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Looking for an online therapy program for your child or teenager? We lay out some of the best options to make your pick easier.

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Credit Image: Manuel Tauber-Romieri / EyeEm/Getty Images

It can be hard for anyone — even adults — to talk about mental health. It can be even harder for children and teens to understand and talk about what they’re feeling.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 10% of children and teens worldwide experience mental health conditions. Yet most of them don’t seek or receive help.

In fact, in the United States, only about 20% of children with emotional, behavioral, or mental health conditions receive specialized mental health care.

Online therapy can be one way to make mental health care more accessible (and affordable), and it’s often considered equally effective as meeting a therapist in person.

For example, a 2016 review noted that online-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) reduced anxiety symptoms in study participants as well as in-person therapy — including in children and adolescents.

Plus, online therapy can deliver treatment for many mental health conditions at a lower cost than traditional CBT, with some evidence suggesting that it may increase access to care.

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

Online therapy for kids and teens is a lot like in-person therapy except that it takes place from a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Once you choose the online platform that’s right for your family, you’ll create an account where you can:

  • make appointments
  • pay for your visits
  • engage in therapy sessions with a mental health professional

Most services offering therapy for kids and teens ages 17 years and under will require parental consent.

When it’s time for the visit, your child will speak with a licensed mental health professional using one of the following mediums:

  • live video conferencing
  • online chat
  • phone call
  • text

To create our list of the best online therapy services for kids, we looked for services with:

  • a wide range of child-specific therapy options
  • therapists specializing in child and teen mental health
  • lower cost, free consultations or assessments, or both
  • positive user feedback
  • established, user-friendly, and secure website that protects your child’s identity

Plus, all services have been vetted to ensure that they meet Psych Central’s medical, editorial, and business standards.

Help is available

Online therapy services typically can’t offer support in a crisis. While we included two crisis hotlines in our roundup, here are additional options.

If you’re having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, access free support right away with these resources:

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call the Lifeline at 800-273-8255, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They also offer services to deaf people or those speaking Spanish.
  • The Crisis Text Line. Text “HOME” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
  • The Trevor Project. LGBTQIA+ and under 25 years old? Call 866-488-7386, text “START” to 678678, or chat online 24/7.
  • Veterans Crisis Line. Call 800-273-8255 and press 1, text 838255, or chat online 24/7.
  • Deaf Crisis Line. Call 321-800-DEAF (3323), text “HAND” at 839863, or visit their website for more contact options.
  • Befrienders Worldwide. This international crisis helpline network can help you find a local helpline.

Best overall for kids

Amwell

  • Cost: $109 (master’s level) or $129 (doctoral level) per visit
  • Therapy format: Video
  • Accepts insurance? Yes
  • Choice of mental health professional? Yes

Amwell offers therapy services for children 10 to 17 years old with parental consent.

If finding time during typical business hours is difficult for you, you can easily schedule a weekend or evening appointment for the same price as a daytime appointment.

A session with a therapist typically runs 45 minutes, and clients tend to average around 6 appointments to complete treatment. However, your child’s therapist might recommend more or fewer visits.

Amwell’s psychiatry services are currently only available for people 18 years and older, though the website states that they may offer psychiatric services for children and teens soon.

Why we chose it as ‘Best overall’

Amwell is a well-known therapy platform with licensed therapists in all 50 states experienced in treating children and teens.

What we like

  • You can choose your child’s therapist.
  • Amwell accepts insurance.
  • Evening and weekend appointments are available for the same price.

What to look out for

  • Therapists can’t prescribe medication, and child psychiatry appointments are not available at this time.
  • Visits are video only — no messaging.

If you’d like to learn more about Amwell, consider reading our in-depth review.

Best for teenagers

Rethink My Therapy

  • Cost: $99 a month for a single plan or $159 a month for the family/children program
  • Therapy format: Video, phone, messaging
  • Accepts insurance? No
  • Choice of mental health professional? Yes

Rethink My Therapy offers a monthly subscription fee that covers unlimited appointments (based on your therapist or psychiatrist’s availability). You can schedule an appointment for your child within a week. Many of the mental health professionals in the network offer evening and weekend appointments.

The service also offers therapy for a number of conditions in children and teens.

Plus, adults and teens 13 and up can access online psychiatric care. Still not sure? You can sign up for their free 7-day trial to see how it works for you.

Why we chose it as ‘Best for teenagers’

Rethink My Therapy offers an affordable monthly family subscription plan that covers multiple therapy visits. Teens ages 13 and up also have access to psychiatric care for numerous types of mental health disorders with parental consent.

