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Thinking about trying online therapy? Our top 8 picks can help you find the right provider.

Stigma around therapy continues to decrease, removing a key barrier for people who want to seek support.

Still, declining stigma doesn’t always come hand-in-hand with increased accessibility.

Getting help is often easier said than done for people with:

  • busy schedules
  • child care needs
  • physical or mental health conditions that make it hard to leave the house
  • mobility issues
  • no transportation
  • homes in rural or isolated areas
  • a tight budget

Acknowledging these potential difficulties, many mental health professionals began offering telehealth support online or over the phone.

Dedicated online-only therapy services have also emerged.

The spread of COVID-19 created a new barrier, especially for people with a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

As more and more people looked online for safe, in-home support, therapists increasingly began providing online therapy, and the popularity of online counseling services rose.

With so many services to consider, you may feel somewhat at a loss for which to choose — but your specific therapy needs can help you narrow down the options.

Below, you’ll find more information on the benefits (and a few potential drawbacks) of our top eight picks for online therapy.

A therapist’s support and guidance can help anyone who wants to make changes or work through life challenges. In other words, you don’t need to have mental health symptoms to benefit from therapy.

Still, whether you choose to work with a therapist in person or online, a few important facts hold true:

  • Progress takes time, so you may not see results overnight.
  • Change requires effort, and therapy isn’t always easy.
  • The success of therapy typically depends on the therapeutic relationship.

Therapy may not take you very far if you struggle to open up in your sessions. The work can feel tough and uncomfortable even when your therapist is a great fit. This makes it all the more important to find someone you can work well with, so don’t hesitate to try out a few therapists.

Of course, none of this means therapy isn’t worth the effort. The support of a compassionate therapist, particularly one experienced in treating your individual concerns, can make all the difference as you work toward improved well-being.

*Pricing information verified on June 2, 2021

Best online therapy overall: BetterHelp

Cost: $60 to $80 per week, billed every 4 weeks

BetterHelp describes its service as the largest online counseling service in the world. When you sign up, a matching tool will connect you with one of the thousands of licensed therapists who provide therapy through video, messaging, live chats, or telephone calls.

BetterHelp therapists specialize in treating a range of concerns, including trauma, anxiety, depression, eating, family problems, and substance use.

Seeking counseling for your teen? The link on the main page will take you to TeenCounseling, BetterHelp’s platform for youth ages 13 to 19.

What we like

  • A large provider network helps match you with the right counselor.
  • Fast support — you’ll often match with a counselor in just a day.
  • All therapists have a minimum of 3 years and 1,000 hours of experience.
  • You can switch counselors if you would prefer a better fit.
  • No extra charge for video chats.
  • Unlimited messaging.

What to look out for

  • BetterHelp doesn’t accept insurance (but may offer financial assistance depending on your needs).
  • Therapists may not provide a diagnosis.
  • You can’t choose your own counselor.
  • It’s available through subscription only.
  • How often you may be able to talk with your therapist via live phone or video sessions may depend on their availability.

Visit BetterHelp.

Best for a free trial: Rethink My Therapy

Cost: Starts at $99 per month for a single plan

On a tight budget? Rethink My Therapy says that shouldn’t put therapy out of reach. This platform offers unlimited video and phone appointments (based on provider availability) for just under $100 a month. Couples and family and children prices cost slightly more.

Therapists offer support for many concerns, including depression, anxiety, substance use, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, and grief.

Rethink My Therapy can also connect you with a psychiatrist if you would like to learn more about medication options.

What we like

  • A 1-week trial period lets you try the service for free.
  • Many counselors offer flexible evening or weekend appointments.
  • You can choose your own counselor.
  • Teens and adults can access therapy.

What to look out for

  • Insurance isn’t accepted.
  • You may have to wait up to a week for an appointment.
  • The provider network is smaller than some other services.
  • “Unlimited” appointments depends on your therapist’s availability.

Visit Rethink My Therapy.

Best for therapy plus psychiatry: MDLive

Cost: $108 per therapy session, $284 for first psychiatry appointment

MDLive provides medical and mental telehealth care, including both psychiatry and therapy.

Its network of trained, licensed counselors and psychiatrists offer video or phone support for PTSD, bipolar disorder, substance use, anxiety conditions, stress, relationship concerns, eating disorders, and more.

