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We chose the best online therapy platforms through hands-on testing, extensive research, expert insights, customer surveys, and more. See which services made our list.

Online therapy isn’t for emergencies

If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988, or call 911 or local emergency services.

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If therapy on your time and in your own space sounds appealing, you’re not alone.

While not the right solution for everyone, online therapy — also known as telehealth — has become one of the top ways people seek mental health services.

Whether you’re new to therapy or curious about how online counseling works, you’ll want to take some time to research what’s available. We did the brunt of the work for you, testing a few different platforms so you can get a more encompassing view of the best online therapy services.

Throughout the article, we also reference a 2022 Healthline consumer survey on different mental health platforms. Based on respondents’ results, the four most used online therapy services were Doctor on Demand, MDLive, BetterHelp, and Talkspace.

Follow along for a more concise summary of each of these services.

We considered many criteria when selecting the best online therapy platforms, including:

  • mental health professionals who are all licensed social workers, psychotherapists, psychologists, or psychiatrists
  • positive customer feedback
  • flexible payment options and fees
  • a range of subscription options and services
  • insurance coverage
  • financial assistance
  • therapists with a wide range of expertise

We also took into consideration our Consumer Insights team’s 2022 study on online therapy. It measured what online therapy users value most when looking for a service. Some of the key components we got from the results of this study were:

  • Pricing and/or insurance is a key component in choosing the best online therapy platform.
  • Common complaints from online therapy users include not feeling like they’re being heard and feeling like there’s a lack of trust.
  • Convenience, accessibility, and immediate access to a therapist are all important factors in picking a good online therapy program.

We kept all of these factors in mind when deciding on our list of the top 11.

*Some names have been changed at the request of testers.

National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network

This interactive digital resource connects queer and trans people of color (QTPOC) with QTPOC mental health professionals. The network includes 300 professionals across the country who offer virtual or in-person counseling.

To use this resource, you can search by your state and filter professionals by the services they offer (including telehealth), whether they are accepting new clients, and whether they offer a sliding scale or low fees.

Price Accepts insurance? Therapy formatsApp available?
Online-Therapy.com$40–$80 per week no • audio
• text
• video
no
BetterHelp$65–$90 per weekno• audio
• chat
• messaging
• video
yes
Regain$65-$90 per week, billed every 4 weeksno• live video
• messaging
• audio
yes
Talkspace$69–$109 per week yes • audio
• chat
• messaging
yes
Grow Therapyvaries (averages $100–$150 per session)yes• in-person sessions
• live video sessions
no
Brightside Health$95–$349 per month for membershipyes• live video
• messaging
yes
Calmerry$50–$80 per weekno• chat messaging
• live sessions
yes
7 Cups$150 per month no• chat
• text
yes
Amwell$99–$199 per visit yes• audio
• video
yes
Doctor on Demand$79–$299 per session yes• videoyes
Inclusive Therapists | National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Networkvaries by professionalvaries by professionalno

Why you should trust us

Our experts have carefully researched and vetted over 35+ online therapy platforms and narrowed it down to 6 online therapy platforms to ensure everything we feature meets our standards. We fact-check health claims, evaluate ingredients, and look into each brand’s reputation before sharing products on Healthline.

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Teletherapy is good for people who prefer a range of communication formats and are comfortable using technology to communicate and disclose personal information. It’s important to have a quiet, private area, a functional device, and a strong, reliable internet connection.

“Anyone who is seeking outpatient support for mental health difficulties would be a good candidate for mental health care,” said expert Dr. Matthew Boland, a licensed clinical psychologist.

It can address several types of issues and feelings, including anxiety, depression, stress, life changes, and more.

Online therapy is also suitable for people who:

  • feel more comfortable in their environment
  • can’t leave their home due to a disability or health condition
  • don’t have access to transportation
  • live in a rural or remote area
  • have a busy or changing schedule
  • want an affordable therapy option

While there are many similarities between online therapy and in-person therapy, there are a few things that differ and may be worth keeping in mind, too. Here’s what to expect:

  • Matching with a therapist: You may have the opportunity to pick your therapist, much like in-person therapy. This depends on the platform you use, though. Some platforms match you with a mental health professional who best fits your needs and goals. So, when first signing up, clearly state what you’re looking for: “The best tip is simply to be as open and honest as possible … so that the platform can understand how to best suit your mental health needs,” said Boland.
  • Meeting with your therapist for your first appointment: Much like in-person therapy, your first appointment will consist of getting to know one another. They may ask you about what brought you to therapy, what you’re looking to accomplish, and more.
  • Communicating with your online therapist: This depends on the platform you choose, your therapist, and any subscriptions you’ve signed up for. You may be able to chat via messaging or phone call between sessions. However, don’t expect your therapist to respond immediately without a scheduled appointment. In some cases, it can take them hours or days to reply.

Pros

  • It’s convenient: With many platforms, you can meet with your therapist via phone call, messaging, or live video from the comfort of your own home.
  • It may be more accessible: Depending on the platform you choose, it may be easier to make appointments outside typical business hours, find the right therapist, and receive consistent access to them via texting or messaging.
  • It may be less expensive than in-person therapy: Online therapy can be cheaper than in-person therapy, depending on the treatment or plan you’re seeking.
  • Some platforms offer homework and activities: If you want to get more out of your online therapy experience, some apps and websites allow your therapist to assign homework and activities specific to your treatment between appointments.

