Best Online Therapy Services

BetterHelp is the best overall online therapy service

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Online therapy is an important step toward providing mental health care to all who need it, especially since research has shown that 70% of people lack access to traditional, in-office therapy. Luckily, the growing online therapy industry has made it easier (and often more affordable) to get mental health care. In fact, many traditional in-office therapists adopted the online model so they could continue to treat patients during lockdowns. The best part is that the only real difference between in-person and online therapy is the location. Online therapists can treat you as effectively as if you were in the office and some can even assist with medication management.

Teletherapy involves live therapy sessions that you attended via telephone, video calls, chat rooms, text messaging, or email. This is an especially wonderful option for folks with mobility limitations, who prefer a more private setting, have busy schedules, work odd hours, or live in a therapy desert. Some providers also accept insurance if you're insured. For those not insured, many providers offer a sliding-scale payment option. Here are the companies that scored the highest marks across the board.

Best Online Therapy Services of 2022

Why Trust Us
55
Companies reviewed
5,775
Total users surveyed
350
Data points analyzed
We surveyed 105 users from each online therapy company and asked the companies to complete questionnaires. Then, we tested the services ourselves, conducted comprehensive data collection research, and evaluated our results with the help of three licensed therapists.

Best Overall : BetterHelp


  • Price: $299 to $349 per month
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: Yes
  • Type Of Therapy: Individual Therapy
Special Offer

Verywell Mind readers get 20% off their first month of BetterHelp membership.

Why We Chose It

BetterHelp is a large, easy-to-navigate, online therapy service that covers a vast range of therapy needs. It has a high overall customer satisfaction rating with the users we surveyed, and depending on your location, may have a generally lower subscription cost than other companies, such as Talkspace.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Therapist bios displayed on website before signup

  • All therapists are licensed

  • Multiple communication methods available

Cons
  • No medication management services

  • No free trial

  • Therapist chosen for you

Overview

There’s a reason BetterHelp is one of the most well-known and popular online therapy companies today: It's an accessible, relatively affordable online therapy company that suits many people’s therapy needs.

Prior to signing up, users can browse through the detailed bios of BetterHelp therapists. However, it’s important to note that the company matches you to a therapist rather than letting you choose. You can switch relatively easily, though, if you don’t think it's a good match. BetterHelp is also transparent about how it protects patient data and privacy, with detailed information prominently displayed on its website. 

BetterHelp also offers clients a variety of communication options for talking to their therapist, including video, audio, live chats, and unlimited messaging. This allows users to pick the most convenient and comfortable option. Sessions are available for individuals, couples, and teenagers. And while BetterHelp’s subscription costs are about average when compared to all 33 companies we reviewed, they were still lower than some of its biggest competitors.

BetterHelp has higher overall customer satisfaction ratings with the users we surveyed than its biggest competitors:

  • Seventy-two percent rated the services they received through BetterHelp as either very good or excellent.
  • Ninety-one percent stated they were either likely or very likely to recommend BetterHelp to someone like them.

According to our surveys, users were generally very satisfied with the response rate from their therapists and 79% said it was very easy or easy to switch therapists at BetterHelp if they felt like their therapist wasn’t the right match for them. BetterHelp’s subscription plan is also better priced and more all-inclusive than similarly priced plans at competitor companies. 

The company does not have medication management services available, though, which is a drawback if you are taking medications or think you might benefit from a combination of medication and talk therapy services. 

Plans & Pricing 

Subscription prices range from $240 per month to as much as $600 per month (or more), depending on your geographical location and the therapist you're assigned to. The range of prices you'll see online are geotagged, which means they vary by your IP address. They also appear to vary depending on availability, suggesting the company uses a sort of surge pricing. Per BetterHelp, the monthly price average is $280.

Services include:

  • Weekly 30- to 45- minute sessions, depending on therapist availability
  • Video, audio, live chat communication options
  • Unlimited messaging available 24/7

Read the Full BetterHelp Review

Runner Up, Best Overall : Talkspace


  • Price: $276 - $516 monthly
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: Yes
  • Type Of Therapy: Couples Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling
Special Offer

Get $100 off your first month using promo code VERYWELL100.

Why We Chose It

Talkspace is a user-friendly, subscription-based online therapy company that offers multiple services (including medication management), as well as a variety of communication options, and some services may be covered by insurance. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Medication management services available

  • Multiple subscriptions options with varying price tiers

  • Some services covered by insurance

  • Free 10-minute intro call or live video chat with therapist when you sign up

Cons
  • Can only choose therapist from algorithm-selected matches

  • Additional services can get expensive

  • No therapist bios on website prior to signup

Overview

Founded in 2012, Talkspace was one of the first online therapy companies to hit the market—and its services have only expanded since it launched. They now include psychiatry, medication management, couples therapy, and teen therapy. 

Like BetterHelp, Talkspace offers a variety of different communication options for talking with your therapist, including video, audio, live chat, and unlimited messaging. The company also works with a few insurance providers and EAP plans, which helps make them more affordable if your plan is in-network. They also take payments from HSA and FSA cards. Talkspace is HIPAA compliant and its privacy policies are prominently displayed on the website.

