Best Online Therapy for Kids

Little Otter is the best online therapy for kids

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Diagnosis of mental health issues in children and adolescents has increased exponentially in recent years in the United States. In the last six years, over 6 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD, over 5.8 million have been diagnosed with anxiety, and nearly 3 million have been diagnosed with depression. Early intervention can make all the difference for kids and teenagers struggling with these disorders; however, access to mental health care is often limited, especially for those living in therapy deserts (areas where mental health care is inaccessible). 

In these cases, online therapy can provide services for children who otherwise would not be able to see a provider. Through online therapy, kids and teens can get the help they need from qualified professionals without leaving the comfort of their home. The best online therapy for kids is flexible, affordable, and offered by licensed therapists or psychiatrists. Virtual therapy sessions may take place via video, phone, or live chat. Some providers also offer ongoing support in the form of unlimited messaging. We reviewed 55 online therapy companies and 25 directories, surveying between 105 and 180 users of each to learn more about their services. Keep reading to learn about the best online therapy for kids.

Best Online Therapy for Kids of 2023

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 : Little Otter


  • Price: $90 for a 30-minute “Welcome Session”, $200 for one 45-minute sessions
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: Yes
  • Type Of Therapy: Children's Therapy, Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Teen Counseling
Key Specs  
  • Price: $90 intake session fee; $540 for assessment bundle; $2,040 for 12-session bundle; $500 for psychiatric evaluation; $250 for each psychiatric follow-up
  • Insurance accepted?: Yes
  • Types of therapy: Individual, couples, family, parent coaching, psychiatry, medication management
Why We Chose It

We chose Little Otter as our top pick for its hands-on, holistic approach to mental health care for kids and teens, ages 0 to 14. The platform is the most versatile pick on our list, offering talk therapy, psychiatric care, and medication management as well as parenting coaching from board-certified behavior analysts (BCBAs).

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Offers personalized care to children and teens ages 0 to 14

  • Access to parenting specialists 

  • Psychiatric care and medication management available

  • Couples therapy available for adults 

  • Ongoing, real-time virtual support from your family care team

  • Can track your progress with clinical assessments

Cons
  • Only in-network with Kaiser Permanente

  • Available only in select U.S. states

  • Doesn’t assess for autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

  • Can be expensive without insurance coverage

Overview

Founded in 2020 by Helen Egger, MD, the former chair of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, and her daughter, computer scientist Rebecca Egger, Little Otter is a digital mental health platform that provides comprehensive mental health care to kids and their families. We selected Little Otter as our top pick for the best online therapy provider for kids due to its personalized approach to care and unique selection of qualified providers, from board-certified child psychiatrists and licensed family therapists to parenting specialists.

Little Otter states that its services are appropriate for kids ages 0 to 14 who are dealing with “big feelings” like sadness, fears, and worries. The company also provides care to infants, kids, and teens dealing with common childhood behavioral and mental health concerns, from aggression, tantrums, and sleep difficulties to relationship conflicts and trouble focusing. 

To begin your care journey with Little Otter, you’ll first download the company app and take a short quiz about how your family is doing. Then, you’ll receive a detailed assessment and customized care plan to address your concerns. 

Depending on your needs, your plan may include individual talk therapy for your child, family therapy, or both (via 45-minute video or phone sessions). Meanwhile, certified behavior analysts will provide parenting tips and meaningful ongoing support. Adults who are struggling with co-parenting issues can also access individual and/or couples therapy. Along the way, you’ll receive regular virtual check-ups to assess your progress and make any changes as needed. 

Little Otter also offers psychiatric care and medication management from board-certified psychiatrists, all of whom work under the clinical supervision of Dr. Egger. The company’s psychiatrists can work with your child’s pediatrician to provide evaluations and prescribe medication as needed. 

Plans & Pricing 

There are no membership or subscription fees to join Little Otter. After an initial, free informational call, you’ll attend a virtual welcome session with your care team lead for a one-time fee of $90. 

After your welcome session, the company offers both bundled and pay-per-session payment models at the following prices:

  • $540 for an assessment bundle, including a 90-minute assessment and 1 standard 45-minute therapy session
  • $2,040 for a 12-session online therapy session bundle
  • $500 for a 75-minute psychiatric evaluation
  • $250 for each 30-minute follow-up psychiatric/medication management session

Little Otter is currently in-network with Kaiser Permanente. If you want coverage from Kaiser, you’ll first need to get pre-authorization through an assessment at Kaiser Mental Health Services. 

If you have coverage through a different insurance provider (except Medicaid), Little Otter will provide you with a superbill to submit for reimbursement. According to the company, most major insurance providers will cover 40% to 70% of your therapy or psychiatry sessions. Sessions with parenting specialists typically aren’t covered. All Little Otter therapy sessions are HSA/FSA eligible.

User Satisfaction  

Among the users we surveyed, 75% rated their overall experience with Little Otter as excellent, good, or very good. Users were particularly impressed with the diversity and cultural competency of the platform’s care providers. 

When asked about Little Otter in comparison to competitors, 50% of customers thought the available therapists had superior training and qualifications. Meanwhile, 19% of users thought Little Otter providers were more culturally supportive when working with clients from the LGBTQIA+ community. Twenty-seven percent of users cited therapists’ ability to work with BIPOC clients effectively as its main selling point. Finally, 15% thought Little Otter providers were better able to support clients dealing with issues of racism and discrimination.

