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Top 10 Best Online Therapy Sites & Services in 2024 - Invest In Your Mental Health

Katherine Cullen - Writer for Top10
Top 10 Best Online Therapy Services & Sites
The listings featured on this site are from companies from which this site receives compensation. This influences where, how and in what order such listings appear on this site.

Online therapy services present a convenient and innovative approach to mental healthcare. The fact is, in-person therapy has its limits in terms of flexibility, availability, and pricing. 

Perhaps more significantly, in-person sessions became exceedingly more difficult to attain in the wake of lockdowns and social distancing requirements. These changes resulted in the increased utilization of online healthcare over recent years—and studies suggest that the rise is here to stay.

As the field of online therapy—also referred to as "e-therapy" or "internet therapy"—continues to expand, so does the number of providers available to choose from. When searching for the right virtual therapy service for your needs, it’s important to consider factors such as pricing, modes of communication, and therapists’ backgrounds. 

To help guide your selection, we’ve reviewed the best online therapy services available today.

Our Top 10 Best Online Therapy Sites & Platforms:

  • BetterHelp - Best online therapy site overall
  • ReGain - Best for online relationship therapy
  • Talkspace - Best for unlimited messaging and flexible payment plans
  • Pride Counseling - Best online therapy for LGBTQ+
  • Faithful Counseling - Best for devoted christian counselors
  • Online-Therapy.com - Best online cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Calmerry - Best for a wide range of therapy types
  • Cerebral - Best for affordable monthly pricing
  • Grow Therapy - A wide range of licensed therapists specializing in different areas payable through insurance.
  • Amwell - Best for ease of access
Show more

Compare With Top10.com, Choose the Best for You

At Top10.com, we recognize the importance of thorough and accurate product and service reviews in guiding your choices. Our team, comprising editors and industry experts, conducts extensive research to provide comprehensive insights. Our content is continually updated to reflect the latest market trends, offering current information. 

We provide a range of services including comparison lists and in-depth reviews, all tailored to meet your specific needs. Our goal is to empower you to make confident and informed choices.

25 Online Therapy Services Evaluated | 5 Evaluation Criteria | 10 Best Online Therapy Services

Our Methodology: How We Reviewed the Best Online Therapy Services

Our aim is to offer clear, unbiased, and detailed insights specifically tailored to the nuances of online therapy, helping readers identify the best service for their mental health needs. Katherine Cullen, an expert in therapy and clinical social work, spearheaded our analysis of over 30 digital therapy services. We emphasized factors like therapeutic approaches, platform usability, and client confidentiality. Our editorial and fact-checking teams played a crucial role in ensuring the evaluations were comprehensive and trustworthy.

Evaluation Process

Our evaluation process was meticulous, focusing on a range of quality indicators specific to online therapy. Katherine Cullen's clinical expertise was pivotal in interpreting these findings, ensuring a professional perspective in our assessment. Parallel to this, our editorial team undertook a thorough fact-checking procedure to ensure the integrity and reliability of our findings, thereby delivering reviews that users can trust for making informed decisions.

Evaluation Criteria

Pricing Structure: We analyzed service fees, including weekly and monthly options, to determine affordability and financial implications for users.

Communication Methods: The efficacy of different communication channels (text, voice, video calls) in facilitating therapy sessions was evaluated.

Therapist Expertise and Diversity: We assessed the variety and specialization of therapists, emphasizing areas like anxiety, depression, and addiction treatment.

Accreditations and Hiring Standards: Therapists' credentials (e.g., PsyD, Ph.D., LCSW, LPS) were examined to ensure adherence to high professional standards.

Therapy Modalities: We looked at the range of therapeutic approaches offered, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and psychoanalysis, to gauge the comprehensiveness of treatment options.

Explore More Online Therapy Services:

Our Top 10 Best Online Therapy Services

  • 1


    • Best forMessaging your therapist anytime
    • PricingPrices starting at $65/week
    • Modes of communicationText, live chat, video call, phone call

    BetterHelp - Best online therapy site overall

    BetterHelp is one of the largest providers of online therapy services, letting you get matched with a licensed professional therapist in less than 24 hours. You’ll be able to communicate with your therapist by phone, video call, live chat, or text messaging.

    While the platform doesn’t take insurance, it does offer financial aid for patients with tighter budgets.

    Why we chose BetterHelp: BetterHelp’s app and online platform are both user-friendly, giving you access to self-help worksheets on various topics, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and conflict resolution.

