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- Best overall: BetterHelp
- Best variety of services: Talkspace
- Best for group therapy: Grouport
- Best for uninsured or underinsured individuals: Open Path Collective
- Best for psychiatry: Cerebral
- Best for relationship therapy: ReGain
- Best for support with disordered eating: Bright Heart Health
- Best for alcohol dependency: Monument
- Best for teens: Teen Counseling
Online therapy, or telemental healthcare, allows you to talk with a trusted professional online via video chat or messaging. While traditional talk therapy requires in-person, face-to-face sessions, online therapy has gained traction during the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to be popular because of its accessibility.
Now that many trusted platforms are available online, people no longer need to commute to see a therapist or wait weeks until they can get an appointment. Online therapy also gives people who have a hard time leaving their homes the opportunity to get the help they need comfortably.
In addition to its ease of use, online therapy can also be more affordable than in-person therapy. While some platforms don’t accept insurance, many in-person therapists don’t accept insurance either, or you may have a hard time finding an available in-person appointment in your area.
All in all, online therapy has become a convenient way for people to talk with licensed therapists on their own terms.
A reminder: Online therapy isn’t meant to be used in emergency situations
If you or someone you love is having a mental health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
You can also call 911 or local emergency services if you’re thinking of harming yourself or others.
Online therapy is a great option for those who:
- are struggling to find face-to-face therapy nearby
- have a busy lifestyle and are frequently unable to make in-person appointments
- have consistent access to a computer, smartphone, and the internet
- have never done therapy before and are hesitant about getting started
Online therapy allows users to log onto appointments from the comfort of their own homes. Ultimately, this creates a more relaxed environment.
To choose the best affordable online therapy options, we considered many different aspects of each service. Evaluating online therapy options by these rigorous criteria is important to ensure that our suggestions are of the highest quality.
Healthline also has our own in-house review team of mental health professionals that vet these recommendations.
Specifically, we looked at the following factors:
- how user-friendly the platform is
- quality of service providers
- types of services provided
- cost of service
- whether or not the platform takes insurance
- consumer reviews
- how long you need to wait for an appointment
- format of service, including video, phone, live chat, or text messaging
- Price: $60 to $90 per week
- Pros: They match you with a therapist in 24 hours or less.
- Cons: There’s no option for insurance coverage.
Of all the online therapy platforms, BetterHelp has the best reputation among both users and therapists. With a wide range of specialties and formats available — including phone, video, and chat — this platform offers flexibility and accessibility. They can help you find exactly the therapy you’re looking for in the format that’s most convenient for you.
Best variety of services
- Price: starts at $69 per week, based on location and plan
- Pros: They offer both individual and group therapy in a wide range of specialities, including psychiatry. Talkspace also accepts insurance.
- Cons: You can’t talk to a therapist over the phone.
With over 1 million users, Talkspace is one of the most commonly used platforms for online therapy today. They’re also one of the most flexible, offering video, audio messaging, and 24/7 text support. You can modify their customizable monthly plans at any time, whether you’re looking for one session per week or one session per month.
Best for group therapy
- Price: $35 per week
- Pros: They’re an excellent platform for people seeking therapy with smaller groups. You can cancel your membership at any time.
- Cons: Only one session per week is available. They don’t accept insurance, but will provide you with a billing statement that you can submit to your insurance for potential reimbursement.
This online group therapy platform offers weekly groups led by a licensed therapist. Each group is capped at 12 members, and some groups may have even fewer people. This allows participants to get the time they need to work through issues in a communal setting. Upon sign-up, you’ll do a 20-minute consultation before being put in a group. You can cancel your membership at any time.
Best for uninsured or underinsured individuals
- Price: $59
- Pros: They’re geared toward helping people without insurance. You’ll receive a lifetime membership upon signing up.
- Cons: They don’t accept insurance, and you still have to pay a $59 flat fee.
Open Path Collective is a nonprofit organization that connects people who cannot afford traditional therapy with trusted therapists. Users are typically uninsured, underinsured, or experiencing financial hardship.