Children and teens ages 10 and up can also receive support on MDLive, as long as a parent or guardian creates their account.

What we like:

  • MDLive accepts insurance, which can lower the cost significantly.
  • The service has a 4.7-star rating on Trustpilot.
  • You can choose your own therapist or psychiatrist.
  • No monthly subscription fee.

What to look out for:

  • You may have to wait several days for an appointment.
  • You’ll need to pay for each session if your insurance doesn’t cover the service.
  • Without insurance, psychiatry services are fairly expensive.

Visit MDLive.

Best for LGBTQIA+ support: Pride Counseling

Cost: $60 to $80 per week, billed every 4 weeks

If you feel most comfortable working with a therapist who specializes in LGBTQIA+ affirmative support, Pride Counseling may be an option worth considering.

Pride Counseling offers accessible, inclusive treatment — both for concerns directly related to gender identity, sexual orientation, stigma, and unrelated challenges like relationship issues, grief, eating disorders, workplace problems, or stress.

What we like:

  • All counselors specialize in LGBTQIA+ support, along with other areas of expertise.
  • All providers have at least 3 years and 1,000 hours of experience.
  • You can switch counselors if needed.
  • Providers include psychologists, marriage and family therapists, social workers, and professional counselors.

What to look out for

  • Therapists can’t provide an official diagnosis or prescribe medication.
  • Most counselors won’t write recommendation letters for hormone therapy or gender affirming surgery.
  • Insurance isn’t accepted.

Visit Pride Counseling.

Best if you prefer messaging: Talkspace

Cost: Plan prices vary. Individual therapy starts at $260 per month.

Not everyone feels comfortable sharing personal mental health details face-to-face, and with Talkspace, you don’t have to.

Talkspace focuses on message-based therapy, so it may be convenient if you prefer to stay in touch with your therapist throughout the week or don’t have time for weekly sessions.

Message your therapist daily (they’ll typically reply within a day) or set up a weekly time to connect. If you prefer an occasional live check-in, you can also add 30-minute video sessions for $65 per session.

What we like

  • You can send audio, text, picture, and video messages.
  • The service has an extensive network of mental health professionals with various specializations, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and more.
  • Talkspace also offers psychiatry services and support for insomnia.
  • Talkspace accepts insurance.
  • You can choose from several subscription plans.
  • Many users praise the service and find it helpful.

What to look out for

  • Talkspace matches you with a therapist, but you can request someone else if needed.
  • Your therapist may not always respond to messages immediately.
  • Therapy through messaging alone could make it harder to develop a strong therapeutic relationship.

Visit Talkspace.

Best for relationship therapy: ReGain

Cost: $60 to $80 per week, billed every 4 weeks

Whether you want to improve communication, navigate family issues, or build intimacy, relationship counseling can help you and your partner strengthen your relationship.

When you sign up for ReGain, you’ll be matched with a provider who has experience working with people in relationships. You can message your therapist throughout the day to explore relationship challenges as they come up or schedule video sessions.

What we like

  • All ReGain therapists specialize in relationship therapy.
  • You can schedule individual chat sessions if you need to share something with your therapist one-on-one.
  • Reviewers generally say counselors are compassionate and helpful.

What to look out for

  • ReGain doesn’t accept insurance.
  • You and your partner need to be in the same place to have a live session, which may not be ideal for long-distance relationships.
  • You can’t choose your therapist, but you can switch if needed.

Visit ReGain.

Best for kids and teens: Amwell

Cost: $99 or $110 per visit, depending on provider experience

Amwell offers video therapy and psychiatry for a number of conditions, including eating disorders, insomnia, bipolar disorder, and PTSD, along with anxiety and depression.

Once you sign up, you’ll choose a therapist and schedule a session, just as you might to see a therapist in person. Like in-person therapy, your appointment will last about 45 minutes.

What we like:

  • Amwell accepts insurance.
  • You can choose your own therapist.
  • Many therapists offer evening and weekend appointments.
  • App users give Amwell an overall rating of 4.9 stars.
  • If your insurance covers Amwell, you can easily use your account to make a medical appointment.

What to look out for:

  • Amwell also offers psychiatry services, but your first consultation will cost $269.
  • You’ll be charged per session instead of a monthly subscription fee.
  • You can’t message your therapist between sessions.
  • It may take several days to schedule your first session.

