Sesh Online Group Support Review

Supportive group approach to mental health, with a variety of options

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Sesh Logo 2022

Sesh offers support groups for people seeking peer support around mental health issues. Though licensed mental health professionals do run all group sessions, these groups are not therapy. The company is also still relatively new and sessions may be very small, or even under-enrolled. Still, people who might find therapy costs prohibitive and need the connection and support that a like-minded group can offer may benefit.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Facts
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Daily sessions offered on a wide variety of mental health topics

  • One month free trial available

  • Only $60 per month for unlimited sessions

  • Users benefit from peer support

  • Can join as many groups as you want

  • Sessions run by licensed mental health professionals

  • Inclusive of racial groups and gender diversity

Cons
  • Sessions are not well attended

  • If not enough people attend, the session is cancelled

  • No individual or couples therapy provides

  • No guarantee to see same participants from group to group

  • Does not accept insurance

  • No medication management

  • Only for people 18 and up

Key Facts
Price
$60 per month
Is Insurance Accepted?
No
Type Of Therapy
N/A
Communication Options
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.

In the United States, only 46% of people with mental illnesses receive treatment due to various barriers, including stigma, denial of insurance coverage, and high out-of-pocket costs. The average cost of an hour-long therapy session in the United States ranges from around $60 to $200. In other words, therapy does not come cheaply, nor, in many cases, affordably, for many Americans and some people simply cannot afford mental health treatment, especially if they are under-insured, uninsured, or their mental health provider doesn’t take insurance—something that is quite common. 

Sesh is an online mental health company that aims to provide a happy medium for people who need therapy but can’t afford it, can’t access it, or just want to try it out. It offers virtual group mental health support that is accessible, affordable, science-based, and can help to address “mental health deserts,” which are areas where there is no access to mental health providers. It also aims to “destigmatize virtual mental health."

However, what Sesh offers isn’t actually therapy or even group therapy; it’s online peer support. We evaluated Sesh and its services against 54 other mental health companies. To do this, we surveyed 105 users and I signed up for group sessions. It’s important to note that Sesh goes out of its way to disclaim that what they offer is “group support” and not therapy. 

What Is Sesh?

Sesh is an online mental health company that was co-founded in 2019 by Vittoria Bergeron (who's now the CEO) and Alyssa Musket. Bergeron had experienced positive results with in-treatment group support for an eating disorder and wanted to help others who might benefit from group support—and both of them wanted to do something to combat America’s mental health care affordability problem. 

They happened to start the company right before the lockdowns of the early pandemic. So they focused on an entirely virtual model: peer group support online with inclusivity in mind so members of LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and Latinx communities feel welcome.

What Services Does Sesh Offer?

Sesh offers a variety of group support sessions led by licensed therapists. Group leaders include psychologists, licensed social workers, hypnotherapists, music therapists, and more.

The group sessions are broken down into the following core categories: 

  • Addiction/recovery
  • Anxiety/stress
  • Art/movement/music
  • Body positivity/self-esteem
  • Communication/relationships
  • Cultural
  • Depression
  • Grief
  • Life transitions/parenthood
  • Psychoeducation/support
  • Trauma
  • Wellness

Within each category, there are a variety of sessions that directly and indirectly touch upon the core category. For example, under “anxiety and stress,” you can find sessions like “Breaking free from unhealthy habits.”  Under “cultural,” which aims to support BIPOC/Latinx people, you’ll find sessions such as “Latino/a/x: Mental health stigma and experiences” and “ Building black community: support and empowerment.” 

The sessions can change from week to week, but the core categories remain the same. You can attend as many sessions as you like in as many core areas as you want with your monthly subscription. This is a nice touch. Allowing an individual to choose which group they believe would be most beneficial allows for autonomy and personal decision-making and creates a heightened sense of self-determination.

“When individuals seek counseling, they often feel overwhelmed by their circumstance and/or are unable to control related thoughts and feelings,” says psychotherapist Nicholas Hardy, PhD, LCSW, and one of the subject matter experts we worked with on this project. “Consequently, this method of ‘pick and choose’ could promote increased self-awareness, and help individuals regain control and become more responsive to their own needs.”