Best for Teens : Teen Counseling


  • Is Insurance Accepted?: No
Key Specs
  • Price: $60 to $90 per week, billed every 4 weeks
  • Insurance accepted?: No
  • Types of therapy: Individual
Why We Chose It

Teen Counseling works with a wide network of licensed therapists who specialize in common issues faced by today’s teens. Teens will appreciate the live texting therapy option, while parents benefit from having a private online space where they can get support as well. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Live video, phone, and chat sessions available

  • Over 15,000 licensed therapists to choose from

  • Unlimited messaging with therapist

  • Separate therapy “rooms” for parents and teens

Cons
  • Doesn’t accept insurance

  • Not HIPAA-compliant

  • Therapy sessions typically only 30 minutes long

Overview

Owned by BetterHelp, Teen Counseling works with over 15,000 licensed therapists across all 50 U.S. states to provide talk therapy to teens ages 13 to 19 via smartphone, computer, or tablet. The platform’s providers specialize in working with teens on common adolescent concerns, such as body image, eating disorders, bullying, stress, anxiety, relationship problems, low self-esteem, anger, depression, and trauma. 

After signing up for Teen Counseling, you and your child will be matched with a highly qualified therapist. The platform’s mental health care providers are all licensed and accredited. All of them have at least 1,000 hours of experience in their chosen field and at least a master’s degree in their area of expertise. You can request to switch to another therapist at any time during your subscription. 

Each Teen Counseling subscription includes one live therapy session per week. Multiple therapy formats are available, including live video, phone, and chat sessions. You and your teen will also be given access to separate online “rooms,” where you can message the therapist anytime. This can help both of you feel supported throughout the therapy process. 

Plans & Pricing

Teen Counseling doesn’t accept insurance or submit for reimbursement. However, subscription prices are relatively affordable at $240 to $360 per month, depending on your location. A monthly subscription includes four live sessions (typically one $60-$90 session per week) in the format of your choice, plus 24/7 messaging with your child’s therapist. 

User Satisfaction

Our survey found that most Teen Counseling users were happy with the quality of care their teens received. Eighty-eight percent of customers thought the platform was better, much better, or a little better overall than similar online therapy services they’ve used in the past, and 71% said they would be willing to recommend Teen Counseling to a friend.

Teen Counseling users were also pleased with the level of expertise and experience displayed by the available therapists. Eighty-five percent of users rated their therapists’ qualifications as good, very good, or excellent. Meanwhile, 77% reported that there was a large selection of high-quality, licensed providers on the platform. 

Best for Psychiatry : Talkiatry


  • Price: Depends on your insurance
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: Yes. BCBS, Cigna, United Health, Aetna, Tricare, Medicare, and others
  • Type Of Therapy: Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry
Key Specs
  • Price: Depends on insurance
  • Insurance accepted?: Yes
  • Types of therapy: Individual
Why We Chose It 

Talkiatry’s unique care model provides virtual psychiatry and medication management services to children ages 6 and up. All new Talkiatry patients are covered by insurance, which also makes it a more affordable and accessible option for online psychiatric care.

Pros & Cons 
Pros
  • Accepts over 60 insurance plans

  • Offers psychiatry and medication management to kids as young as 6

  • Over 400 board-certified psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners available

  • Less than 5 days from sign-up to your first appointment

  • 60-minute initial visit

Cons
  • Only accepts new patients who are covered by insurance

  • Not available in all U.S. states

  • Doesn’t treat schizophrenia, substance use disorders, or eating disorders

Overview

Talkiatry is a digital mental health company that was co-founded in 2020 by triple-board-certified psychiatrist Georgia Gaveras, MD, and Robert Krayn, a former patient who wanted to provide a more affordable avenue to psychiatric care. The company provides online psychiatric care and medication management services to people in a growing number of U.S. states, including kids ages 6 and over. Talkiatry’s providers have a wide variety of backgrounds, but the platform specializes in treating anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and children’s mental health concerns.

Talkiatry only accepts patients who are in-network with their accepted insurance plans. To sign your child or teen up for services, you’ll start by filling out a relatively quick online assessment, including information about your insurance plan and your child’s medical history. 

If your insurance is accepted, your child will be matched with one of Talkiatry’s board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists. They’ll meet with this provider every time, unless you request a switch at some point. Their first session with a Talkiatry psychiatrist will be 60 minutes long, followed by 30-minute sessions for follow-up visits. If they would also benefit from talk therapy, their provider can provide a referral to one of the company’s licensed therapists. Live video sessions at Talkiatry take place in the third-party Healow app, which is HIPAA-compliant. You’ll also use the app to access your child’s medical records, information about their prescriptions, and any assessments they complete as they progress through a treatment plan. 

Plans & Pricing

Talkiatry only accepts new patients who are covered by insurance, so you won’t know your copay until after you sign up and provide your insurance information. According to the company website, Talkiatry is in-network with “every major insurer” in the U.S. The platform currently accepts Medicare, but not Medicaid (yet). 

User Satisfaction

Users were overwhelmingly satisfied with the care they received at Talkiatry, according to our survey. Ninety-five percent of respondents rated their care highly, and 89% said their experience with psychiatry and medication management at Talkiatry was good, very good, or excellent. 