    Our experience: BetterHelp reviews are positive and the service is reasonably priced. We like the fact that BetterHelp counselors each go through a rigorous vetting process.

    • Message your therapist anytime
    • Studies show the platform is effective
    • Operates in 200+ countries and 82 languages
    • Therapists can’t prescribe medication
    • Harder to find specialized therapists
  • 2


    • Best forTherapists that specialize in relationship therapy
    • Pricing$65-$100/week
    • Modes of communicationVideo, phone, message, live chat

    ReGain - Best for online relationship therapy

    ReGain offers convenient online relationship therapy for couples and individuals. Their service matches you with a licensed therapist specifically chosen to address your needs and goals. Its monthly subscription grants one live video or phone session per week, along with 24/7 access to an online therapist. 

    Why we chose ReGain: ReGain understands everyone’s situation is different and offers reduced fees to those with financial difficulties or disabilities.

    Our experience: With ReGain, you can pick and choose your therapy appointments entirely around your schedule. This makes it a particularly convenient option if you are restricted in time. 

    • Therapists specialize in a wide range of relationship issues
    • User-friendly app
    • Discount available to those in need
    • Not appropriate for crisis situations
    • Does not work in-network with insurance providers
  • 3


    • Best forOnline therapy and psychiatry services
    • Pricing$69-$129/week
    • Modes of communicationVideo, phone, message, live chat

    Talkspace - Best for unlimited messaging and flexible payment plans

    Talkspace is an e-therapy platform that offers counseling and psychiatric treatment for teens, adults, and couples. They employ a detailed matching process to connect you with a licensed and experienced therapist based on your circumstances. 

    They accept insurance and offer three weekly payment plans. The two higher-tier plans include live sessions, but only the highest tier plan includes therapy via messaging with guaranteed daily text responses to any questions you may have.

    Why we chose Talkspace: Talkspace specializes in over 40 areas of clinical therapy, so you can feel confident that your needs will be met.

    Our experience: We were impressed by the expedient response times that Talkspace therapists and counselors demonstrate. Whenever you need the help, their care providers are available to lend support.

    • Over 40 clinical approaches and treatments
    • Suitable for adults, teens, and couples
    • Can offer prescriptions through its psychiatry services
    • Requires internet connection
    • Live sessions only available on more expensive plans
  • 4
    Pride Counseling

    Pride Counseling

    • Best for LGBTQ+ Counseling
    • PricingPrices starting at $65/week
    • Modes of communicationText, video, audio, and live sessions

    Pride Counseling - Best online therapy for LGBTQ+

    Pride Counseling boasts budget-friendly online therapy for members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

    Pride Counseling charges weekly rather than per session, allowing for multiple meetings within the same week. It also has a mobile app that offers access to all of the website’s features, with the added benefit of receiving mobile mental health support.

    Pride Counseling does not include family therapy, support groups, which could be beneficial to LGBTQ+ individuals. They also do not work in-network with insurance providers, although its low weekly counseling rates make it more affordable than traditional in-person therapy.  

    Why we chose Pride Counseling: Perhaps Pride Counseling’s greatest benefit is that it offers a safe, supportive environment for LGBTQ+ community members to address their mental health issues, with all therapists trained specifically for this community’s needs.

    Our experience: Pride Counseling places a strong emphasis on discretion, by giving you the option to sign up with a nickname, while other services typically require your full legal name.

    • All therapists specialize in LGBTQ+ counseling
    • Android and iOS app
    • Pay per week rather than per session
    • No support group options
    • Does not accept insurance
  • 5
    Faithful Counseling

    Faithful Counseling

    • Best forClinical therapy that includes biblical teachings
    • PricingPrices starting at $65/week
    • Modes of communicationVideo, phone, message, live chat

    Faithful Counseling - Best for faith-based therapy for Christians 

    As of recent, Faithful Counseling merged with Betterhelp, which also delivers clinical therapy for Christians. Its therapists are all licensed and certified within their field and submit declarations as to their beliefs to ensure they conform to the statement of faith. When signing up for the service, you will be directed to fill out a questionnaire that will properly match you with a suitable Christian therapist. 

    A sophisticated matching process is employed to connect you with a therapist specializing in your mental health difficulties and your branch of Christianity. This means it’s a suitable platform if your faith is important and you wish to include biblical teachings in your therapy. Its easy sign-up process, clear and appealing display, and simple functionality in terms of booking appointments make it easy for Christians who want faith-based counseling. 