Sixty-nine percent of Talkspace users rated the services they received as either very good or excellent, which was lower than how BetterHelp users rated their services. In addition, only 65% of Talkspace users said its value was very good or excellent for the money spent.

However, 93% of users stated they were either likely or very likely to recommend Talkspace to someone like them. This is likely because many users are happy with the therapists on staff: Eighty-six percent of the users we surveyed said their therapists’ qualifications were very good or excellent and 88% said they were likely to be working with a therapist at Talkspace a year from now. 

It is worth noting that while Talkspace does offer psychiatric services, the costs are additional beyond the therapy subscription costs. As a result, if your insurance plan is out-of-network, getting talk therapy and psychiatric services at Talkspace could become expensive. 

Plans & Pricing 

Talkspace differs from BetterHelp in that they offer a variety of different subscription options, all priced differently.

There are three available:

  • Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus: This plan includes text, video, and audio messaging and your therapist responds daily, up to five days per week.
  • Unlimited Messaging Therapy Premium: This plan offers everything in the Therapy Plus plan, but also includes one live video session per month of 30 minutes.
  • Unlimited Messaging Therapy Ultimate: This plan also includes everything in the Plus plan, as well as four live video sessions per month of 30 minutes. 

Prices for each plan vary depending on your location and plan, from as low as $69 per week to $159 per week or higher. The very prices you'll see during signup will be geotagged to your location.

Couples and teen therapy at Talkspace are similar to the Unlimited Messaging Therapy Ultimate subscription, including four live sessions per month.

Psychiatric services begin at $249 for an initial evaluation, then you will be charged $125 for every follow-up visit, though prices will vary depending on how you customize your plan.

All plans, even the text-based plan, include one 10-minute intro call with your chosen therapist.

Read the Full Talkspace Review

Best for Couples : ReGain


  • Price: $60-90 per week
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: No
  • Type Of Therapy: Couples Therapy, Individual Therapy
Special Offer

Verywell Mind readers get 20% off their first month of ReGain membership.

Why We Chose It

ReGain is a service set up exclusively to serve couples, offering fair subscription costs, an informative website complete with a library of relationship resources, and a high overall customer satisfaction rating compared to other services specializing in relationships. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • All therapists are licensed

  • Specialized in couples

  • Unlimited messaging anytime for both partners

Cons
  • Messaging may not allow for in-depth communications

  • Therapist is chosen for you

  • No medication management services

Overview

As a service dedicated exclusively to helping couples with their relationship issues and mental health, ReGain stands out. All therapists are fully licensed, which is different from some of the couples’ focused companies on the market. Eighty-six percent of the users we surveyed said that their therapists’ qualifications were very good or excellent and 90% said they were very likely or likely to be working with a Regain therapist a year from now.

You can sign up as an individual to discuss your relationship issues, or together with your partner. You also have the option of inviting your partner at a later time. Once you sign up, you have access to a private, secure “room” where you can chat with your therapist 24/7 and receive responses and guidance. You also have the option of scheduling a live chat, phone, or video sessions with your therapist. ReGain also offers a library of mental health articles on its website.

Of the users who tried ReGain that we surveyed:

  • Seventy-seven percent rated the services they received as either very good or excellent.
  • Seventy-six percent said its value was very good or excellent for the money spent. 
  • Ninety-five percent stated they were either likely or very likely to recommend it to someone like them.

It should be noted that the service does not offer medication management and ReGain’s services cannot fulfill any court order. 

Plans & Pricing 

Subscription prices range from $240 to $360 per month. The price is determined by your location and therapist preferences. Services include:

  • Live video or phone sessions 
  • Unlimited messaging available 24/7

Read the Full ReGain Review

Most Affordable : Wellnite


  • Price: $450 per month to $3510 per year
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: Yes
  • Type Of Therapy: Individual Therapy, Medication Management
Why We Chose It

Wellnite offers the most affordable medication and talk therapy combination service on the market for the treatment of anxiety and depression. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Affordable monthly subscription

  • Board-certified doctors on staff

  • Subscription includes video CBT sessions and medication management

  • Sees individuals, teens, couples, and families

  • Same-day appointments available

Cons
  • Only in-network with PPO plans

  • Cannot treat conditions requiring controlled substances

Overview

Wellnite is the most affordable online therapy platform that offers you medication management and talk therapy for the treatment of depression or anxiety. Once you subscribe, you will be able to connect same-day with a board-certified physician who is licensed in your state and regularly treats people for depression and anxiety. Together, you'll develop a treatment plan that could involve therapy and/or medication.

Wellnite therapists also treat other mild conditions that can be treated with psychotherapy and do not require controlled substances or in-person psychiatric visits, primarily using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Of the users we surveyed:

  • Seventy-six percent rated the overall services they received as either very good or excellent.
  • Seventy-three percent said its value was very good or excellent for the money spent. 
  • Ninety-one percent stated they were either likely or very likely to recommend Wellnite to someone like them. 
Plans & Pricing 

Wellnite offers two therapy plans. The solo therapy plan is $350 per month and includes access to six video sessions with a licensed therapist and everyday member support. The Medical Care + Therapy plan is $195 per month and includes two video sessions, member support, one monthly doctor consultation, and access to wholesale pricing on mental health medication.