What we like

  • Many mental health professionals are available on weekends and evenings.
  • Your teen can use the 7-day free trial to see if the service is right for them.
  • The low-cost monthly subscription fee covers multiple appointments.

What to look out for

  • Insurance isn’t accepted at this time.
  • The network of mental health professionals is relatively small compared with similar services.
  • “Unlimited” appointments are based on your clinician’s availability.
  • Therapy through texting is unavailable.

Best for a free consultation

Synergy eTherapy

  • Cost: Free consultation, $100–$200 per average 45–50-minute session
  • Therapy format: Video
  • Accepts insurance? Yes
  • Choice of mental health professional? Yes

With parental consent, teens can get therapy with Synergy’s online and phone sessions after a free consultation.

The service doesn’t offer therapy for younger children, but teens can get help for issues:

  • at school
  • at home
  • with peers
  • when they need the support of a therapist

Be aware that at Synergy eTherapy, parental or guardian involvement is mandatory.

Synergy eTherapy also has reduced rate options for people who don’t have insurance or need financial aid.

Why we chose it as ‘Best for a free consultation’

Synergy eTherapy is one of the few therapy services that offer a free initial consultation to see if the service is right for you.

What we like

  • All family members can see a therapist at the same time.
  • First consultation is free.
  • Teens can text with their counselor, which may be appealing to many teens.
  • Their website is informative and easy to navigate.
  • Some states offer a reduced-rate visit ($50) with a supervised intern.

What to look out for

  • The service isn’t available in every state.
  • Some therapists work with insurance providers while others are out-of-pocket only.

Best for unlimited messaging

Talkspace

  • Cost: varies based on your location and network availability (was $260 a month previously)
  • Therapy format: Text, audio, and video messaging
  • Accepts insurance? Yes
  • Choice of mental health professional? Yes (choice from a list of three matches and switch as needed)

Talkspace offers therapy via text, audio, and video messaging to teens 13 to 17 years old online and through their smartphone app. Therapists respond to messages daily, 5 days per week. Live video sessions with a therapist are not included in the monthly subscription fee.

Talkspace’s psychiatry services are currently only available to people 18 and older, though the website states that this may change in the future.

To sign up, your teen will take an online assessment that takes only a minute before you choose the type of therapy you’re looking for for your child. You can get matched with a therapist or choose one yourself.

Why we chose it as ‘Best for unlimited messaging’

For a flat monthly fee, teens (ages 13 to 17) can connect with a licensed therapist via unlimited messaging.

What we like

  • Teens can send text, audio, picture, and video messages.
  • Talkspace clinicians have various specializations, including eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and more.
  • Talkspace works with insurance providers.
  • They offer several subscription plans.

What to look out for

  • After a short assessment, you’ll be able to choose a therapist of a list of three matches (but you can request a different one if needed).
  • Some clients may feel limited by only being able to message their counselor.
  • Your counselor may not respond to messages immediately.
  • You don’t find out the exact monthly rate until you sign up.

If you’d like to learn more about Talkspace, consider reading our in-depth review.

Best for a free assessment

Doctor on Demand

  • Cost: $129 for a 25-minute therapy session, $179 for a 50-minute session; psychiatry services cost $299 for an initial consultation and $129 for 15-minute follow-ups
  • Therapy format: Video
  • Accepts insurance? Yes
  • Choice of mental health professional? Yes

Not sure what type of therapy is best for your child? You could try Doctor on Demand’s free mental health assessment to get more insight before choosing from their many experienced therapists and psychiatrists.

They offer appointments for any day of the week. Wait times can vary, but appointments are often available within a few days.

Aside from the free assessment, another plus of Doctor on Demand is that they offer both therapy and psychiatric services for children and teens.

Why we chose it as ‘Best for a free assessment’

Before you sign up, Doctor on Demand offers a free assessment to help you determine whether the service is right for you.

What we like

  • Therapists and psychiatrists are available 7 days a week.
  • Their app is highly rated (4.9 out of 5 by 103.9k reviewers on the App Store).
  • Doctor on Demand works with many insurance providers.
  • You can choose your own therapist.

What to look out for

  • There are no subscription plans available.
  • Therapy format is video only.
  • It may be pricier than similar services.

Best for psychiatry

MDLive

  • Cost: $284 for consultation, $108 for follow-up visits
  • Therapy format: Phone, video
  • Accepts insurance? Yes
  • Choice of mental health professional? Yes

MDLive is one of the few online psychiatry services that provides psychiatric care to children over age 10.

