My Daughter and I Tried Online Therapy at Teen Counseling—Here’s What We Thought

Is the biggest online therapy platforms for teens worth the hype?

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teenager has psychotherapy session with her therapist via video call

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Six months ago, my daughter made the decision to completely block her father (who I have been divorced from for 11 years) from all communication with her. It’s not a decision that she made impulsively or takes lightly, but I know that she is in a lot of pain from both that choice and the reasons that led up to it. While she knows I am there for her no matter what, we also both know that I have a hard time being objective and unbiased due to my own past abuse from him. Some outside guidance was needed to help her work through the anger and sadness that she was carrying. 

I signed her up for a month of Teen Counseling, an online therapy platform that attracted me with its focus on solely treating teens and young adults between the ages of 13 and 19. Admittedly, I did not know much about Teen Counseling other than that BetterHelp was its parent company and I knew that while BetterHelp was huge in the online therapy field, it also had its own controversy around privacy policies because it had been selling client data to third parties. However, the FTC has since ordered it to stop the process so, I weighed the pros and cons and decided to go ahead with a monthly subscription to Teen Counseling because of its specialty in working with young adults. 

Sessions take place via video, phone or text and the website said that it works with a network of over 13,000 licensed therapists—I figured we should definitely be able to find a good fit with those kinds of numbers. It doesn’t accept insurance, but I am uninsured anyway. The website said the weekly price for therapy would be $60 to $90 per week. That felt expensive, but accessible for me as a single mom of three if I made it a priority. Besides, I spend $60 to $90 filling up the gas tank and getting a few coffees every week. So, we decided to dive in.

Signing Up at Teen Counseling

The homepage of the website starts out very straightforwardly, with two boxes to choose from: “I’m a parent” and “I’m a teen.”  The bars at the top of the homepage are also very streamlined, with Parent FAQ and Teen FAQ, Reviews, Contact, and Get Started.  


When I clicked on “I’m a parent,” it then asked if I would be inviting my teen to therapy or if I was just looking for advice as a parent. I indicated that I wanted to invite my teen, and I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of options it gave me for choosing my teen's gender: male, female, nonbinary, trans male, trans female, agender, I don’t know, and I prefer not to say.  

It then asked some basic questions about age, who the child lived with, if they attended school, if they have ever been in therapy before, their sleeping and eating habits, anger levels, if they have trouble concentrating, if they had ever been suicidal, and my basic concerns—such as anxiety, depression, eating disorder, school challenges, criminal behavior, etc. 

Next, it asked my location (all BetterHelp-owned companies use surge pricing that is location dependent, meaning you pay more for services in an area where mental health care is in high demand) and asked me to create my login info, and once I had that I was directed to the price I would pay. 

Teen Counseling quoted me $80 a week (there is only one plan available) but made it easily clear that if that wouldn’t work for me, I could apply for financial assistance. I decided to give it a go and three minutes later, after answering a few simple questions, I was offered a 40% discount, making my bill just $192 a month. 

I was then told I would be matched with a licensed therapist, which happened the following afternoon. I was not given a choice in therapist, and the email I received just said who I was matched with and followed her name with “a qualified licensed therapist.” I would have appreciated more info offered up front about who I was trusting my daughter with. I was prompted to give my daughter’s contact information and the company told me that they would send her an invite code via email and text message.

How Therapy Sessions Work at Teen Counseling

My daughter and I each got access to our own separate therapy rooms, which functioned as our personal place to communicate with our therapist. The room is open 24/7 and we could write to or respond to our therapist whenever we wanted, getting a notification by email when the therapist responded back. 

The First Session

We got a first available appointment about a week out from signing up and had to reschedule once, which was incredibly easy to do through the platform. 

Everything was going great… until our first video call. 

My daughter does not live with me, but we were both online and ready to go. I was allowed into the call punctually, and my therapist asked me if I would be joining with my daughter. I said yes, but my daughter quickly Whatsapped me that she couldn’t join, that in her room she could see that there was a call scheduled, could see that the call was in progress, but it gave her no way of entering the call. 

My therapist then made me lose a lot of confidence, because she started questioning whether or not both the parent and teen could attend at the same time—to me this seemed like super basic info that she should definitely know. 

She advised me to take the first 20 minutes of the 45-minute session, and then if I hung up perhaps it would allow my daughter in. But when that time happened, my daughter spent the remaining 25 minutes of the session logging in and out to see if it would finally let her enter—it never did. 

