Ginger Online Therapy Review

Ginger’s app-based therapy provides accessible support anywhere

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Ginger Online Therapy

Ginger Online Therapy

Ginger’s app-based, on-demand, and entirely remote behavioral health coaching eliminates traditional barriers to mental health care, including the hassle of finding a doctor and travel to and from an office. However, while Ginger’s convenience is appreciated, the app’s text-only coaching can feel impersonal, slow, and even scripted. Additionally, Ginger is mainly for employees whose companies offer the service rather than individual users seeking mental health support.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Facts
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Includes 24/7 coach availability

  • App is easy and straightforward to use

  • Member services can help expedite information and/or answers if patients have a pressing mental health concern

  • All patient information is stored in the app, so no need to repeatedly fill out forms or continually explain concerns

  • Library of self-help resources 

Cons
  • Mainly offered through an employer

  • Text-based coaching can feel impersonal

  • Sometimes slow response time to text messages

  • Therapists often suggest watching standard videos to address problems like anxiety and depression, which can feel unhelpful

  • No web version (you can only text with a coach via the app)

  • Video sessions only available for members of higher cost subscription tiers

  • Wait times for requested video sessions can take a few weeks

Key Facts
Price
N/A; primarily B2B subscription-based or as part of an employer health care plan. Out-of-pocket plans and costs are not disclosed or publicly available.
Is Insurance Accepted?
Yes
Type Of Therapy
Individual Therapy
Communication Options
Messaging, Video Chat
HIPAA Compliant?
N/A
Is There an App?
Yes
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.

All across the US, people living in therapy deserts—i.e. places where mental health care is limited or entirely unavailable—struggle to get their mental health need met. Ginger seeks to address this serious barrier to mental health support – accessibility issues – by offering entirely virtual support via an app. 

We surveyed 105 users of Ginger about their experiences with the company, spoke with a subject matter expert, and I signed up for services myself in order to better understand what about the app resonates with users.

What is Ginger Emotional Support?

Ginger is, in essence, one thing: text-based coaching. Founded in 2011, the idea for Ginger was hatched by data scientists in the esteemed MIT Media Lab who wanted, as it states on the company website, to “create a world where mental health is never an obstacle.” To founder and current COO Karan Singh, Ginger’s on-the-go help isn’t just critical, it hits on a personal mission, as he once lost a friend to suicide.

The original app setup more closely resembled a smart phone tracking program that aimed to detect—and then alert—users to their own mental health concerns. Today, the app-based program blends virtual delivery and data science to give users nearly instantaneous, around-the-clock support.  

But, while most users laud Ginger’s flexible, virtual model, patient reviews do significantly differ; search the web (or Reddit) and you’ll find a myriad of complaints from users not being able to access their coach during scheduled times or slow response times. 

What Services Does Ginger Emotional Support Offer?

Ginger offers three services:

Invidual text-based coaching is the company’s bread and butter. Coaches can work with you to address stress, anxiety, work issues, sleep concerns, and depression. But unlike a therapist, they’ll work with you in a more goal-oriented way. In other words, they’ll help you set specific mental health-related, actionable goals, then work with you to achieve them.

It’s important to note that coaching is not the same thing as therapy, and these coaching sessions happen entirely through text. Coaches are also not licensed and are not held legally accountable like a therapist is. 

Talk therapy: Sessions are held via video call, with licensed therapists. These sessions are prescheduled and are not available all the time. Most are usually 30-60 minutes long. 

Medication management and psychiatry: Ginger psychiatrists can prescribe medications that target a wide array of mental health issues (antidepressants or anti-anxiety medicines, for example) after a video call. Ginger psychiatrists cannot, however, prescribe controlled substances like benzodiazepines. 

Ginger also offers a self-help style library of skill-building resources. This library includes podcasts, articles, videos and more, and is available at all times to app users.

Who Is Ginger Emotional Support For?

Ginger markets itself as a form of preventative care for adults and teens between the ages of 13-17. However, since Ginger is almost solely used by employees whose companies have an existing relationship with the service, most of its users are indeed adults.

How Much Does Ginger Cost?

Ginger’s pricing and cost is where things can get a little confusing. A vast majority of the company’s user base is B2B, meaning there is an existing relationship with the patient's employer or organization.

