Teen Counseling Online Therapy Review

A monthly subscription for virtual teen therapy

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Teen Counseling Review

Teen Counseling

Teen Counseling offers online therapy for kids ages 13 to 19 in all 50 states via a relatively affordable monthly subscription that includes 4 live sessions and unlimited messaging. Unfortunately, the company does not submit claims to insurance, and the user experience is full of glitches due to clunky technology that causes low video quality during sessions.

VERYWELL MIND's 2021 ONLINE THERAPY AWARDS
  • Best for Teens
  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Facts
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • All therapists are licensed and accredited

  • Multiple communication methods available, including video and phone calls, live chat, and messaging

  • Affordable pricing

  • Can message your therapist anytime

  • Therapist bios posted on website

  • Specializes in therapy for teens

  • Separate “therapy rooms” and messaging for parents/guardians and teens

Cons
  • No free trial sessions

  • Live sessions only 30 minutes

  • No insurance coverage

  • Video image quality can be poor

  • Automatically charged for weekly sessions even if you don’t book a session that week

  • Outdated website

  • No phone number to call for customer service

Key Facts
Price
$240 to $400 per month
Is Insurance Accepted?
No
Type Of Therapy
Individual Therapy, Teen Counseling
Communication Options
Audio, Live Chat, Messaging, Video Chat
HIPAA Compliant?
N/A
Is There an App?
Yes
20% off first month SIGN UP NOW
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 December of 2021, the U.S. Surgeon General warned that the U.S. was experiencing a youth mental health crisis due to a rise in teen depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, especially post-pandemic. Emergency room visits for suicide attempts have also risen 51% for adolescent girls between 2019 and 2021, according to his report, and 4% for boys. 

Given this crisis, there is a huge need for mental health care for teens in the U.S. Teen Counseling is one of the companies that strives to meet this need by offering affordable, convenient, high-quality therapy to teens. To test Teen Counseling’s services, we surveyed 105 users of the company, spoke to subject matter experts about the services it provides, emailed the company a questionnaire, and signed up for therapy ourselves. Here’s how it fared compared to 54 other companies we reviewed. 

What Is Teen Counseling?

Teen Counseling is an online therapy company that was founded in 2015. It is owned and operated by the therapy platform BetterHelp, and it provides online, on-demand therapy for teens between the ages of 13 and 19. Sessions are with licensed therapists via a computer, tablet, or smartphone. 

Teen Counseling’s parent company BetterHelp has recently been involved in controversy surrounding its privacy policies, including selling its clients’ personal health information for advertising purposes. This is something to be aware of when considering therapy through Teen Counseling.

What Services Does Teen Counseling Offer?

Teen Counseling offers individual talk therapy provided by licensed and accredited psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and professional therapists. 

It does not offer group therapy, family therapy, medication management or psychiatry.

The platform is not intended for crisis or emergency situations or teens required to undergo therapy by court orders or other authorities.

Who Is Teen Counseling For?

The company’s services are for teens and parents of teens in need of talk therapy. It provides private sessions for teens independent of their parents, but parents have the option to have sessions independently as well, or with their teen present. 

Everything a teen shares privately with their therapist is confidential, unless the therapist believes the teen is in danger of harming themselves or others.

How Much Does Teen Counseling Cost?

Teen Counseling, like its parent company BetterHelp, is a monthly subscription therapy service, but unlike some notable competitors (such as Talkspace), it only offers one therapy plan that includes four live virtual sessions and unlimited messaging.

The company isn’t very upfront about its prices—you’ll only find out your exact price when you sign up, though if you check the FAQ page, you’ll be shown a range for what you can expect to pay. As of writing this review, that range was $60 to $90+ per week (but you can be billed every four weeks).

How the company determines your exact rate is not clear—the site says the amount is “based on your location, preferences, and therapist availability.” However, BetterHelp, its parent company, has admitted to practicing “surge pricing,” or charging more for its services in areas where there is a higher demand for mental health care. It also told us its policies are the same for all its owned and operated brands when it responded to our questionnaire. So the price you pay for your subscription is likely determined based on how much demand there is for its services where you live and at that moment. 