The $59 fee to join gives you a lifetime membership to the program. Both online and in-person therapy are available.
Best for psychiatry
- Price: starts at $30 per month (plus copay) if covered by your insurance
- Pros: They are staffed by board certified psychiatrists and physicians, as well as therapists with graduate degree educations. They also accept insurance.
- Cons: Cerebral may be pricey if service is outside your insurance network.
Specializing in online psychiatry services, Cerebral offers medication support in addition to therapy and coaching, so you can create a care plan that fits your specific needs. The platform treats conditions like anxiety, depression, insomnia, and bipolar disorder.
You can choose between three plans:
- Medication + Care Counseling. This service starts at $30 for your first month, and jumps to $85 for every month after that. You’ll receive an initial evaluation, diagnosis, and a prescription from a medical professional. You’ll also get monthly medication deliveries, regular video or phone calls with a care provider, and regular progress checks.
- Medication + Therapy. This service is priced at $139 for your first month and $325 for every month after. You’ll receive an evaluation, diagnosis, and prescription from a medical professional, along with weekly video or phone sessions with a licensed therapist. You’ll also get monthly medication deliveries and can chat with your therapist at any time. Your prescriber and therapist will regularly track your progress, too.
- Therapy. The therapy plan starts at $99 for the first month, followed by a $259 fee for every month after. With this plan, you’ll receive weekly video or phone calls with a licensed therapist, the ability to chat with your therapist at any time, and regular progress tracking by your therapist.
All three plans are eligible for health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs). They’re billed monthly, and you can cancel at any time.
Best for relationship therapy
- Price: $60 to $90 per week
- Pros: It’s a convenient way for couples to work through issues.
- Cons: No three-way video calls are available, only one-on-one. This means that you and your partner will have to be in the same room for every call. Regain doesn’t accept insurance.
ReGain allows couples to work one-on-one with a therapist, as well as together within a chat or email interface to work through relationship issues.
While the platform doesn’t offer group telehealth therapy sessions, it does enable people to talk together with a therapist via a chat room. This hybrid format is great for couples who want to work through issues both individually and with each other in the context of their relationship.
You can also opt for individual therapy through ReGain to talk through relationship-based issues.
Best for support with disordered eating
- Price: varies based on insurance coverage
- Pros: They offer free Saturday support groups in addition to inpatient and outpatient therapy. They also accept insurance.
- Cons: Only video sessions are available — no chat or audio support.
Partnered with Stanford Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry, Bright Heart Health is recognized as one of the best online therapy platforms for eating disorders. They have been accredited by the Joint Commission for their dedication to improving patient care.
This platform specializes in various eating disorders and provides individual therapy, group therapy, meal planning support, and dieticians. They also use various therapy approaches and techniques, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT), and nutrition counseling. Therapists are also equipped to talk through trauma and addiction.
Best for alcohol dependency
- Price: free to $249 per month
- Pros: They’re a good value for the amount and variety of support.
- Cons: Therapy and physician services are only available in 20 states. Insurance is only accepted in New York.
Monument offers weekly or biweekly therapy appointments (with unlimited chat access), group therapy, unlimited visits with a physician, and 24/7 access to their support community to help people manage alcohol use disorder.
This multilevel approach to care is what makes them stand out. The platform offers not only therapy and community, but also the ability to speak with a doctor about medications that can help with recovery. Users have the option to talk with a licensed physician to decide if a disulfiram or naltrexone prescription is right for them.
Four plans are available:
- Total weekly care ($249 per month). You’ll receive access to therapist-moderated support groups, a 24/7 community, unlimited physician appointments, unlimited chat with your physician, medication options, four therapy appointments per month, and unlimited chats with your therapist.
- Total biweekly care ($149 per month). You’ll receive access to therapist-moderated support groups, a 24/7 community, unlimited physician appointments, unlimited chat with your physician, medication options, two therapy appointments per month, and unlimited chats with your therapist.