    Why we chose Faithful Counseling: Though Faithful Counseling merged with Betterhelp, Christian-centered therapy practices are still easy to access. The platform uniquely integrates clinical therapy with Christianity, ensuring a harmonious blend of faith and mental health support. Various Christian denominations are catered to, including Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, and others, allowing users to find counselors who resonate with their specific faith traditions. Spiritual practices like prayer, meditation, and scripture reading are also integrated. This online therapy provider is an ideal choice for believers who want to incorporate biblical principles into their counseling sessions.

    • 6,000+ therapists specializing in Christianity-based counseling
    • 24/7 messaging services
    • Accessible via website or the free app
    • Matching process can take 1-2 days
    • Can’t choose a specific therapist
  • 6


    • Best forTreating non-urgent anxiety
    • Pricing$160-$352/month
    • Modes of communicationVideo, audio, live chat

    Online-Therapy.com - Best online cognitive behavioral therapy

    Online-Therapy.com has a network of counselors from various fields of expertise, with a primary focus on CBT. In addition, their platform hosts a range of interactive worksheets, activities, and self-help assignments to help guide you through its program. 

    Depending on your preference, you can communicate with your counselor via text, audio, or video chat.

    Why we chose Online-Therapy.com: This online therapy provider allows you to switch therapists at any point during treatment. Their journaling tool is another helpful way to keep track of your efforts and improve your well-being. 

    Our experience: In contrast with some other online therapy services, Online-Therapy.com allows you to view recommended therapist profiles and choose your own counselor based on user reviews, specializations, and accreditations.

    • Affordable compared to other providers
    • Choose your own therapist and switch anytime you want
    • Easy-to-follow wellness exercises
    • Lowest-tier plan does not include live sessions
    • Therapists on the platform cannot prescribe medication
  • 7


    • Best forAffordable therapy, wide range of therapy types
    • PricingFrom $50/week
    • Modes of communicationVideo, message, live chat, and audio message (on iOS only)

    Calmerry - Best for a wide range of therapy types

    Calmerry is an e-therapy network with therapists trained in a wide range of specialties, including grief counseling, couples counseling, and LGBTQ-related therapy. They give you two ways to communicate with counselors–texting and video sessions.

    All plans include texting at anytime, daily responses from therapists, and the option to switch counselors or cancel at any time.

    Why we chose Calmerry: Calmerry performs thorough background checks on its therapists to ensure the quality and reliability of the counseling services you receive.

    Our experience: Calmerry doesn’t simply match you with a therapist; their blog provides information about therapy methods (including CBT, emotion-focused therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy) so you can understand which approach truly fits your needs.

    • Convenient app for on-the-go therapy
    • An extensive blog about therapy and mental health
    • Mental health assistants readily available
    • Doesn’t accept insurance
    • Questionable privacy protection
  • 8


    • Best forAnxiety, depression, insomnia, bipolar
    • PricingFrom $99/month, $30/month when covered by insurance
    • Modes of communicationPhone, video calls, texting, email

    Cerebral - Best for affordable monthly pricing

    Cerebral offers online talk therapy sessions for people suffering from conditions such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Their team of professional counselors provide you with a holistic treatment plan tailored to your needs.

    Cerebral’s two-tiered approach of talk therapy and proper medication prescriptions allows you to manage your symptoms and achieve a more balanced lifestyle.

    Why we chose Cerebral: Cerebral is one of the more affordable options on our list, while still providing you with a high quality of care.

    Our experience: We like the fact that Cerebral’s team checks in with you every month, monitors your medication reactions, and helps you make the necessary adjustments to ensure your treatment progresses as intended.

    • Very affordable pricing plans
    • Team of care providers for a holistic approach
    • Online sessions & medications delivered to your door
    • Not all plans available nationwide
    • Doesn’t cover all mental health issues
  • 9
    Grow Therapy

    Grow Therapy

    • Best forFlexible appointment schedule
    • Pricing$0-$125, depending on your insurance coverage
    • Modes of communicationChat, phone, video, in-person

    Grow Therapy is an excellent online platform with over 4,000 licensed therapists for those struggling with mental health difficulties. With its pay-as-you-go payment model, you're free to choose appointments at a convenient date, time, and frequency. Grow’s partnership with many insurance providers also means session costs are often reduced, if not covered completely.

    The platform's licensed therapists are experienced in a range of specializations, including child or adolescent issues, couples counseling, family difficulties, abuse, and trauma. With virtual and in-person sessions, you can choose what works best for you. Online therapy sessions via video, phone, or instant messaging offer added convenience for your busy schedule.