Even the ranges of prices you’ll see in the FAQs vary over time and where you are. Last year when two of our editors researched the companies, they saw markedly different price ranges in New York and Seattle. 

Since Teen Counseling uses a membership model, it automatically charges your credit card each week. Unfortunately, Teen Counseling even charged me for a week when my son had no therapy (his provider cancelled his session without any explanation). That said, when I emailed the company to complain about this, they extended my membership.

When it comes to cost, 50% of our survey respondents were split on rating the session cost as very good (24%) or average/fair (24%), while 18% stated they did not pay per session, which refers to the subscription plan model.

Does Teen Counseling Take Insurance?

No, Teen Counseling does not accept insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid; neither the company nor therapists on the platform will submit claims to insurance. This is a notable downside of this platform because it means the financial burden rests on families, making Teen Counseling inaccessible to many.

“Even therapists who don't take insurance can often provide a superbill, allowing clients to get reimbursed by their insurance company for the cost of services, but this isn't an option with platforms like Teen Counseling,” says Amy Marschall, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and one of the subject matter experts we worked with on this project. 

This means, she continues, that “if you have a copay with your insurance, finding an in-network provider will likely cost you less than Teen Counseling's services.”

Navigating the Teen Counseling Website 

The Teen Counseling website opens to a fairly basic homepage. Along the top navigation bar, you will find a button to log in and one to “Get Started” along with four links: Parent FAQ, Teen FAQ, Reviews, and Contact.  

The top half of the page shows a large photo of (presumably) a teen holding a phone. Over the photo is a large box with the words “Over 15,000 licensed therapists who help teens thrive.” 

Homepage

Just below in smaller text is “Professional therapy by text, phone, and video,” with two buttons; one in green labeled “Parent” and one in orange labeled “Teen.” Each corresponding button takes you to the respective portal.  

Below that box is a short section with a group of seven circles with a photo of a therapist in each circle. Above the circles is the text “Professional, licensed, and vetted therapists who you can trust.” Below the circles is a green button stating “Get matched to a therapist." Upon clicking the button, you will be prompted again to choose between being either a parent or teen. 

Teen counseling

Scrolling further down the page, you will see a section titled “How does it work?” with a three-step explanation:

  1. Get matched with a licensed professional therapist
  2. Communicate your way
  3. Get the help and support you need
How it works

Just below this explanation are two links, to the FAQ and contact pages. 

At the bottom of the page is another green button prompting you to get matched with a therapist—also taking you to a choice between teen and parent. The words “14700+ therapists ready to help” are just above the button. You will also find counters highlighting BetterHelp’s constant contribution to providing accessible therapy, the number of therapists in the network, and how many total people have been helped across all of BetterHelp’s platforms. The very bottom of the page has links to the privacy policy, contact information, FAQs, and terms and conditions. 

FAqs

The website is very basic throughout. While it’s certainly easy to navigate—in fact, 64% of our users reported it to be easy or very easy—you can’t help but notice the lack of additional resources, such as a blog, that many competitors have incorporated into their websites. 

It seems all roads (or buttons) lead to signing up. The website is relatively static, basic, and unattractive—surprising, considering that its audience (teens) tends to be more tech-savvy than adults. The user experience is very utilitarian. 

Due to the lack of informational pages and resources, you would only use the site to find and correspond with therapists, handle your membership, or book appointments.

Does Teen Counseling Have an App?

Despite the fact that teens, who have grown up with this technology, are its target audience, Teen Counseling does not have a corresponding app. This is disappointing, especially since BetterHelp and ReGain, another BetterHelp-owned company, both do.

How Do You Sign Up for Therapy at Teen Counseling?

Signing up takes mere minutes, which might be why 52% of users reported signing up with Teen Counseling to be easy or very easy. 

sign up

First, you click the button that says you’re a parent (the other option is for your teen so they can sign up on their own). Then you tell the site whether you’d like to invite your child or prefer to undertake the therapy yourself. 

Next, you answer a series of questions about your child’s gender identity, how you’re related to your child, your child’s age, where your child lives, whether they go to school regularly, if they’ve been in therapy before, and how you rate their physical health and sleep and eating habits. 