Their online psychiatry sessions offers treatment for several mental health conditions in children and teens, including:

Once you choose a psychiatrist, you can generally schedule an appointment for your child within just a few days.

Why we chose it as ‘Best for psychiatry’

MDLive is one of the few online therapy platforms offering psychiatric care for children ages 10 to 17.

What we like

  • Psychiatric care is available to children ages 10 to 17.
  • You may choose your child’s therapist or psychiatrist.
  • MDLive works with many insurance providers.

What to look out for

Best for free chat support

7 Cups

  • Cost: Free
  • Accepts insurance? N/A
  • Therapy format: Online
  • Choice of mental health professional? No, but can switch

While 7 Cups’ online therapy services are only available to people 18 years and older, the website does offer free listening and chat sessions for teens 13 to 17 years old in online chat rooms with trained volunteers.

If your teen is feeling lonely, needs to vent, or just talk with someone, 7 Cups is a good option to get them started.

Why we chose it as ‘Best for free chat support’

7 Cups offers a free, safe place for your teen to go when they simply need a listening ear or emotional support.

What we like

  • 7 Cups offers free chat rooms and support forums especially for teens ages 13 to 17.
  • Trained listeners are available 24/7.

What to look out for

  • While teens can chat with trained volunteers, 7 Cups for teens is not therapy and cannot take the place of therapy.
  • Listeners are not licensed therapists.

Best crisis support

Lifeline Chat

  • Cost: Free
  • Therapy format: Web chat, phone
  • Accepts insurance? N/A
  • Choice of mental health professional? No

Lifeline Chat is a free 24/7 online crisis service offered by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Children, teens, and adults can fill out a short survey and then dial into a secure and confidential chat room to speak with a counselor as quickly as one is available.

You can also call Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Keep in mind that this service doesn’t offer regular therapy, but it can open doors to getting you connected to the help you need.

Why we chose it as ‘Best crisis support’

Lifeline Chat is a free 24/7 chat line available to help anyone going through a personal crisis who needs a listening ear right away.

What we like

  • Lifeline Chat is a free service.
  • The chat line offers support in a crisis situation.
  • The line is available 24/7.

What to look out for

  • Lifeline Chat is not therapy and cannot take the place of therapy.
  • Sometimes the service appears ‘offline’ or ‘busy.’ In this case you can call Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
  • Lifeline Chat counselors are volunteers, not licensed therapists (but they’re overseen by supervisors with education in a relevant field or similar crisis intervention experience.)

Best for urgent counseling

Crisis Text Line

  • Cost: Free
  • Therapy format: Text messaging
  • Accepts insurance? N/A
  • Choice of mental health professional? No

Crisis Text Line is another free service that offers emergency counseling by text messaging.

Trained, volunteer counselors are available 24/7 through a secure and private platform. Kids, teens, and adults have easy access by texting “HOME” to the following phone numbers:

  • 741741 (United States and Canada)
  • 85258 (United Kingdom)
  • 50808 (Ireland)

Why we chose it as ‘Best for urgent counseling’

Crisis Text Line is a 24/7 crisis hotline that connects you with a trained counselor who offers free mental health support.

What we like

  • A trained crisis counselor receives your text and aims to take you from a “hot moment to a cool calm.”
  • The service is available 24/7 through text, Facebook, and Whatsapp.

What to look out for

  • The Crisis Text Line is not therapy and cannot take the place of therapy.
  • The service is based in the United States but affiliate services are available in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland.
  • Crisis counselors are volunteers, not licensed therapists (but they’re overseen by supervisors with a Master’s degree in a relevant field or similar crisis intervention experience.)

PriceFor kids agesInsurance accepted?Available nationwideTherapy format
Amwell$109+ a visit• ages 10–17 for therapy
• psychiatry unavailable for kids
yesyesvideo
Lifeline Chatfreeall agesN/Ayes• web
• chat
• phone
Crisis Text Linefreeall agesN/Ayestext
Rethink My Therapy• $99 a month single plan
• $159 for family plan
• ages 10+ for therapy
• ages 13+ for psychiatry
noyes• video
• phone
• messaging
Synergy eTherapy$100+ per visitadolescents & teensyesnovideo
Talkspace• may vary by location and availability
• was $260 a month
• ages 13+ for therapy
• psychiatry unavailable for kids
yesyes• text
• audio
• messaging
Doctor on Demand• therapy $129+ a session
• psychiatry $299 initial & $129 follow-ups
• children & teens for therapy
• child psychiatry available only in some states
yes• yes
• no for psychiatry
video
MDLive$284 initial & $108 follow-upstherapy & psychiatry ages 10+yesyes• phone
• video
7 Cupsfreeages 13–17N/Ayesonline chat

