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Finding a good therapist with available appointments in your local area sometimes feels impossible.
Your busy schedule or inability to get out of the house makes finding the time to get to the counseling incredibly challenging. Increased demand for therapy also means fewer in-person therapists are available.
Now that you've started to consider looking for the best online therapy platform instead, we've done the hard work for you so that you can get help sooner.
That being said, we believe that BetterHelp is the top virtual counseling service out there - due to its affordability, user-friendliness and the abundance of licensed therapists on the platform.
Our guide to the top seven virtual counseling services will aid you in finding the platform and the therapist to meet you where you are. Whether that means you're trying to manage your stress at home or need help sorting through complicated relationships, there's a team there for you.
7 Best Online Therapy Services:
- BetterHelp - Best Overall Online Therapy Service Overall
- TalkSpace - Best Online Therapy that Takes Insurance
- Regain - Best Online Couples Therapy
- Pride Counseling - Best Online Therapy for LGBTQ+ People
- TeenCounseling.com - Best Online Therapy for Teens
- Online-Therapy.com - Best CBT Therapy Online
- Calmerry - Most Flexible Online Therapy App
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1. BetterHelp — Best Overall Online Therapy Service
BetterHelp Online Therapy Pros:
- Access to therapist 24/7
- Experienced professionals on staff
- Financial assistance available for qualified patients
- Easy subscription cancellation
- Multiple methods of contact
BetterHelp Online Therapy Cons:
- Medicare, Medicaid and insurance not accepted
- Pricing may change based on demand and location
- Users can't choose their initial therapist
Betterhelp is one of the original virtual therapy platforms, and that long history plays out in the quality of the therapists who choose to offer their services online. With more than 21,000 therapists available, this reasonably priced service makes it easy to find a therapist with expertise in your area of need at a price point you can manage.
Expertise and Quality of BetterHelp Online Care 5/5
The over 21,000 therapists at BetterHelp come from extensive backgrounds and areas of expertise. They are all licensed professional counselors, clinical social workers, licensed psychologists or marriage family therapists. All have earned master's degrees, and some have earned doctorates.
The care approach you'll receive at BetterHelp depends on your mental health needs and your therapist's method. Your therapist might use CBT, DBT, mindfulness, journaling or talk therapy in your sessions. If you find that your current therapist's method doesn't work for you, it's a snap to switch to a new practitioner.
BetterHelp Online Counseling Scheduling Flexibility 5/5
With BetterHelp's 24/7 messaging option, you can reach out to your therapist whenever you need extra help or have a question. Although your therapist may only reply during work hours, you may feel comforted knowing that you can get in touch with the best online therapy on your schedule.
You can use the client portal to arrange a live session with your therapist via phone, instant messaging or video chat.
Ease of Use of BetterHelp Online Therapy 4.5/5
Betterhelp uses a detailed questionnaire to match patients with therapists who specialize or have experience in the areas you need help. While you won't have the opportunity to choose your initial therapist, you can change to a new one at any point.
Some clients report frustration at the lengthy sign-up process. The client portal is attractive and easy to navigate, as is the main web page.
BetterHelp Online Counseling Costs and Insurance 4/5
While BetterHelp falls solidly into the average range for weekly costs at $60 to $90 per week, the platform doesn't accept private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. However, it's easy to obtain a receipt for your payment that you can submit to your insurer. Additionally, BetterHelp offers financial assistance to qualified clients who may be suffering financial hardship or have a limited income.
Overall Score of BetterHelp Online Therapy:4.6/5
2. TalkSpace — Best Online Therapy that Takes Insurance
TalkSpace Online Therapy Pros:
- Provides medication management and sleep therapy
- Accepts a variety of insurance carriers
- Offers live chat consultations before sign-up
- Patients can choose their therapist
- Best online therapy that takes insurance
TalkSpace Online Therapy Cons:
- Plans are expensive
- Focus on asynchronous contact
- Extra fees for live sessions
TalkSpace's unique offerings elevate it to the second spot on this list, namely the options for psychiatric care and sleep therapy. The website also provides a symptom tracker and access to the Happify program. The asynchronous approach may appeal to some potential clients, although patients looking for live interaction will pay more at TalkSpace.