    Why we chose Grow Therapy - Grow Therapy offers affordable talking therapy on a pay-as-you-go plan, making it a great option for those with busy schedules who need mental health assistance with insurance coverage.

    Our experience - We found Grow Therapy’s clear and uncomplicated online interface very easy to use, and we liked the flexibility of its payment plan.

    • Easy, pay-as-you-go payment plan
    • Covered by many of the major insurance providers
    • Offers both online and in-person therapy
    • Therapist availability depends on location
    • Price can be expensive if not covered by insurance
  • 10
    • Best forThose who want instant online therapy without the fuss
    • Pricing$109-$129/session, potentially covered by insurance
    • Modes of communicationVideo only

    Amwell - Best for flexibility

    Amwell offers flexible online therapy with a network of over 350 professional counselors specializing in a variety of therapy methods. Their platform is accessible through their website or mobile app, and doesn’t require you to subscribe—instead, they conveniently allow you to pay per-appointment.

    You can search for available therapists by using the filters on the platform, and easily schedule an appointment once you’ve found the right fit. While this means you won’t be able to contact therapists between sessions, the upside is you spend less time waiting for the help you need.

    Why we chose Amwell: Amwell is a one-stop-shop for all of your healthcare needs, including but not limited to therapy services. Its professionals can even write you a prescription if necessary. Additionally, Amwell is connected to 125 insurance providers, which can help lower your out-of-pocket costs.

    Our experience: Unlike most online therapy providers, you don’t have to wait to be matched to a therapist when using Amwell. Their filter-and-find process puts more agency in your hands, giving you the relevant information you need to choose the right counselor.

    • Select a therapist and make an appointment straight away
    • Covered by most insurance providers
    • Get a prescription without visiting a doctor’s office
    • Doesn’t offer service outside of the United States
    • No communication possible between scheduled appointments

How to Compare the Best Online Therapy Services

The comparison chart below provides a guide to different factors you should consider when comparing online therapy services. These include price range, session types, areas of specialization and whether insurance is accepted. 

When comparing different online therapy services, it's a good idea to first determine which factors are most important to you and then focus on services that match your needs.

Cost Range
Session Types
Insurance Acceptance
Text, live chat, video call, phone call
No, but offers financial aid
Broad range, CBT, conflict resolution
From $99/month
Phone, video calls, texting, email
Anxiety, depression, insomnia, bipolar
Video, audio, live chat
Not specified
CBT, non-urgent anxiety
In-person, video, phone call
Yes, most plans
Wide variety of therapy options
Video, phone, message, live chat

No, but offers financial aid

Relationship therapy
Pride Counseling*
Text, video, audio, live sessions

No, but offers financial aid

LGBTQ+ counseling
Video, phone, message, live chat
Over 40 clinical therapy areas, psychiatry
From $50/week
Video, message, live chat, audio message (iOS)
Wide range of therapy types
Video only
Yes, 125 providers
Variety of therapy methods, prescriptions
Faithful Counseling*

Text, live chat, video call, phone call

No, but offers financial aid
Faith-based therapy for Christians

* This link now redirects to BetterHelp, parent company of Faithful/Pride Counseling and will still match you to a therapist who is right for you based on your preferences. 

Our  Online Therapy Experts

Top10.com's content is developed and reviewed by a team of experienced mental health experts. This panel of licensed psychotherapists, clinical psychologists and social workers helps to review articles and provides unbiased opinions.

What Is Online Therapy and What Makes It a Viable Alternative to In-Person Therapy?

Online therapy is a virtual version of traditional, in-person psychotherapy. Online counselors use the same interventions as in-person providers, including CBT, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), trauma therapy, and talk therapy. 

According to a 2022 depression research and treatment meta-analysis by social worker Carly M. Charron and epidemiologist Kevin M. Gorey, e-therapy programs—especially involving video calls—can be just as effective as in-person treatment. 

Online therapy is also a more accessible option for those who cannot afford traditional psychotherapy, struggle to commute to appointments, or are concerned about the perceived stigma of being seen entering a psychotherapist's office.

Exploring the Basics: How Online Therapy Work?

To start, you answer a few demographic questions, specify which mental health issues you need support with, get screened for depression and suicidality, and state which characteristics you want in a counselor. 

Depending on the platform, this data is analyzed by either an algorithm or a real person. You are then matched with a web therapist aligned with your preferences and trained to treat your specific mental health concerns.