Cons

  • Insurance won’t always pay for online therapy: Some insurance networks don’t yet recognize online therapy, so you may have to pay out of pocket depending on your coverage. Additionally, some teletherapy platforms don’t accept insurance, either.
  • It’s not typically suitable for more severe mental health conditions: Some mental health conditions, like eating disorders or addiction, are better suited for in-person or group therapy than online therapy.
  • It’s not for emergency mental health situations: It’s best not to rely on online therapy for emergencies. In the case of a mental health crisis, call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988, or call 911.
  • It requires consistent internet access: Online therapy requires a consistent, reliable internet connection and a smart device or computer. Additionally, public computers and Wi-Fi networks are not the best ways to access online therapy because of privacy concerns.
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To choose an online therapy platform, think about which issues you want to focus on and your goals. Decide your communication preference and how often you wish to have sessions and their duration.

Questions to ask when comparing professionals:

  • What does the plan include?
  • How much does the subscription cost?
  • What is the price for add-ons?
  • What are the cancellation and refund policies?
  • Are all therapists licensed?
  • What does the therapist-matching process entail?
  • Is it possible to switch therapists?

Plenty of research supports the effectiveness of online therapy. In general, live video calls are most similar to face-to-face therapy sessions and offer the most benefit.

Many people appreciate the variety of available communication formats, such as text, video calls, and chat rooms. A 2019 study suggests psychotherapy platforms offering several digital communication options can effectively treat depression.

According to research from 2017, internet-based CBT is an economical and effective way to treat several mental health conditions, including phobias, bipolar disorder, and OCD.

Research from 2021 found that live video psychotherapy sessions were as effective as in-person sessions. The video sessions involving CBT for anxiety, depression, and PTSD were most effective.

To determine the best type of therapist for your needs, consider your main reason for having therapy and whether you require a diagnosis or medications.

There are several types of mental health professionals, such as:

  • Psychologist: Psychologists offer psychotherapy that relates to behaviors, emotions, and thoughts. Psychologists have a doctorate degree, typically a PhD or PsyD, and can provide psychological testing to diagnose and provide treatment recommendations. In most states, they’re unable to prescribe medications.
  • Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist is either a doctor of medicine (MD) or osteopathic medicine (DO). They diagnose and treat mental health conditions and can prescribe medications.
  • Licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT): LMFTs have a master’s degree. They provide counseling to families and married couples to resolve specific concerns and treat mental health conditions. In some states, LMFTs can diagnose mental health conditions.
  • Licensed professional counselor (LPC): An LPC has a master’s degree. They treat mental health conditions, and in some states, can diagnose them.
  • Licensed clinical social worker (LCSW): LCSWs have master’s degrees in social work and are licensed to provide diagnosis and counseling services to clients.
  • Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner — board certified (PMHNP-BC): PMHNHP-BCs are nurses with a master’s or doctorate degree. They specialize in mental health diagnosis, counseling, treatment, and can prescribe medications.

The average out-of-pocket cost for a session can range from $75–$150. Fortunately, online counseling — in many cases — is more affordable.

If you have insurance that covers mental health services, start by contacting them to see if the service you’re interested in is part of their network. You’ll also want to find out if the online platform you’re using takes insurance. Many companies do not, so it’s worth looking at a few different sites to see if one fits your needs and accepts insurance.

Some top online therapy programs offer different subscription plans to make counseling more affordable. Some private therapists who provide online counseling offer a sliding scale, with some willing to lower costs as much as 50 percent.

The other place to check is with your EAP. Many employers offer mental health benefits as part of their EAP package.

Finally, community-based behavioral health clinics offer free or low cost services to anyone who qualifies.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more insurance companies now cover online therapy. Online therapy coverage depends on your insurance plan, therapist, and state regulations.

There are other ways to tell if your insurance covers online therapy, including calling your insurance company, checking with your company’s HR department, and asking your therapist what types of insurance they take.

Medicare is now covering online therapy for all Medicare members. Medicare Advantage plans also cover online therapy.

When it comes to Medicaid, your coverage depends on your state. You can call the number on your Medicaid card for more information.

There are personal and financial privacy considerations to think about when using online therapy. Read the website for details about how each platform manages security and protects your information.

Companies should offer transparency regarding how they collect and use your data. Reach out to the platform if you have specific questions regarding privacy and confidentiality so they can clarify any gray areas. Find out the process for deleting your account data if you cancel your plan.

Online therapy platforms on this list follow Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) federal guidelines to encrypt information and keep health data private. For example, companies encrypt all messaging systems and don’t record video calls.

However, HIPAA laws may not prevent companies from sharing some of your personal data that you submit to an app, questionnaire, or chat box, especially if you do so before you start an account.

It’s important to know that online therapy platforms may provide information to third parties, including Facebook.

Companies can use this data for targeted ads and marketing research, which is something to consider when dealing with sensitive information. Your profile information may also be visible to users if you use an app to connect to a community support group.

The FTC ordered BetterHelp to pay $7.8 million to impacted customers who found that some of patient’s health information was released to third-party platforms like Facebook and Snapchat.

The proposal would also have BetterHelp be more transparent about its information-sharing practices and require the company to implement a comprehensive privacy program. It would also limit how long information can be held, and direct third-party platforms to delete consumer health data.

Online therapy is making mental health services accessible and more affordable for many people.

With the ability to see a counselor at your convenience and in your own home, virtual visits may become the new norm, at least for a while.