Headway Therapist Directory Review

A helpful directory that allows users to find in-network therapists

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Headway

Headway

Headway is an online therapist directory that connects therapy seekers with in-network therapists, eliminating one of the major barriers that keeps people from seeking therapy: the high cost of out-of-pocket therapy sessions. It also offers administrative support to therapists, taking the burden of billing and insurance claims off of their shoulders. 

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Facts
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Includes therapists who offer both in-person and virtual visits

  • Can search for therapist specialties by keyword

  • Therapists accept many major insurance plans

  • All therapists are vetted and credentialed

  • Caters to those with health insurance, unlike most other directories

  • Some therapists offer free consultations

Cons
  • Can’t schedule an appointment without insurance

  • Medicare and Medicaid not accepted

  • Not available in every state

  • Lack of diversity among therapists

  • Doesn’t offer a mobile app

Key Facts
States Served
14 states + Washington, D.C.
Number Of Therapists
17,500+
Types Of Therapy
Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management
Insurance Accepted
Yes
Sliding Scale Prices Available
No
Why Trust Us
25
Companies reviewed
4862
Users Surveyed
18
Zipcodes Tested
To review 25 online therapist directories, we surveyed 180 users who'd used the service, interviewed with 358 therapists listed on the site, and sent each company a questionnaire. Then, we tested the directory's ability to serve 37 therapy seekers's needs across 18 zipcodes and evaluated the results with the help of three professional therapists.

Improving access to mental health care in the United States is crucial—but it’s been difficult to achieve. Insurance stipulations, high out-of-pocket costs, social stigmas, and a lack of available providers have created some difficult barriers to adequate care.

This is especially true in remote or rural areas of the country, like where I live, where there are already fewer providers to choose from. Even if you can find a therapist, many choose to only work with patients who can pay out-of-pocket due to insurance companies' low reimbursement rates and the high administrative burden. As a nurse, I've witnessed firsthand how many people want mental health care but simply cannot afford it without their insurance reimbursing some of that cost.

Enter Headway, a free online therapist directory that aims to make finding a therapist you can afford just a little bit easier by connecting you to an in-network therapist that accepts your health insurance.

To find out how Headway compares to other therapy directories or online therapy companies, we surveyed 180 users who had tried this service, interviewed therapists who have profiles on Headway, and tested the directory across 18 different zip codes. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Headway?

Headway is a free mental health directory founded in 2019 by Andrew Adams, Daniel Ross, Jake Sussman, and Kevin Chan—four entrepreneurs who were driven by a shared mission to increase access to affordable mental health care by removing the insurance barrier. The company seeks to bridge the mental health gap in the United States by providing a directory of therapists who accept major insurance plans.

Not only that, but you can search for a therapist based on your concerns or the therapist’s specialties. It will then tell you your copay cost and facilitate scheduling an appointment in-person or virtually with the therapist of your choice

Headway Providers by State

Currently, Headway’s directory includes therapists in 14 states: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Alabama, as well as Washington, D.C. Many of these states comprise mainly urban areas, and many rural areas are not yet on the platform—although Headway’s website claims many rural states will be added to the platform soon. This is important because many of those rural areas are considered “therapy deserts”—places where there is little or no access to mental health providers or services. 

While Headway is still a young company, it’s quickly making a name for itself. When we spoke with Headway representatives, they told us that the directory has more than 17,500 therapists—we counted to be sure and tallied up 18,100 providers, which is impressive growth in a short period of time. 

This appears to be due to its clear, singular focus, explains Nicholas Hardy, a psychotherapist from Houston, Texas, and one of the subject matter experts that helped us evaluate Headway and other directories. “Their ability to offer a full suite of services, including assistance with insurance and booking capabilities may contribute to its growth," he says.

All Headway providers are licensed mental health professionals: therapists, counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists. There are no life coaches. In responding to our questionnaire, Headway told us that it uses a multistep process to screen providers, which includes a background check, professional references, and credential verification. The providers we spoke with all verified they had been through a screening process, too.

There is a range of specialties represented in the directory, with a total of 20 different specialty categories and modalities listed, including:

First Impressions 

Headway home page

I found the homepage of Headway's website to be clean and simple, with a search bar that allows you to quickly find therapists in your area by location, the reason for seeking treatment, and insurance carrier. A top navigation bar contains links to find a therapist in the 14 states it serves, resources for providers and health plans, and company information. You can also find an “about” page, blog, press, and career information for therapists looking to join the directory.

