Peer Collective Online Therapy Review

Our pick for For Best Online Therapy for Peer Support

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Peer Collective Logo
Verywell's Rating
3.5

The trained peer counselors at Peer Collective, the winner of Best for Peer Support, provide nonjudgmental emotional support at low rates, making the service a more affordable alternative to seeing a therapist.

VERYWELL MIND's 2021 ONLINE THERAPY AWARDS
  • Best for Peer Support
  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Facts
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • First session is free

  • Affordable pricing

  • Sessions can be scheduled same day

  • Matched to a counselor who fits your needs and situation, but you have choices too

  • Counselor bios available during signup and scheduling process

  • 30 -or 60-minute video sessions available

  • Counselors are trained and carefully screened for quality

Cons
  • Counselors are not licensed therapists

  • No couples counseling available

  • Limited additional resources available on website

  • No customer service phone number on website

  • No medication management

Key Facts
Price
$14-$28 per hour
Is Insurance Accepted?
No
Communication Options
Audio, Messaging, Video Chat
HIPPA Compliant?
N/A
Is There an App?
Yes
Does it Accept HSA/FSA?
No
First session free SIGN UP NOW
Why Trust Us
33
Companies reviewed
3,497
Total users surveyed
300
Data points analyzed
We surveyed 100 users from each online therapy company and asked the companies to complete questionnaires. Then, we conducted comprehensive research with a psychotherapist.

Founded by Tim Desmond, best-selling author and counseling psychology scholar at Antioch University, Peer Collective is based on the idea that empathetic attention and support from a caring person are most important in helping improve someone's overall mental health.

As a result, this company is different from most of the others we reviewed because it focuses on matching you with a trained listener, or "peer counselor," who has passed a series of tests to ensure that they can give their clients the empathetic emotional support they need. In other words, it's not an online therapy company—it's an emotional support company.

Peer Collective serves all 50 states and offers you the ability to chat with a trained listener for either 30 minutes or an hour, sometimes on the same day you request the session. And you can do this for significantly less than the price of traditional therapy.

But how does Peer Collective perform, compared to the other online therapy companies we reviewed? Keep reading to find out.

We do not have updated user survey data for Peer Collective for 2022; however, the company did respond to our questionnaire and provided updated information about its services.

First Impressions and Sign-up Process 

Peer Collective’s website is cheery, colorful, and welcoming. When you land on the homepage, you’re greeted with the inviting words “Welcome, we’re glad you’re here,” below which you’ll find an invitation to answer six questions to be matched with a Peer Counselor. 

Peer Collective Homepage

Peer Collective Homepage

If you scroll down the page, you’ll see a series of carousels that you can click through to get more information about the company, including who the counselors are, how the service works, and a series of testimonials. At the very bottom of the page, you’ll find four FAQs, including one about their pricing. 

While the modern layout is fairly easy to navigate, the bright colors give the impression that this is a company aimed at a younger audience. Some important information is written in small, dark green font on a teal background, which might be difficult for some users to read, especially with a color vision deficiency, low vision, or another vision impairment. 

Overall the information and resources offered by Peer Collective are limited. Besides a blog, its site does have some information about anxiety, crisis, depression, trauma, anger management, and grief—but this info isn’t as detailed as the informative resources you might find elsewhere.

All you’ll find is a few short paragraphs about what these mental health conditions are, then a sales pitch-like section on how its services might be able to help you cope. 

Seventy-four percent of the users surveyed reported that they either had a very good or excellent experience signing up for Peer Collective services. 

The intake process is pretty quick: You answer six questions about how you’re feeling and what you’re looking for from Peer Collective. You’ll also answer some questions about what you’re looking for in a Peer Counselor, including whether you’d like to work with someone of a particular age, race, gender identity, or sexual orientation, and the company will provide you with a list of suggestions. You can pick your counselor from those recommendations. 

During this process, you can also select a date and time for your first free session. According to the questionnaire we sent to Peer Collective, you should hear from your peer counselor within 24 hours—and thirty-seven percent of the users we surveyed said that was true. However, some did say it took longer: 

  • Twenty-nine percent said they heard from their counselor within two days.
  • Eighteen percent said they heard from their counselor after two days had passed, but within the same week. 
  • Fifteen percent said it took a week or more.

Cost 

There’s no denying that Peer Collective stands out as one of the most affordable companies we reviewed—and seventy-nine percent of the users we polled thought the price was very good or excellent services received.

However, this low price tag is likely because you aren’t meeting with a licensed therapist or receiving therapy. 

Peer Collective's Prices Compared to Other Therapy Options

What Subscription Plans Does Peer Collective Offer?

  • There is no information available on the Peer Collective website about prices. Peer Collective told us in our 2022 questionnaire that sessions cost either $28 or $32 per hour, depending on whether the user has signed up for a monthly service or is paying per session.

Is There a Free Trial?

When you sign up, you get one free session to see if you like it. 

Does Peer Collective Accept Insurance?


