans for individual therapy (weekly prices billed every four weeks):
- Messaging therapy for $69 per week
- Messaging and weekly 45-minute video therapy sessions for $99 per week
- Messaging and video therapy plus mental health workshops for $109 per week
Veterans receive a 30% discount for the first three months.
It also has three psychiatric plan options:
- An initial evaluation for $249
- An initial evaluation plus a follow-up session for $374
- An initial evaluation plus three follow-up sessions for $624
Couples therapy costs $109 per week.
Our user survey revealed that the majority of Talkspace clients are happy with the service they received. Overall, 90% of our surveyed users rated Talkspace as “excellent,” “very good” or “good.” Further, 82% said that they would recommend the service to a friend or someone like them.
Best for Psychiatry : Talkiatry
- Cost: Depends on insurance
- Types of Therapy Offered: Medication management
- Insurance Accepted? Yes
Talkiatry’s simplified online platform provides accessible psychiatry for a variety of mental health conditions—including those that respond best to controlled substances.
Psychiatrists can prescribe controlled substances
Talk therapy also available
Treats children and adults
Only available if you have insurance
Not available in every state
Talkiatry may not boast dozens of features, but it does provide medication management in a convenient, empowering, and effective way. While it does have talk therapy available, its comparatively tiny psychotherapy team is only accessible if your psychiatrist refers you.
Unlike many other online psychiatry platforms, Talkiatry’s psychiatrists will meet with you for a full hour at your first appointment and a half hour for every follow-up appointment. Fortunately, because Talkiatry prescribes controlled substances as well as medications to address substance use disorders, you can feel confident that your doctor will be able to give you the help you need.
Talkiatry’s main downside is that it’s not available in the following states: Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and New Mexico.
Talkiatry accepts most major insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid. As a result, it does not accept patients who are paying out-of-pocket. It also doesn’t list prices on the website since what you pay is determined by your health insurance plan.
Overall, 87% of our surveyed users said they would recommend Talkiatry to a friend. An overwhelming 95% said they would rate Talkiatry as “good,” “very good,” or “excellent.” While Talkiatry’s offerings may be straightforward, most users were pleased with the care they received.
Best Flexibility : BetterHelp
- Cost: $60 to $90+ per week, depending on where you live
- Types of Therapy: Individual, couple, teens
- Insurance Accepted?: No
BetterHelp’s expert team of therapists provides evidence-based strategies to address the most common mental health concerns to its vast client base.
Live sessions prioritized over text therapy
Easy to switch therapists
Engages in surge pricing
Therapists cannot diagnose mental health conditions
BetterHelp is one of the most popular online therapy platforms for a reason, and it’s not just because of its busy marketing department. The team of well-qualified mental health professionals provides users with effective treatment with just a few taps on their phone. BetterHelp’s therapists specialize in a wide variety of mental health conditions, which they address via 30- to 45-minute live audio and video sessions as well as messaging. They offer individual counseling for adults and teens as well as couples therapy.
BetterHelp’s only membership plan comes with one weekly live session with a therapist and unlimited messaging with your therapist. The platform also offers worksheets therapists can send you and an e-journal so that you can track your progress over time. Although BetterHelp doesn’t claim to treat any mental health conditions, it does aim to improve its users' emotional well-being using evidence-based strategies such as cognitive behavioral therapy.
BetterHelp’s biggest flaw is its pricing. It costs between $60 to $90 per week, billed monthly. However, it also practices surge pricing, which means prices are higher in areas where there are fewer therapists to mitigate demand, so some people may not be able to access affordable therapy.
While it does offer various discounts (such as a student discount), and you can apply for financial aid, this does not make the service affordable. Only 21% of our users ranked it as “very affordable.”
The company also does not accept insurance, nor does it allow you to submit reimbursement claims. Furthermore, it engages in surge pricing, meaning that the higher demand there is for mental healthcare in your area, the more you will pay for it. While this practice makes sense for a service like Uber, it is sickeningly unethical when applied to any type of healthcare.
