10 Best Online Therapy Sites: Comparison of Online Counseling Services, Psychiatrists, and Therapists

Farr Institute
·14 min read

San Francisco, CA, April 23, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FarrInstitute announces the release of the review “10 Best Online Therapy Sites”:

Can virtual therapy sessions genuinely help people overcome anxiety, depression, trauma, and more?

Telehealth, also known as “online therapy,” is gaining popularity and gradually being seen as effective at helping individuals tackle various mental health issues. However, with so many online counseling platforms to choose from, it can be challenging to know where to start.

This article will review and rank the ten best online therapy sites on the market, focusing on the types of therapy and counseling provided and whether virtual therapy sessions can help individuals learn to combat mental health problems.

First look:

  1. Best all-around service - BetterHelp

  2. Best for couples - Regain

  3. Best for teenagers - TeenCounseling

  4. LGBTQ friendly - Pride Counseling

  5. Best free options - Online-Therapy.com


How Online Therapy Sites Were Evaluated

The following criteria were used to choose the best online therapy platforms:

Health Care Professionals - A priority on any therapy site should be the availability and expertise of the mental health experts present on the platform. As such, counseling platforms with well trained, licensed, and experienced health care professionals with an extensive range of knowledge regarding different health issues scored higher on this top ten list.

Care - The range of care and treatment available affected each online therapy site’s ranking. Counseling platforms that offer care beyond anxiety and depression such as substance abuse, eating disorders, grief, trauma, relationship issues scored higher on this list.

Ease-Of-Use - Regardless of features, benefits, and quality of care provided, websites that are overly complicated to navigate and difficult to use can cause problems for the people in need of support. As such, therapy sites with simple, easy-to-navigate websites scored higher on this list.

Payment Options - Building on ease-of-use, platforms with a range of payment plans and options available ranked higher on this list.

Value for Money - Counseling sites offering their online therapy sessions and treatment at below-average prices or offering care that outperforms the competition at a similar price ranked higher on this list.


The 10 Best Online Therapy Platforms

1. BetterHelp - Best Therapy Site with Rigorously Vetted Therapists

With more than 12,000 licensed mental health professionals, all with three years plus experience, this is the go-to site for anyone looking for counseling. The sign-up process is fast and easy. Users are required to provide a nickname and emergency contact information just in case their team perceives one of their clients is in danger.

BetterHelp also matches a client with a counselor after conducting an assessment. Kindly note that this process is not easy and may take more than 24 hours. All in all, should the client not feel content with the therapist assigned, they can always request a new one.

A key feature of BetterHelp is that it assigns a therapist and their client a secure chat room where the information discussed is private. Most therapists reply on time, and this allows users to speed up their recovery period. BetterHelp charges $65 for the first month, and from there, the fees can range anywhere between $60 and $80 depending on the subscription length.

Pros

  • The platform has a very easy to use interface

  • Freedom to change therapists if need be

  • Multiple ways of communication

  • Users are given worksheets and homework to track their progress

Cons

  • They have only one pricing plan – meaning no access to premium features

  • Response times vary between therapists

2. Online-Therapy.com - Best Free Therapy

Online-Therapy ranks at the top of this list and is one of the best online therapy sites available. This counseling network offers cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) - a popular therapy treatment proven to help people deal with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and other phobias. CBT works by modifying negative behavior, allowing individuals to better react to intrusive thoughts.

Based on cognitive-behavioral therapy, this site uses a wide range of free tools such as providing an online journal, worksheets, and a 30-minute weekly live chat with a therapist for additional support. Users are guaranteed to receive feedback specific to their needs and are given access to an online course that discusses how to manage depression.

Other than depression, Online-Therapy offers support for various mental health issues such as anxiety, insomnia, stress, addiction, and more. New users initially receive treatment for free; however, a subscription plan will need to be selected for continued support. Users can choose from either a $32/per week or $64/per week plan.

Pros

  • Different course material for various mental health issues

  • Guidance is offered via video, audio, and online messaging

  • The network bases its treatment on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

  • Suited for depression, anxiety, addiction, phobias, and more

Cons

  • Therapists are only available from Monday to Friday

  • Doesn’t accept insurance

3. Regain - Best Therapy Site for Couples

Popularly known as the best online therapy platform for couples, Regain can help two lovebirds address their challenges and rekindle their lost love. During registration, couples are asked to choose their goals and select qualities they would prefer to see in their counselor, for instance, whether a male or female counselor would be ideal.