Read the Full Wellnite Review

Best for the LGBTQIA+ Community : Pride Counseling


  • Price: $260-$360+
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: No. Offers reimbursement receipt
  • Type Of Therapy: Individual Therapy
Special Offer

Verywell Mind readers get 20% off their first month of membership.

Why We Chose It

Pride Counseling focuses specifically on providing accessible, quality online therapy to the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Subscription comes with unlimited messaging and regular live sessions

  • All therapists are licensed and specialize in working with the LGBTQIA+ community

  • Multiple communication options

Cons
  • You don’t choose your therapist

  • No psychiatry or medication management services

  • No free trial

Overview

Aimed specifically at the LGBTQIA+ community, Pride Counseling delivers on what it promises: private, affordable counseling from licensed, board-accredited professionals. It offers one subscription package that gives you the option of scheduling a live video or phone session, plus unlimited messaging, via a private portal. However, it’s important to note that the company matches your therapist to you rather than letting you choose. You can switch relatively easily, though, if you don’t think it's a good match.

All therapists at Pride Counseling are licensed and have a master's or doctorate degree in their field. Of the users we surveyed, 83% said their therapist’s qualifications were excellent or very good, and 94% said they were very likely or likely to still see a Pride Counseling therapist 12 months from now. 

Our survey also found:

  • Seventy-seven percent rated the overall services they received were either very good or excellent. 
  • Seventy-nine percent said its value was very good or excellent for the money spent.
  • Ninety-six percent stated they were either likely or very likely to recommend Pride Counseling to someone like them. 
Plans & Pricing 

There is one subscription plan offered at Pride Counseling, ranging from $240 to $480 per month, depending on your location, therapist availability, and therapist qualifications. The prices you see on the website is geotagged, meaning the range you see on the website will vary with your IP address.

All plans include weekly 30- to 45-minute live video or audio sessions and unlimited messaging.

Read the Full Pride Counseling Review

Best for Psychiatry : Teladoc Health


  • Price: $99 per therapy session, $209 for initial psychiatry appointments, and $109 for follow ups (without insurance)
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: Yes
Why We Chose It

Teladoc’s fully licensed therapists and psychiatrists provide convenient, in-network mental health care to users worldwide, seven days a week.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Serves teenagers and adults in over 130 countries

  • Fully licensed therapists and psychiatrists

  • Offers medication management (except for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia)

  • In-network with many insurance plans

Cons
  • May be expensive without coverage or reimbursement

  • Only offers individual talk therapy and psychiatry sessions

  • Must create an account to see provider bios and check insurance coverage

Overview

Teladoc has been in business since 2002 and currently offers mental and general health care to people 13 and older in dozens of countries, from the United States to Canada, Brazil, Australia, China, Portugal, and more. As all 100 of our survey responses came from U.S.-based Teladoc users, we cannot provide insight into the quality of Teladoc’s international services.

The company’s therapists and psychiatrists have individual practices and are not Teladoc employees. You can schedule 45-minute video or audio sessions seven days a week between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Medical doctors are available 24/7 for non-emergencies. The service takes many insurance plans and boasts that its services may cost as low as $0 out of pocket, but you must create an account before you can check if your plan is accepted.

Unlike many other online mental health services, Teladoc can connect people with licensed psychiatrists who can provide medication management—a big plus for therapy seekers who don’t have the time, energy, or ability to find a psychiatrist at another service.

Teladoc also offers individual talk therapy, but if you’re primarily in need of couples counseling or family therapy, this isn’t the service for you. Its providers can help with issues like depression, anxiety, addiction, and stress, but the site states that conditions like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia should be managed in person, so if you live with those mental health conditions, this is not the company for you.

Of the users we surveyed:

  • Seventy-one percent rated the overall mental health services they received through Teladoc as either very good or excellent.
  • Eighty percent said their therapists’ qualifications were excellent or very good.
  • Ninety-five percent stated they were either likely or very likely to recommend Teladoc to someone like them.
Plans & Pricing

Teladoc does not offer bundles or subscriptions—all appointments are paid for à la carte. Final out-of-pocket costs will vary by in- or out-of-network coverage, but people who aren’t using insurance can expect:

  • A 45-minute session with a licensed therapist for $99
  • An initial 45-minute session with a licensed psychiatrist for $299; follow-up sessions are $119

The company’s general medical services cost $75 per session.

Read the Full Teladoc Review

Best for Group Therapy : Circles


  • Price: $79 per month
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: No
  • Type Of Therapy: Peer Support
Why We Chose It

Circles is one of the few online therapy companies that focus on group therapy. Its services are affordably priced, and it has a high overall customer satisfaction rating.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Topic-specific groups available at different times led by licensed therapists or certified coaches

  • One-week free trial

  • Unlimited messaging with therapist and group members

Cons
  • More of an emotional support service than therapy

  • Services not covered by insurance

  • Does not list emergency resources

Overview

As a group therapy-focused company, Circles connects you to live online support groups, led by licensed therapists or certified coaches for a monthly subscription cost of only $79 per month. Seventy-eight percent of the users we surveyed said the qualifications of the therapists leading the groups were excellent or very good. 

