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Looking for online therapy for teens? We’ve rounded up the 5 best resources to meet a variety of needs and preferences.

Teenage girl sitting outdoors looking at her phone for online therapyShare on Pinterest
Tony Anderson/Getty Images

If you want to jump directly to the section for each platform, you can click the links below.

Teenagers’ lives have always been marked by change, growth, and at least a few experiences worthy of unpacking in a therapist’s office.

However, over the past few years, teenagers have faced increasing mental health challenges.

Data from the Programme for International Student Assessment and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that rates of loneliness, anxiety, and depression have increased in recent years in young populations — often significantly.

Plus, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately half of lifetime mental health conditions begin between the ages of 13 and 24.

Combine all that with the reality of the current therapist shortage, and families everywhere are searching for quality support for their overall well-being.

Enter online therapy.

Online therapy in its many forms offers teens the option to talk with licensed mental health professionals about what they’re going through in an accessible, convenient fashion.

In addition to offering traditional therapy online via text messaging, email communications, and video chat, several technology companies are experimenting with offering support groups, seminars, and other skills-building programming around mental well-being.

Many research studies have found online therapy to be an effective form of therapy.

For instance, a 2017 review of studies found that online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a cost-effective way to treat mental health conditions and is effective in treating and managing conditions like:

Some research even suggests that internet-based CBT can be as effective as in-person therapy.

While it may depend greatly on individual needs, online therapy can be particularly convenient for certain teen populations:

  • Teens who feel more comfortable discussing in-depth personal matters online rather than face-to-face may feel more comfortable with online options.
  • Teens who require more scheduling options at nontraditional times may benefit from online services like text or video messaging that don’t require client and therapist to be in the same room at the same time.
  • Teens who prefer to remain anonymous may benefit from some online platforms allowing for anonymity.
  • Teens who live in rural areas and may not have access to an in-person office may benefit from virtual sessions.

If you want to learn more about whether online therapy is right for you, consider checking out this article.

While online therapy can be beneficial for many people, it isn’t suitable for the following teen populations:

  • teens requiring crisis intervention or a higher level of supervised care
  • teens experiencing suicidal ideation or psychosis
  • teens who may communicate better with in-person body language than they do via text or who may require in-person diagnosis
  • teens who require therapy following a court order

Our selection criteria for the best online therapy for teens included:

  • User reviews. The chosen platforms are highly rated and reviewed by clients.
  • Security level of platform. The platforms comply with security standards, allowing users a safe and secure therapy experience.
  • Credentials of clinicians and staff. Therapists working for the platforms are licensed and have several years of working experience.
  • Cost. Pricing for the services seems reasonable and in line with or lower than comparable services.
  • Vetting. All services have been vetted to ensure that they meet Psych Central’s medical and business standards.

Best overall

Talkspace

  • Price: $230–$396 per month, depending on chosen plan; three plans available — Unlimited Messaging Plus, Unlimited Messaging Premium, and Unlimited Messaging Ultimate

Talkspace provides therapy for individuals, couples, and teens. The sign-up process involves a brief assessment that results in a short list of therapists.

What we like

  • Talkspace ensures their clients’ privacy. For instance, the platform is HIPAA-compliant and uses banking-grade encryption.
  • Teens get 24/7 access to leave messages for their therapist.
  • Depending on your health plan, therapy through Talkspace may be covered through employee assistance programs or behavioral health benefits. However, you may need to check with your specific plan to determine whether family members like your teen are covered as well.
  • You can try out a new therapist at any point without being charged.

What to look out for

  • Interested users have to sign up to learn about specific pricing.
  • Therapists often have enormous caseloads, which may affect the quality of the provided services.
  • Some clients complain that the service has an unpersonalized approach offering oversimplified solutions to complex problems in the form of worksheets, exercises, or questions.
  • Video calls are included in only higher-priced plans.

Best for chat support

Teen Counseling

  • Price: $60–$90 per week (billed monthly at $240–$360)

Owned by well-known online therapy site BetterHelp, Teen Counseling matches teens ages 13 through 17 with licensed counselors.

Teens can seek help for a wide range of issues, including:

What we like

  • Multiple communication options with licensed therapists are available, including live chat. The opportunity to have real-time text conversation can be useful in meeting teens in moments of anxiety or other present symptoms.
  • The service offers a convenient monthly subscription.
  • Teen Counseling is available in the United States and the United Kingdom.

What to look out for

  • Teen counseling doesn’t accept insurance.
  • You can’t choose your therapist, but you’re welcome to switch therapists if your assigned one isn’t a good fit.