So, if your employer, university, or organization offers Ginger as a service, coaching sessions are typically free. Therapy and medication management, however, require you to use your insurance and the cost then varies depending on your plan.

Does Ginger Take Insurance?

Yes. Ginger accepts insurance for its talk therapy and psychiatry services. 

If Ginger is offered through an employer, coaching sessions are usually available at no cost.

Navigating The Ginger Website and App

The Ginger website is uncluttered, informative, and easily walks users through the process of downloading and signing up on the app. 

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The website also provides a contact prompt (via the “Ready to bring Ginger to your company?” option) for organization-wide decision-makers interested in learning more about the costs associated with offering this app-based coaching to their employees.

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Ginger’s website, while simplistic, also provides a brief, easy-to-navigate overview of its coaching app. It states that coaches are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and whenever you may need to chat with a coach, one is available within about 60 seconds. Near the bottom of the page there are also quotes from Ginger members praising the app’s availability of coaches and resources.

According to our survey, 22% of respondents felt the Ginger website was very easy to navigate, while 46% noted navigation was easy. Only 2 respondents said the site was difficult to navigate. 

Does Ginger Have an App?

Yes. In fact, this is the only way you can access Ginger’s coaching, therapy, and medication management services. The app is available via iOs and Android. Simply search for and download the Ginger Emotional Support app from your device’s app store. 

How Do You Sign Up for Therapy at Ginger Emotional Support?

Ginger is only available to sign up for if your employer offers it as a service. Fortunately, my employer offered the Ginger app as an extension of my healthcare plan, so I was able to sign up for it for this review.

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I downloaded the app to my iPhone from the app store and then selected “get started” upon opening it. 

First you’ll click the blue “create account” button at the bottom of the screen, then you’ll be prompted to identify your organization or health plan service.

Once you’ve signed up and logged in you’ll also notice a clearly labeled “For You” section, which is a self-help style library filled with skill-building resources. This library includes everything from podcasts to stress management articles. These resources, like coaches, are available 24/7 and you can use the search bar at the top to search for topics of interest. 

To begin your coaching, you’ll simply click the chat tab in the app. This will prompt you to fill out a short intake form detailing some personal information. For example, I was asked what my chief concerns and goals were. Anxiety and feeling overwhelmed are issues I’ve always struggled with, so this is what I said I wanted to focus on.

Next, you’ll be prompted to choose your coach. I wanted someone who had time slots available during times I was available to do the coaching—and there were a lot of options. However, I also noticed that the coaches available to me didn’t have bios with a whole lot of information about them. For example, there wasn’t much in-depth information about their educational backgrounds or their experience working in mental health. 

This meant that in the end, I felt like I was choosing a coach more by luck-of-the-draw—I was making a choice more based on their availability than their background or expertise. Still the process was easy—and 68% of the users we surveyed also agreed that the app was very easy or easy to navigate, while 63% found it easy to find a therapist. 

It’s important to note, though, that many coaches on the platform—even if they were licensed mental health professionals—lacked specific specializations, touting their expertise as everything from work stress to goal setting. While many users might be okay with this, I found it a little concerning as I wanted to speak with someone who had extensive experience working with generalized anxiety disorder. 

Additionally, if I were to receive a prescription (which I was considering for anxiety), a Ginger coach would need to refer me to a psychiatrist for a video session, which can take a few weeks according to Member Services. This ultimately made me wonder if Ginger was truly less time-consuming than a traditional in-person therapist for people who are looking for talk therapy or medication management. Our survey respondents seemed to agree: only 26% of respondents said all their therapy needs were met.

What’s more, when asked “How would you rate Ginger’s overall helpfulness at connecting you to a therapist?only 28% of respondents said this was “excellent.” And, when asked “Overall, how satisfied were you with the therapist options provided on Ginger’s directory?” only 23% of respondents said they were very satisfied.

Percentages

How Do Therapy Sessions Work at Ginger?

Although live video sessions are available for therapy and medication management, Ginger’s main service is text-based coaching.