As you scroll down the page, you’ll see featured conditions including pandemic-related anxiety, challenges with family, career-related anxiety, and feeling down or lacking motivation. Each tab can be clicked to find a therapist with experience in that area. There's also an "explore all" button to view each condition Headway therapists can help with. Upon clicking, around 20 topics are listed in alphabetical order—all of which direct you to the search function when clicked.

The homepage also features a price comparison statement that includes the average amount of money clients save when using Headway—it claims around 75% savings when compared to sessions scheduled without insurance. You can also click the "Find your price" tab to get more detailed information on the cost of therapy through Headway. Insurance plans are also listed, as well as a section on how new users can get started with Headway.

Headway price comparison

Finally, user reviews are included toward the bottom of the page. All reviews are displayed with a small image and the name of the reviewer. Each is clickable and directs you to the user's Twitter profile, a way of verifying that the reviews are, indeed, from real people.

Finding a Therapist at Headway

The search feature on Headway's website is pretty straightforward. You'll start by selecting your state from the 14 featured in the drop-down menu. 

Then, once you’ve chosen your state (the only required field for the search), a list of providers populates the screen. A map with green-colored pins also appears on the right side of the screen. I liked that each pin represents a provider and can be clicked on directly for more information.

Headway map

You can further filter your search by clicking on the "concerns" and "insurance" tabs. The concerns tab contains a list of topics that you may want to filter your results by. These include all 20 mental health topics featured on the Headway homepage. 

A "more filters" button gives users the option to view advanced filters for language preferences, child and adolescent psychiatry, specific modalities or therapy techniques (CBT, DBT, EMDR, etc.), treatment specialties (anxiety, depression, trauma, etc.), and whether you prefer in-person or video sessions. 

The insurance tab provides users with accepted carriers based on your state, which helps ensure your provider is in-network.

Other available filters include psychiatry care, time of day you’re available, gender, and ethnicity. There's also a clickable "phone consults" filter that allows you to only see providers who offer phone consultations. 

You can filter by different groups, including gender (female, male, transgender, or non-binary), and ethnicity. Unfortunately, though, there's no way to search for providers based on religious affiliation, which may be an important factor for some. 

The initial search page lists each therapist’s name, credentials, insurance accepted, specialties, and next available appointment time. Three emoji icons allow users to get a quick idea of the therapist's style: empowering, social-oriented, humorous, warm, holistic, etc. 

Headway emojis

Directory Bio Pages

When you click on a therapist on the result page, you’ll be taken to the provider’s detailed bio page, which will provide you with information about them.

Headway bio

Each page will display a headshot and information about their education, experience, style, specialties, and reviews. You're also able to see the days and times they're available and the per-session cost. Information on accepted insurance carriers and appointment types is also noted.

The bios also include the provider's license type (LCSW, LMFT, PsyD, etc.), as well as their degree and the school they attended. Most include their language, gender, location, and treatment modalities. 

I liked that the bios are thorough and offer a lot of useful information about each provider, although some were more detailed than others. This was helpful in getting to know the therapist and their qualifications before scheduling an appointment.

Scheduling 

One of the best features of Headway, especially compared to other directories we reviewed, is that you can schedule an appointment with a therapist directly from their bio page. 

To do so, users can click on an available appointment time and select whether they'd like an in-person or video session. You're then prompted to either log in with an existing account or sign up as a new user.

Once you've logged in or created an account, you're asked to enter your date of birth, insurance information, and phone number. The cost of your sessions is displayed, and you're able to enter payment information before confirming the appointment. I created an account within minutes and had no trouble working through the scheduling process.

Payment and Insurance

Headway also handles all payment and insurance claims directly for you—this is one of the directory’s biggest selling points.

Headway insurance

There are 30+ insurance carriers accepted by Headway, including Aetna, United Healthcare, Oxford, Cigna, and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield—although plans vary based on the state you have coverage in. 

Medicare and Medicaid are also not listed as accepted forms of insurance. The company's frequently asked questions also address this, stating that "If your plan is affiliated with Medicaid or Medicare, we will not be able to accept your insurance at this time." This is a significant barrier to services for older adults and people living at or below the poverty line.

On average, 26% of the users said they wished more directories displayed therapists that took insurance and 22% wished for more therapists that accept a variety of insurance providers on the directories they use.

According to Headway's website, the average cost of therapy when using their platform with health insurance is $20 to $50 per session, which aligns with what the users we surveyed told us. On average, the users who used their insurance benefits to help pay for their Headway therapists said they paid around $157 per month—which breaks down to roughly $36.50 per weekly session. 