Expertise and Quality of TalkSpace Online Care 5/5
All of the therapists at TalkSpace are fully licensed, and their specialties range from parenting, trauma and grief to substance abuse, eating disorders and depression. The addition of online psychiatry and medication management is a boon to patients in need of a psychiatrist's care.
TalkSpace Online Counseling Scheduling Flexibility 4/5
TalkSpace focuses on asynchronous communication through chat or video messages rather than traditional in-person or live conference videos. While you can contact your TalkSpace therapist at any time, responses are limited to five per week. Each plan includes a set number of live sessions, from one to four, depending on your subscription.
Ease of Use of TalkSpace Online Therapy 4/5
After sign-up, patients meet with a live chat representative to start the match process. You'll have a choice of three therapists once your initial survey is complete. The website is somewhat complicated to navigate, but the mobile app is straightforward.
TalkSpace Online Counseling Costs and Insurance 4/5
TalkSpace does take several forms of insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid. That said, the price of the plans is above average when making a direct comparison. Unlimited messaging with four live sessions per week costs $260 a month, or about $99 a week. Plans with fewer live interactions are less expensive.
Overall Score of TalkSpace Online Therapy: 4.5
3. ReGain — Best Online Couples Therapy
ReGain Online Therapy Pros:
- Designed specifically for couples
- Individual counseling available for relationship issues
- Flexible scheduling for both partners
- Variety of therapeutic approaches
- More affordable than in-person couple's therapy
ReGain Online Therapy Cons:
- No support for three-way live sessions
- First-month payment due upfront
- No free trial period
- Algorithm chooses a therapist for you
It's not news that most couples will experience difficulties in their relationships. Research shows that approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce, and 30% experience relational distress. Regain addresses the challenge of scheduling two partners with a targeted, affordable platform that is the best online therapy for couples.
Expertise and Quality of ReGain Online Care 4/5
Regain's therapists are all fully licensed, like the other services on this list, which means they have at least three years and over 1,000 hours of experience. Regain therapists all have master's degrees or higher. However, individual counseling for non-relational issues is limited.
ReGain Online Counseling Scheduling Flexibility 4/5
Regain's flexible scheduling helps you work around the competing agendas of both partners. You can meet with your therapist in separate sessions, and you can both message your mutual therapist at any time. One drawback is the lack of three-way live sessions, which means both parties need to be in the same place at the same time to meet with the therapist.
Ease of Use of ReGain Online Therapy 4/5
Signing up for an account with Regain is a straightforward process. You'll create your login, then complete a questionnaire regarding the topics you'd like to cover and some general preferences about your therapist, including gender and age. The algorithm may take several days to match you with a therapist. It's easy to change to a new therapist if you don't connect with your initial match.
ReGain Online Counseling Costs and Insurance 4/5
Traditional couples' in-person therapy can quickly become expensive: Both parties often need to take time off from work, and the sessions may cost more than individual counseling. Regain's $60 to $90 per week is significantly more affordable.
You'll pay for your first month upfront, which may be a burden. Although Regain doesn't accept insurance, you can submit a claim with your insurer after the fact.
Overall Score of ReGain Online Therapy: 4.3
4. Pride Counseling — Best Online Therapy for LGBTQ+ People
Pride Counseling Online Therapy Pros:
- Designed for members of the LBGTQ+ community
- Anonymous screen names are permitted
- Mobile apps offer full functionality
Pride Counseling Online Therapy Cons:
- Therapists are not necessarily LBGTQ+
- No diagnostics or medication suggestions, including HRT
- Unclear financial aid options
- Staff bios are not available for review
The LGBTQ+ community has been traditionally underserved in the counseling realm. Pride Counseling seeks to remedy that problem by offering the best online therapy for LGBTQ+ people. Experienced and caring counselors are available 24/7, and the site and apps are easy to navigate, no matter which device you're using.
Expertise and Quality of Pride Counseling Online Care 4/5
Therapists at Pride Counseling have extensive experience working with members of the LGBTQ+ community and the issues they face. While not necessarily LGBTQ+, they are reported to be knowledgeable, highly qualified and supportive.