Our surveyed users were satisfied with the mental healthcare they received at BetterHelp. In fact, 86% of them rated the service as “good,” “very good,” or “excellent.” What’s more, 72% of users said that if they needed a new therapist, they would search via BetterHelp again.
Best for Substance Use : Monument
- Price: $0 to $232 per month
- Types of Therapy Offered: Support groups, individual, medication management
- Insurance Accepted? Yes
Monument provides comprehensive evidence-based treatment for alcohol use disorder in a manner that is accessible, convenient, and affordable.
LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC support groups available
Medication management available
Free support groups
Not available in all states
Focus exclusively on alcohol use disorder
Monument's holistic approach to treating alcohol use disorder (AUD) is rare among substance use programs, and seemingly nonexistent in online programs. Not only does Monument provide individual counseling, but it also allows you to meet with a psychiatrist who can prescribe one of the two drugs used to treat AUD: disulfiram and naltrexone. Monument also understands that peer support is crucial when treating substance use disorders, so it offers free, moderated support groups and an online forum for those seeking community.
All of Monument’s practices are evidence-based, including individual counseling that employs strategies such as cognitive behavioral therapy to help you manage your alcohol consumption. If you want to improve your relationship with alcohol, Monument can provide the care you need in a holistic manner which addresses both the biological and psychological issues that contribute to AUD.
You can join Monument’s support groups and online forum for free, but if you want additional care, you can subscribe to one of Monument’s paid plans.
- If you only want medication management, for $10 a month you get unlimited messaging with a psychiatrist while paying $45 for each appointment (including the initial one).
- If you also want individual counseling, you can pay either $149 a month or $249 a month, depending on whether you want to meet with your therapist two or four times a month. These plans also include unlimited appointments with your psychiatrist.
Monument is worth the money: 79% of our users rated it as being a “good,” “very good,” or “excellent” value for the money. A whopping 94% were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their care.
Best for Couples : Couples Therapy Inc.
- Cost: Varies by coach and location
- Types of Therapy Offered: Couples only
- Insurance Accepted? No
Couples Therapy Inc. offers evidence-based services for couples at every stage of a serious relationship, whether they’re exploring marital counseling, in need of sex therapy, or are considering divorce.
All therapists have specialized couples training
Choose your own therapist
Sex therapy available
No health insurance coverage
No individual or family therapy available
Couples Therapy Inc. guides couples through every stage of a relationship using scientifically backed methods for success, primarily the Gottman Method. It offers a range of services both on and offline, including in-person couples and sexuality retreats. Couples retreats are designed to address the emotional side of relationship struggles. Sexuality retreats, on the other hand, are for couples who aren’t having interpersonal problems but have lost their physical connection. Virtually, it offers couples counseling, premarital counseling, and “hopeful spouse counseling” in which an individual member of a couple meets with a counselor to receive direct advice on how to navigate their relationship.
There are two options for couples seeking online counseling. The first is "coaching,” which works more like traditional therapy. You book sessions with a coach to discuss your relationship problems. The second option is more in-depth. Couples embark on a three-month process with assessments and intensive counseling to rebuild their relationship.
While Couples Therapy Inc. has some of the best couples therapy available, it may be inaccessible for several demographics. The only reference to LGBTQIA+ couples on the site is a blog post about gay and lesbian couples, which implies the company may not have experience with other identities. Furthermore, it doesn't accept insurance or have sliding scale fees.
Couples Therapy Inc. is on the expensive side for online therapy. The coaches charge anywhere from $150 for a 55-minute session to $300 for an 80-minute session. Weekend intensives are between $2,000 and $5,000, and it’s unclear if the online 3-month program is less expensive.
