Online-Therapy.com Review

Online-Therapy.com offers cognitive behavioral therapy and coping tools

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Online-Therapy.com Review

Online-Therapy.com

Online-Therapy.com is a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) platform offering individual and couples therapy, worksheets, yoga classes, and even a digital journal. Its services are provided worldwide.

VERYWELL MIND's 2021 ONLINE THERAPY AWARDS
  • Best for Stress and Anxiety
  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Facts
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Lots of resources in addition to therapy sessions

  • Easy sign-up process that matches you with a therapist

  • Offers individual and couples therapy

  • Discount offered for first month and when canceling the subscription

  • Affordably priced subscription

  • All therapists practice cognitive behavioral therapy

  • Therapy sessions via video, voice, or texting

Cons
  • Cannot pay per session

  • Does not accept insurance

  • Tech issues with the sessions held on the platform

  • Not appropriate for those in a mental health crisis

  • Therapists cannot provide mental health diagnoses

  • No group therapy offered

  • No medication management offered

Key Facts
Price
$200-$440 per month
Is Insurance Accepted?
No
Type Of Therapy
N/A
Communication Options
Audio, Messaging, Video Chat
HIPAA Compliant?
N/A
Is There an App?
No
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.

Accessing mental health support is a challenge. It can be an expensive feat and cause strain on your schedule, and just one session a week may not suffice. Online-Therapy.com aims to address these issues by offering worldwide virtual therapy to both individuals and couples. Specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy, its services include individual and couples sessions conducted through video, phone call, or live chat. It also offers a virtual mental health program filled with worksheets, yoga videos, private messaging with your therapist, and a virtual journal.

To deepen our understanding of how useful its services are, we tested the platform ourselves, received insight from one of our subject matter experts, and surveyed 105 Online-Therapy.com users about their experience. Here’s how the company stacked up to its competitors.

What Is Online-Therapy.com?

Carl Nordstrom founded Online-Therapy.com in 2009 after he read a compelling study celebrating the benefits of virtual CBT. He wanted to make cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) a mainstream and accessible option for people looking for mental health care.

CBT is an evidence-based form of talk therapy that focuses on shifting negative thought processes by challenging and replacing them with more realistic and helpful ways of thinking. It has proven successful in treating anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and some personality disorders, which is why Nordstrom wanted to make this type of therapy more widely available.

The key values of the company are affordability and convenience. Those pillars, and the idea that its low costs and wealth of therapeutic offerings set it apart from other virtual therapy options, are reiterated throughout the website. Since we reviewed the company in 2021, Online-Therapy.com has evolved by adding couples therapy to its services. This allows couples to receive treatment and use the virtual program together. 

What Services Does Online-Therapy.com Offer?

Online-Therapy.com offers a cognitive behavioral therapy program that’s split into eight sections and is supplemented by worksheets, an activity plan, and a virtual journal. Its services are perfect for self-motivated individuals and couples who need extra support around negative thinking or require flexible scheduling. 

The company currently offers individual and couples sessions along with the cognitive behavioral therapy program. These sessions can be held via voice, video, or texting. Clients are also free to message their therapist at anytime in between sessions. Services are not available to anyone under the age of 18 at this time. 

As with all online therapy companies, Online-Therapy.com is inappropriate for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidal ideation. 

How Much Does Online-Therapy.com Cost?

One of Online-Therapy.com’s greatest triumphs is its affordability. It offers four different tiers of services. It breaks down the cost by week, though you will be billed on a monthly basis. 

Here are its plans:

  • The Basic tier costs $50 a week ($200 a month) and includes unlimited messaging with your therapist, the eight-section CBT program, and access to worksheets, yoga videos, the online journal, an activity plan, and daily replies from your therapist on worksheets on weekdays.
  • The Standard tier costs $80 a week ($320 a month) and includes one 45-minute session per week conducted via video, text, or voice, in addition to everything included on the basic tier plan. 
  • The Premium tier costs $110 a week ($440 a month) and includes two 45-minute sessions per week conducted via video, text, or voice, as well as everything included in the basic tier plan. 
  • The Couples Therapy tier also costs $110 a week ($440 a month) and includes one 45-minute couples therapy session per week conducted via video, text, or voice plus access for both of you to everything in the basic tier plan. 