Some reports indicate that the matching system is ineffective and that patients often change counselors.
Pride Counseling Online Scheduling Flexibility 4/5
With the single plan option that includes unlimited messaging, clients can contact their Pride Counseling therapist as often as they would like. Scheduling takes a few days once you're matched, but the task is easily accomplished on the website.
Ease of Use of Pride Counseling Online Therapy 3/5
Once you're signed up, the apps and website are generally easy to use. However, the home page provides little information about the service or the specific therapists, which some clients may find disconcerting. That said, changing therapists to one who meets your needs is quick and easy.
Pride Counseling Online Costs and Insurance 3.5/5
A monthly subscription for Pride Counseling falls into the average range for online therapy platforms, running at $60 to $120 per month, depending on your location. The company does not accept insurance, and financial aid information is tricky to locate on the site.
Overall Score of Pride Counseling Online Therapy: 4.0
5. TeenCounseling.com — Best Online Therapy for Teens
TeenCounseling.com Online Therapy Pros:
- Designed for teens and their parents
- Completely confidential, except disclosure for safety reasons
- Dedicated chat rooms for teens and parents
TeenCounseling.com Online Therapy Cons:
- Site feels geared toward adults
- Not appropriate for crises
- Occasional glitches in the app
The struggles that teens face are different than those of adults, although they're just as critical. The therapists at TeenCounseling.com work with 13- to 18-year-old teens in a safe, private setting to deal with stress and anxiety, bullying, substance abuse, eating disorders and peer pressure.
Expertise and Quality of TeenCounseling.com Online Care 4/5
Therapists at TeenCounseling.com all hold advanced degrees, focusing on family therapy, social work, substance abuse counseling and other related disciplines. Privacy is prioritized, although, in cases of potential abuse, client self-harm or plans to harm others, TeenCounseling.com will notify guardians or other relevant personnel.
TeenCounseling.com Online Counseling Scheduling Flexibility 4/5
TeenCounseling.com has a unique communication setup: Teens and parents each have a dedicated online "room." They can visit when the counselor is available. As with other platforms, TeenCounseling.com allows for round-the-clock messaging with your therapist, although response times vary.
Ease of Use of TeenCounseling.com Online Therapy 4/5
Some teens report that the website feels directed towards adults, which can be off-putting for them. On the other hand, a parent or guardian must complete most of the setup and payment, so this structure makes good sense. Your teen will appreciate the easy-to-use app for their smartphones.
TeenCounseling.com Online Counseling Costs and Insurance 4/5
As a subsidiary of Betterhelp, TeenCounseling.com's prices are also in the average range, costing between $60 and $90 per week. The amount you'll pay depends upon your location and the therapist's qualifications. TeenCounseling.com does not accept insurance, but they can provide receipts for your insurer.
Overall Score of TeenCounseling.com Online Therapy: 3.9
6. Online-Therapy.com — Best CBT Online Therapy
Online-Therapy.com Online Counseling Pros:
- Specifically for cognitive behavior therapy
- Therapy "toolbox" for effective practice
- Access to counseling materials and support
- Multiple plan options, including couples therapy
Online-Therapy.com Online Counseling Cons:
- Therapists are only available on weekdays
- No option for teens
- Potentially confusing website
CBT is a research-based and strategy-driven therapeutic method that has gained popularity in recent years for success in treating PTSD and other mental health challenges. Online-Therapy.com's approach is unique on this list for the level of "work" the client must do, but the positive results for many patients speak for themselves.
Expertise and Quality of Online-Therapy.com Care 5/5
Online-Therapy.com requires its staff to have explicit training in CBT and the best online therapy practices of state licensing requirements and advanced degrees. Since CBT is designed for short-term treatment, the extensive "homework" therapists may assign forges a more open and beneficial connection between patient and counselor.
Counselors are also available to assist you in completing the CBT materials independently. You can contact your therapist directly on your smartphone or in a chat to ask questions or to work through sections as a team.
Online-Therapy.com Counseling Scheduling Flexibility 3/5
Clients can contact their therapists at any time, although responses are limited by day and occur only on weekdays. Similarly, live sessions can only be scheduled Monday through Friday, which may pose a problem for busy individuals or those with unusual work schedules.