When it came to overall satisfaction and value for money, 90% of our survey respondents rated Couples Therapy Inc. as “good,” “very good,” or “excellent.” Clearly, Couples Therapy Inc. therapists are experts in what they do, and their services were worth the price tag for the majority of our survey respondents.
Best for BIPOC Communities : Kip Therapy
- Cost: $65 to $250 per session
- Types of Therapy Offered: Individual, couples, teen, family
- Insurance Accepted? No
Kip Therapy is one of the only social-justice-oriented online therapy providers we found that caters to BIPOC individuals by allowing you to filter therapists by race.
Can filter therapists by race, gender, and sexual identity
Family therapy available
Only available in New York State
No subscription plans available
Kip Therapy's culturally informed approach is a rarity in the online therapy space. Not only can you filter therapists by their racial identities, but reading even one therapist's bio shows the company’s emphasis on social justice. Most of the therapists discuss wanting to work with marginalized groups and note how oppression influences mental health.
Kip is also financially accessible. Although it doesn’t accept insurance directly, it does submit reimbursement claims. More importantly, it has a tiered payment system, allowing those with financial need to meet with a supervised graduate intern and pay a much lower fee.
Kip Therapy made this list despite only being available in New York state because its model of care is unique among online therapy providers.
Kip Therapy’s payment structure has several features that make it financially accessible despite the fact that it doesn't accept insurance.
There are three different tiers of therapists:
- Tier one therapists are graduate student level interns.
- Tier two therapists are resident fellows who are licensed, but may lack experience.
- Tier three therapists are the most experienced.
For your initial consultation, you can either pay $25 to meet with a tier two or three therapist, or have a free consultation with a tier one therapist.
Individual therapy costs between $65 and $95 per session if you meet with a tier one therapist, between $130 and $150 per session if you meet with a tier two therapist, and between $170 and $225 per session for a session with a tier three therapist.
Couples or adolescent therapy costs $200 per session if you meet with the two lower tiers and $250 for a tier-three clinician.
Our user survey data supports the idea that Kip Therapy’s users are happy with the care they receive. Kip Therapy was rated as “very good” or “excellent” by 75% of our users. Over 50% said it was “very likely” they would recommend Kip Therapy to a friend. Another 80% rated the value they got for what they paid as being “very good” or “excellent.”
Best for LGBTQIA+ : National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN)
- Cost: Varies by therapist
- Types of Therapy Offered: Varies by therapist
- Insurance Accepted? Varies by therapist
The National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN) directory is the only online resource that caters to the mental health needs of queer and trans BIPOC. If you are part of this group and are seeking therapy, NQTTCN is built for you.
Provides resources to patients and providers
Offers a mental health fund
Free to use for potential clients
Not all therapists accept insurance and/or have sliding scale payment
The National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN) directory connects queer BIPOC therapy seekers with queer BIPOC therapists. For a community that often struggles to find culturally competent mental healthcare, NQTTCN provides an invaluable resource. Users can search for therapists in their area and filter by whether they are accepting new clients and if they offer a sliding scale payment structure.
NQTTCN also provides therapists with information including a syllabus with a list of media to educate therapists on everything from disability rights to indigenous healing practices. Most of the material is related to social justice issues. Combined with a yearly mental health fund to assist those with financial need with receiving mental healthcare, it is clear that NQTTCN takes a holistic perspective on queer BIPOC mental wellness.
NQTTCN directory is free for users. Therapy costs and insurance coverage vary by therapist.
Over half of our surveyed users gave NQTTCN the highest rating of “very good.” This is unsurprising since 78% said they found navigating the site to be “easy” or “very easy,” and 74% said that finding a therapist who fits all their needs was “easy” or “very easy.”
Most Affordable : OpenPath Collective
- Cost: One-time membership fee of $65, then $40 to $70 per session for individual therapy and $40 to $80 for couples and family therapy
- Types of Therapy Offered: Individual, group, family, and couples
- Insurance Accepted? No
OpenPath Collective fulfills its mission to provide those with financial need access to therapy at a reduced cost.
