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Thinking about trying online therapy? Our top 11 picks can help you find the right service.

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

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

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

  • busy schedules
  • childcare 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

Many mental health professionals began offering telehealth support online or over the phone, to address these potential difficulties,. 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 virus.

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.

Online therapy is similar to in-person therapy except that it’s conducted over the internet.

During therapy sessions, you’ll speak with a licensed therapist through one or more of the following mediums:

  • video conference
  • text
  • online chat
  • phone
  • email

You and your therapist will decide on the most convenient time and method for your communication to take place. You might choose to talk in real-time, such as in a video conference, or at your own pace, like in an ongoing private chat room.

If you’re considering self-harm or suicide, help is available

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.

In our search for the best online therapy services, we reviewed the following factors:

  • Cost. Is the service cost-effective? Do they take insurance? If not, is it relatively affordable?
  • Clinician qualifications. Are the therapists licensed professionals? Do they hold a master’s or doctoral degree? How many years of experience do they have?
  • Ease of use. Does the site look professional, and is it easy to navigate? Is it easy to find the answers to your questions?
  • Accessibility. How often can you check in or contact your therapist? How many sessions can you book per week or month? All of our picks are available nationwide.
  • User reviews. How do current or past users rate the service? Are the reviews mostly positive?
  • Vetting. All services have been vetted to ensure they meet Psych Central’s medical and business standards.

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

*Pricing information verified on April 28, 2022

Best online therapy overall

BetterHelp

  • Cost: $60–$90 per week, billed every 4 weeks
  • Platforms: iPhone, Android, website

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:

Why we chose it

BetterHelp is a large reputable platform offering a variety of experienced therapists and affordable subscription plans.

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

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

Best for a free trial

Rethink My Therapy

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

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 therapists’ availability) for just under $100 a month. Therapy plans for couples or families cost slightly more.

Therapists offer support for many concerns, including:

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

Why we chose it

Rethink My Therapy offers an affordable monthly plan with unlimited therapist-client communication. The 1-week trial period allows you to test the service first to see if it’s right for you.

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

Best for therapy plus psychiatry

MDLive

  • Cost: $108 per therapy session, $284 for first psychiatry appointment ($108 for follow-ups)
  • Platforms: iPhone, Android, website

MDLive provides medical and mental telehealthcare, 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.

Why we chose it

MDLive makes it easy for you to select a therapist, psychiatrist, or both from their online database. If you have insurance, their services are cost-effective.

What we like

  • MDLive accepts insurance, which can lower costs significantly
  • the service has a 4.7-star rating on Trustpilot
  • you can choose your own therapist or psychiatrist
  • there’s 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

Best for LGBTQIA+ support

Pride Counseling

  • Cost: $60–$90 per week, billed every 4 weeks
  • Platforms: iPhone, Android, website

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, as well as challenges like relationship issues, grief, eating disorders, workplace problems, or stress.

Why we chose it

Pride Counseling is unique in that their therapists specialize in matters commonly experienced by people in the LGBTQIA+ community.

What we like

  • all counselors specialize in LGBTQIA+ support, along with other areas of expertise
  • all mental health professionals have at least 3 years and 1,000 hours of experience
  • you can switch counselors if needed
  • professionals 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

Best if you prefer messaging

Talkspace

  • Cost: Prices vary based on your location and the network of therapists in your area. Individual therapy ranges from $69–$129 per week, billed monthly.
  • Platforms: iPhone, Android, website

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.

Why we chose it

Talkspace offers three subscription plans, each with a therapist response available 5 days out of the week:

  • message-based therapy: text, audio, or video messaging
  • live therapy
  • live and messaging

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:
  • 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

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

Best for relationship therapy

ReGain

  • Cost: $60–$90 per week, billed every 4 weeks
  • Platforms: iPhone, Android, website

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 professional 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.

Why we chose it

ReGain offers a 24/7 private chat room where you can have an ongoing dialogue with your therapist to discuss any relationship issues that may arise.

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. While this may not be ideal for long-distance relationships, it may be beneficial for other couples as your therapy can focus on your relationship in real-time.
  • while you’re initially matched with a therapist, you can switch if needed

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

Best for therapy plus peer support

7 Cups

  • Cost: $150 per month
  • Platforms: iPhone, Android, website

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 work with a qualified therapist.

Why we chose it

For a flat monthly rate, you can send unlimited messages to a licensed therapist at any time of the day. Your therapist will respond once or twice a day. You can also chat with a trained listener for no cost at all.

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 therapists 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

Best for kids

Amwell

  • Cost: $109 or $129 per therapy visit (depending on experience of your therapist)
  • Platforms: iPhone, Android, website

Amwell offers video therapy and psychiatry for a number of conditions, including:

  • eating disorders
  • insomnia
  • bipolar disorder
  • PTSD
  • anxiety
  • depression

Amwell has therapists in each state who are experienced in treating children ages 10–17 with parental or guardian consent. Once you sign up, you’ll choose a therapist and schedule a session, just as you might see a therapist in person. Like in-person therapy, your appointment will last about 45 minutes.

Why we chose it

Amwell is a well-established healthcare platform with licensed therapists in each state who are experienced in treating children ages 10–17.