The love and marriage counselors on this network are licensed and have at least three years of experience. They also specialize in various relationship niches. After opening an account at Regain, both partners are granted access for easy communication. Each partner is also granted the ability to speak to a therapist privately.

At Regain, couples get to choose between long or short therapy sessions. Additionally, the charges for weekly sessions range from $60 to $80.

Pros

  • Therapists all specialize in relationship counseling

  • Couples can attend therapy sessions together virtually at no extra charge

  • Video sessions are recommended

  • The website is easy-to-navigate

Cons

  • Matching a couple to a therapist is automated

  • Response times can sometimes take more than 24 hours

4. Teen Counseling - Best Online Therapy for Young People

Teenagers also experience mental health issues and, as such, will, in some cases, benefit from the support and guidance provided by a mental health care professional. At Teen Counseling, health care experts specialize in helping young people aged 13 to 19 combat mental health issues such as bullying, depression, anxiety, self-esteem, eating disorders, and stress.

This site offers a plethora of experienced and licensed teen counselors specializing in the above issues. To gain access to the service, parents must first fill in some paperwork describing what that teenager is experiencing. The sessions are kept private between the teenager and the counselor. But, if there are any safety concerns, the parents will be alerted.

The network offers mental health support in the form of an app ideal for younger patients. Please be informed that Teen Counseling cannot provide an official diagnosis. However, therapists, practitioners, and health care professionals on this network are licensed, experienced, and more than capable of offering beneficial care and assistance.

5. Pride Counseling - Best for LGBTQ-Related Health Concerns

The LGBTQ community can benefit immensely from the services provided by Pride counseling. From this platform, users are guaranteed affordable and discreet treatment. There are live chat rooms where messages are sent securely and privately. And, it only takes a couple of hours to be mated with a licensed healthcare professional.

Therapy sessions can be arranged based on your schedule and members can switch counselors should the sessions turn out to be disappointing or not as effective as hoped. After signing up, counselors can be reached via video conferencing and over the phone. Membership plans at Pride Counseling range from $60 to $80.

6. Talkspace

Having been in this industry for eight years, Talkspace has amassed the top talented therapists around and offered its services to more than a million people. Starting with Talkspace is fairly easy. Simply sign-up, fill in a questionnaire and wait for one of their operators to match you with a therapist that best suits your needs.

At Talkspace, health experts integrate cognitive behavioral therapy with mindfulness, psychodynamic therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy. With over 3,000 licensed therapists, professional mental health support is guaranteed. Talkspace offers guidance with trauma, addiction, anxiety, depression, and even LGBTQ related problems.

Users can choose between three plans, which include; unlimited messaging therapy for $260/month, unlimited messaging therapy premium that costs $316/month, and finally, unlimited messaging therapy ultimate that costs $396/month. Irrespective of the plan chosen, a user can opt for 30-minute live video sessions charged at $65.

Pros

  • Freedom to choose between various therapists

  • There is a guaranteed response time from therapists

  • Availability of live chat sessions

  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • Time zone differences may be a problem for clients outside the US

  • Matching with a therapist isn’t always quick

7. Amwell

Amwell is the go-to telemedicine website for anyone looking for a quick consultation. The site features a mobile app that is available 24/7. To get started, interested members need to sign up and create an account for the app. Unlike other platforms, Amwell allows its members to choose their preferred therapist based on their biography and online profile.

However, this online therapy platform is more expensive than most, with fees ranging from $100 to $110. On the upside, Amwell also offers dermatology, breastfeeding support, cardiology, and urgent medical care in addition to treatment for a range of mental health issues.

Plus, users with insurance coverage can qualify for lower charges. Just be sure to confirm with the site’s customer service before paying.

8. 7 Cups of Tea

Unlike other popular therapy sites, 7 Cups of Tea offers members the ability to talk to trained volunteer listeners via a private online chat for free. Communication is anonymous and an excellent alternative for individuals who cannot afford professional counseling.

Moreover, 7 Cups of Tea specializes in treating anxiety, depression, relationship, and LGBTQ related problems, including managing mental health issues affecting teenagers. There are numerous forums and chat rooms where members can get all the support they need at no additional charge.

There is a mobile app available, but the desktop site is equally fast and easy to navigate. For individuals looking for direct access to a therapist, plans start at $150/month.

9. Doctor on Demand

Doctor on Demand is perfect for short term consultations. On this network, members can access a wide range of mental health support. The team of psychiatrists and psychologists offer a free assessment that tests for anxiety and depression. This is accomplished by asking a series of questions that take only a few minutes to complete.