There are groups dedicated to a variety of different mental health struggles, including grief, depression, anxiety, and addictions, though it should be noted that the service is not meant to replace primary care or individual therapy services. Circles also offers additional exercises, resources, and an online blog for work outside of sessions. 

Of the users we surveyed:

  • Eighty percent rated Circles' overall services as either very good or excellent.
  • Seventy-three percent said it was a very good or excellent value for the money spent.
  • Ninety percent stated they were either likely or very likely to recommend Circles to someone like them. 

It’s worth noting that most therapy companies, which aren’t suited for emergencies, still list emergency resources for people in crisis, such as suicide hotlines or domestic violence hotlines. Circles does not display this information at all.

Plans and Pricing 

There is only one subscription plan offered: $79 per month, with a one-week free trial. 

The plan includes: 

  • Access to one group of your choice, based on recommendations from a questionnaire you fill out 
  • Unlimited messaging with your therapist and other group members through the app
  • Additional exercises and content outside of sessions

Read the Full Circles Review

Best for Addiction : Monument


  • Price: $0 to $249 per month
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: Yes
  • Type Of Therapy: Group Therapy, Medication Management, Peer Support
Why We Chose It

Monument is the only online therapy service dedicated entirely to alcohol use disorders, recovery, and associated mental health conditions. It offers users a focused and tailored treatment plan designed for sobriety and moderation.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Multiple monthly subscription plans available at different prices

  • Accepts health insurance

  • Free chat forums and moderated support groups available

  • Medication management service available

Cons
  • Only available in 19 states and Washington D.C.

  • You can’t choose your own therapist

  • Not suitable for other mental health conditions if alcohol addiction isn’t primary concern

Overview

Created in 2020 after founder Mike Russell personally discovered just how long waitlists were for outpatient addiction treatment, Monument is a relative newcomer to the online therapy world, but it provides a service that none of its competitors do: providing talk therapy and medication management to help people moderate their drinking or achieve sobriety. It also is one of only two companies that offers a free online community of supportive people that people can chat with online or in moderated groups. 

Monument’s therapy services are easy to use, accessible (as long as you live in one of the 19 states where it can treat or Washington D.C.), and convenient, which is why 79% of the users we surveyed said it was excellent or very good in this regard. You can log in through the mobile app or on your desktop portal to speak via video chat with your therapist or prescribing physician. 

In addition, our survey shows that 75% percent of respondents said the services at Monument were either very good or excellent; 82% thought the value for money was very good or excellent, and 83% thought their provider’s qualifications were very good or excellent. 

All therapists and medical doctors at Monument are licensed in their state and have at least three years of post-graduate experience, plus an additional year of experience specializing in substance abuse. Prescribers can also prescribe two types of FDA-approved prescription medication, disulfiram or naltrexone, if they deem it necessary, to help treat alcohol dependence. 

Depending on which subscription you sign up for at Monument, you can either just meet with a prescribing doctor as necessary, or have two to four virtual therapy sessions a month. 

Plans & Pricing

Monument has three paid subscription plans available:

  • Physician Care: $9.99 a month, plus a one-time initial $45 fee. This includes one doctor appointment, a monthly prescription, and unlimited messaging with your doctor. Follow-up appointments cost $45. 
  • Total Care (Biweekly): Everything in Physician Care plus two 45-minute therapy sessions a month and unlimited messaging for $149 a month
  • Total Care (Weekly): Everything in Physician Care plus four 45-minute therapy sessions a month and unlimited messaging for $249 a month

Everyone has access to support groups and community forums, even if you're not a paying subscriber to one of the plans.

Read the Full Monument Review

Best for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy : Online-Therapy


  • Price: $200-$440 per month
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: No
Why We Chose It

Online-Therapy.com’s services focus exclusively on providing quality cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) online along with a great suite of self-care tools.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • All therapists specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy

  • Provides additional resources for self-care work outside of session

  • Discount for first month available

Cons
  • No medication management services

  • Doesn’t take insurance

Overview

Studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) online is just as effective as in-person therapy while being more cost-effective. And Online-Therapy.com—a Swedish company that serves several English-speaking companies, including the U.S.—takes this to heart: It has created an online therapy company devoted entirely to this mode of treatment. 

The company’s therapists use CBT to treat a range of mental health conditions, including agoraphobia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, insomnia, OCD, relationship issues, and more. Depending on the therapist you’re matched with, you can have therapy sessions via chat messaging, phone, or video session. In addition, no matter what subscription plan you purchase, you’ll also gain access to their online “toolbox,” which offers you a variety of self-led worksheets, journal prompts, and other resources, including yoga and meditation videos.  

Of the users who tried Online-Therapy.com that we surveyed: 

  • Ninety percent of users reported that they were either very satisfied or satisfied with the therapist options they were given.
  • Seventy-four percent considered Online-Therapy.com excellent or very good.
  • Ninety-one percent would recommend Online-Therapy.com to someone like them.
Plans & Pricing

Online-Therapy.com offers three subscription plans: 

  • The Basic Plan: This costs $160 per month and includes daily messages from your therapist.
  • The Standard Plan: This plan is $240 per month and includes any-time messaging with your therapist and a weekly live 30-minute session.
  • The Premium Plan: For $320 per month, this plan includes any-time messaging with your therapist with express replies and two 30-minute live sessions per week.