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. (No rating for therapy services specifically is available.)
  • if your insurance covers Amwell, you can easily use your account to make a medical appointment

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

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 (which, however, may still be relatively quick compared with other services)

Best for teens

Teen Counseling

  • Cost: $60–$90 per week (billed every 4 weeks)
  • Platforms: iPhone, Android, website

Teen Counseling, a sister site to BetterHelp, is an online platform where teens ages 13–19 can connect with a licensed therapist via smartphone, computer, or tablet.

Therapists at Teen Counseling can help teens with a variety of issues including:

Once teens are matched with a therapist, they can communicate via message board, live chat, live video, or phone call.

Why we chose it

Teen Counseling is a unique platform in that it’s specifically designed to connect teens and parents with a licensed therapist.

What we like

  • a flat membership fee covers therapy for both parent and teen
  • parents and teens have separate chat rooms where they can message the therapist privately
  • you can cancel your membership at any time
  • communication options include messaging, live chat, phone calls, or video conference

What to look out for

  • Teen Counseling is not a crisis line
  • it’s not available for court-ordered therapy
  • teens are matched to a therapist rather than picking their own
  • no refunds are available after the month is paid for

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

Best for anxiety and depression

Brightside

  • Cost: $299 per month for therapy, $349 per month for psychiatry+ medication plan (plus copay or $15 per medication)
  • Platforms: website

Brightside offers a comprehensive treatment plan for people living with anxiety and depression. Their three-pronged approach involves:

  • psychiatry
  • medication
  • self-care

Therapy sessions take place via weekly video appointments and unlimited messaging. You can also complete personalized, self-paced audio lessons and practice exercises. These resources help you build important skills and habits to overcome anxiety and depression.

After you receive a full evaluation, Brightside psychiatrists develop a personalized treatment plan, which may include antidepressant medication delivered to your door each month.

Why we chose it

If you’re living with anxiety or depression, Brightside is a convenient and accessible platform for fast appointments and medication delivery.

What we like

  • Brightside offers a free assessment
  • the service lets you track your symptoms and progress
  • medication (antidepressant) is delivered to your door
  • audio sessions help you build important skills
  • you can message your therapist or psychiatrist with questions
  • the service is available in all states

What to look out for

  • therapy subscription payments are nonrefundable
  • Brightside isn’t suitable for other mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders

Best for cognitive behavioral therapy

Online-Therapy.com

  • Cost: $40+ per week (charged monthly)
  • Platforms: website

Online-Therapy.com says they’re not like other therapy platforms — they’re a complete happiness toolbox. Besides daily contact with a therapist (weekdays), a subscription plan includes numerous hands-on features, including:

  • a journal
  • activity plan
  • worksheets
  • yoga videos

The whole program is based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), an evidence-based approach that helps you identify and challenge negative thoughts and behaviors.

The service offers four subscription plans which are charged on a monthly basis via credit/debit card or PayPal.

Why we chose it

Online-Therapy.com offers four subscription plans based on your individual mental health needs. All subscriptions include an eight-section CBT program with 25 worksheets.

What we like

  • the service offers four different subscription plans
  • you can easily upgrade or cancel your subscription anytime
  • all plans include daily contact with a therapist Monday through Friday
  • the whole program is based on CBT
  • daily journal, tests, and yoga/meditation videos are included

What to look out for

  • the Basic plan does not include live video conferencing with a therapist
  • only the Premium plan includes express replies from the therapist

PriceInsurance accepted?Therapy format
BetterHelp$60–$90 per weekno• video
• messaging
• chat
• phone
Rethink My Therapy$99+ per monthno• video
• phone
MDLive• $108 for therapy visit
• $284 for psychiatry visit
yes• video
• phone
Pride Counseling$60–$90 per weekno• video
• messaging
• chat
• phone
Talkspace$69+ per weekyes• messaging
• video
• audio
ReGain$60–$90 per weekno• messaging
• video
7 Cups$150 per monthnomessaging
Amwell• $109 (master’s level)
• $129 (doctoral level) per visit
yesvideo
Teen Counseling$60–$90 per weekno• messaging
• chat
• phone
• video
Brightside$299 per month (therapy), $349 per month (therapy + meds)yes• messaging
• video
Online-Therapy.com$40+ per weekno• messaging
• video
• chat
• phone

Q: How does therapy help?

A: 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 find it difficult to open up in your sessions. The work might feel tough and sometimes uncomfortable even when your therapist is a great fit. That’s why it’s 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.

Q: What if I can’t afford therapy?

A: 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 — though it’s important to keep in mind that these sessions can fill up quickly.

If you want to learn more about how to make therapy more affordable, consider checking out our in-depth article.

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

  • A 2013 review of 70 studies on mental telehealthcare describes online therapy as an effective approach that can increase access to needed support.
  • A 2017 review of 25 studies on mental telehealthcare notes that online therapy isn’t just effective, but may have particular benefits as a more affordable approach to mental health care.
  • A 2018 analysis states that internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) for anxiety and depressive disorders is “effective, acceptable, and practical.” The authors also note that iCBT and face-face CBT are equally effective.

A few key benefits to consider:

  • It’s safe. Receiving support online means there’s no risk of contracting or transmitting the 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 many therapists 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 a more comfortable reach.

We’ve offered details on 11 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 conditions 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? 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 an LGBTQIA+-affirming or culturally competent counselor when signing up for online therapy services. Sometimes you may simply just want a therapist who shares your identity or lived experiences.

While online therapy may not be right for everyone, it does 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.

Want to learn more about starting therapy? Psych Central’s How to Find Mental Health Support resource can help.