Many filter options available
Some therapists offer telehealth
Detailed therapist bios
Cannot use insurance
No medication management available
OpenPath Collective is an online directory network of talk therapy providers who offer counseling at steeply reduced rates to those who lack insurance, have insurance with extremely high copays, or cannot pay the full price for therapy. OpenPath Collective has providers that offer individual, couple, group, and family therapy.
You interact with the organization by filling out a registration form with your financial information, paying the one-time $65 membership fee, and choosing a therapist via the detailed directory. The directory allows you to filter therapists by their race, age specialty, and therapy modality, among other important qualifiers. Once you find a therapist, you and the therapist will negotiate what your rate will be.
When you sign up, you pay a $65 fee for a lifetime membership at OpenPath. Then you negotiate a rate with your therapist between $40 and $70 for individual therapy and $40 and $80 for family or couples counseling.
The fact that OpenPath therapists offer sliding scale rates does not affect their quality. Of users surveyed, 81% were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the directory’s therapist options. Another 85% said that the therapists’ qualifications were “good” or “very good.” If you need financial assistance in order to afford therapy, don’t be afraid to try OpenPath Collective. You can find quality care at a price you can afford.
Best Availability : Thriveworks
- Cost: $39 per month membership fee plus a variable pay-per-session rate
- Types of Therapy Offered: Couples, family, group, individual (adults and teens), medication management
- Insurance Accepted? Yes
Thriveworks’ simplified scheduling system means that finding a therapist is not only simple but incredibly efficient.
Therapists have availability within 48 hours
Psychiatry and addiction medication available
Family and children’s therapy available
Cannot filter therapists by identity
Finding a therapist often involves a long waiting process, even on online platforms. Thriveworks is an exception to this rule. The first thing you see after clicking the “book now” button on the homepage is a list of therapists and time slots in which they are available. This system differs from other companies where you either have to wait for them to assign you a therapist with whom you then schedule, or you choose a therapist without knowing their availability beforehand.
Thriveworks offers individual counseling for teens and adults, couples therapy, family therapy, group therapy, and psychiatry. Thriveworks also offers in-person therapy at 380+ offices around the country. Although Thriveworks’ pricing varies by provider, it does accept insurance, making it easier for those looking for in-network practitioners to find a therapist.
Despite its convenience, Thriveworks is not for those from marginalized communities looking for a therapist who can relate to their unique experience, because you cannot filter your search for providers by their racial, gender, or sexual identities. There is also minimal information available on the website about the therapists before you choose one, making it even more difficult for marginalized people to find appropriate care. With these flaws in mind, Thriveworks is still a great option for those who want therapy and don’t want to wait.
Thriveworks’ pricing is complex. You pay a $39 monthly membership fee, and then pay your therapist a per-session fee on top of this. This fee varies by therapist. Fortunately, Thriveworks accepts most major health insurance plans.
Thriveworks’ ratings align with the fact that it is an extremely convenient way to receive therapy. Sixty-seven percent of our respondents said that it was “easy” or “very easy” to find a therapist via Thriveworks. The vast majority were also happy with the treatment they received. Ninety percent of our surveyed users rated Thriveworks as “good,” “very good,” or “excellent.
Best for Eating Disorders : Eating Recovery Center
- Cost: Depends on insurance
- Types of Therapy Offered: Individual, group, family, teen
- Insurance Accepted? Yes
Eating Recovery Center provides comprehensive virtual care to those experiencing eating disorders. A full team of therapists and registered dietitians work together to provide you an intensive level of care while enabling you to stay at home.
Treats all eating disorders
Teen and family therapy available
Unclear out-of-pocket costs
Not available in every state
Eating Recovery Center’s Recovery at Home program isn’t a therapy service like the other ones on this list. Instead, it’s a virtual intensive outpatient program (IOP) that provides the high level of care often needed to address eating disorders online. This way, patients can stay in school and/or work and access care even if they live far from an eating disorder treatment center. The virtual IOP includes individual, group, and family therapy for teens and adults.