According to our 2022 Cost of Therapy survey, the average price per therapy session is $178, making Online-Therapy.com’s offerings more affordable than the cost of a similar number of sessions per week. This is likely why the users we surveyed also found it generally affordable—33% ranked it as somewhat affordable, 35% classified it as affordable, and another 16% identified it as very affordable. 

Does Online-Therapy.com Take Insurance?

No, Online-Therapy.com does not accept insurance, though users can use a health savings account (HSA) card or a flexible spending account (FSA). 

In our Cost of Therapy survey, 71% of those attending therapy said they used their insurance to fund their treatment. The inability to use insurance to pay for Online-Therapy.com may pose a great disadvantage to some. Therapy seekers may be able to find companies or therapists that offer sliding scale rates for less out-of-pocket than the cost of an Online-Therapy.com subscription. 

Navigating Online-Therapy.com’s Website

The landing page is colorful and inviting. It includes tones of green and orange, but it also has lots of white space so the text is easy to read. Diversity is lacking a bit, though—there are no BIPOC people included anywhere on the landing page.

Online-Therapy

As soon as you head to Online-Therapy.com, you are also invited to join the platform with a 20% discount on your first month. It is straightforward in setting itself apart from other therapy sites, noting how it offers a “complete happiness toolbox” in addition to its therapy sessions. 

Online-Therapy.com

The website is very easy to navigate. As you scroll down the page, you can read reviews from Online-Therapy.com users and take a peek at all that is included in its program. There is even a quiz to assess how you’re doing in your daily life. 

Online-Therapy.com

“What is interesting about Online-Therapy.com, and what it makes very clear on its homepage, is that it has a holistic view of mental health,” says our subject matter expert Hannah Owens, LMSW

While it doesn't necessarily have an explicit mission statement, it has a video featuring Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, explaining the program and how it can benefit others. Lombardo is a CBT consultant to Online-Therapy.com.

Online-Therapy.com

The website features a frequently asked questions section, though it is at the very bottom of the homepage and is easy to miss. It is also challenging to find out how much a subscription costs. To do so, you have to head to the frequently asked questions page. 

Online-Therapy.com

The company lists some of the therapists working on the platform under its “About Us” page, which is also easy to miss. On this page, you can read an extensive bio about each therapist, including their education, qualifications, personal approach to therapy, and reviews from previous clients. This felt very unique and interesting; I enjoyed having the opportunity to read about others’ experiences with each therapist. 

You can’t book with the therapists directly. I found this a bit disappointing. I can see how it might be easy to deeply connect with a therapist’s bio based on all the information they provide and then experience disappointment upon realizing you can’t instantly move forward with working with them.

The website includes a blog, which covers topics such as mental health resources, signs of emotional eating, and how to support loved ones dealing with mental health issues. The articles are written by professionals and have references, most of which are secondary sources. 

A critical component that is missing from Online-Therapy’s website is a sense of diversity and inclusion. All the marketing images depict White individuals, leaving those with marginalized identities out. There are also no accessibility functions on the website, another strong indicator of diversity exclusion. 

The company features great social media content, particularly on Instagram. Though the account only has 486 followers, the company regularly posts educational content that takes a holistic approach. Its social media presence suggests the company prioritizes health from a mind, body, and soul perspective. For example, see posts about the best essential oils for sleep and instructions on creating a sustainable self-care plan. The company Facebook page has the same content as its Instagram, just reformatted for easy reading. 

How Do You Sign Up for Therapy at Online-Therapy.com?

Signing up at Online-Therapy.com is a speedy and easy process. You are asked if you’d like to engage in individual or couples therapy. After making that selection, you are asked to identify issues you’re struggling with. 