Ease of Use of Online-Therapy.com Counseling 4/5
Once you've connected with a counselor, you have access to the dashboard and your therapist's bio. Clients unused to managing digital files or using additional tools in counseling may struggle in this area, but the supportive therapists are quick to help.
The site is comprehensive and well-organized. It may take a few extra clicks to find what you're looking for, but the layout is attractive and readable.
Online-Therapy.com Costs and Insurance 4/5
Online-Therapy.com does not accept insurance, although the service will provide you with an itemized receipt for your insurer. The three pricing tiers are surprisingly reasonable, starting at $40 a week for the first month for the basic tier.
The basic tier includes unlimited messaging, although a weekly live session and express replies are not offered at this level. The standard tier at $64 per week does have a live session, and the premium tier adds express responses.
Overall Score of Online-Therapy.com Online Therapy Services: 3.8
7. Calmerry — Most Flexible Online Therapy App
Calmerry Online Therapy Pros:
- Therapist matching by Calmerry staff
- Offered in all 50 states
- Live sessions provided on demand
- Weekly plan available
Calmerry Online Therapy Cons:
- Live sessions are shorter than average
- Misleading marketing about family and couples counseling
- Unclear pricing until after sign-up
- Pop-ups on the main page
Calmerry was founded in 2020 to meet changing mental health needs. The platform, available throughout the U.S., provides therapeutic services, from depression counseling to LGBTQ+ issues.
Expertise and Quality of Calmerry Online Care 3/5
Therapists at Calmerry meet the standard expectations for experience and licensure and may use various methods, including EMDR, psychoanalysis, DBT and CBT. Users report satisfaction with their care, although most try at least two therapists before settling on someone in particular.
Potential clients can't access therapist bios until after they've been matched, and the amount of turnover at the company is unclear.
Calmerry Online Counseling Scheduling Flexibility 4/5
As with many of the other best online therapy programs, Calmerry's basic plan is messaging-only, but you can use the online portal to arrange live sessions that fit your schedule. Live sessions, if they're part of your subscription plan, can be scheduled quickly and at a wide range of times.
Ease of Use of Calmerry Online Therapy 3/5
The best online therapy platforms should be easy to use and upfront about their pricing. Calmerry's website is attractive and easy to navigate, and the FAQ section is lengthy, though the answers are less than comprehensive. On the homepage, a distracting pop-up requests your contact information.
The lack of access to the various subscription plans can feel deceptive. Along the same lines, the FAQ seems to offer family and couples counseling, but each person will need individual accounts and possibly different therapists.
Calmerry Online Counseling Costs and Insurance 3/5
The basic messaging-only plan is remarkably affordable, especially since clients have unlimited access to the message system. Plans that include live sessions, however, are much higher in price, which will deter many potential users. An unusual option is Calmerry's weekly plan, which is slightly less expensive than the introductory monthly price.
Overall Score of Calmerry Online Therapy:3.5/5
How We Compiled a List of the Best Online Therapy Services
Choosing a therapist is an intensely personal decision, and it's not uncommon to discover that you need to make a change. We hope that this list of the best online therapy platforms will aid your search for the right therapist the first time. We based our choices on the following:
- Diversity of therapist specialty and background
- Flexibility of scheduling
- Platform user interface and usability across devices
- Overall costs
- Acceptance of insurance coverage
- Online reputation
We used these criteria to determine which online therapy platforms would provide excellent service to various people and needs.
Best Virtual Counseling Services: FAQs
How Does the Best Online Therapy Work?
Depending on the platform you choose and your preferences, you may meet with your therapist through a live video feed or chat, or asynchronously through instant messenger or phone. The type of interaction you have depends on the platform and plan that you select.
As with an in-person session, your therapist may provide you with extra tools such as journals, worksheets, videos and other hands-on activities. When you choose the best online therapy for your needs, investigate the type of therapy your potential therapist uses.
Who Can Use the Best Online Therapy?