From there, the online therapy program process unfolds as it would in person. You meet with a therapist for about 45-55 minutes weekly to discuss a personal difficulty, gain insight into its origins and impact on your life, and practice tools to help you address it. 

These tools can include emotion regulation techniques, communication skills, and strategies to identify and change troublesome thoughts and behaviors.

Phone, Video, or Chat: Choosing the Best Format for Online Therapy

A 2020 psychophysiology study by Jonne O. Hietanen showed that eye contact over video calls evokes physiological arousal levels comparable to those in in-person interactions. Being able to observe your therapist's body language, facial expressions, and eye contact—and allowing them to do the same—may be more engaging for both of you.

However, some clients may prefer a phone or text due to concerns like poor internet connections, schedules that preclude them from sitting in front of a camera, or simply because these options may be cheaper. 

According to a 2022 Current Psychiatry Reports research review spearheaded by Patricia V. Chen, phone therapy is effective in treating many mental health conditions, so rest assured that this option is equally viable.

Plus, a 2022 Frontiers in Psychiatry research review led by Reham Shalaby showed that chat support is particularly helpful for individuals with addiction and psychosis, and can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Benefits of Online Therapy: Why Choose This Approach?

Online therapy is convenient, flexible, and cheaper than in-person therapy, especially with a subscription plan. No commuting is necessary, so those who are homebound or have limited mobility can meet with a therapist from the comfort of their homes, making it much more feasible than in-person therapy for those who are looking for better health care options.

With online counseling, people also don't have to worry about being "seen" coming and going from a therapist's office, which helps avoid potential perceptions of stigma.

Who Can Benefit from Online Therapy?

Online therapy is ideal—and can greatly benefit—those who:

  • Experience mild-to-moderate symptoms: Patients who struggle with anxiety, depression, stress management, and relationship difficulties are all equally suitable for virtual counseling.

  • Have a busy lifestyle or live far from in-person therapy options: Online counseling allows for remote and on-the-go support, which helps if you don't have time to commute to sessions.

  • Have an insurance plan that doesn’t cover therapy or doesn't have insurance at all: Online therapy is often more affordable than in-person therapy, making it more accessible even to those without insurance options.

  • Enjoy extra communication features: Virtual therapy platforms can offer text messaging, phone calls, and learning modules in addition to therapy sessions.

  • Are ready and willing to engage in therapy: The key to reaping the benefits of online and offline therapy is readiness and willingness to engage, which has been shown to predict better treatment outcomes by a 2017 BMC Psychiatry study, led by psychologist Henning Krampe.

Considerations of Online Therapy: Who May Not Benefit?

Online therapy may not be beneficial for anyone who:

  • In an acute mental health crisis or experiencing severe symptoms: Patients experiencing extreme symptoms of psychosis, anorexia, bulimia, or mood disorders are not suitable candidates for online talk therapy. These conditions typically require higher levels of care, such as hospitalization or intensive outpatient programs, which internet therapy does not offer.

  • It is court-mandated for mental health services: Individuals who are court-mandated for treatment may not be suitable for e-therapy, since therapists are required to complete paperwork that online platforms may not be equipped to process.

  • Prefer face-to-face interaction: Online therapy sessions are not face-to-face by design, so it may not be as beneficial to those who like to interact with their therapist in person.

How Much Does Online Therapy Cost?

Online therapy can range from $60 to $200 per session. This depends on the platform, subscription plan, and type of therapy you choose. Some services include medication management and psychotherapy in their plans, which can affect the total cost. Whether you see a provider via video, phone, or chat can also impact the final pricing.

Many online platforms such as Thriveworks, Cerebral, Talkspace, and Amwell also accept insurance, which helps offset the cost.

Free Online Therapy Services: Availability and Limitations

While you'll be hard-pressed to find free online counseling services, there are several online supportive mental health services that offer help during an emergency. 

These include crisis lines with text and chat features like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Chat and Text service. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) also offers free online support groups.

Saving with Online Therapy: Financial Benefits to Consider

2022 survey conducted by Zencare found that the average cost of therapy in the United States is $182 per session, with higher rates depending on the state. 

That's at least $728 a month, which doesn't account for the costs of commuting or potential lost income due to time spent in the session or commuting. 

In contrast, most virtual therapy sessions conducted via affordable online therapy platforms are under $100, billed on a weekly or monthly basis, according to users' subscription plans. 