All users get 20% off their first month and access to the toolbox of additional resources.

Read the Full Online-Therapy.com Review

Best for the BIPOC Community : Ayana Therapy


  • Price: $140/single sessions or $290/monthly subscription
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: No. Offers bills to submit to your insurer
Why We Chose It

Ayana Therapy helps bridge the gap between minority groups or marginalized peoples and qualified therapists who share their values and background. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Matches clients with therapists that share similar backgrounds or values

  • Focuses on serving unserved communities

  • Creates a safe space for marginalized people

Cons
  • No medication management services

  • No couples or group therapy

  • Pricing information on website is confusing

Overview

As a relative newcomer to the online therapy scene, Ayana Therapy is on a mission to serve communities that have traditionally been underserved by traditional therapy, notably the BIPOC community or marginalized communities—and it achieves that mission. It prioritizes affordability, accessibility, and inclusion. 

Ayana Therapy clients get to choose the therapist they want to work with. Of the users we surveyed, 74% said their therapists' qualifications were excellent or very good. Ayana employs a diverse group of licensed therapists from different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, and cultures in order to create a safe and caring space for their clients. The company also takes great care to match you with a therapist, using answers you provide from a detailed and culturally sensitive questionnaire. 

Of the users we surveyed:

  • Sixty-seven percent rated the overall services they received through Ayana Therapy as either very good or excellent. 
  • Seventy-four percent said its value was very good or excellent for the money spent. 
  • Seventy-nine percent stated they were either likely or very likely to recommend Ayana Therapy to someone like them. 
Plans & Pricing 

Ayana Therapy is not super transparent about pricing, but clarified with us via email. It offers users a subscription-based payment plan and a pay-per-session option. You can either pay:

  • $140 per individual session
  • $290 per month for four 45-minute sessions per month.

Ayana Therapy doesn't take insurance, but will provide a receipt if you want to seek reimbursement for out-of-network services with your insurer directly.

Read the Full Ayana Therapy Review

Compare the Best Online Therapy Services of 2022

Overall Rating Best For
Price
Is Insurance Accepted?
Accepts Hsa Or Fsa
Type Of Therapy
Communication Options
Reset All
BetterHelp Best Overall $299 to $349 per month Yes N/A Individual Therapy Messaging, Video Chat Learn More
Hide, not for me
Talkspace Runner Up, Best Overall $276 - $516 monthly Yes N/A Couples Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling Audio, Live Chat, Messaging, Phone, Video Chat Learn More
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ReGain Best for Couples $60-90 per week No N/A Couples Therapy, Individual Therapy Audio, Live Chat, Messaging, Video Chat Learn More
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Wellnite Most Affordable $450 per month to $3510 per year Yes N/A Individual Therapy, Medication Management Live Chat, Phone, Video Chat Learn More
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Pride Counseling Best for the LGBTQIA+ Community $260-$360+ No. Offers reimbursement receipt N/A Individual Therapy Audio, Messaging, Video Chat Learn More
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Teladoc Health Best for Psychiatry $99 per therapy session, $209 for initial psychiatry appointments, and $109 for follow ups (without insurance) Yes N/A N/A Audio, Video Chat Learn More
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Circles Best for Group Therapy $79 per month No N/A Peer Support Messaging, Video Chat Learn More
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Monument Best for Addiction $0 to $249 per month Yes N/A Group Therapy, Medication Management, Peer Support Messaging, Video Chat Learn More
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Online-Therapy Best for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy $200-$440 per month No N/A N/A Audio, Messaging, Video Chat Learn More
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Ayana Therapy Best for the BIPOC Community $140/single sessions or $290/monthly subscription No. Offers bills to submit to your insurer N/A N/A Messaging, Video Chat Learn More
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Final Verdict

BetterHelp tops our list because it is the company that will appeal to most online therapy users. Our survey of users shows that customers are generally very satisfied with the therapy they receive from BetterHelp and its subscription price is fair. If you’re looking for a therapist who shares a similar background and religion, or if you want to focus on a specific aspect of therapy, such as couple’s therapy, you might want to consider a company that is more specialized.

Methodology

Our methodology for evaluating online therapy companies is comprehensive and data-driven. To fairly and accurately review the best online therapy programs, we sent questionnaires to 33 companies and surveyed 100 current users of each. This allowed us to directly compare services offered by gathering qualitative and quantitative data about each company and its users’ experiences.

Specifically, we evaluated each company on website usability, sign-up process, subscription offerings, client privacy protections, and how easy it is to change therapists. We then looked at therapist qualifications, the types of therapy offered quality of care, client-therapist communication options, session length, and the therapist assignment process. Finally, we looked at cost, value for money, whether the companies take insurance, overall user satisfaction, and the likelihood clients would recommend them. 

2:13
What Is Online Therapy?

Guide to Choosing an Online Therapy Program 

woman reviewing online therapy choices

What to Know Before Choosing Online Therapy

Online therapy, also known as teletherapy, is a way to communicate with a licensed mental health professional over the phone or computer, rather than face-to-face in an office.