That said, he believes it takes more than one session to get the most value out of a therapeutic group, especially when the goals are long-term—which is why the groups Sesh offers are not a substitute for individual therapy or group therapy, where you attend weekly sessions with a core group of people. 

“In select situations, attending one session may temporarily help, but developing appropriate coping skills, establishing community, and other benefits of group therapy will usually occur over an extended period of time,” Dr. Hardy says. 

Who Is Sesh For?

Sesh appears to be casting a wide net of potential users with its variety of topics, with an emphasis on peer support. After attending several sessions, I think anyone who needs to either supplement their individual therapy or who is just feeling isolated, alone, or struggling individually with a mental health need can benefit. 

Navigating the Sesh Website and App

Sesh’s website is clean, aesthetically pleasing, and simple to navigate. A navigation bar at the top has categories such as About Sesh, How It Works, Find a Session, Sesh for Teams, and Support. 

Homepage

Its mission and values are clearly laid out on this page. They can be summed up as providing group mental health support that’s accessible, affordable, and supportive in a virtual setting, in a way that destigmatizes virtual mental health and empowers connection through community.

Things treated

Clicking “Find a Session” will take you directly into the session categories, so you can see what there is to choose from before you even sign up. All facilitator bios can be found at the bottom of this page as well; however, it is a little clunky there; every time you hit “back” to look at a new profile, it brings you right back to the beginning of the list, so you have to scroll through again.

Sesh

If you click “Get Started,” you’ll be taken through a short series of questions that help determine if Sesh is right for you. 

treats

For example, Sesh does not recommend using its services if you are in a mental health crisis that needs immediate professional attention. Instead, you should call 911 for emergency services or contact one of their listed crisis hotlines.

The company does have a blog with articles on mental health, but it is not directly linked on the website.

It does have social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, all of which offer mental health tips, though none of these accounts appears to have a ton of engagement with followers.

Does Sesh Have an App?

Yes. In fact, one of the few frustrations I had with this company is that it says it’s meant to be navigated through its mobile app, but I could not get its mobile app to work. 

I did speak with someone who suggested that there was a bug that could be resolved by deleting and re-downloading the app, but that didn’t work on my iPhone 12. So I wound up using it primarily through the computer.

App

How Much Does Sesh Cost?

Sesh aims to make mental health support vastly more affordable than individual therapy—and it does succeed in this. A monthly subscription is $60, and this gives you access to an unlimited number of group sessions. 

Cost

Does Sesh Take Insurance?

Sesh does not accept insurance, which may make the service cost-prohibitive for some. In our user survey, 51% of people said their insurance paid for part of their therapy costs.

However, Sesh does offer a sponsored membership match program where donors can sign up to sponsor memberships on a first-come first-served basis for people on a waitlist.

Does Sesh Offer Discounts?


Yes, you can try Sesh for free for one full month. 

Signing Up for Therapy at Sesh

I found signing up for Sesh pretty simple, though in our user survey, only 38% of users agreed that it was easy; this might be because signing up takes several steps. 

[Screenshot]

You click “get started” and it sends a link to your email to verify you want to sign up. It then jumps right into asking personal questions about mental health issues you’ve been experiencing in the past two weeks (such as anxiety and depression, on a rating scale of 0 to 3). 

[Screenshot]

It seems these questions are mainly designed to rule out serious mental health crises, for which Sesh recommends you seek professional care elsewhere. There are five questions, and then it drops you into a screen where you can sign up for your plan. I was able to connect it to my PayPal account, though paying with a credit or debit card is also an option.

Once you put in your payment information, you can officially sign up for any of the Sesh sessions through your account portal. 

How Do Therapy Sessions Work at Sesh?

Sesh makes it clear from the beginning that it offers guided peer group support, not therapy, and definitely not one-on-one therapy. You can, however, speak with a licensed professional for an introductory session to explain how the platform works and figure out how to get the most out of it. The person I spoke with explained the benefits of group support and how to use the site, but it wasn’t a therapeutic call.

Peer Group Support

To sign up for a group session, simply click “join session” As noted above, you can sign up for as many sessions as you want, as long as there is room left (sessions are capped at 10 participants). 