That small amount often includes additional features, like worksheets, educational content, and unlimited texting with a therapist, which aren't often included with in-person therapy.

  • Unlimited Sessions and Flexible Communication Options

Unlike in-person therapy, which restricts therapeutic interactions in face-to-face formats, online therapy platforms allow clients to see and speak with their therapists via video conferencing software, phone calls, text messages, and chat functions. Most platforms also allow unlimited text messaging with a therapist outside regular sessions.

  • Reduced Commuting Costs and Time

Average gas prices in America continue to hover above $3.40, according to AAA.com, which means that driving to a therapist's office adds a substantial amount to in-person therapy's true monthly cost—as do tolls and parking fees. 

Choosing the Right Online Therapy Service in 2024

To ensure you get the best outcomes from virtual therapy to achieve better health, it's important to find the right online counseling service for you. Consider the following key factors to help you decide which is the best fit:

  • Services offered: Opt for platforms with modalities that appeal to you, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, DBT, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), faith-based therapy like Christian counseling, couples therapy, or affirmative therapy. Also, consider whether you need a provider who can prescribe medication.
  • Features: Take a closer look at the platform's additional features to see which best suits your personalized therapy needs. Consider the resources you'd access in addition to therapy—like courses, digital worksheets, and mood and progress trackers. For example, Calmerry offers some helpful tracking tools, and Online-Therapy.com offers yoga classes.
  • Cost: Think about how much you're willing to pay for your mental health care, as it's not all online therapy platforms cost the same. For example, Online-Therapy.com offers services for as low as $40 per week, while Cerebral, Amwell, Thriveworks, and Talkspace's medication and therapy services range from $99 to over $200 per month if insurance isn't an option.
  • Ease of use: The usability of online therapy platforms and mental health apps impacts whether they're perceived as helpful, as researcher Amy Hai Yan Chan found in a 2021 Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing review. If one platform doesn't feel comfortable, engaging, or feasible enough for you to use, consider another that offers a more user-friendly experience.

Finding the Right Therapist for You

It's important to know what each kind of therapist's credentials mean, so you can see what they'll be able to help you with. 

Here's a look at five of the most common kinds of therapists:

  • Psychiatrist (MD)

A psychiatrist has a medical degree—hence the "MD." This means they're well-versed in biological systems and will incorporate an understanding of the brain and body's biochemistry into their therapy sessions. Psychiatrists are the only kind of therapist on this list able to prescribe medication.

  • Psychologist (PsyD, PhD)

A psychologist holds a doctoral degree, meaning they've had between four and eight rigorous years of post-secondary education. PsyDs receive extensive training in clinical work with clients, while PhDs participate in research during their post-secondary education.

  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

LPCs complete two-year, master-level programs in mental health counseling and psychotherapy. They may specialize in psychological testing and diagnosis, and they've likely completed additional, post-master's degree training in specific psychotherapy modalities like CBT, DBT, and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)

LMFTs undergo two-year, master-level programs with a specific focus on marriage and family therapy, meaning they're most adept at supporting individuals, couples, and families with relationship or interpersonal difficulties. They may undergo additional post-master's degree training that prepares them to work with specific demographics of people and conditions.

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

To be licensed at the clinical level, social workers must complete a two-year master-level program, demonstrate three years of supervised client-facing work, and pass a four-hour licensing exam. 

Social workers are trained in a strength-based approach, meaning they elicit clients' inherent coping skills, abilities, and competencies rather than just focusing on deficits or diagnoses. Plus, they're ethically obligated to serve vulnerable and oppressed populations.

They're also versed in the "systems" approach to clinical work, meaning they view symptoms in light of the environment (familial, institutional, political) in which clients live, work, and socialize. 

Like other licensed mental health professionals, social workers often undergo additional post-master's degree training to treat specific conditions like mood disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and OCD.

Common Treatment Fields in Online Therapy

Many therapists offer a range of modalities, including CBT, DBT, MBSR, and ACT—to name just a few. Here's a closer look at the main online therapy treatment fields on your journey to better health:

  • Couples Counseling

Online couples therapy involves spouses or partners grappling with difficulties such as communication, infidelity, possible separation, conflict, sexual dissatisfaction, financial challenges, growing apart, or simply struggling to adjust to major life events like becoming a parent, experiencing infertility, or losing a child. 

An online couples therapist helps both partners better understand each other's perspectives, facilitates healthy communication, and supports the practice of coping skills that help their relationship heal.