Talkiatry users were generally happy with their prescribers, noting that their providers were available when they needed them, easy to talk to, and responsive to their questions and needs. Most users also reported satisfaction with their prescriber’s bedside manner (with 85% rating it as good to excellent) and qualifications (with 86% rating them positively).

Best Subscription Service : Talkspace


  • Price: $276 - $516 monthly
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: Yes
  • Type Of Therapy: Couples Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling
Key Specs
  • Price: $69 per week for a messaging-only plan (billed on a monthly, quarterly, or biannual basis); $99 per week for video and messaging; $109 per week for video, messaging, and workshops; $65 for each additional live session
  • Insurance accepted?: Yes
  • Types of therapy: Individual
Why We Chose It 

Talkspace is a user-friendly mental health platform that offers unlimited messaging and live video therapy sessions to teens ages 13 to 17. The company offers a variety of subscription plans with flexible payment periods at a wide range of price points, making it a convenient option for teens with busy schedules.

Pros & Cons 
Pros
  • Multiple subscription plans at a variety of price points

  • Accepts insurance

  • User-friendly app

  • HIPAA-compliant

  • Messaging-only therapy available

Cons
  • Psychiatry and medication management not available to teens

  • Not available to kids under 13

  • Typical sessions only 30 minutes long

Overview

Co-founded in 2012 by Oren and Roni Frank, Talkspace is a popular online mental health platform that offers therapy to teens ages 13 to 17 via smartphone app, desktop, tablet, or laptop. All of Talkspace’s therapists are licensed, and all the providers involved in Talkspace for Teens have experience working with adolescents. 

Your teen can start the matching process by uploading a brief video of a parent giving their consent and completing a short questionnaire about the issues they’re currently dealing with. Then, they’ll be matched with a licensed therapist who has direct experience in that area. 

From there, you and your teen can choose from multiple subscription plans. With a video and messaging plan, for example, your teen can schedule a live 30-minute video session with a therapist each week and message their provider anytime on the platform’s secure app. If your teen would benefit from additional time with a therapist, you can pay for extra live sessions as needed. 

At just $69 per week, Talkspace’s messaging-online plan is a cheaper alternative. Text-assisted therapy may be a good option for teens who feel nervous about starting therapy. You can also save money by requesting annual or quarterly billing rather than monthly. 

Plans & Pricing

Talkspace offers the following subscription plans, which can be billed on a quarterly, monthly, or biannual basis: 

  • Messaging-only plan: $69 per week for unlimited messaging with a therapist, up to 5 days per week
  • Video and messaging plan: $99 per week for unlimited messaging and four live video sessions per month
  • Video, messaging, and workshops: $109 per week for all of the above, plus weekly live workshops

You can also purchase additional live video therapy sessions for your teen for $65 each. 

Talkspace works with some employee assistance programs (EAPs) and insurance providers, such Cigna and GatorCare, to offer coverage. However, the service doesn’t currently accept Medicaid or Medicare. According to the company’s website, customers who submit their bill to an HSA or FSA provider typically get 50% to 90% of their costs covered. 

User Satisfaction

The users we surveyed reported that Talkspace was user-friendly, flexible, and convenient. Eighty-two percent of users said the company’s website was easy or very easy to navigate, and 82% of users thought they understood Talkspace’s terms of service (either fully or “more or less”) before signing up. Thirty-six percent of users said they primarily used the Talkspace app, in comparison to just 14% of users who accessed the platform via laptop. 

Users also appreciated the platform’s multiple subscription plans, with 66% of customers reporting that they paid a lower price for care because of their subscription. Overall, 90% of the Talkspace users we surveyed said they had a positive experience with the service.

Best With Insurance : Teladoc


  • Price: $0-$299
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: Yes
  • Type Of Therapy: Psychiatry
Key Specs
  • Price: $99 per session without insurance
  • Insurance accepted?: Yes
  • Types of therapy: Individual
Why We Chose It

Teladoc’s online talk therapy for teens ages 13 to 17 stands out for its easy-to-use app and broad insurance coverage. The platform accepts most major insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Talk therapy with licensed therapists available via video or phone

  • Accepts insurance

  • HIPAA-compliant

  • Parental involvement only required for the first visit

  • Convenient, flexible scheduling

Cons
  • No psychiatric care or medication management available

  • Available only to teens ages 13 to 17

  • Can’t see cost of a session until after signing up

Overview

Teladoc Health was founded in 2002, making it one of the largest and best-established telehealth platforms on the market. Since its launch, Teladoc has acquired several other online therapy companies, including BetterHelp. With Teladoc for Teens, adolescents ages 13 to 17 can access phone or video talk therapy sessions with a licensed therapist in the U.S. or Canada.

To schedule an appointment, you’ll just have to download the Teladoc app and add your child as a dependent through your account. The app will prompt you to answer some questions about your teen's needs. Then, you will be able to select a therapist from a list of recommended providers and set up a time to for you and your teen to meet their new therapist for an initial consultation.

Teladoc’s therapists can help your teen address issues like bullying, self-esteem, and stress, as well as mental health conditions like eating disorders and depression. Each session is about 45 minutes long. Teens can attend therapy alone after you give your consent.

