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- Best for psychiatric conditions: Amwell
- Best for a wide range of health conditions: MDLive
- Best free mental health assessment: Doctor On Demand
- Most affordable option: Teladoc
- Best customer service: Thriveworks
- Most popular app: Talkspace
- Best app for a wide selection of therapists: BetterHelp
- Best for essential workers: Therapy Aid Coalition
- Best for anxiety and depression: Cerebral
- Best for ADHD: Ahead
- Best personalized care: Brightside
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in October 2020 that video therapy increased by
That’s no surprise: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced both patients and therapists to take to the web to keep practices ongoing.
Here are the biggest benefits of video therapy, as well as what makes you a good candidate for the service.
Video therapy is a form of online therapy where a therapist and client meet over video from the comfort of their own homes.
The main difference between traditional therapy and video therapy is that the latter “uses an online video conferencing platform to connect therapists and clients from different locations,” says Katie Lear, LCMHC.
These sessions are held in real time and can feel more personal than phone calls or text-based online therapy.
Though these video therapy chats may feel very similar to Zoom and Skype, the therapist will use a more specialized platform that is HIPAA compliant to ensure your privacy as a patient.
- Time efficiency. Both the client and the provider save time with the elimination of a commute to and from the appointment.
- Large selection of therapists. With the elimination of geographical barriers, you have a better chance of finding a therapist that suits your needs.
- Elimination of social stigma. Some people refuse to seek mental health help because they don’t want to be seen going into a counseling center or sitting in a therapist’s waiting room for fear of what people might think. With video therapy, people can talk to a provider from the privacy and comfort of their home.
The short answer is yes. Video therapy has been found in multiple studies to have the same effect as face-to-face therapy sessions. In fact, a 2018 study found that “internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and depressive disorders is effective and acceptable.”
Some clients might feel more comfortable treating their disorders online as it helps them open up more and connect better with someone who knows how to treat their concerns.
Anyone with access to a computer, reliable internet, and a private and quiet space at home may be a good candidate for video therapy.
Additionally, people with depression, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, panic disorders, relationship problems, sleep issues, trauma, or stress are especially great candidates for online therapy.
A 2012 study found that adults suffering from general social anxiety disorder reported significant improvements in social anxiety, depression, quality of life, and experiential avoidance over 12 weekly sessions of video therapy.
That being said, individuals with mental health concerns such as active psychosis and unmanaged schizophrenia are often not good candidates for this type of therapy, according to Lear.
Due to the symptoms of schizophrenia, which can include paranoia and delusions of being watched or illegally surveilled, video therapy can actually trigger or worsen these behaviors.
Other individuals who might not benefit from video therapy include those with suicidal or homicidal ideations, disorders of psychosis, and active intimate partner abuse.
Keep in mind
Video therapy isn’t a substitute for emergency services. In the event of a mental health emergency — if you’re thinking about harming yourself or someone else — call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Best for psychiatric health
Amwell connects you with a range of mental health providers, from psychiatrists and psychologists to therapists and counselors.
Once you sign up, you’ll answer a few questions and choose the best provider for you based on a short bio, patient reviews, and experience. The best part of this online therapy platform is that you can talk to your doctor 24/7. And if your mental health provider decides you might need medication, they can prescribe it on the spot.
Amwell’s visits cost $79, but most health insurance providers can help foot the bill.
Best for a wide range of health conditions
According to the brand, MDLive hosts the largest catalog of therapists and providers. The doctors featured in MDLive are board certified and licensed, and they can help treat everything from anxiety, depression, addictions, and giving support to LGBTQIA+ communities.
Visits can range from $0 to $82, depending on your insurance provider.
Best free mental health assessment
Before enrolling in Doctors on Demand, you can take a free mental health assessment. This will then help you pick the best therapist or psychiatrist for your needs.
Doctor on Demand will work on a personalized plan to help you improve your mental health, including prescribing medication if necessary.
The price of a 50-minute consultation with a therapist is $175, or $129 for 25 minutes. A first-time psychiatry video appointment can cost up to $249 with follow-up appointments being $129.
Most affordable option
With Teladoc, you can opt to either talk over the phone or video chat with your chosen therapist about anything ranging from depression, anxiety, stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sign up on the website or app, fill out a short medical history, and start your session. The price for your sessions may vary, depending on your health insurance coverage. Some employee assistant programs (EAPs) can provide a free membership or sessions.
Using Teladoc can be as low as $0 if you have health insurance. Give them a call at 800-Teladoc to find out your copay.
Best customer service
Thriveworks specializes in marriage counseling, addiction counseling, life coaching, and even child therapy.
Something that sets the service apart is the ability to book a same-day or next-day appointment for video therapy or meetings over the phone. They accept most major health insurances, including Medicaid.
Sign-up is free, but pricing is based on the specific therapist’s rate.
Most popular app
Although Talkspace isn’t solely a video therapy platform, it’s one of the most regarded online therapy apps in the market.
Depending on the membership you choose, you can video chat and text with your therapist 24/7. They’re always available over text, and you can set up weekly video chats that come at no extra cost.
A weekly plan with Talkspace begins at $99.
Best app for a wide selection of therapists
BetterHelp claims to have the biggest catalog of therapists compared to other online therapy platforms. Similar to Talkspace, BetterHelp offers a range of memberships that include video therapy.
Pick a time and day, log in when prompted by your therapist, and talk to them. Compared to Talkspace, it might take a few days to be paired with a therapist.
The cost of BetterHelp ranges between $60 and $90 per week (billed every 4 weeks) depending on your location, preferences, and available therapists.
Best for essential workers
Therapy Aid Coalition works closely with therapists who are willing to work pro bono or at a much lower rate in order to help essential workers.
Type in your home state, the issues you want to tackle, and how much you’re willing to pay — $15, $25, or $50 per session — before being matched with a professional offering video therapy.
Best for anxiety and depression
If you’re specifically looking for a therapist that treats anxiety and depression, Cerebral could be the place for you.
You can start off with a free emotional assessment that will let you know if you’re in the right place before signing up. Cerebral offers weekly video chats with your therapist and depending on your membership plan and needs, you can also get prescribed medication delivered straight to your door.
The service is $25 per month.
Best for ADHD
Ahead offers therapy and help to those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) specifically.
You’ll fill out a short questionnaire about your symptoms and mental health, and you’ll immediately get paired with a provider who can help treat this disorder.
Ahead can also help you reach a diagnosis of ADHD if you suspect you may have it. Ahead providers can also help you find the right medication.
Your first visit costs $225. Additionally, if it’s only for medication management, you’ll pay $160 per appointment, or $275 if your appointment includes therapy.
Best personalized care
Brightside also focuses on treating anxiety and depression, two of the most common mental health disorders. What sets it apart is personalized, self-paced audio lessons and practice exercises that can help you overcome your symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Membership ranges from $95 to $299 per month, depending on your membership.
Video therapy has been found in multiple studies to have the same effect as face-to-face therapy sessions. There are plenty of options out there, whether you’re looking for a low-cost video therapy platform or one that can offer free therapy.