However, it is worth noting that if you do not have insurance, this likely isn’t the directory for you. Currently, its services focus entirely on those who have insurance coverage, although it claims to be working on private pay options. I tried to book an appointment without entering any insurance information and was not able to proceed. I also reached out to Headway, who confirmed they don't currently have a feature to allow patients to see a provider via self-pay.

However, there is the potential for some confusion because most provider bios display a standard rate of up to $250 per session if you don’t first enter your insurance information. This might make some users think they can pay that amount if their insurance provider is not accepted, which is not actually the case. This displayed rate is just meant to give you a general idea of how much that therapist will bill your plan. 

Since all providers take insurance, there is no mention of sliding-scale payment options on the site, but some provider profiles do mention that they offer free consultations.

How Useful Is the Directory for Therapy Seekers?

Headway is most useful for those looking to find a qualified therapist who accepts their insurance and can offer appointments that fit their schedule. Of the Headway users we surveyed, 62% said they were able to find a therapist who fits their needs and 73% of survey participants reported being likely to use Headway again in the future. 

However, 12% of users reported the need for better filter options—citing a desire to sort through therapists more efficiently. Some other top complaints include insurance plans not being accepted (27%) and the lack of diversity among therapists (25%). It also appears, based on our survey, that the directory is most popular in states with a larger population, such as Texas (12%) and New York (11%). Services seem limited in therapy deserts such as Nevada and Utah. This is a drawback, compared to some of the other directories we reviewed.

As part of our evaluation of the site, we had users search for therapists based on specific scenarios to learn more about how Headway's directory might work in real-world situations. Overall, our testers felt the site lacked the ability to find qualified providers for more complex issues, and the users we surveyed seemed to agree.

One test user said

“I was disappointed by the lack of diversity even when checking out multiple states, a lack of filter options, and issues signing up. Coming from the perspective of a user, I wanted to love this site and really found that it wasn't compelling and just wouldn't meet my own needs or a lot of other people's."

Headway could improve its directory by increasing the visibility of providers who specialize in complex issues or finding ways to make it easier for users to search for providers based on more specific qualifications.

Still, although Headway doesn't have as many options for complex issues as some of the other directories we reviewed, we found that many users were seeking care for anxiety (49%) and depression (51%), both of which are specialties that are well-represented in the Headway directory.

Headway's website also provides a disappointingly brief diversity statement, simply stating in two sentences that they “strive to build a team with a diversity of backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences.” Other directories we reviewed included much more information about their commitment to diversity. Our research revealed a lack of diversity among Headway's providers. When searching transgender or non-binary providers, most areas had zero results, though we did find a few providers in larger cities, such as Atlanta, Georgia. Ethnicity filters did produce more results, but the majority of providers appear to be Caucasian.

Interestingly, around 76% of users felt the diversity of providers was either "very good" or "good." Only 3% of survey participants said the diversity was poor. The other 21% were neutral. Plus, of the 180 users we surveyed about their experiences using the site, 83% said the services were either very good or excellent. Not only that, but  61% of respondents said they found out about the site from a friend or family member—suggesting that word of mouth is Headway’s greatest asset.

It is worth noting, though, that currently there are more than 50 languages listed as being spoken by Headway providers. These include English, Spanish, American Sign Language, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, German, Arabic, and many more. However, when filtering through providers based on different language options, most results are for English-speaking providers. For example, of the 564 providers listed in Colorado, 562 speak English, and 37 speak Spanish. No American Sign Language-speaking providers were available in Colorado. 

Still, of the 180 survey participants, 96% reported finding a therapist in the language they're most comfortable with, while 4% said their therapist did not speak the language they're most comfortable with.

How Useful Is the Directory for Therapists?

Headway's main focus is on facilitating the payment and insurance process for therapy, which is a significant barrier for therapists working in private practice due to the administrative burden. In this way, it's a useful directory for therapists who are looking to reduce the amount of time they spend on billing and claims. Because of this, all therapists on Headway are required to accept insurance. This allows therapy seekers who otherwise could not afford the out-of-pocket cost of therapy access to the mental health services they need—while also sparing therapists some of the administrative headaches of submitting paperwork to insurance. 

Headway offers a few other features that may be beneficial for therapists too, including:

  • A bio page with availability
  • Assistance with insurance credentialing
  • Online booking and payments
  • Referrals and marketing support
  • Professional development

The site gets a good deal of traffic, too, which is a plus for therapists looking for new clients. However, five out of 12 therapists we spoke to stated they get very few referrals from Headway, meaning this isn’t really the advantage we expected and many of them wished it brought them better visibility.