Live Chat Sessions 

You may schedule a session with an established coach via the app or you can chat with an available coach at any time, 24/7—although this support likely won’t come from your primary coach (if you have an established one already). For example, if you're texting in the middle of the night, a different coach other than the one you speak with during the day will likely answer.

Users typically sign up for a session cadence that suits their needs and fits within their employer’s package. (For example, some employers offer 10 sessions per quarter while others might offer two pre-scheduled sessions per week). 

All Ginger coaching sessions are conducted via chat in the app. These usually run anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes. The length of the session is typically up to the user, but sessions don’t often exceed an hour. Video or phone sessions aren’t offered unless a coach recommends you to a psychiatrist for a higher level of care.

When I used Ginger, which was a few years back, my employer offered as much free coaching as my heart desired.

I liked the texting as it allowed me to schedule therapy in the evenings when I was available—I even threw in some laundry and picked up around the house as we chatted. However, some of my coaches' responses seemed tired and canned. For example, they often asked “How does that make you feel?” or “What is the ideal solution?” These questions felt unhelpful, and it didn’t seem like they were fully taking my considerations into account. 

I don’t have issues identifying my feelings or articulating the solution I’d like to see; what I truly needed were some novel suggestions for stress and anxiety management. I didn’t feel like I got that. Furthermore, my coach suggested I seek out the in-app library to listen to a few podcasts and watch some videos. Given how busy I already was, this wasn’t a feasible suggestion. After a few sessions, I was left feeling unheard, uninspired, and the chat sessions felt more and more like a waste of time.

Video Sessions

Video sessions are reserved for therapists and psychiatrists, to whom you must be referred by a coach if they think you need a higher level of care. If referred, you must contact a representative from the Member Support Team, fill out an intake form, and provide your employer-backed payment and insurance information. 

What Happens if I Miss a Session at Ginger?

In order to change your appointment time (whether for a text-based coaching session or a video-based therapy or psychiatry appointment), you need to contact a Member Services representative via the “contact” portion of the app at least 48 hours prior to a scheduled appointment.

Monetary penalties for no-show appointments differ based on the employer plan users are on. There is no publicly available information for those who pay out of pocket and miss a session.

Switching Therapists at Ginger

After the first coaching session, Ginger will typically assign you a primary coach (sometimes this will be the first coach you speak to, but this is also highly dependent on respective schedules). 

If a user is unhappy with their coach, however, they can contact member services to switch to another.

This process—and the associated time it takes to complete the switch—can vary among users. 

For example, the few times I used Ginger, my primary coach was late once and stopped texting midway through another session. I promptly asked to switch, but it took days to hear back from member services. (However, it’s also worth mentioning that some users said they received responses to their inquiries about switching coaches within an hour or two, so I may have just had a bit of bad luck).

Pausing or Canceling Therapy at Ginger

Ginger users can easily pause or cancel therapy by contacting a member services representative directly through the app (although, keep in mind, it is always best to reach out earlier rather than last minute as sometimes it takes a few hours to a few days to hear back from member services). Ginger suggests notifying both your coach and member services if you wish to pause or do not intend to schedule further sessions. 

Quality of Care and User Satisfaction

According to various online reviews on social media, therapist turnover is an issue at Ginger. More than a few disgruntled users have complained of eleventh-hour cancellations due to primary coaches leaving the company. Our survey supports this too: 17% of respondents who used Ginger stated they stopped seeing their primary provider because they left the company. (Our data shows this is higher than average). 

In addition, 18% of those polled in our survey said “it is difficult to talk to (my provider) about my symptoms and how I’m feeling ” and, after trying Ginger, 25% of respondents said “I didn’t like the remote therapy experience, so I found a therapist who offers in-person therapy.” 

Our survey also showed that 10% of Ginger users said their prescriber had been condescending during sessions, and 12% of those polled also said “(providers) do not answer my questions adequately or quickly enough.”

Personally, as I am currently dealing with a major home renovation and a serious health matter —while taking care of family and trying to navigate a demanding career—an app-based coach accessible via a few taps on my iPhone was an attractive option to combat my situational anxiety. However, after trying Ginger, I never got 100% comfortable with the text-based nature of coaching.  Like many other online reviewers, I felt as though the responses came slowly, and, in some cases, even appeared to be copy and pasted. 

