Taking care of your mental health is just as important as tending to your physical health. But, in-person therapy has its shortcomings when it comes to flexibility, availability, and pricing. Thankfully, there's a more convenient alternative for people seeking counseling - online therapy, or telehealth.
Online therapy has been on the rise in recent years, and it looks as though it's here to stay. If you're interested in getting therapy on your own time, and from the comfort and privacy of your own home, you're not alone. Many people today are choosing to connect with licensed therapists online, via apps, and through video chat.
Online therapy (also referred to as "e-therapy" or "internet therapy") may not be the best solution for people in the midst of a mental health emergency or in need of urgent care. However, these reliable services provide an easier, more convenient, and often cheaper way of getting therapy than scheduling appointments in person.
If you're looking for the right online therapy service to suit your needs, check out our top 10 choices below.
Betterhelp-Best selection of licensed counselors
Cerebral-Best for affordable monthly pricing
Online-Therapy.com-Best online cognitive behavioral therapy
Faithful Counseling-Best for devoted Christian counselors
ReGain-Best online therapy for couples
Teen Counseling-Best online therapy for teens
Pride Counseling-Best online therapy for LGBTQ+
Talkspace-Best unlimited messaging and flexible payment plans
Calmerry-Best for a wide range of therapy types
Amwell-Best for ease of access
Much like in traditional therapy, in online therapy (also called e-therapy or teletherapy), patients work with licensed therapists to treat the symptoms and causes of mental health issues and improve their quality of life. The primary difference is that online counseling happens in a virtual environment rather than a physical one. Patients and practitioners interact via secure messaging and voice and video calls rather than in an office or other workspace.
Many studies have shown that for most individuals circumstances e-therapy is just as beneficial as in-person therapy. A 2008 analysis of 92 individual studies found that there were no significant differences between online and in-person therapy in terms of effectiveness.
Researchers have also found that the therapeutic bond formed between patient and therapist is just as strong and impactful with online counseling.
This research suggests online therapy is a completely viable alternative to in-person therapy.
Betterhelp’s mission is to foster easier access to professional therapy and mental health support. With thousands of licensed therapists on call for remote counseling via video, messaging, and phone, they seem to be succeeding.
Outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and the New York Times have written about Betterhelp, and for good reason: it’s arguably the largest and most trustworthy of online therapy services. To start with, all of its therapists are accredited and licensed therapists. They’re required to have at least 3 years and 2,000 hours of hands-on experience. This is an important distinction, as Betterhelp clients know they are receiving care from therapists who are thoroughly trained and experienced in counseling.
Signing up entails a short questionnaire about your background and current issues after which you’ll be paired with a counselor. Sessions can be conducted via message, live chat, phone, and video conferencing, all of which take place in a private online “room” dedicated to the client and counselor. Betterhelp’s therapists are trained in a wide variety of issues including anxiety, depression, relationship counseling, and eating disorders.
Cerebral is making it easier for anyone to get the mental health care they need. With online talk therapy sessions, people suffering from conditions such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia can reach out whenever they need it most. And thanks to its affordable monthly pricing structure, Cerebral ensures that your care is continuous, consistent, and constantly available.
Cerebral works with a team of care providers, giving clients a holistic treatment plan that works. Prescription providers assess your situation and prescribe the medication that is right for you. Then trained professionals will guide you through talk therapy sessions over the phone or via video chats to give you the space to safely and frequently discuss your thoughts and feelings, get advice on how to reframe your situation, and receive the tools necessary to take back your life.
Online-therapy.com’s counselors utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and its suite of self-assessment worksheets, activities, and journaling to help clients overcome their mental health struggles.
Unlike other online therapy services, this fully HIPAA compliant platform isn’t built solely around therapy sessions. Instead, clients are given CBT worksheets and activities to complete throughout the week, which are discussed during 30-minute consultations with their therapists. While more autonomous than other services, this approach is in line with traditional CBT, which emphasizes independent work in tandem with a therapist to help identify and root out illogical fears and anxieties.