It offers an exhaustive list of topics that can be addressed in therapy, including:

I do have some concerns with this list. Online-Therapy.com's website states that if you are experiencing a crisis or are suicidal, its services are not a good fit. However, if you select domestic violence or trauma/abuse as areas of concern, no further screening is done to ensure a user isn’t in immediate crisis. These categories do not specify if these issues are currently occurring or have occurred in the past. Someone presently experiencing domestic violence or abuse will be in a crisis situation. Recent research states that women experiencing domestic violence are at an increased risk for suicide.

Furthermore, diagnoses like bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder can involve suicidality, making this platform an inappropriate treatment option.

It is not reiterated throughout the sign-up process that these services are not for you if you're in crisis. While someone could be dishonest when signing up for Online-Therapy.com, they could also not be aware of what constitutes a crisis or suicidality. This lack of targeted screening could lead to those who need more intensive care unknowingly signing up for the platform. 

During the sign-up process, you’re also asked what gender you’d prefer your therapist to be and the type of therapy format you’d like (video, voice only, text chat). It is worth noting that its options for the gender of the therapist were not inclusive. You could only choose male, female, or you’re not sure. 

This lack of inclusivity was a general theme within the intake process. Online-Therapy.com did not ask any questions about client preference on therapist identity beyond the limited question about gender. It also didn’t ask any questions about client identity. 

The final step of signing up is making an account, which involves sharing your name, state of residence, and email address and creating a password. There is a note stating that by creating an account, you are confirming you are over the age of 18. Since this platform allows for text and voice-only sessions plus provides worksheets, it is a great fit for teens. Considering the rising mental health concerns amongst teenagers, having access to virtual CBT could be of great support, making the age restriction a disappointment. 

Matching With a Therapist

After signing up, you are immediately matched with a therapist. This is a great aspect of Online-Therapy.com. Its competitor Talkspace takes up to 48 hours to match a client with a therapist, and another competitor, BetterHelp, can take up to a few days. 

You cannot schedule a session or access the entire private user portal until submitting payment, but once you have, you can access all parts of the user portal, sign up for a session with your therapist, message your therapist, and fill out worksheets.

Once payment is submitted, you will be encouraged to complete a brief intake questionnaire. It is labeled as a “Getting to Know You” worksheet and isn’t mandatory to fill out prior to the session. It has open-ended questions about any history of hospitalizations, mental health diagnoses, and reasons for seeking treatment.

The first therapist I matched with was not a good fit. As a Black woman, I value having a BIPOC provider, and the first provider I matched with was not a member of the BIPOC community. When switching therapists, I was only offered one BIPOC provider while the rest were White. 

Despite my concerns regarding the diversity of therapist options, users of Online-Therapy.com were generally satisfied with the choices provided. For example, 25% rated the diversity of therapists as excellent, and another 37% rated them as very good. In addition, general provider satisfaction was also very high; 83% were either very satisfied or satisfied with the therapists presented. 

How Do Therapy Sessions Work at Online-Therapy.com?

It’s easy to schedule and attend online therapy sessions at Online-Therapy.com. As soon as you log into your account, you will see a photo of your therapist with a reminder to check out any new messages or worksheet comments you might have received from your provider. 

Then, if you scroll down slightly, you can access the CBT program, worksheets, journal, messaging portal with your therapist, and schedule a session with your therapist. 

You can attend sessions in one of three ways: audio call, video call, and live chatting. I tried out sessions with two different therapists and used all available forms of therapy sessions, including video, voice, and text. You’re able to notate your preferred format of the session when booking.

Live Video Sessions

After selecting my preference for having a live video session when booking the appointment, I was immediately sent a confirmation email with information on how to start my session. The session day and time were automatically saved to my calendar, a detail I appreciate. 

To get started, I simply log into my account dashboard and click a button that says “live sessions.” From there, I am able to join the appointment. My appointment began on time, with my therapist drinking a cup of tea in what looked like a well-put-together home office. Her approach to our time together was solution-focused, dealing with the here and now. I really appreciated her thoughtful questions, and I noticed she was doing a fair amount of history-taking while keeping the focus on my current stressors. Overall, our time together felt productive and helpful.

At the end of our session, she invited me to schedule my next appointment with her through my dashboard before saying goodbye. After ending our call, I was able to schedule another session within the next week. I made sure my next session with her was an audio call so I could see if there were any key differences. 