Teladoc stands out because of its convenient scheduling, HIPAA compliance, and generous insurance coverage. Many employer-sponsored insurance providers offer Teladoc as part of their benefits package, and the company accepts most forms of insurance. With insurance coverage, your teen’s online therapy may cost as little as $0 per session. Without insurance, Teladoc therapy is still relatively affordable at about $99 per session.

Plans & Pricing

Teladoc operates on a pay-per-session model, so there are no subscription fees or monthly plans. 

Without insurance, a talk therapy session at Teladoc for your teen will typically cost $99. However, many people choose Teladoc because it accepts insurance, including many Medicaid and Medicare plans. Teladoc care is also FSA/HSA/HRA eligible.

User Satisfaction

The Teladoc users we surveyed were overwhelmingly satisfied with their experience using the platform. An impressive 97% of Teladoc users rated their experience as good to excellent. Eighty-two percent of users said they were able to navigate the company’s website easily, and 63% said the app was more user-friendly in comparison to competitors.

Half of users said that insurance coverage was their main concern when choosing an online therapy provider—and Teladoc delivered well in that area. Only 7% of Teladoc customers said they didn’t have insurance coverage (whether private, employer-sponsored, or through Medicaid or Medicare).

Best for Ages 10+ : Amwell


  • Price: $109 to $279
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: Yes
  • Type Of Therapy: Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling
Key Specs
  • Price: Without insurance, $109 to meet with a master’s level provider; $129 to meet with a doctoral level provider
  • Insurance accepted?: Yes
  • Types of therapy: Individual
Why We Chose It

Amwell’s easy-to-use app, network of highly qualified care providers, and wide range of accepted insurance plans make it one of our top picks for online kids therapy. Unlike many other online therapy platforms, Amwell offers talk therapy sessions to kids ages 10 and up. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Large selection of qualified, experienced therapists

  • Available to kids and teens ages 10 to 17

  • User-friendly website and app

  • Can choose your child’s provider

  • Can hide face on video chat if preferred

Cons
  • No psychiatry or medication management for kids

  • Somewhat expensive without insurance coverage

  • Available only in the U.S.

  • Phone sessions available only if video fails

Overview

Amwell, previously known as American Well, has become one of the most widely used and most reputable telehealth companies in the U.S. since its launch in 2006. Founded by Ido Schoenberg, MD, and Roy Schoenberg, MD, MPH, Amwell is one of the few digital mental health companies that offers online talk therapy to kids ages 10 and up.

Your child or teen can attend 45-minute video therapy sessions on the Amwell website or app, either with or without you (after you’ve given your permission during the first session, of course). However, you will need to set up a sub-account for your child. Patients can opt to hide their faces during the video chat, which can help shy or anxious kids feel more comfortable. 

Through this sub-account, your child or teen can select a therapist from a provided list. All of Amwell’s therapists are specially trained in online therapy and licensed to practice in their state. You can specifically request a provider with either a master’s degree or PhD, which gives you greater freedom of choice over who your child works with. 

Amwell works with a wide range of insurance providers, including some Medicaid and Medicare plans. The platform also offers talk therapy to adults, making it a great option if multiple family members are looking for online mental health care. Psychiatry and medication management services are only available to adults ages 18 and over.

Plans & Pricing

Signing up for Amwell is free, and there are no subscription fees. 

Amwell accepts a variety of insurance plans, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Anthem, UnitedHealthcare, Medicaid, Medicare, and many more. The service also works with HSA and FSA plans. 

If you don’t have insurance, it costs $109 per 45-minute therapy session to meet with a care provider with a master’s degree. Meeting with a care provider with a doctorate costs $129 per session without insurance.

User Satisfaction

According to our survey, Amwell users were especially impressed with the quality and diversity of the platform’s therapy providers. Eighty-six percent of the Amwell users we surveyed were able to find a therapist who met most or all of their needs, and 91% thought the available therapists’ qualifications were good to excellent. Most users (87%) rated the diversity of available Amwell providers as good, very good, or excellent. 

Many users also noted that Amwell provided a convenient, streamlined online therapy experience. Sixty-four percent of customers thought it was easy or very easy to find a provider to work with. Meanwhile, 73% reported that Amwell’s website and app were easy to use.

Best for Family Therapy : LifeStance Health


  • Price: $75 to $300 per session, if paying out of pocket
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: Yes
  • Type Of Therapy: Children's Therapy, Family Therapy, Group Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling
Key Specs
  • Price: Without insurance, $75 to $300 per therapy session; $200 to $300 for initial psychiatric evaluation; $150 to $250 for psychiatric follow-ups (depending on provider)
  • Insurance accepted?: Yes
  • Types of therapy: Individual, family, couples, psychiatry, medication management
Why We Chose It

LifeStance Health is one of the relatively few online therapy platforms that offers family therapy with licensed psychologists. The company also provides child and adolescent psychology, medication management, psychiatry, and couples therapy, making it a good option for the whole family.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Offers individual, family, and couples therapy for kids of all ages, teens, and adults

  • Accepts insurance

  • Wide variety of therapeutic techniques and specialties used available

  • Provider bios available on website

  • Psychiatry and medication management available

Cons
  • Prices not clearly listed on website

  • Have to provide payment information upfront

  • Not available in all U.S. states

Overview

Founded in 2017, LifeStance Health offers both virtual and in-person mental health care to infants, children, teens, and adults in 32 U.S. states. The company works with over 5,000 clinicians—including board-certified psychiatrists, licensed therapists and psychologists, and nurse practitioners—in 600 centers across the country. 