Each section in Online-therapy.com’s 8-section program includes a suite of videos, worksheets, and diary-activities. Throughout the process, your therapist is available for feedback and assistance. Therapists are available 8 hours a day on weekdays for appointments and check-ins. Online-therapy.com is currently offering free access to its platform due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Blending therapy with some spiritual guidance, Faithful Counseling provides Christians with a full-spectrum, faith-based approach to mental health.
Faithful Counseling is a logical avenue for those who want traditional support but want to make sure their faith is part of the therapeutic process. All of its therapists are not only fully licensed and accredited in their field, but practicing Christians committed to fusing clinical therapy with biblical-rooted beliefs. By using evidence-based practices in tandem with biblical wisdom, their goal is to both draw from and strengthen clients’ emotional and psychological wellbeing.
Sessions may be conducted over the phone or through video, messages, or live chats. Each client and therapist will have their own online “room,” a private portal for sessions, messages, questions, and check-ins.
Regain is an online therapy service dedicated to relationship counseling. Individuals and couples can connect to licensed and accredited psychologists, family therapists, and clinical social workers to discuss any and all issues relating to their personal relationships.
Though Regain is dedicated to relationship counseling, individuals often partake on their own. If they wish, they can invite their partner to join their sessions. Clients and counselors are given their own online “room” where all communications occur.
Teen Counseling connects teens aged 13 to 19 with licensed therapists who can help them work through anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and other age-specific issues.
A partner site of BetterHelp, Teen Counseling is privy to the same sophisticated platform and credentialed therapists. That means that after signing up, the teen is matched with a licensed therapist and provided a designated “room” where they can communicate through video, live chat, phone calls, and messaging. All therapists are vetted and required to have 3 years and 2,000 hours of hands-on experience.
Teen Counseling also makes it easy for parents to initiate the process for their children. They can register, speak to and approve the therapist, and stay up to date on any needed interventions.
Pride Counseling is an online oasis dedicated to members of the LGBTQ community looking for support or therapy. Its PhD/PsyDs, LMFTs, and LCWSs boast 2,000 hours each of hands-on experience and specialize in issues relating to LGBTQ issues.
Sessions can be conducted by phone, video, message, or live chat, and take place in designated “rooms” that are only accessible to the client and therapist. Clients can use any of these methods throughout their time with their therapist as long as schedules permit. This flexible platform allows them to send messages, communicate in real time, converse through video, and save conversations for future reference.
With more than 5,000 licensed therapists—and nods from the Wall Street Journal and Glamour Magazine—Talkspace has made a name for itself as a premier destination for remote and internet-based therapy.
One major appeal of Talkspace is its fluid platform. Chat rooms, mobile apps, and an unlimited messaging option—including guaranteed daily responses from your therapist—ensure seamless support. Additionally, the site offers specific plans such as couples therapy and a teen counseling service, as well as therapists whose specialties range from cognitive behavioral therapy to psychodynamic, mindfulness, and numerous other approaches.
Talkspace’s pricing goes by a flat weekly rate that’s easy to understand and allows clients to choose an approach that best meets their needs and schedules. There are no contracts, and clients can discontinue their plan at any time.
Calmerry is an online therapy network with trained therapists in a wide range of specialties, including grief counseling, couples counseling, and LGBTQ-related issues. The service vets its therapists thoroughly, and even checks previous employment references. Calmerry offers people many therapy options, including cognitive behavioral therapy, emotion-focused therapy, and dialectical behavior therapy.
Calmerry has two ways to communicate: texting and video sessions. Texting is available 24/7 and it’s unlimited with all plans. Therapists respond to your comments and questions every day. Calmerry also has live video calls for face-to-face therapy sessions. Plans are affordable, and you can cancel at any time.
Amwell offers flexible online therapy through its accessible website and app, without the fuss. Its fully HIPAA-compliant platform doesn’t require you to sign up for a subscription, and you only pay for scheduled appointments. Unlike most online therapy providers, you don’t have to wait to be matched to a therapist. You can find available therapists by using the filters on the platform, and easily schedule an appointment once you find one.
Amwell’s network offers a range of telehealth services besides online therapy, and its professionals can write you a prescription if necessary. Additionally, Amwell is connected to 125 healthcare insurance providers, which could lower your out-of-pocket costs. Amwell allows you to take care of your health all from the comfort of your own home.