Live Audio Sessions

The booking, confirmation, and initiation of the live audio session were the exact same as when I was booking a video session. When I logged onto my session, my provider was right on time. Where the video was during my last session, there was now just a blank screen with a microphone. There was some occasional clanging in the background of the session, which made me suspect that there was some multitasking happening. 

I found it hard to focus and connect during the audio session since I was essentially talking to my computer. If this platform had an app, I could see the live audio sessions being very convenient. That being said, the audio sessions simply weren't for me. 

Text Chat

Again, scheduling and logging onto the text session was the same process as with the live video and audio sessions. However, there were some significant technical issues with this session format. The live chat is different than the general messaging portal where you can send a therapist notes in between sessions. Upon logging into the live chat, I waited for over five minutes with no response from my therapist. 

I ended up going to my general messaging portal to send her a note, which she responded to. She let me know that she was experiencing technical difficulties and then shortly after logged into the live chat section. What ensued was a session filled with long lapses between message responses, with the therapist stating there was an ongoing technical issue. I found the experience a bit frustrating. However, she offered me an additional free session that week to make up for it, which I really appreciated. 

What Happens If I Miss a Session?

If you need to miss a session, you are asked to give your provider 24 hours notice. If you cancel with less than 24 hours notice or forget a session, you will have forfeited a session for that week. 

Switching Therapists at Online-Therapy.com

Switching therapists is simple. As soon as you log into your account, you will see a pop-up message from your therapist welcoming you back to the platform. On that message, there will be a button that reads “change therapist” located right under your therapist’s profile.

After clicking it, you are shown a few available therapists. Simply pick which one you want to move forward with, and then you can schedule a session immediately. I loved how quick and seamless this process was. There were no questions asked, no wait time, and no awkwardness. 

This system for quickly switching therapists is in place for good reason–it isn’t uncommon to need to try out a few different providers before finding a match. Forty-eight percent of Online-Therapy.com platform users tried out two to three therapists before meeting the right fit. Eighteen percent of users saw four to five different therapists before they settled on a selection. 

When switching therapists, I was given about five other options to choose from. I noticed that none were licensed in my state, which raises an ethical red flag for me. Mental health professionals are generally only allowed to provide psychotherapy to residents who live in states they are licensed in. It is worth noting that all therapists on the website were licensed and had an advanced degree related to psychology, mental health, social work, or counseling. 

I reached out to the Online-Therapy.com team to clarify this discrepancy. A member of its team responded within 24 hours. “When you signed up, you were signed up with a therapist from your state… Unfortunately, we don’t have therapists onboard from [your state] except for the selected therapist,” she explained. I found this response odd—I was still able to hold sessions with a therapist licensed in a different state and a therapist living in a different country, making it clear that the platform itself is not assuming the ethical responsibility of acting in accordance with each state’s licensing laws. 

Cancelling Therapy

Cancelling your Online-Therapy.com subscription is also very easy. Once logged into your account, there is a tab at the top of the page labeled “subscription.” You can see your current subscription plan and billing information if you click on it. You can cancel at any time. 

Be sure to cancel before your next billing date to avoid being charged for the month ahead. When canceling, you are offered a 25% discount, providing a price break for anyone needing to terminate their care for financial reasons. 

Quality of Care and User Satisfaction

While much is positive about Online-Therapy.com, I left my experience with the platform feeling concerned about its quality of care. 

During a voice-only session, it was clear that my therapist was multitasking, evidenced by loud sounds and significant background noise. I encountered a host of tech issues with the texting session and noticed the conversation with my therapist felt dry and unproductive. I was offered an additional session to compensate for the tech issues, which I appreciated.

Additionally, I am concerned about the ethics of therapists holding sessions with individuals who reside in states they aren’t licensed in. This presents a potential safety risk. If a client were to experience a crisis during a session and require emergency support, the onus would be on the therapist to coordinate that care. If the therapist resides out of the country, they may not be versed in contacting emergency authorities overseas. 

I reached out to Online-Therapy.com provider Sofia Schuringa, ADMH, RHC, RHNC to ask her about her experience working with them. 