Without the ability to hear someone’s voice, the inflection in their tone, or see the expressions on their face, forging a trusting therapy relationship is incredibly difficult.

“Text-only coaching is not a suitable alternative to talk therapy,” says Hannah Owens, LMSW and Mental Health Editor for Verywell Mind. “While it can be useful as a complement to therapy —for instance, as a means of support in between sessions—the therapeutic alliance is predicated on establishing a safe space and time in which to explore emotions and challenges.” 

A text-only service does not allow for this, especially if the texting is often writing a message to your provider and waiting to hear back rather than communicating during a predetermined period of time. And just texting does not allow for any nonverbal cues–and this is a crucial part of therapy. 

I’ll admit, while Ginger certainly fills a gap in terms of ease and quick access to emotional support (an impressive 47% of users polled indicated Ginger is convenient), there is room for improvement. If I’m opening up myself emotionally, and sharing tough, personal subject matter, I need to know the person at the other end of my text message is engaged. Sadly, I never fully felt like that was true when I used the service.

Percentages

Privacy Policies at Ginger

Ginger is HIPAA-compliant and processes and stores its collected data within the United States. Ginger assures users that it will never share any information related to sign-ons, activity, or data. As Ginger is also considered a healthcare provider, the company protects privileged and confidential patient information just as a physical doctor’s office would. 

In addition, if a user prefers that Ginger delete their personal data, they may contact Ginger at privacy@ginger.io. The company will subsequently terminate the account in question, erase user information, and remove the user from all Ginger-related emails. 

Ginger vs. Its Competitors

Ginger’s primary competitor is Talkspace, as they both offer app-based therapy.

Talkspace is also an online/mobile therapy platform that is operated via an app. Talkspace features text-based therapy in all of the areas Ginger does (stress management, anxiety, low mood, work issues, etc.) but also includes couples therapy (which was originally introduced in 2015). 

When asked about therapy needs being met, 38% percent of Talkspace respondents said all their needs were met. Only 20% of Ginger respondents felt the same way.

Ginger edged out Talkspace in our survey when respondents were asked if they found looking for a therapist easy. Twenty-eight percent of Ginger respondents did, while 26% of Talkspace respondents said this process was easy.

While 9% of Ginger respondents said they left the app and “found a new therapist at another online therapy company or online therapist directory that I liked better,” no Talkspace respondents said the same thing. 

When asked “How likely are you to recommend this company to a friend or someone like you?” 41% of Talkspace respondents said they would be very likely to recommend the app, while only 30% of Ginger users did.

While Talkspace received generally high marks compared to Ginger, it’s worth noting the company has been featured in various media articles for compromising user privacy and posting fake reviews to boost its app-store standing. A 2021 class action lawsuit also alleged the company participated in securities fraud.

Final Verdict

While our survey shows that users by and large appreciate Ginger’s convenience and ease, many—myself included—feel that there are issues with coach retention and text-based therapy seeming impersonal. While around-the-clock coaching availability keeps users generally satisfied, a concerning 20% of respondents indicated that their Ginger coaching sessions were rushed, the session was very short, and/or they didn’t know if their therapist really listened to concerns. 

It’s important to reiterate that Ginger is mainly a service obtained through an employer relationship with the company, and it is very difficult to find information about the service as an individual looking for therapy outside of a company referral. While convenience is incredibly important, there are other patient concerns that Ginger needs to work on addressing. So overall, I don’t recommend the service. 

Methodology

To fairly and accurately review the best online therapy programs, we sent questionnaires to 55 companies and surveyed 105 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 the following factors: website usability, the sign-up and therapist matching processes, therapist qualifications, types of therapy offered, the service's quality of care, client-therapist communication options, session length, subscription offerings, client privacy protections, average cost and value for money, whether it accepts insurance, how easy it is to change therapists, overall user satisfaction, and the likelihood that clients would recommend them.

We also signed up for the companies in order to get a sense of how this process worked, how easy to use the platform is, and how therapy takes place at the company. Then, we worked with three subject matter experts to get their expert analysis on how suited this company is to provide quality care to therapy seekers. 

By Nicole Scott
Nicole Scott is a former journalist with 20 years of editorial experience in health, finance, and business innovation.

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