You’ll be asked whether your child has panic attacks, phobias, overwhelming grief, or depression; exhibits angry or violent behavior; has trouble concentrating; or has been suicidal. You’ll also get questions about what your concerns are about your child, how you rate your relationship with your child, and how you rate your financial status. Finally, you’ll be asked where you live, who referred you to Teen Counseling, your preferred language, and your name and email address. 

Upon completing the survey, but before Teen Counseling matches you with a therapist, the site verifies that your child is right for therapy and then prompts you to enter your payment information. Since Teen Counseling doesn’t take insurance, you don’t need to provide any insurance information. 

Choosing a Therapist at Teen Counseling

After I provided my payment and contact details, the site offered me a choice of several providers. To help you choose, you can click on each therapist’s full profile, which includes a brief bio, their specialties, clinical approaches, modes of communication, and general availability for live sessions. However, I was disappointed and frustrated when two of the therapists I’d selected wrote to inform me they don’t work with teens. When this occurred twice, I was shocked. The lapse made me doubt the thoroughness of Teen Counseling’s therapist selection process. Clearly, the company needs to spend more time making sure its provider roster is accurate and up-to-date. 

After you’ve signed up, you’ll have access to a private portal called a “room,” where you can message your therapist and book the live therapy sessions. You and your teen will have separate portals.

Of our respondents, 78% reported having a generally positive experience (excellent, good, very good) being matched with a therapist. This is likely due to having a few to choose from; many competitors (including BetterHelp itself, and its two other offshoot companies, ReGain and Pride Counseling) match you with a therapist in lieu of allowing you to pick from a select few. 

How Do Therapy Sessions Work at Teen Counseling?

Before each session, you and your teen decide who would like to speak with the therapist: both of you, just the parent, or just the teen. 

If you choose only the parent or the teen, the platform will send a session link only to that person. If you choose both of you, parent and child can join the session together. 

You also choose a mode of communication: chat, video, or phone. 

Video Sessions

My son and I met with two therapists, and with both, my son and I shared sessions, communicating via video. 

Unfortunately, the second therapist was a few minutes late (and didn’t make up those lost minutes). Since the website didn’t notify us that our provider would be with us shortly, we doubted whether we’d logged on correctly.

With both therapists, the video quality was extremely low; so low, in fact, that it was difficult to see their faces clearly. There was also a lag time of a second or two with the first therapist. This spotty technology was distracting and disruptive, making it more difficult to build a rapport with the therapists.

Messaging Your Therapist   

Fortunately, outside of sessions, both parents and teens can send their therapists messages separately. Neither has access to the other’s threads, since each record of communication is stored in either the parent’s or the teen’s private portal, which the site calls a “therapy room.”

I messaged both of our therapists and heard back from each within 24 hours. Though they addressed my questions and comments, their responses felt rather generic—more focused on quick and efficient replies using just a few words than having any kind of prolonged exchange.

What Happens If I Miss or Cancel Sessions at Teen Counseling?

I could not find any information about Teen Counseling’s policies regarding missed or cancelled sessions. 

However, I was disturbed and disappointed to discover that the platform charges you automatically each week whether or not you participate in a session. To better serve its customers, Teen Counseling should change this model and only go ahead with charges when patients are able to schedule appointments for that week. You should probably assume you will forfeit your weekly charge if you miss your session.

Switching Therapists at Teen Counseling

Changing providers is simple and quick. In fact, the “Change Therapists” button is on your portal, under your current therapist’s name. When making the switch, the site lets you specify what type of therapist you’d prefer to work with (based on descriptors like age, gender, LGBTQ+). To make the change, you spend a couple of minutes answering a few questions about why you’re taking this step. Then, you choose a new practitioner. 

If you select one whose appointment schedule is on the site, you can see someone within a day or two. For others, you need to request an appointment, and then they respond to you with some potential appointment times. The lag time between sessions depends on which therapist you choose, as every practitioner has different availability.

Cancelling Therapy at Teen Counseling

Ending your membership is also a cinch. All you need to do is log onto the site. Then, click on your user name at the top right of the screen and select “Account Settings” from the scroll down menu. Next, cancel your membership under the “Payment Settings” menu. Just be sure to log onto the service and do so before you are billed for the next week’s cycle. 