However, because of the virtual therapy format, there are a few things to consider when you're considering starting online therapy:


  • Method of communication: Common means of communication with online therapy include messaging (similar to text or email), live chat, phone calls, or video chat, so you'll have to decide what works for you. Messaging allows you to text or email your therapist anytime you want, night or day, but you won't hear back in live time and so the conversation takes place asynchronously and isn't the same as a live therapy session. Phone or video sessions, meanwhile, more closely replicate the experience you get in person. Still, you will have to schedule your sessions during specific hours of the day, which may take you away from work or other commitments. Some companies, such as Talkspace, also offer you a mix of both live sessions and messaging, depending on your prescription plan. It's also worth noting that medication cannot be prescribed without a live video session.
  • Payment structure: Online therapy companies generally offer two different payment cadences. Some, like BetterHelp and Talkspace, offer monthly subscriptions, which means you will pay the same amount every month. These subscriptions will include a certain number of features, such as a set number of live sessions, messaging, etc. Other companies, however, offer a payment structure that is pay-per-session, which is closer to how in-person therapy bills and it may be more expensive if you're paying out-of-pocket. You will pay for each session as you book or have it. This allows you to reduce or increase the number of sessions you do each month.
  • Insurance: Not all online therapy companies work with insurance providers, but some do. Generally, the companies that accept insurance will be the ones that are either broader telehealth companies (i.e. the ones that also offer appointments with GPs) or companies that allow you to have live sessions with a therapist, but it does vary. If you have health insurance and want to offset your out-of-pocket cost, be sure to check if the company works with your provider before signing up.
  • Type of therapy: Most online therapy companies offer individual therapy, but some also offer other types of therapy as well, such as couples or family therapy. Some also cater to specific age groups, such as teens, or cater to specific needs, like alcohol use treatment. Before signing up, be sure to weigh your options and choose the company that offers the type of therapy you want.
  • Medication management: Not everyone who seeks therapy needs medication. For example, research has shown that antidepressants are less effective at treating symptoms with mild cases of depression and so are generally only prescribed for moderate, severe, or chronic depression. However, some online therapy companies will include medication management in their more affordable subscription plans, even if they do not include regular sessions with a psychotherapist. So if you're new to therapy, you might benefit more from the subscription plan that just includes therapy sessions, at least to start, unless you already have a diagnosis and know you need medication management. If you are seeking medication, you may also want to pay particular attention to who your prescriber is. Some companies will have you meet with a board-certified psychiatrist, while others employ general practitioners to prescribe antidepressants.
  • Therapist qualifications: It's important to choose a therapist that has the right specializations to treat your specific needs. Many online therapy companies will have you complete an intake form or questionnaire, then will utilize an algorithm to match you or make recommendations. Other companies will have a customer service representative match you after an intake call. However, some will let you choose anyone you want—so make sure you're reading through their bios and pick someone that specializes in an issue that applies to you. If you are choosing your therapist, make sure you are also considering who you will open up to easiest and what your therapy goals are. For example, will it be easier for you to open up to someone of a particular gender identity, religion, or age? Do you want to work with someone who has specialized training in trauma or someone who focuses on couples therapy? Some companies will also work with pre-licensed therapists (who see clients under supervision), which might lower your cost per session, but means that the therapist has fewer clinical hours.

It's also important to note that online therapy is not appropriate for treating all mental health conditions. If you live with a severe or complete mental health disorder or serious addiction, you should seek in-person treatment.

Online therapy is also not suitable for people who are in crisis or suicidal.

How to Choose the Right Kind of Therapist

Just as with traditional in-person practices, the available types of providers vary by online platform. Some offer only psychiatrists, some only therapists, some have both, and others only have counselors or trained listeners. Each of these is appropriate for a variety of therapeutic goals and treatments, but it can be a bit confusing to understand how they differ.

Here's what you need to know:

Psychiatrists have gone through four years of medical school and, afterward, several years of specialized training in the biological factors that influence mental health. Although some psychiatrists include therapy in their sessions, the focus is on medications, which they can prescribe due to their education and certification. Psychiatrists, as MDs, can also diagnose and evaluate their clients.

Psychologists have differing levels of education and training that qualify them to practice psychotherapy. A few main examples:

  • PsyD-level psychologists complete four to six years of graduate school and have one to two years of postgraduate experience. The primary focus of their training is on providing therapy.
  • PhD-level psychologists have the same amount of education and experience under their belt but are trained both as researchers and as therapists.
  • Masters-level psychologists have completed two years of graduate school and one to two years of full-time experience. Less experience does not automatically mean you’ll receive lower-quality treatment—it always depends on the provider.

Except in a few U.S. states, psychologists cannot prescribe medication, no matter what degree they have.

Licensed family and marriage therapists (LMFTs) have a master's degree in marriage and family therapy or another relevant field and specialize in identifying and resolving relationship issues in individuals, couples, and families alike.