Since Peer Collective does not provide therapy with a licensed provider, it does not accept insurance or provide a superbill. 

However, the company tells us that it is negotiating a statewide contract to accept Idaho Medicaid, which should be in place by 2023. Peer Collective hopes to be available for free to all Medicaid recipients in a few years.

Can You Change or Cancel Your Subscription?

You can cancel your subscription or simply stop booking further sessions. The company also notes on its website that if you’re not completely satisfied with your session, it will refund you immediately. 

Peer Collective told us in its 2022 questionnaire that it does not charge a cancellation fee.

Are There Discounts Available?

No, but the cost is already very affordable in comparison to individual therapy and most group therapy sessions.

Ease of Use

All sessions with your Peer Counselor are scheduled through your client portal, which is pretty easy to do according to the eighty-two percent of users who told us the platform was either very good or excellent in terms of user-friendliness. Sessions are conducted via phone or live video, though the company tells us you can still text your counselor in the portal if you need to. 

Eighty-two percent of users said that their video sessions were very good or excellent, while 86% reported the same about their phone call sessions. 

If you do not like the counselor you’re working with, you can request a switch at the end of your session. When booking a session, you have the freedom to search for a counselor based on a lot of filters and choose one that appeals to you. The company tells us that they instruct their counselors to educate their clients on the importance of feeling like you have the right Peer Counselor to help make you more comfortable switching if you choose. 

Of course, if you’re uncomfortable with confrontation, this switching process might seem a little more awkward than it is at other companies, where you can simply click a “switch provider” button or request a new person via customer service. However, you may be able to evade this process and simply use the system to book someone new. Eighty percent of our respondents found the process easy or very easy—which is above average compared to other companies. 

One thing to note about Peer Counseling is that we couldn’t find a customer service number on the website—only an email contact form. This suggests that you will have to wait longer to resolve any issues you might have while using the service. 

Counselors' Qualifications and Quality of Care

The fact that Peer Collective’s counselors aren’t licensed therapists didn’t seem to bother the users we polled, as eighty-four percent said they found their counselors’ qualifications to be either very good or excellent. 

This is likely because the company places a lot of emphasis on training its peer counselors to be empathetic, active listeners. According to the company website, it screens all its counselors to make sure they provide quality support to their clients and have high emotional intelligence. The company says that it only hires the top 3% of applicants. You also get to choose who you want your Peer Counselor to be, rather than have an algorithm choose for you. 

Peer Collective also informed us in its 2022 questionnaire that it currently implements a patent-pending vetting system when hiring and training peer counselors, which evaluates the counselor’s ability to build strong therapeutic relationships. “Our providers don't have a graduate degree and license,” the company says, “but they do have the most important skillset: empathy, understanding, and alliance.” Peer Collective also pointed out that “we also provide a much higher degree of user-feedback and session-by-session supervision than other services,” making the care you receive from a peer counselor trustworthy and informed.

An impressive ninety-six percent of respondents said they were satisfied with the counselor options.

According to the company, it isn’t uncommon for users to book sessions with more than one peer counselor. You can work with more than one counselor if that makes you feel more comfortable—and according to our survey, it appears that many users do indeed do this or at least try a few different counselors before finding their match. Only six percent of users met with only one counselor, while 34% met with two, 32% met with three, and 27% met with four or more.

It’s worth noting that while all peer counselors are only trained listeners, the company told us that it has taken steps to make sure that they are set up to help you if you’re ever in need of more help than a listener can offer: 

  • All peer counselors are trained to help people find other resources, such as talk therapy, or use tools like 211.org
  • The peer counselors are in regular communication with Peer Collective's counseling support faculty, which is made up of licensed therapists. If there's ever a need, a counseling support faculty member can join any session to assist the counselor in finding you a referral to a therapist. 

Peer Collective is still fairly new, so it’s difficult to judge whether the company has high turnover among its staff or if that causes a continuity of care issue. However, the company did tell us that it does have a procedure in place to help users whose Peer Counselor leaves the company: It offers the user a free intake session with a licensed therapist to process the change and discuss options, then provide a free session to try their new peer counselor of choice. If you do not like that counselor, you can have another free session with someone else. 

Types of Therapy Offered

As already mentioned, Peer Collective is an emotional support service, not a therapy service. That said, the company tells us that peer counselors are trained to address the following issues:

  • Mild anxiety
  • Mild depression
  • Trauma 
  • ADHD
  • Bipolar depression
  • Stress management
  • Relationship issues
  • Addiction
  • Issues related to your sexual or gender identity

Privacy Policies

Peer Collective claims to hold itself “to a higher standard than HIPAA,” the federal law protecting personal health information, and notes that it “[does] not gather potentially sensitive info,” nor does it keep process notes about sessions as licensed therapists are required to do. Users can use pseudonyms, and the only data Peer Collective keeps on file is a user’s email address, their phone number, and the number of sessions they booked. However, it is important to consider that most people’s email addresses include their name, making an otherwise secure service not completely anonymous.