To start your recovery process, you can call the number listed on the website to receive a free assessment. Once accepted into the program, you will attend three three-hour group therapy sessions per week as well as additional individual or family meetings with a therapist and a dietitian. They will also monitor your weight via a numberless scale and give you access to an app to help you track your food intake and progress.
Eating Recovery at Home is only available in the following states: Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Eating Recovery Center accepts most major insurance plans, but out-of-pocket costs are not transparent on the website.
If you are living with an eating disorder and would like to enter an intensive program that can be conducted online, Eating Recovery Center’s Recovery at Home program may be ideal for you.
Eating Recover Center is in-network with all major insurance companies, but does not work with Medicare, Medicaid, or Tricare. Pricing is not transparent on the website, however, if you don’t have insurance, the company says it will work with you to “establish self-pay rates.”
It is important to point out that our user survey included both Eating Recovery Center patients and Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center clients since both programs are part of Pathlight Behavioral Services.
That being said, users seem happy with the company’s performance: 79% gave it an overall rating of “good,” “very good,” or “excellent.” Another three-fourths of respondents rated the providers’ qualifications as “good,” “very good,” or “excellent.”
Best With Insurance : Teladoc
- Cost: $99+ per visit
- Types of Therapy Offered: Individual therapy, medication management
- Insurance Accepted? Yes
Teladoc provides barebones online therapy enabling you to use your insurance to access virtual mental healthcare without paying for unnecessary bells and whistles.
Medication management available
Can choose your therapist
Must complete medical history even for talk therapy
No way to filter therapists
Teladoc isn’t solely an online therapy service. It provides virtual healthcare of all kinds to its users, including medication management. Due to this, it lacks many of the features of other online therapy companies that are unique to mental healthcare (such as messaging your therapist). However, it enables you to use insurance to pay for mental healthcare in a hassle-free way. You register for the service, enter your health insurance, fill out a medical history form, and choose the type of virtual care you need.
Teladoc has a range of providers and allows users to schedule appointments outside of work hours. Combined with the fact that it accepts most insurance plans, this makes Teladoc one of the more accessible platforms available.
Without insurance, sessions start at $99. With insurance, they can cost as little as $0 per hour. There is no sliding scale or subscription available.
An overwhelming 97% of our surveyed users rated Teladoc as “good,” “very good,” or “excellent.” Overall, 82% of users said they used insurance to pay for Teladoc. Teladoc appears to provide quality care to those with health insurance.
Best Directory : Inclusive Therapists
- Cost: Varies by therapist
- Types of Therapy Offered: Coaching; family, group, individual (adults, kids, and teens), couples; medication management
- Insurance Accepted? Varies by therapist
The Inclusive Therapists directory succeeds in aiding a wide range of marginalized communities in finding therapists who match their identities and needs.
Most inclusive search filters of any directory on this list
All therapists vetted
Not upfront about which states it doesn’t serve
Unclear from bios which state(s) a therapist is licensed in
The Inclusive Therapists directory is revolutionary in its approach to helping clients find a therapist. If you choose to search for a therapist without the help of an online therapy company that offers matching services, this directory features every filter you could dream of.
Therapists on the platform offer coaching, family therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, medication management, relationship or marriage therapy, therapy for children, therapy for teens or adolescents, and virtual or teletherapy. The directory is free to use. Therapists on it vary in cost and insurance acceptance.
You can filter your search for a therapist by insurance, gender, and racial identity, as well as disability status, language, spiritual and cultural knowledge, office accessibility, and more. If you have any marginalized identity at all, the Inclusive Therapists directory can serve you. Furthermore, if you feel overwhelmed by the options or don’t quite know what you’re looking for, the directory will match you for free; just send a quick message.