“I appreciate the flexibility around when and how I work with my clients,” she explained. “Not only can I connect with a client from anywhere, anytime, I can also choose the means of connecting (through video, voice call, or live chatting).”  She continued by expressing that she feels cared for as a provider. “I've appreciated the transparency and communication from the CEO, Carl. He has been open to feedback during my time working on the platform and is quick to put it into action.” When asked about compensation, she admitted that the rate is lower than what a therapist might make in private practice, but the platform's flexibility makes the pay cut worth it. 

I asked Schuringa and the Online-Therapy.com team about what happens to a client should a therapist terminate employment with the platform. They both stated that the client is contacted and invited to transfer to a new therapist if a therapist leaves. 

When asked to rate Online-Therapy.com overall, 85% of our users felt the company was good, very good, or excellent. Additionally, 34% of our respondents reported that they found a therapist who met all of their needs, while another 38% said that most of their needs were met.

Privacy Policies

Online-Therapy.com uses 256-bit encryption for all communication between clients and therapists. It adheres to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), ensuring that it is taking steps to maintain the confidentiality and protection of client information. Additionally, it automatically deletes users’ accounts and all associated information after two years of inactivity. Clients can update their settings to adjust this timeframe. 

Its privacy policy statement is somewhat difficult to decipher and is written primarily in legalese. However, it does state the purpose and legal basis of each aspect of its privacy policy. For example, it is adamant that personal data is only shared when essential and is never sold. Circumstances that deem sharing personal data essential include sharing personal information with your provider, disclosing concerns to legal authorities, and with the new owner of the company, should the company ever be sold. This is a rather standard privacy policy statement.

Online-Therapy.com vs. Its Competitors

One of Online-Therapy.com’s biggest competitors is BetterHelp, which also offers video, voice, and text sessions and a similar subscription model. Each company’s pricing is relatively similar. Online-Therapy.com ranges from $50 to $110 weekly, while BetterHelp is $60 to $90 weekly, though BetterHelp does practice surge pricing (charging more for its services in areas where mental health care is in high demand). BetterHelp also offers therapy for teens, making its services slightly more accessible than Online-Therapy.com’s. Eighty-six percent of BetterHelp users stated they had a positive experience, comparable to the 83% of Online-Therapy.com users who expressed the same sentiment.

Talkspace, another Online-Therapy.com competitor, offers subscriptions from $69 to $129 weekly. Talkspace provides both teen therapy and psychiatry, and 90% of Talkspace users were satisfied with their experience, beating out both BetterHelp and Online-Therapy.com. 

When it comes to deciding between these three companies, it will come down to the services you need, and if you’re interested in accessing the additional mental health resources Online-Therapy.com offers. 

Final Verdict

Online-Therapy.com is a unique platform that provides excellent value for its price. Its affordability and wealth of coping tools set it apart from some of its competitors. However, with its lack of diversity in providers, murky ethical protocols regarding therapists practicing in states in which they are not licensed, and my personal experience of lackluster care, I am hesitant to recommend this platform to therapy-seekers. 

Despite my reservations, 85% of Online-Therapy.com users stated they had an excellent experience with the platform. It is worth noting that 53% of users suffer from anxiety while another 52% suffer from depression. Given that cognitive behavioral therapy successfully treats these conditions, it isn’t surprising to hear that many are satisfied with the care they receive. Eighty-two percent of Online-Therapy.com clients are likely or very likely to recommend the platform to others. 

Methodology

To fairly and accurately review the best online therapy programs, we sent questionnaires to 55 companies and surveyed 105 current users of each platform. 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 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 interviewed one therapist who currently works for this company and worked with one subject matter expert to get their expert analysis on how suited this company is to provide quality care to therapy seekers. 

By Julia Childs Heyl
Julia Childs Heyl, MSW, is a clinical social worker and writer. As a writer, she focuses on mental health disparities and uses critical race theory as her preferred theoretical framework. In her clinical work, she specializes in treating people of color experiencing anxiety, depression, and trauma through depth therapy and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) trauma therapy.

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