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There may come a time in your life when you need to talk to a licensed therapist. Friends and family can be a wonderful source of comfort, but certain problems and mental health difficulties require a professional who can provide you with the constructive insights and lasting results you are looking for.
Unfortunately, not all of us have the luxury of affording a costly in-person therapist, nor the time to schedule routine appointments within a 9-5 timeframe. For that shared reason, online therapy services have enjoyed enormous success in recent years.
How effective is counseling online as compared to traditional face-to-face therapy with a therapist? Researchers set out to answer that very question.
The results of three separate studies revealed that online therapy can have equal or greater success than traditional in-person therapy. Here is a brief overview of each of the research studies and their respective results:
- In a research study published by the University of Zurich in 2013, researchers found that more than half of a selected group of online therapy participants reported better results than those who underwent face-to-face therapy.
- In a separate study conducted by the American Psychiatric Association in 2017, participants were assigned one of two types of therapy for treatment of depression: the first group was assigned face-to-face therapy and the other group was assigned online video therapy. It was found that online therapy was just as effective as face-to-face therapy for treating depression. The clinical outcome (reduction of depressive symptoms) was exactly the same in both groups.
- In another study conducted by the US National Library of Medicine (a division of the National Institute of Health) in 2003, they set out to determine the efficacy of online therapy platforms when used to prevent the onset of eating disorders in college-aged women. The study concluded that eight weeks of therapy online had significantly reduced weight and shape concerns and decreased the risk for the onset of eating disorders.
My online therapy ‘Quick Picks' for May 2021
If you are in a hurry, my two favorite online therapy services in this review are as follows:
- BetterHelp – Without a doubt, BetterHelp is my favorite online therapy service. I have been a member for many years, and I have built a wonderful relationship with my online counselor. BetterHelp separates itself from other online counseling services by offering unlimited online therapy sessions between you and your therapist. You can communicate with your counselor via live chat, telephone, text messaging or video chat. Presently, there are over 18,000 licensed and certified therapists available on the platform, each possessing a minimum of 2,000 hours of real-world experience. You are not locked into any lengthy contacts and you can cancel anytime. BetterHelp is fully HIPAA compliant and secured by 256-bit encryption. No software is required other than a web-browser.
- Talkspace – This was the first company I joined when I began my search for an online therapy service many years ago. Talkspace allows you send an unlimited number of messages (text, audio or video) to your therapist with all plans. If you are on the premium or ultimate plan, you are guaranteed a weekly face-to-face video conferencing session with your therapist (from iOS/Android device). Talkspace allows you to choose from over 5,000 licensed and state-certified therapists. All communications are confidential and securely encrypted. Talkspace is HIPAA certified and covered by certain health insurance companies. You pay month-to-month and you can cancel anytime. Use coupon code “SPRING” to save $100 off your first month of service.
My Recommended Top 9 Best Online Therapy Services Comparison Chart
In the comparison chart below, I breakdown my recommended top 9 best online therapy services into five separate categories. For clarity, I am including a brief explanation of each of these five categories:
- Weekly Pricing: How much does the service cost? Prices are listed on a per-week basis
- My Score: My overall score/rating for the service
- Therapy Modalities: How will you communicate with your therapist? Such as live chat, video conferencing, messaging and phone calls
- Intended For: Does the site offer counseling services for individuals, couples or teenagers?
- Total Therapists: How many fully licensed therapists are available on the platform?
|Therapy Service||Weekly Price||My Score||Therapy Modalities||Intended For||Total Therapists||Visit Website|
|Better Help||$65||9.8||Live chat, phone, messages and video||Individuals||18,000||Visit|
|Talkspace||$65||9.7||Messages (text, audio, video), real time video||Individuals, Couples, Teens (Ages 13-18)||5,000||Visit|
|Calmerry||$89||9.5||Text messaging and live video||Individuals, Couples||1,000||Visit|
|ReGain||$65||9.3||Live chat, messages and video||Couples||1,500||Visit|
|iCounseling||$70||9.1||Live chat, messages, phone and video||Individuals||4,000||Visit|
|Teen Counseling||$40||8.9||Live chat, phone, messages and video||Teenagers (Ages 13-19)||2,000||Visit|
|Online-Therapy.com||$79||8.5||Live chat and messages||Individuals||1,000||Visit|
|Presto Experts||$3/min||8.1||Live chat, phone, and email||Individuals||1,000||Visit|
The chart above outlines what I believe to be the most important details to be aware of for each of the counseling services. For a closer look at each of these services, continue reading for my comprehensive reviews. But first, talk's quickly go over a few key factors you should consider when you're selecting a therapy service.