LifeStance stands out among other digital behavioral health companies for its wide range of available providers. In addition to individual, couples, and family therapy, the company’s clinicians offer medication management and child and adolescent psychiatry services. Some LifeStance providers also treat more serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, personality disorders, and mood disorders, which is rare for a virtual therapy platform. 

If you’re dealing with issues that affect the whole family, LifeStance’s family therapy options may help you to heal together. The company offers several different types of family therapy, including strategic family therapy (which works to support younger family members in crisis by strengthening relationships), structural family therapy (which helps with healthy boundary-setting between family members), and systemic family therapy (which focuses on improving overall family dynamics). Some LifeStance psychologists are trained in child-parent relationship therapy (CPRT), a type of play therapy and parental training program aimed at helping children ages 3 to 8.

On the LifeStance website, you can search for a provider according to factors like their specialty, gender, languages spoken, the ages of the patients they treat, and the insurance plan(s) they accept. Many providers allow you to book live video or phone appointments in just a few clicks.

Plans & Pricing

LifeStance accepts most insurance plans, including some Medicaid and Medicare plans. You can search its website for a clinician that works with your specific insurance provider. 

However, the company doesn’t list its exact prices until you sign up and check on your insurance coverage. According to the LifeStance website, a typical therapy session costs $75 to $300 per session without insurance, depending on your chosen provider, type of therapy, and location. Meanwhile, a psychiatric evaluation usually costs $200 to $300, and follow-ups cost $150 to $250 each.

User Satisfaction

Just over a fifth (21%) of the LifeStance users in our survey said they were seeking therapy to deal with family issues. Other common themes among therapy seekers included stress, anger, depression, trauma, and abuse. 

Overall, customers felt LifeStance helped them deal with those challenges more effectively, with 88% rating their experience as good, very good, or excellent. Ninety percent of LifeStance users in our survey rated the available therapists’ qualifications positively, and 82% felt their provider met all or most of their needs. 

Although it may be difficult to determine the exact price of LifeStance’s services upfront, most customers were also satisfied with the platform’s affordability. Seventy-four percent of users rated LifeStance’s value for money as good to excellent, and only 8% of users thought the service was not very affordable or not at all affordable.

Best Flexibility : Thriveworks


  • Price: Session rate varies by provider; $99 per session if not using insurance
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: Yes
  • Type Of Therapy: Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Group Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling
Key Specs
  • Price: Prices vary based on location, but start at $99 per session; $39 per month for membership (with premium benefits)
  • Insurance accepted?: Yes
  • Types of therapy: Individual, couples, family, psychiatry, medication management
Why We Chose It 

Offering both in-person and virtual mental health care in over 380 locations across the U.S., Thriveworks is one of the most flexible and versatile therapy platforms on the market. In addition to family therapy and couples therapy, Thriveworks users can access individual therapy for their children alongside psychiatry and medication management services with board-certified providers.

Pros & Cons 
Pros
  • Offers a variety of therapy types, including family therapy, psychiatry, and medication management

  • Accepts insurance

  • Offers night and weekend sessions

  • Customer support available 7 days a week

  • Flexible cancellation policy

  • Same- and next-day appointments available

Cons
  • Not available in every U.S. state

  • Exact prices not clear before signing up

  • No text-assisted therapy

Overview

Thriveworks is a cutting-edge mental health care platform that offers both online and in-person care with qualified providers in over 380 locations across the U.S. Known for its flexibility and convenience, the platform accepts most major insurance plans and also caters to self-pay clients.

To book an initial appointment, you can schedule your first video or phone session online or contact the Thriveworks office of your choice. Depending on your child’s or teen’s needs, you can choose from a broad selection of licensed marriage and family therapists, child psychologists, and board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists (some of whom also offer medication management). Thriveworks accepts only the top 4% of providers who apply to the practice, and intake sessions are typically 50 to 60 minutes long, allowing for a more in-depth initial assessment.

A Thriveworks membership offers a number of benefits, including 24/7 access to text-based customer support. Customer calls are typically answered within a minute or less. Thriveworks members can also reach out to their providers by phone or email at any time. But you will have to sign up for a membership, paid monthly, to take advantage of all services, in addition to the cost of your therapy copay.

Meanwhile, the scheduling process at Thriveworks allows for a great deal of flexibility. Members can cancel or reschedule their session for free within 23.5 hours of their scheduled appointment. Many providers are available from 7:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. Eastern Time from Monday to Friday, as well as on weekends and certain holidays. This makes it far easier to schedule a therapy session for the whole family or to work around a teen’s packed extracurricular schedule. With same-day and next-day appointments often available, it’s easy to get help quickly if your child needs it. 

Plans & Pricing

The price of care at Thriveworks varies widely by location, therapist specialty, and insurance coverage. However, the company states that most sessions cost $15 to $40 with insurance and $99 or more without insurance. 