  • Teen Therapy

Therapy for teens addresses the concerns and challenges of navigating that tricky time period between puberty and young adulthood. Online therapists specializing in this type of treatment are versed in early developmental milestones and specifically support teenagers in coping with bullying, peer pressure, family conflict, academic stress, and struggles with friendships and early romantic relationships.

Teen therapy can sometimes involve play therapy, whereby teens engage in games or activities that help them develop stronger bonds with their therapist and more readily express their true thoughts and feelings.

  • LGBTQ+ Support

LGBTQ+ online therapy aims to affirm and accept non-heterosexual individuals' gender identities and sexual orientations in light of their unique concerns, stressors, and needs. 

Specifically, LGBTQ+ therapist specialists work with their clients through issues of discrimination and violence, community building, self-acceptance, and reducing perceptions of shame or guilt about their sexuality.

  • Anxiety Treatment

Online therapy for anxiety targets the thought process, giving rise to anxious feelings and behaviors, and supports individuals in practicing emotion regulation and mindfulness techniques that help reduce anxiety. 

Many online therapists also help clients gain insight into why specific triggers—people, places, or things—elicit anxiety to help them better overcome it.

  • Depression Therapy

Online depression counseling and online therapy for depression help clients identify and challenge detrimental beliefs and thoughts like, "I'm a failure," or "I'll be miserable no matter what I do." 

It further supports clients in building activities into their schedule that increase energy and elicit more motivation and positivity—a tactic called behavioral activation.

  • Bipolar Disorder Management

Effective online therapy for clients with bipolar disorder involves exploring the onset and course of symptoms, educating patients about the illness, and imparting emotion regulation skills. 

Online therapists who treat bipolar disorder help clients identify and devise safety plans in anticipation of early signs of increasing mania, hypomania, or depression. Additionally, they often coordinate with prescribers to support clients' adherence to medication plans.

  • OCD Treatment

Symptoms of OCD include intrusive and unwanted thoughts that are often accompanied by ritualistic behaviors aimed to reduce or eliminate those thoughts. 

Online therapy for OCD typically involves CBT and exposure therapy, which gradually increases real or imagined exposure to OCD triggers, while practicing techniques to enhance tolerance like deep breathing, visualization, and mindfulness interventions. 

ACT, which seeks to increase cognitive flexibility and the pursuit of value-oriented behavior, has also been shown to enhance the outcomes of standard OCD treatments.

5 Tips for Preparing for an Online Therapy Session

To maximize the benefits of your online therapy sessions and work towards better health for your mental well-being, you should know how to prepare for them. Keep these tips in mind:

1. Minimize Environmental Distractions

Distractions disrupt the therapeutic process and can interfere with your ability to learn new skills and make critical connections between past experiences and present behavior. Try turning on a white noise machine or fan to drown out background noise, or use headphones during sessions.

2. Have a Backup Internet Connection Plan

Poor video quality, frozen video, or internet connection drops can disrupt and interfere with the quality of therapy you receive. Have a backup plan for when an internet connection fails or weakens. This could include ensuring your therapist has your phone number to continue sessions via telephone, using the "mobile hotspot" option on your smartphone or securing a location with consistent WiFi.

3. Be Present and Engaged During Sessions

It may seem more convenient to do virtual therapy from home or work to take care of tasks like checking email, folding laundry, putting away the dishes, etc. But by not focusing entirely on your therapy session, you're more likely to miss key insights and opportunities to practice skills that help you.

4. Prepare Talking Points and Discussion Topics

Keep track of situations between therapy sessions that you need support processing so you can dive into them once your session begins. When we log on from home or work, and don't have to sit and reflect in a waiting room, we may not remember important challenges from our week. However, jotting them down in a notebook or device keeps us accountable and gives an online therapist more opportunity and time to assist where we need it most.

Is Online Therapy Regulated?

Online therapy is regulated to the extent that the specific service providers on online platforms are regulated—and such regulations may vary by state. Generally speaking, to provide psychotherapy to a client, a clinician must be licensed in the state where the therapy is taking place.

The exception to this is when clients disclose a clear intent to harm themselves or someone else. In this situation, appropriate authorities and individuals, such as the police, other providers, or potential victims, may be contacted.

Which Mental Health Issues Can Be Treated With Online Therapy?

In addition to OCD, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, virtual therapy and online counseling services can address the following mental health conditions:

  • PTSD

A 2007 BMC Psychiatry study led by researcher Christine Knaevelsrud found that clients with PTSD saw significant symptom improvement after working with a virtually licensed therapist. 