Factors to consider when choosing an online counseling service:
Before settling on a particular online counseling service, it is important to consider a few things. This includes:
How does the site structure their pricing?
Not every counseling website utilizes the same pricing model. Most will charge a monthly fee. Others offer a weekly fee (which is usually the most expensive option). Some services charge by the minute.
Before you decide to sign up and register for any site, it is important that you fully understand the pricing model. You should stick to a service that has a pricing model you are comfortable with and can afford.
How do you plan to communicate with your counselor?
How do you plan on talking with your online counselor? Do you want to talk over the phone? Would it be more convenient for you to communicate over text message or chat? Or, would you feel most comfortable with a face-to-face video therapy session?
This is important to consider as various counseling sites offer different modalities to communicate over. Depending on how you wish to communicate, you should ensure that the service offers that specific method of communication.
For example, if you would like to communicate with your therapist through video, you should go with a service that offers unlimited video therapy (like BetterHelp). Conversely, if you prefer to text with your therapist, you will want to select a service that offers unlimited texting.
Does the therapist have relevant experience to your situation?
Every therapy site will list the credentials of each of the therapists and counselors on their platform. You should carefully look over the education, experience, and licenses that each therapist holds.
This would mean that if you are looking for an online relationship counselor, you should make sure your counselor is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT). If you are looking for more general therapy for anxiety and depression, you will want to make sure the therapist is a Licensed Professional Counselor (either a LPC or LPCC).
Generally, you will be matched with a therapist with experience relevant to your situation when you first join a therapy service. However, should you decide to switch to a different therapist at a later time, this is something you will want to take a close look at.
Can you change therapists effortlessly?
One of the most frustrating and awkward aspects of traditional in-office therapy is changing therapists when you feel like your current therapist isn't working out. It can be extremely time-consuming and you won't really know if you'll connect with your new therapist until a few sessions in – and you could be right back at square one with another therapist you're not comfortable with.
With online therapy, if you are not “clicking” with your online therapist, you should be able to freely switch to another therapist on the platform. You should be able to do this on your own (from within your account) without having to go through any lengthy procedures.
Can you cancel your therapy subscription easily?
When you subscribe to a therapy service, you should be able to pause or end your billing subscription at any time from within your account. You should not have to contact customer support or jump through any hoops. If the company does not clearly state that you can cancel your subscription at-will, I would move onto the next.
The best online therapy reviews for 2021 (my in-depth analysis)
With so many sites to choose from, it might be hard to determine which is the best online therapy service that meet your specific needs. Therapy sites can vary greatly between one another, as each site offers different plans/packages, different types of methods to talk with your counselor, different supported platforms (computers, mobile, tablets, phones, etc), various levels of certifications, and, most notably, totally different pricing models.
Having tested these platforms personally, I have done my best to document and review various aspects of each service the best I can. My online therapy reviews cover the following areas:
- general information about the therapy service
- the experience level of the online therapists and counselors
- how you will communicate with your counselor (phone, video, or chat)
- the sign up and registration process
- synopsis of the security/privacy systems in place to protect your sensitive information
- overview of the pricing model and costs (as of May 2021)
Alright then, let's get started!
BetterHelp is an affordable online counseling service (My Top Pick)
Founded in 2013, BetterHelp (as covered in my full-length BetterHelp online therapy review) has built one of the largest and most affordable online counseling platforms worldwide. With over 18,000 accredited and licensed therapists, five million happy customers and 31 million+ therapy sessions to date, BetterHelp has defined itself as both an industry leader and innovator.
BetterHelp allows for unlimited communication between you and your therapist. There are no limits on how much or how often you can communicate with your therapist in any way. This means you can send unlimited text messages and schedule an unlimited number of live chat, face-to-face video and phone therapy sessions.
Every therapist on the BetterHelp platform has a minimum of three years and 2,000 hours of hands-on experience. Further, each therapist is board certified by their state, ensuring they have successfully completed all state required exams, training and practice to be a licensed therapist. Therapists possess either a Masters Degree or Doctorate degree.
BetterHelp permits and encourages you to remain completely anonymous when signing up for their service. You are not asked to disclose your real name, nor will you be asked for this at any time by your therapist or customer support.