Once you sign up for a specific session, Sesh sends an option to add it to your calendar, and sends a reminder email one day and one hour before your session. Since I was unable to make the app work, on the day and time of my sessions I clicked the “join session” link sent to my email from my laptop computer and was brought into a Zoom room. 

In my first session, there was one facilitator, and three members plus myself. Our facilitator opened the session with some rules of engagement: 

  • Confidentiality: Participants agree not to share anything outside of the session for safety and privacy.
  • Preparedness: Participants should keep their cameras on.
  • Timeliness and attendance: Participants should come on time.
  • Focus: Avoid calls/text during group time; attention is important.
  • Mutual respect: This includes practices such as muting yourself when you’re not talking, avoiding offering advice, and treating everyone with respect. 

After establishing these rules, the facilitator asked us to describe our mood as a type of weather (e.g., sunny or partly cloudy). Then, she directed the session with guiding questions, such as what brought us to this particular session, which was about dealing with anxiety and perfectionism, and how those two things show up in our lives. There are no rules on how often you can speak, but if a participant was quiet, the facilitator would directly ask them the question again, to encourage conversation.

I found the guiding questions helpful to keep the conversation flowing, and I appreciated the suggestions offered by the group participants. I liked that some of the advice and ideas were coming from people’s lived experiences, not just from the facilitator’s guidance.

For my second session, I was the only participant, which meant it had to be canceled. That said, while I waited, the facilitator asked me a few questions about what had brought me to the session, and what I hoped to get out of it, and sent me a journaling worksheet I could do instead. I was disappointed that it was canceled, though, because I liked the facilitator’s vibe and would have enjoyed her direction.

As my experience shows, there is no guarantee that you will see the same group attendees each week in your group peer session. This means that you won’t build a rapport with people over time, and some people may find this intimidating. It’s hard to open up to strangers, especially about things we’re struggling with emotionally, and unlike in traditional group therapy, there isn’t trust built up over time. 

You also don’t really have the opportunity to build rapport with your therapist facilitator in this group format since the therapist is there to guide discussion, not treat you or offer advice. You do have the ability to use the chat function within the Zoom session, though, to ask the facilitator a question directly.

What Happens If I Miss a Session?

If you no-show or cancel less than 12 hours before the session, you will be charged a $20 late fee. You will also be charged this fee if you are more than 10 minutes late to a session. The company donates these fees to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Switching Therapists

Since there is no individual therapy, there really isn’t an option to “switch therapists” in the formal sense. However, users are free to take sessions led by different facilitators, or follow a favorite facilitator to multiple sessions. 

Canceling Therapy

To cancel with Sesh, there is a “cancel subscription” button in your account portal, but you ultimately are directed to send an email to a generic Sesh email address. 

The company then emails you to confirm your email address, then sends you a confirmation code. Once you confirm that code, it cancels your subscription. This process felt clunky, rather than a simple “unsubscribe” or “cancel” button.

Quality of Care

As noted above, the group sessions offered by Sesh aren’t actually group therapy—they’re more like a support group, which isn’t the same thing.

“Group therapy is dependent on the user building a rapport with both the professional facilitator and the other group members,” explains Hannah Owens, LMSW, Mental Health Editor for Verywell Mind, and another one of the subject matter experts that worked on this project. “Support groups, meanwhile, are more informal.” 

The attendees can vary week to week and the goal is more to get peer support than treatment.

Still, people can and do benefit from peer support. Support groups offer you the opportunity to talk through topics and issues you’re having with people that likely understand what you’re going through. You can share your story, listen to other people’s, celebrate each other’s successes, and discuss different coping strategies. This can help you feel less alone or isolated, which has been shown to be beneficial to some. 

These kinds of groups can also, says Amy Marschall, PsyD, clinical psychologist and subject matter expert on this project, “be helpful for processing a specific event, getting education about a condition, or making space to connect.”

However, groups are not appropriate for people in crisis or experiencing severe mental health issues.