Social workers have been trained to provide therapy and guidance that takes into account the context of different peoples’ communities and social support systems (or lack thereof). Like psychologists, social workers cannot prescribe medication and come in more than one variety:

  • Masters-level social workers (MSWs) have had training in psychology and may provide therapy in a clinical setting with some supervision.
  • Licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) are MSWs who have undergone a licensing process, allowing them to practice without supervision.
  • Licensed professional counselors (LPCs) complete master's degrees in mental health counseling. They do not provide therapy or medication management; instead, they help clients address specific issues on a shorter-term basis.
  • Trained listeners are counselors who do not have any professional training in psychotherapy but have been trained in listening techniques by the online therapy company that employs them. They cannot provide advice, but they can offer emotional support if you just need someone to talk to.

How Much Does Online Therapy Cost?

In general, online therapy costs less than in-person, private-practice therapy.

Of the 33 companies we reviewed, average monthly costs for subscription-based online therapy ranged from $60 to over $600 a month, depending on the plan, number of live sessions with a therapist, therapist qualifications, and your geographical location (usually determined by your IP address).   


Other online therapy companies operate on a more traditional, pay-per-therapy session model. These companies generally price their therapy based on the education and expertise of your therapist, though sometimes your geographic location can play a role too. Pay-per-session online therapy is usually more expensive than subscription-based online therapy, though still lower than in-person therapy.

Does Insurance Cover Online Therapy?

Coverage by insurance depends. Some online therapy companies, such as Talkspace, have worked with health insurance companies in order to be in-network with various health plans. This means that you’ll be able to pay less than the full out-of-pocket subscription or session fee. However, not every insurance company is accepted by these companies so be sure to check your eligibility before signing up. 


Other online companies do not work with insurance companies directly and they won’t bill them for you. This means it is up to you to check and see if your health insurance plan will cover online therapy at all, including at out-of-network companies. If they do, though, you’ll need to file for reimbursement with a receipt that you obtain from the online therapy company. Some insurance plans may only offer partial reimbursement. 


Some online therapy companies also have relationships with employers, which means they provide discounts or accept Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs). 

Other companies accept HSA or FSA cards for payment, which helps you pay for your therapy with pre-tax dollars.

Does Medicare Cover Online Therapy?

In 2019, Medicare expanded its telehealth services to include the option of online therapy, and by 2020, several medicare plans covered these virtual mental health services.  

However, like with health insurance generally, you’ll need to check that the specific online therapy company you’re interested in is in-network with your Medicare. If you’re unsure, you can contact Medicare and find out what providers are accepted through your plan.

Are There Free Online Therapy Options?

There are a few free online therapy resources available. However, it's important to note that these free options may not allow you to develop the same kind of ongoing therapeutic relationships as you would with a therapist that you see (and pay) for regular sessions.

That said, here are some available free options:

  • The Crisis Text Line: This is a free resource if you ever need immediate assistance. If you text “HOME” to 741741, you will be connected to a trained Crisis Counselor who will speak with you via text message 24/7. However, it is worth noting that, if you are determined to be a danger to yourself or others, this text line engages in nonconsensual active rescue, which often means police involvement.
  • The Samaritans 24-hour crisis hotline: This is a free hotline that is entirely anonymous and confidential. It does not use caller ID or call tracing and it does not practice nonconsensual active rescue. You can call this hotline anytime day or night at 212-673-3000.
  • NYC Well: This is a local and free service for people in the New York City area that offers mental health peer support. You can talk with a trained Peer Support Specialist via phone, text, and chat support. Just be aware: peer specialists are not required to be licensed, mental health professionals. For support, call 1-888-NYC-WELL (1-888-692-9355), text “WELL” to 65173, or access their online chat service.
  • 7 Cups: This company provides 24/7 online chat rooms focused on mental and emotional health topics at no charge. While this is not the same thing as therapy, it is an option for you if you're looking for a supportive community that understands some of the issues you're dealing with.
  • The Therapy Fund at the Loveland Foundation: If you identify as a BIPOC woman, the Therapy Fund at the Loveland Foundation can help you access mental health services for free or at a minimal cost. Founded by activist Rachel Cargle, the Loveland Foundation was established to provide BIPOC women with affordable access to therapy and mental health care. To see if you qualify for financial assistance, visit their website.

What if I’m Having Thoughts About Taking My Own Life?

Online therapy does not provide immediate service to those who are feeling suicidal or are having a mental health crisis.


You can call 988, though. This is the new national Suicide and Crisis Lifeline number, which you can call rather than 911 when you are in crisis to speak with people specifically trained to address and deal with mental health issues.


This number is rerouting the former National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.


However, if you're considering calling the hotline, you should be aware that the police will be notified, and they are still often the first responders. Police intervention can be traumatic and often even dangerous or fatal to those experiencing a mental health crisis, especially for the BIPOC community. Keep this information in mind before calling 988.

Is Online Therapy Confidential?

Licensed mental health professionals must follow licensing regulations, state laws, and HIPAA regulations that ensure security and confidentiality.


Some sites will also allow you to communicate with your therapist using a nickname (although they usually require you to provide the name and phone number of an emergency contact.)

Should I Be Concerned About My Privacy When Using Online Therapy Services?

In recent years, there has been a rise in discussions in the news and on community websites, such as Reddit, about how online therapy companies use or sell user data. And in some cases, these concerns have been proven to be well-founded.