BetterHelp is completely free to join. To create an account, you are asked only to supply a nickname, a valid email address and a secure password. You must be least 18 years old to use the service. If you are under 18, your parent/guardian has to create a “teenager account” for you.
When you login for the first time, you will be asked to answer a few simple questions about the qualities you are seeking in a therapist. You will be matched with a therapist within 24 hours based on the answers to these questions. You can change your therapist at any time by clicking the “Change Counselor” button inside your account.
You can access your secure account from any internet connected device with a modern web browser (such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Internet Explorer). BetterHelp does not require you to download or install any software to use the service or communicate with your therapist.
If preferred, mobile apps for Apple and Android devices (smartphones and tablets) are available. These apps offer the exact same functionality as you would get from accessing your account from a web browser. You can send messages and schedule as well as participate in live chat, video and phone therapy sessions. Mobile apps can be downloaded directly to your mobile device from Google Play or Apple App Store.
BetterHelp is committed to protecting your private information and the confidential conversations between you and your therapist. In addition to being fully HIPAA certified, BetterHelp has painstaking built an A+ rated secure infrastructure utilizing the latest state-of-the-art bank-grade 256 bit encryption to protect your sensitive information.
If you want to talk to a therapist, you will be asked to provide payment details. BetterHelp accepts all major credit cards as well as PayPal. The cost of the service ranges from $65 to $80 per week (as of May, 2021):
BetterHelp offers customer support via an online ticket-base helpdesk system. You do not need to contact customer support if you want to cancel your subscription. This can be done from inside your account (under Billing Settings) or from within the mobile app.
- Over 18,000 therapists to choose from
- Unlimited therapy. There is no limit on how many times you can communicate with your therapist
- Talk to your therapist via text messages, face-to-face video, live chat or on the telephone
- Totally anonymous
- Mobile apps available for Apple and Android mobile devices (downloadable from app stores)
- HIPAA compliant
- Can take up to 24 hours to be assigned a therapist when you first sign up
Talkspace is an online e-counseling site for individuals and couples
Talkspace, which I explore in my Talkspace text message therapy review, is a text-based online e-counseling site. They are based out of New York City and launched in 2012. Talkspace offers online therapy services geared towards individuals and couples.
Originally, Talkspace was strictly an innovative group online therapy platform. Over the years it has since evolved into a platform offering online psychotherapy services from accredited therapists.
With Talkspace, you will communicate with your therapist via text messaging or by live video therapy sessions. Your therapist is guaranteed to respond once or twice a day with feedback, questions and/or actionable insights to help you work through the issue(s) you are presently facing.
Talkspace only works with experienced and certified therapists. All therapists have been carefully screened and background checked to ensure a safe environment for its clients. All counselors meet appropriate level of education and state certifications.
You can talk with your online counselor via their easy to use website or by using their mobile app (available on Apple and Android). All you will need to access your account is a web-enabled device (such as a desktop computer or a mobile smart phone) with a web browser.
Talkspace offers unlimited online messaging as well as face-to-face video therapy sessions with your online psychotherapist.
As with traditional in-office therapy, Talkspace complies with all applicable laws pertaining to privacy and security. You can feel safe knowing your data is well protected and not vulnerable to hackers.
Prices vary at Talkspace depending on the monthly subscription plan you purchase. As an individual, you will pay anywhere from $65-$99 per week to use the service. Couples and relationship counseling is available for $99 per week.
- Online psychotherapy service for individuals or couples
- Plenty of licensed and accredited psychotherapists
- All psychotherapists are carefully screened and background checked
- Easy to use web user interface
- If you are an employer, special bulk pricing is available for employees of your organization
- Live therapy sessions must be conducted on a mobile device (smartphone or tablet). No support for desktops/laptop computers.
- No live phone therapy sessions
Calmerry has vetted online therapists who draw on evidence-based approaches to therapy
Founded in 2020, Calmerry is a relative newcomer to the online therapy industry (read my full Calmerry review here). Don't let their age fool you though, Calmerry has built an affordable, powerful and easy to use platform that connects experienced and licensed therapists with individuals and couples seeking therapy from the comfort of their home. Therapists on the Calmerry platform are thoroughly vetted therapists who draw on proven evidence-based approaches to therapy.
Signing up to Calmerry is a simple process. The first step, after creating your account, is to answer a brief questionnaire. The questions asked and answers given help them match you with the most compatible therapist.
After you have completed the questionnaire, you can expect to be matched with a therapist within 24 hours. Usually, the matching process happens within a few hours, but in some cases, it can take longer. After being matched, you can begin to message and communicate with your therapist.