Thriveworks works with many insurance plans, such as Blue Cross, Cigna, Anthem, United, Humana, Optum, and many more. A few Thriveworks providers accept Medicaid. 

With a $39 per month membership fee, Thriveworks users can also enjoy benefits like text-assisted customer support, contact with your therapist between sessions, and secure access to additional resources through the company’s app, Therapy Buddy. 

User Satisfaction

Ninety percent of the Thriveworks users we surveyed had a positive experience with the platform. Users said they chose the service for factors like insurance coverage (33%), overall cost (28%), online scheduling (23%), multiple communication types (21%), evening and weekend availability (21%), and therapist qualifications (24%). 

Customers were largely satisfied with the platform’s flexibility and ease of use, with 68% reporting that the process of looking for a therapist was easy or very easy, and another 19% reporting that it was neither easy nor difficult. Around 52% of users said they would still likely be seeing a Thriveworks therapist in six months.

Best for Eating Disorders : Pathlight Behavioral Centers


  • Is Insurance Accepted?: Yes
  • Type Of Therapy: Children's Therapy, Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Group Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling
Key Specs
  • Price: Varies according to insurance coverage 
  • Insurance accepted?: Yes
  • Types of therapy: Individual, peer, group, family, nutrition counseling
Why We Chose It 

Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center and Eating Recovery Center offers one of the few comprehensive at-home eating disorder treatment programs open to children and adolescents. The program combines family therapy, nutrition counseling, and peer support to help kids as young as 12 recover from eating disorders.

Pros & Cons 
Pros
  • Multidisciplinary virtual treatment for eating disorders

  • Individual, group, and family therapy available

  • Accepts insurance

  • Nutritional guidance with registered dietitians

  • Ongoing support, events, and resources through active alumni network

  • Offers caregiver support

Cons
  • Prices not clear from the company website

  • Doesn’t have all the same features as an in-person eating disorder program

  • Doesn’t accept Medicaid

Overview

In 2013, Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center (formerly known as Insight Behavioral Health) joined Eating Recovery Center to form ERC Pathlight, a nationwide medical system that treats mood and anxiety disorders as well as trauma and eating disorders. One of the company’s most sought-after features is its virtual intensive outpatient program (IOP), which allows patients to get comprehensive treatment from a multidisciplinary team of licensed care providers from the comforts of home. 

Through Pathlight’s Eating Recovery at Home, children and teens ages 12 and up can be virtually treated for eating disorders. Conditions treated include anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), among others. 

The program involves intensive weekly group therapy sessions with six to eight peers, as well as individual and family therapy, nutrition counseling, cooking classes, and group mealtimes. Caregiver groups provide additional family support, while remote medical monitoring helps participants meet their recovery goals. After completing the program, your child can continue to connect with alumni through in-person and virtual events and support groups.

The exact costs of treatment aren’t entirely clear before signing up for the program. However, Eating Recovery at Home is in-network with most major insurance providers. 

Plans & Pricing

ERC Pathlight accepts most commercial insurance plans, such as Cigna, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Magellan Health, Cofinity, Kaiser Permanente, and more. However, the program doesn’t currently accept Medicaid. Contact the company directly to find out more about your insurance coverage. 

You can receive an initial assessment and consultation at ERC Pathlight for free.

User Satisfaction

Of the Pathlight users we surveyed, 14% used the service for eating disorder treatment. In total, 17% said they used the platform to find a therapist for their child, a family therapist, or someone for whom they were a caregiver. 

According to our survey, 81% of Pathlight users thought the value they received for their money was good to excellent. Seventy-three percent of users thought their care provider met all or most of their needs. 

Customers especially appreciated the platform’s additional mental health resources (28%), LGBTQIA+ affirming providers (33%), flexible session times (19%), easy-to-use website (40%), and highly specialized clinicians (42%). 

: Alma


Key Specs
  • Price: Free to use; cost of care varies by provider
  • Insurance accepted?: Yes
  • Types of therapy: Individual, couples, family, medication management
Why We Chose It 

Alma’s free directory and personalized therapist matching services can help you easily find a child and adolescent therapist who meets your child’s needs. 

Pros & Cons 
Pros
  • Free matching support

  • Can filter for providers based on specialty

  • Insurance accepted by most providers

  • Sliding scale fees offered by many therapists

Cons
  • Not available in all states

  • Insurance not accepted by all therapists

  • Not a therapy platform

Overview 

Currently available in select U.S. states (and growing), Alma is a free-to-use directory of mental health care providers. Alma’s independent clinicians offer child and adolescent therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, medication management services, and couples therapy. 

You can browse through Alma’s therapists by filtering by location, virtual or in-person care, insurance accepted, and type of therapy offered (including child and adolescent psychology).

If you need additional help finding the right provider, fill out a short form on the directory website to receive free matching services from the Alma team.

After matching up with an Alma therapist, your child’s care plan—including rates, scheduling, and communication processes—will be up to you and the provider.

Plans & Pricing

Alma is free for therapy seekers to use. Each care provider sets their own prices and makes their own decisions about insurance coverage, but the directory website states that most Alma therapists take some form of insurance. You can use the directory to search for providers who accept your insurance plan. If you’re having trouble finding a provider that fits your budget, you can use the personalized matching service to get help. 

User Satisfaction

Among those we surveyed, most Alma users were able to find a therapist to work with on the directory. 