This involved patients recalling and reprocessing traumatic memories and then reflecting on them, and correcting their dysfunctional beliefs and feelings of guilt and shame.

  • Insomnia

Danish researchers overseen by psychologist Mia S. O'Toole noted that internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is effective in improving sleep quality and total sleep time.

  • Borderline Personality Disorder

A 2021 JMIR Mental Health review overseen by psychologist Margo Rivera found that online therapy involving DBT skills training and education improved borderline personality disordered clients' emotional regulation and reduced how often they fought or argued with others.

  • Burnout

Researcher Jung-Hyun Park and colleagues observed in their 2022 systematic review that online interventions encouraging the emotional freedom technique (EFT) reduced symptoms of burnout among nurses. EFT involves the systematic tapping of specific areas of the body, head, and face while focusing on a stressor.

Additionally, a 2012 PLOS ONE study overseen by psychologist Paul Emmelkamp revealed significant improvements in burnout symptoms among 1,500 clients receiving online CBT.

  • Eating disorders

Online CBT was found to reduce episodes of excessive eating and depression symptoms among 63 enrolled patients with binge eating disorder in a 2021 European Eating Disorders Review paper. Psychologist Marilena Maglia and colleagues also learned that online therapy is effective across multiple studies in reducing eating disorder symptoms among adolescents.

Additional Online Therapy Sites Reviewed

In addition to the top online therapy services for better health outlined above, we've reviewed other companies that provide the same or similar services. If you're looking for more options, read our full reviews here:

  • JustAnswer - Best for people who aren't ready for regular therapy

  • Brightside - Best for insured individuals struggling with anxiety and depression

  • PrestoExperts - Best for paying a therapist by the minute rather than monthly

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Online Therapy in 2024: A Worthwhile Investment

Virtual therapy companies provide affordable alternatives to in-person therapy with comparable quality of care and outcomes.

Our picks for the top 10 best online therapy sites and platforms are Betterhelp, Cerebral, Online-Therapy.com, Thriveworks, ReGain, Teen Counseling, Pride Counseling, Talkspace, Calmerry, and Amwell.

Each platform offers unique features, various ways to connect with your therapist, and useful services like educational content and medication management. Several online therapy services even take insurance, cutting costs further.

Online counseling options may seem limitless, but remember what's most important to you. Take note of what feels helpful and what doesn't to find the best telehealth service with the right therapist, platform, and course of treatment that suits your individual needs.

Frequently Asked Questions
Is online therapy cheaper?+-

As a general rule, yes, e-therapy is cheaper than in-person therapy. Online therapy averages $60 to $80 per weekly session, while in-person therapy typically costs $100 to $200 per session.

Is online therapy legit?+-

There is growing scientific evidence that online therapy is legitimate and effective, with similar outcomes to in-person therapy and numerous benefits for patients and practitioners.

Is online therapy secure?+-

The best internet therapy platforms adhere to strict health regulations and employ sophisticated technological defense for chats and voice or video calls. However, some providers are known to share de-identified information with third parties like Facebook and Google, so be sure to read policies carefully and do some research online.

Is online therapy effective?+-

For many people and many mental health issues, yes. Online therapy has been shown to be just as effective as in-person therapy in treating a wide variety of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and addiction. It is not recommended for more serious mental health issues, like severe depression, schizophrenia, or for situations where the patient is likely to harm themselves or others.

Does insurance cover online therapy?+-

Your choice of online therapy may be covered depending on your insurance company. Some virtual therapy sites and apps already have agreements set with insurance companies. If your insurance company doesn’t cover e-therapy, you can always try to get a reimbursement.

Does Medicare cover virtual counseling?+-

Some internet therapy providers like Cerebral and MDLive are covered by Medicare. Call the customer service of a virtual counseling center and ask if they take Medicare, or inquire through Medicare itself.

Can an online therapist prescribe medication?+-

Online therapists can’t prescribe medications because they might not have the proper accreditations to do so. Only a psychiatrist, someone who is a medical doctor, can prescribe medicine. Psychiatrists can do this both online and in person, but they can’t give medicine for chronic illnesses that require physical examinations.

Natural Intelligence does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or your local emergency number immediately.

Katherine Cullen - Writer for Top10
Katherine Cullen is a psychotherapist in New York City and co-author of The Truth About Exercise Addiction: Understanding the Dark Side of Thinspiration. Her work has been published by numerous outlets, including Psychology Today, Cosmopolitan, and Self.