Similar to other online therapy services, Calmerry allows you to communicate with your therapist securely across a wide range of platforms. This includes from your computer, laptop, tablet or mobile smartphone. They have developed apps for both iOS and Android that can be downloaded or installed if desired. Otherwise, all you need to access and communicate with your therapist is an internet connected device with a web browser.
Calmerry offers unlimited instant messaging with your therapist any day of the week. Additionally, you can schedule face-to-face video conferencing sessions with your therapist up to a maximum of four times a month (once per week). If at any time you are not satisfied with your therapist, you can easily switch to another one.
All communications with your therapist are private and secure. Calmerry takes the storage of your sensitive information seriously and encrypts your data with strong 256-bit encryption. Additionally, Calmerry is HIPAA certified so you can rest easy knowing that they protect your data and patient health information as required by law.
Calmerry offers two plans that are priced competitively with other services. The first plan is $45 per week and the other plan is $75 per week. The cheaper plan is geared more toward text-based therapy, whereas the higher price plan combines both text-based therapy with face-to-face virtual video therapy. You are not locked into any lengthy contracts and you can cancel at any time.
ReGain specializes in online relationship counseling for couples
Based out of California and launched in 2016, ReGain is a relatively new online counseling site. Unlike traditional online therapy platforms, ReGain has built up itself a stellar reputation by offering therapists specializing in online relationship counseling for couples (ie couples, pre-marriage and married).
If you are a couple or even an individual seeking counseling for your relationship, you need not look any further. With ReGain, you are provided convenient and secure access to a licensed therapist at a very affordable cost (plans vary, pricing is discussed below).
At the time of this writing, ReGain provides access to roughly 1092 licensed and accredited online relationship counselors. Every counselor has been certified by their state’s board and has a minimum of three years real world experience.
Additionally, each therapist are required to have a minimum of 2,000 hours of hands-on therapy experience. Generally, most counselors at ReGain are licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT), accredited psychologists (PhD/PsyD) or licensed professional counselors (LPC or LPCC).
ReGain makes communicating with your online relationship counselor easy and secure. Upon signing up, you are given access to a completely secure “room” that only you and your counselor will have access to (as well as your partner, if desired) .
You can enter this “room” anytime 24/7 from any internet connected device with a web browser (including PCs, Macs, mobile phones and tablets). Within this “room”, you can write about yourself and your relationship, ask questions, discuss issues and much more.
Your counselor will respond regularly and engage with you. Communication isn’t always real time, but when it is not, online counselors generally respond pretty quickly (in my experience).
You can sign up to ReGain totally anonymously. You are not required to provide your real name or any personal information. If you decide to purchase a plan with ReGain, you will have to choose a plan and pay with a credit card or PayPal account.
With respect to security and privacy of your communications with your therapist (such as chat log history) and storage of sensitive personal information, ReGain has taken extensive measures to implement a state-of-the-art 256-bit military grade encryption infrastructure for maximum security of all data they retain pertaining to your account.
Presently, ReGain costs anywhere from $36-$78 per week for relationship counseling online. This can be paid with a credit card or by using PayPal. You are under no long term commitments and can cancel anytime by logging into your account and clicking “Quit Counseling.”
- Best online relationship counseling for couples
- Experienced and licensed marriage and family therapists
- Accessible from your computer, tablet and smartphone
- Highly secure, utilizes military grade encryption on all sensitive data
- Most cost effective online couples counseling service I could find
- Must talk to your therapist via live messaging or email. Video and phone sessions aren't available
iCounseling offers online video therapy and live chat sessions
iCounseling distinguishes itself from other therapy sites by offering all inclusive, online video therapy and live chat sessions that includes unlimited access to your online counselor. This means that for a flat rate fee (paid weekly, monthly or annually), you will have unlimited access to your counselor through video conference as well as a variety of of other modalities (discussed below).
You can access your iCounseling counselor from any internet-connected device (including mobile phones and tablets). Native apps are available for both Apple and Android devices.
My Therapist currently offers unlimited access to a vast selection of 4,000 licensed and accredited therapists. Similar to the other therapy platforms, each and every counselor on the iCounseling platform is certified, accredited and licensed.
Counselors possess either a Masters degree or a Doctorate degree and all counselors have passed local and state board exams and have minimum hours of required hands-on experience to be certified (2,000 hours).
iCounseling offers unlimited communication with your therapist via several modalities. This includes an online chat system (instant messenger style communication), online video face-to-face video therapy sessions, a private a secure “chat room” and live phone based therapy sessions.