Eighty-three percent of Alma users reported that the service was easy or fairly easy to use. Meanwhile, 89% said the available therapists’ qualifications were good or very good, and 81% thought the diversity of care providers was satisfactory. Seventy-two percent of those surveyed were able to find a provider who met all their needs, and 71% are still using the therapist today that they found on Alma.

Compare the Best Online Therapy for Kids of 2023

Best For
Price
Is Insurance Accepted?
Does it Accept HSA/FSA?
Type Of Therapy
Communication Options
Reset All
Little Otter Best Overall $90 for a 30-minute “Welcome Session”, $200 for one 45-minute sessions Yes No Children's Therapy, Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Teen Counseling Messaging, Video Chat Learn More
Hide, not for me
Teen Counseling Best for Teens N/A No No N/A Live Chat, Phone, Video Chat Learn More
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Talkiatry Best for Psychiatry Depends on your insurance Yes. BCBS, Cigna, United Health, Aetna, Tricare, Medicare, and others Yes Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry Video Chat Learn More
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Talkspace Best Subscription Service $276 - $516 monthly Yes Yes Couples Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling Audio, Live Chat, Messaging, Phone, Video Chat Learn More
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Teladoc Best With Insurance $0-$299 Yes No Psychiatry Audio, Video Chat Learn More
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Amwell Best for Ages 10+ $109 to $279 Yes Yes Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling Video Chat Learn More
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LifeStance Health Best for Family Therapy $75 to $300 per session, if paying out of pocket Yes Yes Children's Therapy, Family Therapy, Group Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling Video Chat Learn More
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Thriveworks Best Flexibility Session rate varies by provider; $99 per session if not using insurance Yes Yes Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Group Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling Audio, Phone, Video Chat Learn More
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Pathlight Behavioral Centers Best for Eating Disorders N/A Yes No Children's Therapy, Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Group Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling N/A Learn More
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Alma N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Sign Up Now
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Final Verdict

We selected Little Otter as our overall winner for the best online therapy for kids. The company’s comprehensive, customized care plans, whole-family therapy philosophy, and added support for parents made it stand out from the competition. 

If you’re looking for a platform that works with a wide range of insurance plans, Teladoc might be right for you and your child. Meanwhile, Pathlight may be a good option if you think your teen is struggling with an eating disorder. 

Guide to Choosing the Best Online Therapy for Kids

What Is Online Therapy for Kids?

Online therapy for kids is virtual mental health care for children and adolescents, often delivered via live video or audio sessions in a company’s app or on their website. Sessions may take place on a mobile device or computer. 

Your child or teen can meet with a licensed mental health care provider—such as a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist—on a regularly scheduled basis or as needed. Many online kids therapists can help with common issues like stress, anxiety, depression, friendship problems, relationship conflicts, family dynamics, and confidence. 

Is Online Therapy for Kids Effective?

Research about the effectiveness of online therapy for kids is ongoing, but early studies are promising. 

According to a 2019 review and meta-analysis, 60% of controlled trials found that web-based interventions were helpful in treating symptoms of autism spectrum disorder and ADHD among children and teens. Other studies have found that online therapy is similarly effective to face-to-face therapy in treating depression and anxiety among kids and young people. Studies have also shown that virtual family play therapy is effective when used to help families with young children.

However, some research suggests that text-based therapy should be used cautiously among younger children, who may not see as many benefits due to difficulties with typing and fine motor skills. 

What Types of Kids Therapy Are Offered?

There is a wide variety of available types of kids counseling. These options include:

  • Grief and trauma: If your child has experienced loss, grief counseling may help them heal from the trauma and develop healthy coping methods.
  • Family: In many cases, the challenges a child or teen is facing can impact—and be impacted by—the whole family. Family therapy can help you develop a better family dynamic, improve communication skills, and build relationships.
  • Anxiety and depression: Around 70% of teens in the U.S. say that anxiety and depression are major issues among their peers. With talk therapy, children and teens build problem-solving skills and resilience that can help them manage symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.
  • Psychiatry: Child and adolescent psychiatrists can prescribe and manage medications, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, if needed.
  • Bullying: Studies suggest that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective in treating the mental health symptoms associated with bullying victimization in kids and teens. A therapist can also help your child build their self-esteem and confidence after being bullied. 
  • Eating disorders: Family-based therapy and CBT can help children and adolescents with eating disorders, such as binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, or anorexia nervosa.

To determine what kind of online counseling for kids may be right for your child, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does my child seem more stressed, tired, or anxious than usual?
  • Is my child having trouble focusing at school?
  • Did my child recently experience a difficult transition, such as a move or parental divorce?
  • Has my child experienced trauma or loss?
  • Has my child lost interest in former hobbies or favorite activities?
  • Is my child struggling to make or keep friends?

Comparing Online Kids Therapy

There are a variety of factors to consider when deciding which online counseling for kids is best. These factors include:

  • Price: Look for an online kids therapy service that fits your budget. Does the platform accept your insurance? Does it have any discount codes, free trials, or subscription plans that could help you save money?
  • Topics: Does your child need psychiatric care and medication management? Are you looking for a specific kind of therapy, such as family therapy, CBT, or play therapy?
  • Scheduling: If your child’s routine is unpredictable, it may be better to find an online therapist with flexible availability. Some platforms have therapists with more night and weekend sessions.
  • Formats: Some kids and teens may prefer text-assisted therapy, such as live chat. Others may benefit more from live video or phone sessions.
  • Ease of switching between therapists: Your child may need to work with a few different providers before finding one that fits their needs. Some platforms allow you to choose your child’s clinician yourself and switch whenever you like, while others may ask you to wait while it matches you with a new provider.