Visit Amwell.

Best for therapy plus peer support: 7 Cups

Cost: $150 per month

Along with the convenience of message-based counseling from licensed therapists, 7 Cups also offers a unique feature: free individual or group chatting with trained listeners who offer emotional support.

These emotional support listeners aren’t counselors, but many people find it helpful to simply have someone to talk with when facing stress and other life challenges.

For professional support, you can also choose to subscribe to work with a qualified therapist.

What we like

  • You can choose a listener who’s had similar experiences.
  • Emotional support services are available 24/7 at no cost.
  • 7 Cups also offers listener support and community forums for teens.
  • The app offers coping and self-help tips.

What to look out for

  • Only 180 therapists provide counseling through 7 Cups, so providers in your state may be limited.
  • 7 Cups doesn’t accept insurance.
  • Some listeners may provide better support than others.
  • Your therapist may not reply to your messages as often as you would like.

Visit 7 Cups.

Scientific evidence supports online therapy as a safe, helpful form of treatment:

  • A 2013 review of 70 studies on mental telehealth care describes online therapy as an effective approach that can increase access to needed support.
  • A 2017 review of 25 studies on mental telehealth care notes that online therapy isn’t just effective, but may have particular benefit as a more affordable approach to mental healthcare.

A few key benefits to consider:

  • It’s safe. Receiving support online means there’s no risk of contracting or transmitting the new coronavirus or other infections.
  • It’s convenient. With online therapy, a 50-minute session is just that. You won’t need to worry about commuting, finding an office, or parking.
  • It’s affordable. Online therapy often costs less than in-person sessions, especially if you choose a message-based approach.
  • Your therapist could be available more often. In-person therapy involves once-weekly sessions, but with some online therapy platforms, you can message your therapist and get replies on a daily basis.
  • You have more therapists to choose from. Online therapy offers the chance to connect with any provider licensed in your state, making it easier to find a therapist who specializes in your concerns.
  • It can make the therapy process less challenging. Whether you don’t want to share personal details out loud or have difficulty leaving home for medical or mental health reasons, online therapy puts support within more comfortable reach.

We’ve offered details on eight specific online therapy services, but plenty of others exist.

Keeping these criteria in mind can help you find the support you need, no matter which platform you choose:

  • What do other people have to say about the service? You may not find many reviews for newer services. Still, a quick Google search can help you make sure the service hasn’t earned overwhelmingly bad reviews.
  • Does the service offer support for the issue you want help with? Pretty much any platform can help with anxiety, depression, stress, or grief, but some may not offer support for concerns like bipolar disorder, PTSD, or personality disorders. It never hurts to send a quick email before signing up if you can’t find the information you need.
  • Are the therapists licensed? How much experience do they have? This information should be clearly stated in the FAQ section, if not on the service’s main page.
  • Can I change my therapist? A skilled, compassionate therapist still may not be right for you, so it’s a good idea to make sure you can switch if you need to.
  • Is the service available in your state? All our recommended services are available throughout the United States. Others may be limited to certain states.
  • How does the service protect your privacy? Always make sure the service you choose complies with HIPAA and takes other measures to secure therapy sessions and protect client confidentiality.
  • How much does it cost? Do they take insurance? You’ll usually find this information on the service’s main page or FAQ page.

You can specify your need for a LGBTQIA+-affirming or culturally sensitive counselor when signing up for online therapy services. Sometimes you may simply just want a therapist who shares your identity or lived experiences.

If you choose to seek therapy elsewhere, consider these tools to access support:

Without insurance, the cost of therapy sessions can add up quickly, whether you choose online or in-person counseling. That said, online therapy does tend to cost a little less, so many people find it more affordable than weekly in-person visits.

Some online therapy services, like BetterHelp, offer financial aid or discount codes to help offset the cost. Also check your insurance plan, since it could offer out-of-network benefits that reimburse you for therapy.

If online therapy remains beyond your budget, consider seeking support from a local therapist who offers distance counseling and financial assistance. Many therapists offer sliding scale fees or set aside a few low-cost or free sessions for clients in need.

While online therapy may not be right for everyone, it does help open up options for accessible, compassionate care.

The right kind of support can make a big difference. The increasing availability of online therapy means you can still find that support, even when in-person sessions don’t work for you.