You can leave messages with your therapist anytime in between sessions. Video face-to-face therapy sessions online can easily be scheduled for whatever time is most convenient for you.
All of your personal information is kept secure with industry standard AES 256 bit symmetric encryption on all data. iCounseling maintains strict standards for storing personal information that far exceed what is required by state/federal laws and regulations.
Signing up with iCounseling is a breeze. When signing up, you are free to use an alias if you would like to remain anonymous. The sign up process consists of answering a few questions and choosing a username/password.
At the time of this writing, iCounseling prices range from $45-$70 per week. Plans are billed on a weekly basis. iCounseling accepts both credit cards and PayPal as form of payment.
You are not locked into any long terms plans; you can cancel anytime by logging into your account or by calling 24/7 customer service.
- Schedule online video therapy sessions with licensed therapists
- Talk to your therapist via video and chat sessions or over the telephone
- 24/7 customer support
- HIPAA compliant
- Native apps available for Apple and Android smartphones and tablets
- Accepts PayPal as a payment method (in addition to credit cards)
- Can sometimes take a several hours for a response from your therapist (when you send an email)
- Does not offer a free trial period
Teen Counseling is an online therapy app for teenagers and minors (ages 13-18 years old)
Founded in 2018, this a fast growing online therapy app & site that is dedicated exclusively to providing top-notch professional online counseling to young teenagers and minors between the ages of 13-18 years old.
The app/site connects teens and minors with licensed counselors that can assist with issues such as coping skills, anxiety, stress, self-esteem, depression, bullying, anger, eating disorders or any other mental health related challenges.
As of May 2021, the service has 2,000 counselors on the platform (with more being added regularly; in 2019 alone, more than 900 counselors were added). Every counselor is fully licensed, trained and experienced. The counselors range from Psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapists, Clinical Social Workers to Professional Counselors.
Each counselor on the site possesses a Master’s degrees or a Doctoral Degree in their field of study/training. Furthermore, each has a minimum of 2,000 hours of experience and has been fully licensed by their respective state’s professional board. This ensures that each and every counselor has completed mandatory state-required education, exams, training and supervised practice.
Communication with counselors is available across a variety of modalities. This includes exchanging asynchronous messages (similiar to instant messaging), sending/receiving e-mail messages, speaking over the phone (teletherapy sessions take place at pre-scheduled time) and live face-to-face video conferencing.
All communications take place over a secure connection on an internet-connected device. This includes desktop computers (Windows of Mac), tablets or mobile smartphones. No special software is required to be downloaded or installed.
If desired, official online therapy apps are available for download on both iOS and Android devices. The apps encompass all of the aforementioned functionalities in a convenient and secure program (rather than in-browser).
Every online therapy session is guaranteed secure and confidential between the counselor and the teenager. Teens and minors can safely talk to their counselor about anything.
However, if the teen indicates there is, or has been, abuse of any kind (such as that of a child or elder) during a counselling session, the counselor will have to break confidentiality to ensure the protection of the teen and/or anyone else involved.
Singing up is simple and can be done securely via their website. If the parent chooses to sign up on behalf of their teen, the parent will go through the initial questionnaire to provide information as to the reason(s) why their teen is seeking counseling.
This will ultimately include participation in the selection of the counselor. From there, the parent will be able to invite their teen in, at which point the teen will henceforth begin communicating with the therapist via the various secure communication modalities provided.
It is worth mentioning that the service is not able to fulfill court orders of any kind. If your teen/minor has been mandated by a court to receive counselling/therapy, this platform will not be able to adequately fulfill that requirement.
Prices range from $40-$70 per week and is billed on a monthly basis. Quarterly, semi-annual and annual plans are available at discounted rates. You can cancel anytime from without your account if the site/app is no longer needed.
Online-Therapy.com is a science based (CBT) therapy platform online
Online-Therapy.com opened its doors in June 2009. As I explore in my full length Online-Therapy.com review, it is a bit different than a traditional online therapy service in that they created a science-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program which pairs proven CBT techniques with live chat therapy sessions.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the most commonly used psychotherapeutic approaches for treating mental health problems. With Online-Therapy.com, they custom tailor a program for you to follow with your specific needs in mind.
Each program includes live chat, worksheets, hands-on tools, a daily journal, an activity plan and unlimited access to your counselor.