That's why when deciding on which online therapy company to use, make sure you're taking a look at the company’s privacy policy.


If a company states outright that it never sells data, then it is probably a safer choice. Even better are companies that state they operate on HIPAA-compliant platforms, which means that they abide by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a federal law protecting personal health information.


Some red flags around privacy to look out for include:

  • no privacy policy is provided by the company
  • no mention of HIPAA
  • requests for personal information before being able to search the site for a therapist or fully sign up for therapy

Is Online Therapy Effective?

Online therapy can be equally as effective as in-person treatment. Here’s what research has found:

  • A 2020 study found internet-delivered therapy may be a viable alternative to in-person cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • A 2014 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that online treatment for depression was equally as effective as in-person therapy. 
  • A 2018 study in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders found that online cognitive behavioral therapy was equally as effective as in-person treatment for major depression, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. 
  • A 2020 study found that higher education students view online therapy positively.
Infographic text: Online Therapy is helping people find relief. Among people currently in online therapy, 92% express satisfaction with their overall experience, specifically citing: Ease of use (92%), Privacy (91%), Response time (91%), Quality of Counseling (90%), Security (86%), Cost (82%)

Verywell / Designed by Amelia Manley

Which is Better: Talkspace or BetterHelp?

These services are similar in that both offer video sessions and messaging at varying subscription prices depending on your needs. BetterHelp is rated higher by users than Talkspace, and is generally less expensive; however, Talkspace can provide medication management services, which BetterHelp does not. If you require fewer services, BetterHelp might be the best choice for you, while Talkspace might be better for those who require more communication and support with medication (although no online therapy service, including these two, is appropriate for those who are suicidal, in crisis, or living with a serious mental illness).

Common Therapy Techniques in Online Therapy

Beyond the degrees they earned in school, each therapist and counselor has their own unique combination of additional training and specializations. 

Some focus primarily on treating individuals and/or groups of people with a wide range of mental health issues, using techniques like:


Other providers have the credentials to treat patients with specific diagnoses like personality disorders, eating disorders, and OCD, selecting from approaches such as psychodynamic therapy, internal family systems (IFS), and exposure therapy.

Some mental health care professionals pursue further education on mental health needs specific to children, teens, seniors, or families. Just a few examples of useful techniques for these groups may include play therapy, expressive arts therapy, occupational therapy, and family systems therapy.


Some use somatic (body-focused) techniques to guide clients through the physical sensations they’re experiencing—for instance, through eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), therapeutic massage, or dance therapy. Somatic therapy can be especially helpful for PTSD and trauma.


Therapists who specialize in relationship issues may incorporate a number of frameworks with the couples or individuals they see, but two of the most effective evidence-based approaches are emotionally focused couples therapy (EFCT) and the Gottman method.

A growing number of mental health professionals are also pursuing training and/or certification in sex therapy, which is talk therapy aimed at improving intimate relationships.


Finally, many therapists, coaches, and counselors can help people with specific issues and stressors by using techniques such as:

Image Text: Seek help now. If you are having a personal crisis and need to talk to a trained professional immediately, call the suicide hotline number

Verywell / Designed by Amelia Manley

Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Hedman E, Ljótsson B, Lindefors N. Cognitive behavior therapy via the Internet: a systematic review of applications, clinical efficacy and cost–effectivenessExpert Rev Pharmacoecon Outcomes Res. 2012;12(6):745-764. doi:10.1586/erp.12.67

  3. Depression: How Effective Are Antidepressants? Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2020.

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  6. Wagner B, Horn AB, Maercker A. Internet-based versus face-to-face cognitive-behavioral intervention for depression: a randomized controlled non-inferiority trial. J Affect Disord. 2014;152-154:113-121. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2013.06.032

  7. Andrews G, Basu A, Cuijpers P, et al. Computer therapy for the anxiety and depression disorders is effective, acceptable and practical health care: an updated meta-analysis. J Anxiety Disord. 2018;55:70-78. doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2018.01.001

  8. Hanley T, Wyatt C. A systematic review of higher education students’ experiences of engaging with online therapyCouns Psychother Res. 2021;21(3):522-534.

  9. Beasley CC, Ager R. Emotionally focused couples therapy: A systematic review of its effectiveness over the past 19 years. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work. 2019. doi:10.1080/23761407.2018.1563013

By Mary K. Tatum, MS, LMHC
Mary is a licensed mental health counselor and psychotherapist with 15 years of experience working in the psychology field. She earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Bluefield College and a Master of Science in Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She began in social work and then moved to drug rehab settings, working as a therapist, group facilitator, and clinical director. She specializes in family dynamic systems, trauma recovery, improving resilience, addiction recovery, and the psychology of successful business management.

Additional reporting by
Ray Finch
Ray Finch

Ray is a special projects editor on the performance marketing team.

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and
Euna Park
Euna Park

Euna is an award-winning health journalist with over six years of experience.

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Edited by
Simone Scully
simone-scully-verywell

Simone is the health editorial director for performance marketing at Verywell. She has over a decade of experience as a professional journalist covering mental health, chronic conditions, medicine, and science.

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