If you didn’t find what you were looking for in this list, here are some things to when choosing a therapist for your child or teen:

  • Type of service. Would your child benefit most from a therapist (talk therapy); a psychiatrist (medication); a trained listener (someone to chat with about life); or a crisis support service?
  • Payment. Would you rather pay per visit or a flat subscription fee a month? How important is it to you that a service is covered by insurance?
  • Medium. Which method of communication do you think would be most effective for your child? Face-to-face video?Texting options? A mix of both?

If you’d like to learn more about how to choose the right therapist for your child, consider reading our in-depth article.

Additional resources

If you’re looking for a therapist with a specific cultural background or specialization, consider these tools to find support:

Still, keep in mind that not all of these resources may have therapists specializing in children.

How do I know if my child needs therapy?

Throughout their development, children face different challenges that impact them in different ways. In certain cases, your child may need some extra help to improve their mental and emotional well-being. Here are some signs to look for that may indicate your child may benefit from therapy:

  • They start feeling bad about themselves or seem less confident.
  • They often have physical symptoms, like stomachaches or headaches, for no apparent reason.
  • They withdraw from family and friends they used to enjoy being around.
  • They no longer seem interested in activities, hobbies, or things they used to enjoy.
  • They show excessive worry about a parent, family member, or the future.
  • They have a significant change in appetite or sleeping habits.
  • They’re restless, hyperactive, and may speak more quickly or more slowly.
  • They often and easily show frustration or anger.
  • They have repetitive behaviors, like hand-flapping, body-rocking, or insisting on certain routines or rituals
  • They show signs of frequent skin-picking and hair-pulling.
  • They talk about or engage in any kind of self-harm, like hitting or cutting themselves.
  • They make comments that indicate hopelessness, a lacking sense of self-worth, or suicidal ideation like “I wish I wasn’t born” or “Nobody would care if I wasn’t here.”
  • They show signs of substance use disorder or behavioral problems, like theft.
  • They talk explicitly about dying, wanting to die, or suicide.
  • Their performance or behavior at school changes, or they miss or refuse to go to school.

What does a children’s therapist do?

Child and teen (adolescent) therapists, psychologists, counselors, and psychiatrists specialize in treating children. They do so in different ways depending on your kid’s age, development, and mental health needs.

Child and adolescent clinicians can treat the same diagnoses and challenges adults may experience, such as:

Can parents be involved in treatment?

Depending on your child’s needs and age, the therapist will bring you into the session so you can help your child benefit from therapy in their day-to-day life at home and school.

The therapist may also want to meet with you separately — especially at the beginning of the treatment.

Still, teens may wish to speak with a therapist on their own and it’s important that they’re able to do so.

Can a minor sign up without parental consent?

In most states, children and teens cannot sign up for online therapy without the consent of a parent or legal guardian.

The laws may also be different for counseling and receiving medication (i.e., psychiatry). For example, teens may be able to receive therapy without parent consent, but a parent may need to give approval for them to get prescription medication.

Does insurance cover online therapy?

If you have health insurance, it will likely provide some level of coverage for online therapy with a licensed professional.

Before you sign up your child for online therapy, it’s a good idea to check with your health insurance provider to see if it covers online therapy sessions. You should also make sure that your chosen service or therapist will accept your insurance.

All state-run Medicaid health plans are required to cover some mental health benefits, but plans vary state by state.

If financing your kid’s therapy sessions is a concern for you, know that affordable mental health therapy options are available.

Therapy can provide kids with a safe space to express and explore their feelings and any difficulties they may be experiencing while receiving support and learning skills to manage and improve their mental health.

Many kids can benefit from talking with a therapist or counselor. This is especially important when a child has difficulties with something like:

  • going through trauma or depression
  • just feeling down
  • engaging in self harm
  • experiencing thoughts of hopelessness or suicide

Online therapy makes mental well-being more accessible.

If you believe your child may benefit from therapy, or if your child or teen approaches you asking for help in finding a mental health professional, then the services on this list may be a good place to get started.

Keep in mind that online therapy services cannot offer support in a crisis. If you or your child is in a crisis situation, help is available.