Therapists are available 24/7 and licensed to recommend the best form of treatment. Health care professionals on this site can treat depression, anxiety, trauma, stress, loss, and addiction. Depending on the form of treatment you’re interested in, prices may vary.

10. MDLive

This network allows individuals to consult therapists and psychiatrists via phone, video, or mobile app. The therapists on this network specialize in the treatment of stress, sexuality, anxiety, intimacy, and grief, amongst others.

The cost of a single session starts at $99. However, people can qualify for discounts if they put in their insurance. At MDLive, the psychiatrists will recommend the best form of medication for depression, PTSD, and anxiety.

Online Therapy FAQ

Q: What is Online Therapy?

A: Online therapy or “telehealth” is therapy offered via the internet or on the phone. In many ways, it’s no different from face-to-face therapy and is equally as productive. Online therapy is offered by licensed health practitioners and can be done via video, live chat, or phone calls.

Kindly note that online therapy doesn’t meet court-mandated therapy requirements; also, telehealth cannot provide a full diagnosis of mental health conditions.

Q: Who is Online Therapy Suitable for?

A: Online therapy is perfect for everyone, including both teenagers and adults. It can help manage mental health conditions such as substance abuse, trauma, anxiety, depression, stress, sleep, and eating disorders, amongst others.

Please be informed that online therapy isn’t recommended for those with serious mental illness, suicidal ideation, or psychosis. In most cases, online therapy is ideal for those with anxiety or depression.

Q: What are the Advantages of Online Therapy?

A: For starters, online therapy is convenient. Individuals do not have to travel to a doctor’s office for a consultation. Sessions can be scheduled online or via the phone. Another advantage of online therapy is that it’s less pricey than face-to-face consultations. Also, unlike face-to-face therapy, a patient can talk to their therapist daily through the internet or via phone.

Anyone interested in online therapy sessions can also take a look at this article detailing 15 of the Best Online Counseling Services.

Q: How Effective is Online Therapy?

A: In 2013, a study done by the Journal of Affective Disorders showed that in-person therapy is equally as effective as online therapy. Later in 2014, a study done and published by Behavioral Research and Therapy showed that online therapy was excellent at treating the symptoms of anxiety disorders.

Two years ago, the Journal of Anxiety Disorder also showed that online cognitive behavioral therapy is effective at treating different types of anxiety disorders.

Q: Is Online Therapy Secure?

A: When it comes to online therapy, a person’s details are very confidential. Not to mention, in the HIPAA regulations, health practitioners are required to keep therapy sessions private and confidential. This is why most platforms require their members to use their nicknames. Emergency contacts have to be given for additional security.

Q: What are the Average Fees for Online Therapy?

A: Depending on the platform and condition being treated, the fees for online therapy range from $40 to $100. This is cheaper compared to face-to-face therapists that charge between $75 and $150 per hour. There are some psychiatrists who even charge up to $200 an hour.

Q: Can Insurance Pay for Online Therapy?

In the past, insurance only paid for in-person therapy. However, there has been a growing demand for mental health services. Therefore, to cater to the needs of the modern-day consumer, most insurance companies today have opted to pay for online therapy.

In most cases, health insurance will cover some of the costs of online therapy, for example, phone or live video sessions. When evaluating the best online therapy platforms, consider those that will accept insurance. This will help bring down your medical bills.

Q: Will Medicare Cover for Online Therapy?

A: Back in 2019, Medicare switched from not covering online therapy to paying for Telehealth visits. The numerous demands of its clients prompted this development. Medicare also caters for psychotherapy and consultations offered via audio or video communication channels. The recent 2020 Medicare Advantage Plans feature more Telehealth benefits than its predecessors.

Q: How Often Should an Individual See a Therapist?

A: This will depend on the condition being treated and the terms of the therapist. In most cases, a therapist can schedule two sessions in a week for at least three months. But the sooner one starts feeling better, the duration in between sessions can be extended a bit further.

The Bottom Line

Online therapy is making mental health services more affordable and accessible to people all around the world. Virtual therapy sessions give people the freedom to consult a counselor or therapist from the comfort of their home. As such, virtual visits have grown to be more popular than in-person sessions.

Online therapy is the best alternative for anyone with busy work schedules or living far from mental health practitioners. Online therapy sessions can be offered in different channels ranging from video, live chat, and phone. There is also the added convenience where individuals can communicate with their therapists at flexible hours.

Out of hundreds of online therapy platforms on the internet, the above counseling sites made it on this list of the top 10 best online therapy sites. Every site boasts many licensed therapists experienced in treating anxiety, depression, stress, trauma, and other mental health issues.



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