The therapist offered to reschedule a new appointment for later that same evening for my daughter. But on that call, the platform let my daughter into the call, but not the therapist. 

The therapist responded later with “Sorry about yesterday. I did get a response from BetterHelp and they have informed me that the video component of the app will not work on cell phones.” This made no sense because I had successfully done my video call earlier that day from my phone.

My daughter and the therapist messaged through the platform and decided to just try again the next week. 

When I asked my daughter how she felt about this experience, she said that while the therapist was considerate about the frustration of technical difficulties, especially when it happened for the second time in a row, she would have expected the session time to be used as a mental health check-in via messaging if that was all that was available. She commented that while her issue could definitely wait a week, if she was a teen in a more serious or very depressive situation, some written support would have been needed. 

The Second Session

The following week my daughter was finally able to have a full session. 

My daughter reported that the therapist began with telling her what I said my daughter’s issue was and immediately dove in there. In handling it like that, my daugher felt that it put her on the defensive, because it seemed like the therapist perhaps felt like she already understood the issue instead of letting her talk and open up about her own perspective on what she felt was a priority to address. 

My daughter commented that this actually made it so she could hide a bit behind the angle that the therapist ran with and not dive into some more uncomfortable issues that she had intended to address in therapy. My daughter also commented that the therapist did not pull anything out of her—she felt she stayed very much dancing around on the surface and that if a teen did not actually want to be active in therapy (let’s say if therapy was more the parent’s idea), she felt a person could be in therapy for months with her therapist and not do more than scratch the surface. 

Her session finished a bit early and the therapist told her that they would continue the next week and gave her workbook homework (which my daughter honestly had no interest in doing). 

She commented to me that she wished the extra time could have been used to continue talking and exploring her issue—she didn’t feel that time was used effectively. 

On a positive note, she appreciated that the therapist was a good listener, often repeated what my daughter had said to make sure that she understood, and was very validating. She said she had skill in making mental health issues seem like a very normal part of life. 

Pros & Cons

While every company has some positive things going for it, our experience with Teen Counseling was mostly negative. But here’s both the good and bad:

  • Can message your therapist anytime

  • Financial assistance available

  • Specialists in teen therapy

  • Lots of technical glitches

  • No insurance coverage

  • Surge pricing

Final Thoughts

Overall, we were both very disappointed in the service received. In the two weeks since my first botched session with her, the therapist never once reached out to message me or communicate the difficulties that were happening with my daughter’s sessions. If I had a teen that was not fully open with me, I would not have a clue where anything stood in her attempt at therapy. Also, it did not inspire confidence when the therapist didn’t know basic things about the functionality of the sessions—whether parent and child could attend together or whether video could be done from a phone. 

I expected much clearer communication from the therapist in regards to how things were moving along with my daughter (or in this case, not moving along at all). The website made it seem like this company really understood teens. What I saw in action was that the responsibility to push along appointments, to dig into technical issues, to get past the surface in the sessions—it was all put on my teen. Unless your teen is incredibly self-driven and you have wonderfully open communication with your teen, I have a very hard time recommending this company. 

That being said, our experience does not seem to be representative of other clients’ experiences. Our survey results from 105 users of Teen Counseling shows that:

  • 85% of people who use the company describe their experience as positive
  • 76% felt that the provider met either all or most of their needs
  • 71% felt that they would be likely or very likely to recommend the service to a friend. 

Still, while my daughter is planning to do one more session, we agreed to terminate our monthly subscription and look elsewhere after that. I think there are better options out there for kids, teens, young adults and families and I think we can find a better thought.

If you are looking for the best online therapy for your child under 14, we recommend checking out Little Otter, which provides comprehensive therapy and psychiatry services for kids up to age 14 as well as parent coaching and family therapy. For older teens and adults, we recommend Talkspace (which serves ages 13 and up and is available in every state) and Thriveworks (which offers both virtual and in-person services for children, teens, and adults).

1 Source
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. Federal Trade Commission. FTC says online counseling service BetterHelp pushed people into handing over health information – and broke its privacy promises

By Cathy Brown
Cathy Brown has fifteen years of experience in the health and wellness field. She has taught yoga, breath work and meditation and is a certified Trauma Support Specialist. She has hosted numerous wellness retreats and is currently the director of Foxlily Farm, where she is creating a residential healing center for previously trafficked women. 

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.

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Simone Scully

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

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