Best for families

Brightline

  • Price: $60 per session for coaching; $180 per session for behavior therapy

Co-founded by psychiatrist Dr. Giovanni Colella, Brightline serves kids and teens ages 6 to 17.

The service offers behavioral therapy and coaching from social workers, psychologists, and counselors, as well as the opportunity to seek prescription medication from licensed physicians.

What we like

  • There’s no wait list.
  • Care plans can bring in parents and caregivers.

What to look out for

  • Brightline offers coaching in addition to therapy. It’s important to specify whether you’re open to working with someone in a coaching capacity who may be unlicensed.
  • The service is currently available only in California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas, and Washington state.

Best for psychiatric care

MDLive

  • Price: $284 for the initial visit for psychiatric care and $108 for follow-ups

Launched in 2009, MDLive offers behavioral health therapy, including psychiatry. They don’t require users to make an account before viewing rates. They also have a lookup tool that allows users to check their coverage.

Wait times for a therapist and psychiatrist can vary state by state, so while some states may have face time with a professional available within days, other states may have a wait time of up to 1 month.

What we like

  • This is one of the few services that has online psychiatry services for children ages 10 and older.
  • MDLive accepts insurance.
  • Doctors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What to look out for

  • You have to prepay for appointments.
  • While MDLive psychiatry visits may be more affordable than visiting an out-of-network psychiatrist or paying out of pocket, the cost is still steep.

Best for affordability and simplicity

Rethink My Therapy

  • Price: $99 per month or $159 per month for family/child program

Rethink My Therapy offers a variety of therapy options, including individual and family therapy, for an affordable rate. Teenagers under 18 need a parent or guardian to create an account for them and provide permission for care to begin.

While there are benefits to bigger and sleeker interfaces such as BetterHelp or Talkspace, there are also benefits to the pared-down user experience Rethink My Therapy offers, with less emphasis on tech and more emphasis on the therapeutic work at hand.

What we like

  • They offer a 7-day free trial.
  • Their screening helps you determine what type of care you need and what approach might be helpful for you.

What to look out for

  • While the platform offers secure messaging, it doesn’t seem to offer therapy through text, only phone or video sessions.
  • Rethink My Therapy doesn’t accept insurance.

PriceAvailable nationwide?Therapy formatMobile app?
Talkspace$230–$396 per monthyesvideo, messaging, and phone yes
Teen Counseling$240–$360 per monthyesvideo, messaging, and phoneyes
Brightline$60–$180 per sessionnovideoyes
MDLive$284 for initial visit; $108 for follow-upsyesvideoyes
Rethink My Therapy$99–$129 per monthyesvideo and phone yes

Does insurance cover online therapy?

Many online telehealth providers accept insurance, and online therapy can often even be covered by Medicaid or Medicare.

However, not all online services are covered by or accept insurance, so it’s important to check with the online therapy provider you’re interested in, as well as your insurance, to see what may and may not be covered.

If you want to learn more about online therapy and insurance, consider checking out this article.

Can a minor sign up without parental consent?

Whether a minor can sign up for therapy services without parental consent can vary from state to state. While some states allow it, most states require written permission from the parents or guardian.

Talkspace, for example, allows minors to sign up without parental consent, depending on the state.

Can parents participate in the therapy?

A lot of times, therapists welcome the involvement of parents, but it may depend on your teen’s specific situation, such as their treatment needs and goals.

Are online therapists licensed?

Yes. As with in-person therapy, online therapy provides counseling from a licensed mental health professional. Most online platforms also require their therapists to have a certain number of years of work experience.

While we tried to compile a solid list of online therapy services for teens, we understand that the platforms we chose may not work for everyone.

If you didn’t find what you were hoping for, it may help to make a list of your own criteria when searching for a therapist. For instance:

  • Are you looking for a therapist with a certain specialization or training in a specific type of therapy?
  • Are you interested in online options only, or is in-person therapy a possibility? Keep in mind that many local providers offer both in-person and online options.
  • Are you bound to a certain budget, or do you need a therapist your insurance covers?
  • Are you looking for a therapist with a certain cultural background or understanding?

Regarding the latter, plenty of online resources may be able to help you find the right support, including:

You may also want to check out Psych Central’s How to Find Mental Health Support hub for more information on topics like:

While some teens may prefer to build a therapeutic alliance in person with a counselor, many may prefer the accessibility and breadth of options of online therapy.

The services on this list may be a good start if you find that you or your child would like to begin an online therapy journey.

Still, keep in mind that the most important thing is to find a service that’s right for your situation and that many local practices may offer both in-person and online options.