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Looking for online therapy for teens? We’ve rounded up the 7 best resources to meet a variety of needs and preferences.

Teenage girl sitting outdoors looking at her phone for online therapyShare on Pinterest
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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 by age 14 and three-quarters by age 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.

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

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, editorial, and business standards.

If you’re considering self-harm or suicide, you’re not alone

Online resources like the ones in this article generally can’t provide help in a crisis (though many services list helpful resources, such as phone numbers of national and international crisis hotlines).

If you need help right now

If you’re not in the United States, you can find a crisis helpline in your country with Befrienders Worldwide.

Best for unlimited texting

Talkspace

  • Price: $230–$396 a month, depending on chosen plan; three plans available — Unlimited Messaging Plus, Unlimited Messaging Premium, and Unlimited Messaging Ultimate
  • Therapy format: text-based messaging, audio, video

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

Why we chose it

With Talkspace, teens can send messages to their therapist any time of day via text, audio, or video. The therapist will reply on a daily basis.

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.

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

Best for chat support

Teen Counseling

  • Price: $60–$90 a week (billed monthly at $240–$360)
  • Therapy format: messaging, chat, phone, video

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

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

Why we chose it

Teens and therapists can engage in real-time conversations via chat, allowing for instant feedback during difficult times.

What we like

  • Multiple communication options with licensed therapists are available, including live chat. The opportunity to have real-time text conversations can be useful in meeting teens in moments of anxiety or other current 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.

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

Best for families

Brightline

  • Price: $60 a session for coaching; $180 a session for behavior therapy; $190 a session for medication support
  • Therapy format: video, messaging, chat

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.

Why we chose it

Brightline allows families to access care from psychiatrists, therapists, coaches, and speech therapists — all of whom can work together.

What we like

  • There’s no waitlist.
  • 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.
  • As of April 2022, certain clinical services — behavior therapy, evaluation, and medication support, and speech therapy — are not yet available in Oregon and West Virginia. They’re working to have these services available in all 50 states soon.

Best for psychiatric care

MDLive

  • Price: $284 for the initial visit for psychiatric care (medication management) and $108 for follow-ups
  • Therapy format: phone, video

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.

Why we chose it

MDLive is one of the few online healthcare platforms offering psychiatric care for teens. Psychiatrists can treat numerous mental health conditions, including:

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 a month or $159 a month for family/child program
  • Therapy format: phone, video

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.

Why we chose it

Rethink My Therapy offers a free 1-week trial followed by unlimited phone and video sessions (based on the therapists’ availability) for an affordable monthly fee.

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.

Best if you need to vent

7 Cups

  • Price: free to chat with a trained listener
  • Therapy format: chat room, forum

At 7 Cups, therapy with a licensed counselor is available only for adults, but teens can chat for free with a trained listener any time, day or night. They can also find peer support in 7 Cups’ teen community forums.

Though trained listeners aren’t licensed therapists, they can offer emotional support and a listening ear. Teens may find it helpful to simply have someone to talk with during difficult or stressful times.

Plus, research from 2015 indicates that users are overall very satisfied with the support from trained listeners.

Why we chose it

Whenever teens need a listening ear, 7 Cups’ trained listeners and community forums are available to them 24/7.

What we like

  • Free emotional support services are available 24/7.
  • Conversations with trained listeners are anonymous and on-demand.
  • Teens can choose a listener who’s had similar experiences.
  • 7 Cups offers teen community forums.

What to look out for

  • 7 Cups is not a crisis line.
  • Trained listeners are volunteers, not licensed mental health professionals.
  • Therapy with a licensed professional is only available to people 18 years and older.

Best for a free consultation

Synergy eTherapy

  • Price: free consultation; $100–$200 per average 45–50-minute session (depending on state and therapist)
  • Therapy format: phone, video

Before getting started with an online therapist, all potential clients of Synergy eTherapy get a free consultation. During this time, your teen can get a good idea of what online therapy will be like and ask any questions they might have.

There is no commitment and no subscription plan. You can just pay for each session as you go. If you decide it’s not for you, there are no further payments or obligations.

As of April 2022, Synergy eTherapy is only offered in 15 states:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Wisconsin

Why we chose it

Synergy eTherapy is a no-commitment healthcare platform that accepts insurance and allows users to test the service before getting started.

What we like

  • All clients get a free consultation to see if it’s a good fit.
  • If you’re interested, a few states offer intern rates at $50 a session.
  • Many therapists in the network accept insurance.
  • No surprise billing.

What to look out for

  • The service is not available in all states.
  • Not all therapists take insurance (but most offer reasonable out-of-pocket rates).

PriceAvailable nationwide?Therapy formatMobile app?
Talkspace$230–$396 a monthyes• video
• messaging
• phone
yes
Teen Counseling$240–$360 a monthyes• video
• messaging
• phone
yes
Brightline$60–$180 a sessionno• videoyes
MDLive$284 for initial visit; $108 for follow-upsyes• videoyes
Rethink My Therapy$99–$129 a monthyes• video
• phone
yes
7 Cupsfree chat (trained listener)yes• chat room
• forum
yes
Synergy eTherapy$100–$200 average per session (many therapists take insurance)no• phone
• video
no

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 from 2018 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

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.