If you’re seeking therapy and face oppression in any way, there’s no reason not to try this free directory.
Overall, 89% of users rated the Inclusive Therapists directory as “good” or “very good.” Two-thirds of users were able to find a therapist who met all of their needs. Another 77% said they would recommend the directory to a friend. The Inclusive Therapists directory fulfills its mission in a way that meets most users’ needs.
Talkspace stands out from its competitors by meeting the mental healthcare needs of the broadest range of potential users. From medication management to LGBTQIA+ specialty care for both adults and teens, Talkspace isn’t afraid to tackle issues other companies shy away from. If you are looking for affordable therapy, Talkspace likely has a service for you.
However, if you need more specalized care, there are other options. The Eating Recovery Center can heal your relationship with food while Monument can shift your perspective on alcohol.
Other Companies We Considered
By reviewing 55 different companies and 25 directories, we were able to develop a clear picture of the online mental healthcare space and what makes a service useful to its users. We included companies that treated a range of mental health problems or specialized in a specific difficult-to-treat disorder. In our research, Talkspace and BetterHelp surpassed services like Brightside, which only addresses anxiety and depression. We also mostly chose companies that specialize in mental health rather than those like Plushcare and Amwell that provide more general telehealth care, because a more targeted service most often provides a simpler navigation system.
Compare Online Therapy Providers
|Company||Cost||Types of Therapy Offered||Insurance Accepted|
|Talkspace Best for Talk Therapy||$69 to $129/week for talk therapy. $125 to $249 for one session of psychiatry||Individual, couples, teens, psychiatry||Yes|
|Talkiatry Best for Psychiatry||Depends on insurance||Medication management||Yes|
|BetterHelp Best Flexibility||Varies by location||Individual, couples, teens||No|
|Monument Best for Alcohol Use Treatment||$0 to $249 per month||Support groups, individual, medication management||Yes|
|Couples Therapy, Inc. Best for Couples||Varies by coach and location||Couples||No|
|Kip Therapy Best for BIPOC||$65 to $250 per session||Individual, couples, teen, family||No|
|National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN) Best for LGBTQIA+||Varies by therapist||Varies by therapist||Varies by therapist|
|OpenPath Collective Most Affordable||$40 to $70 per session for individual therapy; $40 to $80 for couples and family therapy + a one-time $65 fee||Individual, group, family, couples||No|
|Thriveworks Best Availability||$39 per month subscription fee plus a variable per-session rate||Couples therapy, family therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, medication management, teen counseling||Yes|
|Eating Recovery Center Best for Eating Disorders||Depends on insurance||Individual, group, family, teen||Yes|
|Teladoc Best With Insurance||$99+ per visit||Individual, medication management||Yes|
|Inclusive Therapists Best Directory||Varies by therapist||Coaching, Family Therapy, Group Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Couples Therapy, Therapy for Children, Therapy for Teens||Varies by therapist|
Guide to Choosing the Best Online Therapy Service
How Does Online Therapy Work?
The term “online therapy” is vague and can refer to a few different models of telehealth care.
Online therapy directories list therapists who provide therapy online. However, these therapists are generally part of independent or private practices and are using a (hopefully HIPAA compliant) video conferencing software to run their sessions. They’re not part of a separate company working with therapists to provide therapy online. The directory serves as a way for clients to find a therapist or psychiatrist, but does little beyond facilitating the initial connection.
Companies that provide therapy and/or medication management to their customers, on the other hand, either employ therapists directly or work with them under contract. Often, clients subscribe to the service and pay month-to-month rather than paying an hourly fee. These companies can provide additional services, such as messaging platforms to facilitate communication between therapists and their clients, or platforms that enable clients to track their progress.
What to Consider When Choosing an Online Therapy Service
- Communication options: Some online therapy companies offer a range of options when it comes to communicating with your therapist—even instant messaging them. Consider how you’d prefer to communicate with your therapist before choosing a company.