The recent steep increase in adults with symptoms of depression has created an urgent demand for qualified therapists with flexible schedules. Other mental health concerns are on the rise, too, and virtual therapy provides a safe, supportive format for even busy individuals.
Research into the benefits of the best online therapy platforms has demonstrated that some issues and disorders respond well to virtual counseling. If you are dealing with depression, guilt issues, anxiety, or body image issues, online therapy is an appropriate avenue for getting help. Similarly, children of alcoholics or adults seeking personal growth can benefit from virtual therapeutic options.
On the other hand, clients in crisis or with poorly managed medical concerns should not be addressed with online therapy. Other conditions not suitable for virtual counseling include:
- Borderline personality disorder
- Delusions or other thought disorders
- Disorganized thinking/schizophrenia
- Suicidal thoughts
What Qualities Should My Online Therapist Have?
When choosing a therapist to work with in a virtual setting, use the same set of standards that you would for an in-person environment. Consider the following questions before you commit to an online therapist platform:
- What are the therapist's background and qualifications? Does the therapist have a professional license where they work and live?
- Does the therapist practice a particular methodology, such as psychodynamic therapy, CBT or EMDR?
- What topics or issues in mental health does the therapist focus on? Is that related to your mental health needs?
- What is the platform's and the therapist's plan of action if you experience a mental health emergency?
What Virtual Format Should I Use: Chat, Phone or Video?
The answer to this question depends on multiple factors, such as your reasons for seeking therapy, how you process information and reflect and your therapist's general approach to counseling. For instance, if you prefer face-to-face conversation, prioritize video sessions when searching for the best online therapy platform. Alternatively, if you're extremely busy or have deep privacy concerns, a messaging-only service might be best.
A few platforms don't allow phone sessions due to concerns about HIPAA compliance. Most, however, provide information about their privacy practices and encryption standards on their website. If you can't find that information, ask about it.
How Does the Best Online Therapy Protect My Privacy?
The best online therapy services will have a statement of HIPAA compliance on their website. Platforms may ask you to sign a privacy agreement, just as you would at an in-person therapist or your general practitioner's office.
Some platforms don't allow counseling by phone due to concerns about violations of HIPAA. In addition, most sites take extra precautions with your information and your communications, using encryption services. Others, such as Pride Counseling and Calmerry, allow you to employ nicknames to maintain anonymity.
How Do I Select the Best Online Therapy for My Needs?
Choosing to move forward with online therapy can enormously impact your life, especially if you've waited for a long time to seek support. Whether you're uncertain about your exact diagnosis or have extensive experience in therapy, you need to find a virtual therapist who will listen to your concerns and be present when you need them.
The best online therapy platforms offer you clear descriptions of their services to make a good decision for your specific needs. Decide if you want top-rated therapists in a more asynchronous setting, like BetterHelp, or if you prefer more live sessions, like those offered on TalkSpace.
Top 5 Comparison - Best Online Therapy Platforms:
- Choice of First Therapist: No
- Therapeutic Focus: Various
- Basic Plan Weekly Costs: $60 to $90
- Accepts Insurance: No
- Choice of First Therapist: Yes
- Therapeutic Focus: Counseling and psychiatry
- Basic Plan Weekly Costs: $69-149 for therapy; $125 for psychiatry (after initial appt.)
- Accepts Insurance: Yes
- Choice of First Therapist: No
- Therapeutic Focus: Couples and relationships
- Basic Plan Weekly Costs: $65 (billed upfront)
- Accepts Insurance: No
- Choice of First Therapist: No
- Therapeutic Focus: LGBTQ+
- Basic Plan Weekly Costs: $60 to $90
- Accepts Insurance: No
- Choice of First Therapist: No
- Therapeutic Focus: Teens (13-19)
- Basic Plan Weekly Costs: $60 to $90
- Accepts Insurance: No
Find the Best Online Therapy for Your and Your Family
Taking care of your mental health is one of the most crucial components for positive relationships and a happy life. Use this guide to the best online therapy services to find your path to a more peaceful and confident life. It's time to take a step on your path to healing.
Wherever you end up, you always have the choice to change therapists and find one who uses an approach that is comfortable and life-changing. Here's to taking care of your mental health on your schedule and in the way that best suits you.