Still, of the users we surveyed, 78% of the users we surveyed rated Sesh’s services as excellent, very good, or good, and 70% said the groups met most or all of their needs. Another 70% said they were very likely or likely to recommend Sesh to a friend or someone like them. 

In addition, 81% rated the group facilitator’s qualifications as excellent, very good, or good. 

Privacy Policies

At a baseline, Sesh states in its FAQs that “our facilitators are committed to keeping what is covered in group sessions confidential.” However, it does not give specifics beyond this. And its terms of use warns it does not guarantee that its platform is free of viruses “or other destructive code.”

It also states that you agree to give Sesh the right to collect, use, and share your personal information as part of providing you services through its platform. It makes clear that some of its services may use location data from the devices you use, though it reminds users that they can turn off or adjust location settings on their devices.

If you upload any content to the site, such as descriptions of symptoms, photos, and “other types of work" simply called “user content,” you do retain copyright or other proprietary rights to this data. What’s more, by uploading any user content, you grant Sesh “a worldwide, non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free, fully paid right and license (with the right to sublicense) to host, store, transfer, display, perform, reproduce, modify and distribute your User Content in connection with providing the Platform to you and improving the Platform and Sesh’s other products and services.” This seems like an unusual ask for a company with therapeutic intentions, and would likely prohibit me from uploading any content. 

Most importantly, like traditional therapy models, Sesh reserves the right to share your contact information if it determines you are a threat to yourself or others or in any kind of danger. As required by law, this might include sharing your information with local law enforcement.

Sesh vs. Circles

Sesh offers peer-based group support with a licensed or board-certified mental health professional, around 12 core mental health areas, with a variety of sub-topics. Circles is also a group-support model that offers targeted group support focused specifically on grief/loss, divorce/separation, and other life challenges. Circles works with trained mental health professionals, as well. 

Unlike Sesh, where you can choose whichever sessions you want to attend each week, Circles assigns its participants one “circle”—that is, a group—based on how you answer intake questions. Then, you go through a 12-week program where you meet with your group via a Zoom-like platform every week for one hour with a mental health professional to guide you. This focused program is different from Sesh’s “pick and choose” approach. Circles is also slightly more expensive, charging $79 per month compared to Sesh’s $60.

Forty-one percent of respondents in our user survey said they were likely to recommend Sesh to a friend, while 46% of respondents said they were likely to recommend Circles to a friend. It’s possible that Circles, which focuses specifically on grief, loss, and separation, may feel more targeted to users, while Sesh’s many options might get overwhelming. These two models serve relatively different needs, and may be difficult to compare directly for that reason.

When we asked survey respondents how they felt about Sesh compared to other services they’d tried before, 67% said it was much better or better, while another 29% said it was a little better. When asked to elaborate on what they thought Sesh did better, 54% said their facilitators had better qualifications and 50% said the app or website was easier to use. Another 25% said the moderator was more LGBTQ+ friendly and 14% said the moderator was able to support clients with experiences of racism and discrimination. 

Final Verdict

Sesh seems like a good bridge for mental health treatment for those who have not sought care before or who need to supplement their mental health care in between private therapy sessions. It could also be useful on its own, though should not be seen as a replacement for formal one-on-one therapy or other forms of professional group therapy. I certainly felt better after attending sessions, and could see how, over time, these sessions could deepen the positive effects of the group support model.

While Sesh won’t be right for everyone, of the users we surveyed, 38% said they were getting good quality care from Sesh, while only 4% said they did not feel they were getting quality care. And overall, while only 20% rated their overall experience of Sesh as “excellent,”  31% rated it as “good” and only 6% rated it as “poor.” Sesh is a good landing spot for anyone seeking affordable mental health support, and I believe, over time, the platform will only improve in quality and efficiency.

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 signup 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. 

3 Sources
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. National Institute of Mental Health. Mental illness.

  2. GoodTherapy. How much does therapy cost?

  3. Naslund JA, Aschbrenner KA, Marsch LA, Bartels SJ. The future of mental health care: peer-to-peer support and social media. Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2016;25(2):113-122. doi:10.1017/S2045796015001067

By Jordan Rosenfeld
Jordan Rosenfeld is a freelance health and science writer.

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