- Physician care ($9.99 per month and a $45 sign-up fee). You’ll receive access to therapist-moderated support groups, a 24/7 community, one physician appointment per month, unlimited chat with your physician, and medication options.
- Community membership (free). You’ll receive access to therapist-moderated support groups and a 24/7 community.
Best for teens
- Price: $60 to $90 per week
- Pros: They give teens a secure therapy platform with a variety of formats.
- Cons: Teen Counseling only serves teens ages 13 to 19. They don’t accept insurance.
Teen Counseling provides a safe space for teens to communicate with a therapist on a range of issues, from developing coping skills to dealing with life issues like bullying, divorce, and anxiety.
The platform provides video and phone therapy, as well as the ability to message with their therapist in two separate “rooms” — one for the teen and one for their parents. This allows for confidentiality and privacy for the teen, but also lets parents communicate with their child’s therapist when needed to provide additional support.
|BetterHelp||range of specialties||video, chat, phone||$60 to $90 per week||no|
|Talkspace||range of specialties||video, chat, audio messaging||starts at $69 per week||yes|
|Grouport||group therapy||video||$35 per week||no|
|Open Path Collective||range of specialties||phone, video, and in-person||$59 one-time fee||no|
|Cerebral||psychiatry and therapy||video, phone||starts at $29 per month (plus copay)||yes|
|ReGain||relationships, couples therapy, individual therapy||video, chat or email messaging||$60 to $90 per week||no|
|Bright Heart Health||eating disorders||video||varies based on insurance coverage||yes|
|Monument||addiction||video, phone and message boards (for support groups)||free to $249 per month||yes, but only for those who live in New York|
|Teen Counseling||range of specialties for teenagers||video, phone, chat, messaging||$60 to $90 per week||no|
When considering online therapy, it’s important to first make sure that the platform you choose specializes in the issues you are looking to discuss, whether that’s depression, addiction, or relationship issues. This will help you find a therapist that’s specifically trained to help you.
We’ve already vetted the online therapy options in this article. But if you continue your search for other platforms, be sure to look into the following:
- whether the service is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- the credentials of the therapists on the platform
- how secure the platform is, privacy-wise
- the terms of service, in case you need to cancel or change your plan after signing up
- whether or not you can bill your insurance
Reading online reviews from other users can help you get a sense of the service and service providers, giving you a window into whether it may be the right fit for you.
Firstly, if you have health insurance, check if your plan covers mental health services like:
- inpatient services
- substance use disorder treatment
If you can, try to use a platform that’s in your insurance network. You can call your insurance to find out if they’ll cover or reimburse appointments made through the platform. If not, you can see if any of the platforms offer sliding scale options, discounted rates, or shorter sessions.
No-cost therapy options are also available. Additionally, see if your employer offers an employee assistance program (EAP). This is a free benefits plan that may offer counseling.
How much does therapy cost on average?
The cost per session can vary from as low as $65 per hour session to $200 per hour session in big cities like New York and Los Angeles.
Are online therapists cheaper?
Depending on the platform you use, online therapists are generally cheaper than in-person therapists. However, this can also depend on your insurance coverage. If you don’t have health insurance, online therapy may be more expensive.
Are there free online therapy options?
Yes, there are a number of free online therapy options available.
Online therapy may not work for every person, and it’s not recommended for those in crisis situations. But it can provide more people with access to the help they need that they otherwise may not be able to get due to monetary or accessibility concerns. Speaking with a trusted therapist online or over the phone is still an effective way to work through issues, from depression and anxiety to relationship struggles and addiction.
Natasha Burton is a freelance writer and editor who has written for Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Livestrong, Woman’s Day, and many other lifestyle publications. She’s the author of What’s My Type?: 100+ Quizzes to Help You Find Yourself ― and Your Match!, 101 Quizzes for Couples, 101 Quizzes for BFFs, 101 Quizzes for Brides and Grooms, and the co-author of “The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags.” When she’s not writing, she’s fully immersed in #momlife with her toddler and preschooler.