That said, many of the therapists told us that they appreciated the administrative support Headway offers and the lack of a membership fee.

“Taking away that administrative burden for me is a lot,” says Paola Kasenetz, licensed professional counselor (LPC, LMHC, ​​LCMHC) and Headway provider. Still, she too says she’s had very few referrals from the platform. “It would be nice if there was at least somewhat of a balance there, that they would promote you more.”

Gayle Weill, a social worker who's been in practice for more than five years, told us she joined Headway in the hopes of getting billing support and she finds the directory to be "excellent" in terms of value and ease of use, and she'll likely continue using it since it's a free service.

Group practices may also find Headway to be a helpful way to handle insurance without hiring a full-time billing staff. According to their website, Headway automatically pays providers on a bi-monthly basis, making it a good option for those who want to avoid processing claims and invoices themselves.

One notable difference between Headway and other directories we reviewed is that is free for providers. Rather than charge the therapists a monthly or yearly fee, it instead makes money by taking a percentage of each session booked through its platform, which actually comes directly from the insurance company when a claim is processed. The amount each therapist earns per session varies depending on license type and location.

Overall, Headway seems to be a helpful tool for therapists who are looking for an easy way to get started with online booking and insurance billing. According to Hannah Owens, LMSW, Headway is “[o]ne of the few directories that assist therapists with billing and insurance, making it more feasible for therapists to work in-network and therefore be more accessible to more clients.”

How Does Headway Compare to Online Therapy Companies and Directories?

Overall, our survey found that Headway offers a good mix of features and services:

  • 41% of users have tried another online therapy company or directory.
  • 76% of those who have tried another service say Headway is the same or better.
  • 4% percent of users say Headway is worse than other companies they've used.

Users were particularly satisfied with Headway's ease of use across platforms, therapist qualifications and specializations, and ability to accept insurance. When compared to other platforms, users liked that the site was easy to use (55%) and that the therapists had better qualifications and training (28%) than previously used directories.

Interestingly, though, the most common complaint we heard was also related to insurance. Just over 27% of users said they would like to see more therapists accept their insurance.

Another drawback is the lack of diversity and cultural sensitivity among therapists. Around 25% of survey respondents said they would like to see more diversity among providers. However, this percentage is lower than most other therapy directories we surveyed.

Still, 76% of respondents said they were either likely or very likely to recommend the directory to someone else, though it is worth noting that only 64% of survey participants are still using the therapist they found through Headway. Even among the users who discontinued therapy with a Headway provider, 73% said they would use the directory again in the future. 

However, “this directory had the lowest percentage (62%) of individuals who found a therapist who met all their needs,” Hardy points out. “There could be [a] correlation between utilizing insurance and being limited in options based on network restrictions.” 

Final Verdict

Overall, Headway is a useful directory for those in need of a qualified therapist that’s in-network with their insurance, suggesting it is succeeding in making online therapy more accessible and affordable by bridging the gap between therapists and those in need of care.  

The majority of users we surveyed were pleased enough with Headway and would recommend it to others (76%) or use it again themselves (73%). If you’re looking for an easy way to find and book appointments with in-network therapists, Headway is worth considering. Just bear in mind the potential limitations of the platform when searching for a therapist that’s right for you.

Methodology

To compose this review, we conducted original, data-driven research in order to get a full sense of how Headway helps therapy seekers and therapists connect and how it compares to other popular directories. We started off evaluating around 180 users at each company (4,862 respondents total) and collecting data and research on the company, such as when it was founded, the number of therapists it lists, which states it serves, and more. We also interviewed or surveyed a minimum of 10 therapists listed on each directory about their experience using the directory, including how it has affected their caseload and whether they’d recommend it to their colleagues. 

Next, we tested each directory ourselves by searching for therapists who might be appropriate for 37 different but common reasons why someone might be looking for a therapist, looking at the website's accessibility, cultural sensitivity, and ability to meet condition-focused needs. 

We then asked our three subject matter experts, Amy Marschall, Nic Hardy, and Hannah Owens, to score these testing results to determine the directory’s search functionality and ease of use for users. We also sent a questionnaire to each company, though not all companies responded. Headway did not respond. Read our full methodology here.

By Lindsay Modglin
Lindsay is a nurse-turned professional mental health and wellness writer with 9+ years of clinical healthcare experience.

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.

Learn about our editorial process
and
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