- Types of therapy offered: Different companies offer different types of therapy, including couples and family therapy, group therapy, as well as therapy for young people. Think about who needs to be in your session and whether you want peer support to accompany your therapy. If you have a substance use disorder, make sure the company you choose offers specialized care.
- Insurance: Finding affordable therapy can be challenging. If you have insurance, consider choosing a company that accepts it or will let you submit reimbursement claims.
- Medication management: A variety of mental health medicines can be prescribed online and many online therapy platforms also offer medication management.
- Therapist qualifications: Check that all providers on the site are licensed to practice mental healthcare. Terms like “life coach” often mean that the person isn’t licensed and may not have the proper training.
Who Is Online Therapy For?
Online therapy can benefit a wide range of people (including children) with a large array of conditions—including serious mental health problems like eating disorders. However, some conditions must be addressed in person, including suicidality and psychosis.
Is Online Therapy Effective?
Research shows that online therapy is as effective as in-person treatment for a variety of conditions and treatment styles. Two studies (one published in 2021, the other in 2018) found that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)—a common form of therapy in which therapists help clients address illogical thinking patterns—is as effective in virtual settings as it is in person. A 2014 study showed telehealth treatment can effectively address anxiety, and a 2022 study indicated that telehealth treatment is effective in treating mental health conditions like eating disorders and substance use disorders.
Common Therapy Techniques in Online Therapy
Therapists working from an evidence-based perspective will use specific techniques to help you manage your mental health. Many can work in an online setting, for instance:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Helps you combat negative, illogical thinking patterns known as cognitive distortions to manage negative emotions and harmful behavior
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): Teaches you coping, social, and emotional regulation skills to address behavior that is physically dangerous and/or socially harmful
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): Emphasizes the importance of accepting your emotions and acting based on your values rather than resisting negative experiences
Not all therapeutic techniques can be used in a virtual setting. For example, art therapy can be difficult to conduct because the therapist can’t provide you with materials.
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Do Online Therapy Services Cost?
The cost of online therapy varies widely from service to service and provider to provider. Group therapy can cost as little as $20 per session, while meeting with a specialist can cost hundreds of dollars for a single meeting. Some companies have you pay a monthly fee, while others let you pay-per-session.
Does Insurance Cover Online Therapy?
This also varies. Some companies do accept various insurance plans, while others do not. You can check on the company’s website to see if/what insurance its therapists accept, whether they allow reimbursement claims, and if they accept health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) payments.
Can Online Therapists Prescribe Medication?
Only companies that work with psychiatrists or psychiatric nurse practitioners can prescribe medications. Furthermore, whether online providers can legally prescribe controlled substances (such as those used as a first-line treatment for ADHD) varies by state. Typical therapists cannot prescribe medication, on or offline.
Is Online Therapy Confidential? Should I Be Concerned About My Privacy?
There are concerns regarding privacy when it comes to online care. Viruses, phishing, and data breaches can all threaten your privacy and digital security. This is especially true when it comes to mental healthcare since confidentiality is a core tenant of therapy. When receiving any kind of telehealth care, check that the video platform the provider is using is HIPAA compliant.
How Long Does the Average Person Stay in Therapy?
The length of treatment depends on the person’s struggles and goals. While around half of people feel better after 20 sessions of therapy, those with more complex mental illnesses may be in therapy for 18 months or longer. Regardless of how long you choose to be in therapy, check in regularly with your therapist about treatment goals.
We constructed this list out of data gathered from 55 different online therapy companies and 25 online therapy directories. We surveyed over a hundred of each company’s users, as well as considering the features of the service, the qualifications of the providers, and whether the company was worth the financial cost. We only included those that hired licensed professionals, because only a qualified provider can provide effective mental healthcare. Furthermore, we examined the payment plans and insurance options for each company to see whether their services were financially accessible.
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