Quality of Care and User Satisfaction

Therapy sessions at Teen Counseling are only 30 minutes long, which, in my opinion, is too short to provide any serious value, especially with teens. It takes time for adolescents to open up and these quick appointments don’t allot those critical extra minutes. 

Plus, although the two therapists I tried were professional, I found them to be overly focused on efficiency rather than depth. Instead of getting to know my son, they spoke in general terms. Overall, I am not optimistic that repeated sessions would be valuable. 

The majority of those who took our survey after using Teen Counseling felt the same, with only 34% saying the therapist was understanding and/or open-minded. What’s more disappointing is that only 16% felt the therapist cared about their well-being. 

Overall, though, our respondents felt their overall experience was above average with an overall score of 85%; good (29%), very good (28%), and excellent (28%).

Privacy Policies at Teen Counseling

Teen Counseling explains its privacy policies in detail on its website. However, there have been privacy issues with its parent company, BetterHelp, so our experts have concerns about it. 

Dr. Marschall explains that BetterHelp “has been under fire for not being HIPAA-compliant and for distributing patient data for advertising purposes, underpaying therapists, and operating in ways that violate therapist ethical codes.” (HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and is a federal law meant to protect personal health information from being improperly accessed or shared.) 

Unfortunately, these seem to be common problems. 

“Many of these online therapy companies come under fire for the same issues: privacy concerns with data, HIPAA compliance or lack thereof, underpaying providers, etc.,” says Dr. Marschall. “I'm not sure that Teen Counseling is markedly worse than these other companies, but I can't say it's better.”

Teen Counseling vs. Its Competitors

Very few telehealth companies specialize in talk therapy for teens. To find providers exclusively serving this market, families can turn to Talkspace. Little Otter also serves kids up to 14, but does not offer services in every state. Some telehealth platforms, like Amwell, also serve kids under 18. Both Talkspace and Amwell also offer medication management or psychiatry too. 

When it comes to a robust website that provides extra resources, Talkspace has an edge over Teen Counseling. It offers a resource section and informative blog that includes over a hundred articles specifically about teens, including how to navigate teen anger, social anxiety and, suicidal thoughts. There is also a mental health quiz on the Talkspace website. 

Even though Little Otter does not serve every state, the website is also a good resource for parents and teens. Under the resources table on Little Otter’s homepage you will find a blog, a toolkit with resources you can download, guides about when to be concerned about your teen, and an “Ask a child psychologist” tab where you can ask a question for free and get a personalized response back.

Overall, our survey respondents also felt other services they’d tried were better than Teen Counseling. Forty-one percent would recommend Talkspace to a friend or someone like them, whereas only 24% would recommend Teen Counseling. Little Otter, on the other hand, is a stand out here, with 58% saying they were likely or very likely to recommend the services to those with teens. 

Final Verdict

Ultimately, my son and I were nonplussed by our Teen Counseling experience. The technology was subpar, which distracted from the therapy sessions. Plus, the two practitioners we tried didn’t offer much value. That said, Dr. Marschall thinks online therapy for teens in general is worthwhile. 

“I have found that teens take to telehealth services better than adults because they are so used to the technology,” she says. When it comes to Teen Counseling, she appreciates how the company’s policies “say that teens getting counseling will have privacy in their sessions from parents or caregivers, since that's so important in ensuring that clients feel safe opening up.” 

However, she is wary of the service because of its ownership by BetterHelp. “I am hesitant about all of these types of platforms due to their non-HIPAA-compliant policies,” she explains. “I find it's better to use a directory and work directly with a therapist, since they are more likely to accept your insurance, can work with you on a sliding scale or payment plans, ensure their practice is HIPAA-compliant, and make a living wage.”

Overall, I would look elsewhere for telehealth teen therapy services; Talkspace, for example, is likely a better choice. Our survey respondents were equally poised to do so, with only 30% saying it was likely or very likely they would still be seeing their Teen Couseling therapist in six months, and only 28% saying they would consider recommending Teen Counseling to a friend or someone like them.

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, got an expert take on the site from a practicing psychotherapist. 

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. Surgeon General of the United States. Protecting youth mental health: The U.S. Surgeon General's Advisory.

By Dina Cheney
Dina Cheney is a health writer and the author of six books.

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