Also, according to the website's Privacy Policy, the company does use cookies, beacons, tags, and scripts to track you. 

As noted above, the company will also refer you to other services if you require more care than it can provide. All counselors have crisis escalation training as well, based on crisis hotline training, which involves using the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale to determine if you're at risk. If you are, your counselor will remain on the phone and ask you if you feel comfortable alerting a medical or mental health care professional of your choice. If you don't have one, you might be connected with one of the company's licensed therapists on the Counseling Support Faculty or be connected with a suicide hotline.

Overall Client Satisfaction

Seventy-six percent of survey respondents rated the services they received through Peer Collective as either very good or excellent, while 79% said its value was very good or excellent for the money they spent on sessions. 

Eighty-eight percent told us they were likely or very likely to be working with Peer Counselor a year from now, and 79% of the users who had tried other online therapy services before said that Peer Collective was better or much better than their previous online service. 

Ninety-three percent of survey respondents said they were either likely or very likely to recommend someone like them to Peer Collective. 

Is Peer Collective Right For You?

Sometimes, you just need a person to talk to, whether it’s to vent or talk through an issue you’re having. Other times you may just feel sad and want to hear another human’s voice. If that’s how you feel, then Peer Collective might be the service for you. It’s affordable, available same-day, and you’re guaranteed to be able to talk to someone who’s been trained to listen to you with empathy and compassion.

It might also work for you if you live with a mild mental health condition, such as mild anxiety or stress, and you can’t afford the cost of traditional talk therapy. It’s also a great option for people who don’t have the time to commute to an in-person session.

However, if you live with a more severe mental health condition or you need certain prescriptions, you might want to look for a company that offers you access to a licensed therapist or psychiatrist. It’s also not the service for you if you’re looking for group therapy or family therapy. 

Peer Collective is not designed to be an emergency service. People who are struggling with suicidal thoughts, in crisis, or who need inpatient care are not suitable for this service. It is also not appropriate if you have a history of psychosis. 

Peer Collective vs. 7 Cups

Peer Collective and 7 Cups are both companies focused on providing emotional support to those who need it, though 7 Cups is a much larger company with a bigger domestic and international reach. 

Neither company offers couples therapy, psychiatry, or medication management. Where Peer Collective’s services focus entirely on one-on-one sessions with a peer counselor, 7 Cups offers a few different services, including the ability to chat with a trained listener for free, chat with other users in moderated online forums, or message with a licensed therapist (for an additional fee).

The cost structure at both companies is also different:

  • At 7 Cups, most services are free unless you want a monthly $150 subscription to message with a licensed therapist.
  • Peer Collective charges $28 to $32 per hour to talk to a trained listener via live video or phone call. 

As of September 2022, neither company accepts insurance.

Both companies offer you the ability to chat with someone quickly. At 7 Cups, you can message a trained listener or your therapist 24/7 (though they may not respond right away), whereas Peer Collective offers same-day phone or video calls.  

Website Comparison: Peer Collective vs 7 Cups

Of the users we surveyed, Peer Collective was rated higher as a service across the board:

  • Seventy-six percent of Peer Collective said the service was very good or excellent, while only 66% said the same of 7 Cups.
  • Seventy-nine percent of Peer Collective users reported that services were either better or much better than the services at the companies they used before. At 7 Cups, that number was only 66%.
  • Eighty-eight percent of Peer Collective users reported they were either likely or very likely to still be seeing a therapist within the company a year from now, compared to 81% at 7 Cups.

Ninety-three percent of Peer Collective clients said they were either likely or very likely to refer someone to the company. At 7 Cups, 85% said the same. 

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for compassionate, empathetic emotional support, Peer Collective is the service for you. It is not the same as traditional talk therapy but is more affordable and convenient.

Methodology

Our methodology for evaluating online therapy companies is comprehensive and data-driven. To fairly and accurately review the best online therapy programs, we sent questionnaires to 33 companies and surveyed 100 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 website usability, the sign-up process, subscription offerings, client privacy protections, and how easy it is to change therapists. We then looked at therapist qualifications, the types of therapy offered, quality of care, client-therapist communication options, session length, and the therapist assignment process. Finally, we looked at cost, value for the money, whether the companies take insurance, overall user satisfaction, and the likelihood clients would recommend them.

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. Elliott, R., Bohart, A. C., Watson, J. C., & Murphy, D. (2018). Therapist empathy and client outcome: An updated meta-analysisPsychotherapy, 55(4), 399–410.

By Mary K. Tatum, MS, LMHC
Mary is a licensed mental health counselor and psychotherapist with 15 years of experience working in the psychology field. She earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Bluefield College and a Master of Science in Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She began in social work and then moved to drug rehab settings, working as a therapist, group facilitator, and clinical director. She specializes in family dynamic systems, trauma recovery, improving resilience, addiction recovery, and the psychology of successful business management.

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.

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Updated 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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