Who Is Kids Therapy Right For?

Online kids counseling may be a good fit for you if you and/or your child:

  • Have busy schedules
  • Live in a rural area
  • Are looking for more affordable therapy
  • Feel uncomfortable or shy in social settings
  • Struggle with body image issues

Online kids counseling is typically not right for people experiencing urgent distress or psychosis. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, seek immediate medical attention. 

What If My Child Is Having Thoughts of Harming Themselves? 

If your child, or anyone else you know is having thoughts of self-harm or harming others, call 911 or 988 for immediate help. You can also reach out to your primary healthcare provider for resources. 

Other mental health resources include:

  • The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988
  • The Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741)
  • YouthLine (text 839863 or call 877-968-8491)

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Do Online Therapy Programs for Kids Cost?

The cost of online therapy for kids varies widely based on your chosen subscription plan, location, insurance coverage, and the specific type of treatment your child needs. For example, a subscription for live video therapy and messaging starts at $99 per week at Talkspace (without insurance). Meanwhile, a single therapy session at Amwell costs $109 for a provider with a master’s degree and $129 for a provider with a doctoral degree. The prices for psychiatry and medication management are higher. For example, an initial psychiatric evaluation at Little Otter costs $500. Each follow-up visit costs $250. You may be able to save money on your child’s online therapy by opting for a messaging-only plan (starting at $69 a week at Talkspace) or choosing a quarterly or annual subscription if possible.

Does Insurance Cover Online Therapy for Kids?

Many online therapy platforms are now in-network with major insurance plans. Many platforms accept Medicare, and a few accept Medicaid. Services that offer virtual psychiatric care and medication management are especially likely to accept insurance. Check with your insurance provider before starting treatment if you have any questions about coverage.

How Does Online Kids Therapy Work?

Online therapy for kids typically takes place in scheduled live video or audio sessions, often through a platform’s secure app or website. Some online therapy providers also offer text-assisted therapy, such as live chat or private messaging. Many platforms allow you to choose your child’s therapist or psychiatrist from a provided list of bios, which include information about their background and specialties. Others may match your child with a provider after an initial assessment. 

Will My Kid’s Therapist Share Their Therapy Progress with Me?

Typically, if you had to consent to your child’s treatment, you will also have access to their medical records—including therapy notes and assessments. However, laws about medical privacy and informed consent vary from state to state. Talk with your child’s provider directly about how much information they can share with you. Many online therapy platforms also provide parenting guidance and resources, so you can learn how best to support your child in their therapy progress.

Methodology

We surveyed 105 users of 55 different online therapy platforms as well as 180 users of 25 online therapy directories about the quality of care they received at each company, the cost of services, accessibility, resources available, and their overall experience of the company. In addition to the users’ experience, we investigated the services provided by each company, privacy policies, each company’s reputation, and any specific expertise in treating children. 

Seek Help Now

If you are having a personal crisis and need to talk to someone immediately, visit our national helpline database.

Happy Kid

 Oliver Rossi / Getty Images

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.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data and statistics on children's mental health.

  2. Khan K, Hall CL, Davies EB, Hollis C, Glazebrook C. The effectiveness of web-based interventions delivered to children and young people with neurodevelopmental disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Med Internet Res. 2019;21(11):e13478. doi:10.2196/13478

  3. Ye X, Bapuji SB, Winters SE, et al. Effectiveness of internet-based interventions for children, youth, and young adults with anxiety and/or depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Health Serv Res. 2014;14(1):313. doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-313

  4. Smith T, Norton AM, Marroquin L. Virtual family play therapy: a clinician’s guide to using directed family play therapy in telemental health. Contemp Fam Ther. 2021:1-11. doi:10.1007/s10591-021-09612-7

  5. Pew Research Center. A growing number of American teenagers – particularly girls – are facing depression.

  6. Hutson E, Thompson B, Bainbridge E, Melnyk BM, Warren BJ. Cognitive-behavioral skills building to alleviate the mental health effects of bullying victimization in youth. J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv. 2021;59(5):15-20. doi:10.3928/02793695-20210415-05

  7. Datta N, Matheson BE, Citron K, Van Wye EM, Lock JD. Evidence based update on psychosocial treatments for eating disorders in children and adolescents. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2022:1-12. doi:10.1080/15374416.2022.2109650

  8. American Psychological Association. How should a psychologist handle a parent's request for a minor's potentially harmful health records?.

By Laura Dorwart
Laura Dorwart is a health journalist with expertise in disability rights, mental health, and pregnancy-related conditions. She has written for publications like SELF, The New York Times, VICE, and The Guardian.

Edited by
Hannah Owens
Hannah Owens

Hannah Owens is the Mental Health/General Health Editor for performance marketing at Verywell. She is a licensed social worker with clinical experience in community mental health.

Learn about our editorial process
and
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.

Learn about our editorial process