All online therapists at Online-Therapy.com are fully licensed and accredited as you would expect. Each therapist has a minimum of 2,000 hours of hands-on, real world experience and has been certified by their state’s board.
The team of counselors at Online-Therapy.com is lead by Margaret Sweet, who has written four books and more than 200 guides on mental health and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Communication with your therapist is simple and secure. You have unlimited access to your counselor – meaning you can ask unlimited questions via their chat messaging system. There is no limit.
For live chat therapy sessions with your counselor, you are given two 30 minute sessions per week (if you are a premium subscriber). These conversations take place in real-time, with your counselor asking you questions and answering any questions you have.
Apps are available for android and Apple. All of your private communications and sensitive personal information are carefully protected with industry standard 256-bit encryption.
Singing up for an account with Online-Therapy.com is quick, easy and confidential. You are not required to use your real name or any sensitive personal information when signing up.
Upon creating your account, you will have instant access to your eight-section step by step program, all of your worksheets, daily therapist feedback, live support and all available tests.
Pricing for Online-Therapy.com varies depending on the plan you choose. They currently offer three different plans. The basic plan starts at $39.95/week, the standard plan costs $59.99/week and the premium plan is $79.95 per week.
Every purchase comes with an iron-clad 14 day satisfaction guarantee. If you are not satisfied with your online therapy, they will return you money within the first 14 days no questions asked. Simply contact customer support anytime to get your money back.
Payments are paid on a monthly basis. Currently, credit cards and PayPal are the only accepted forms of payment.
- Mixes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and live therapy chat
- 30 minute live chat time with a licensed and accredited therapist each week
- Includes hands-on tools, worksheets and unlimited access to your counselor
- 14-day no questions asked money back guarantee
- You can only talk to your counselor via live chat (phone and video sessions are not offered)
- Not as many online counselors as other services
- For the month of May, Online-Therapy.com is running a promotion where you can save 20% instantly. This will bring the price down to $32/week
PrestoExperts has cheap therapists available anytime (day or night)
PrestoExperts, previously known as LivePerson, was launched in 1999 and has served over 1.5 million satisfied clients. As discussed in my comprehensive PrestoExperts review, it is a bit different than other online counseling services. Let me explain..
Rather than provide weekly or monthly membership plans, PrestoExperts offers cheap pay-per-minute therapy plans with licensed, qualified and experienced online counselors. PrestoExperts maintains an active directory containing roughly 30,000 experts in over 600 categories.
Within the “Online Counseling” category, you will find cheap counselors available to talk to in many different areas of expertise. This includes addictions, eating disorders, counseling for students, personality and emotion disorders, parenting, anxiety, depression and many more.
At the time of this writing, there is about 1538 counselors available for your to talk to instantly (on the PrestoExperts website).
Counselors on PrestoExperts possess a variety of licenses and certifications. Many of the counselors have a Masters Degree or Doctorate. A large portion of the counselors are psychoanalysts and psychotherapists. You can pretty much find a counselor with the certification, education and experience you are seeking.
It is worth noting that many counselors are not certified. If this is a make-or-break deal for you, always be sure to look at every counselor’s profile where they list their degrees, certifications, licenses, education, etc.
PrestoExperts verifies all certifications listed by a counselor to verify they are real and accurate. This not only prevents fraud, but it ensures their platforms remains safe for everyone.
One particularly unique aspect of the PrestoExperts platform is you can read real life reviews that have been posted about each counselor. You can drill down and search for counselors based on their ratings from other members of the community who have sought help from a particular online counselor. This is especially helpful for finding a counselor who has helped someone else successfully with a specific issue you are seeking help for.
You can communicate with your desired counselor via chat, phone or email. Counselors are available 24/7, day or night. There is no special software to download. All you will need is a web-connected device (computer, laptop, mobile smartphone, tablet, etc) with a modern web browser.
PrestoExperts takes its clients privacy and security seriously. All sensitive information and any chat history with your counselor is encrypted using modern AES 256 bit encryption. They are in full compliance with all state and federal privacy laws and regulations.
Pricing for PrestoExperts varies depending on the counselor you wish to speak with. Every counselor’s per-minute pricing is clearly displayed in their profile.
Generally, to communicate with a state certified licensed counselor, you will pay anywhere from $1.50+ per minute (at the time of this writing). You can end your communication at any time with your counselor and fully control your budget.
- Wide variety of professional and licensed counselors in many areas of expertise
- Thousands of reviews for most counselors in their database
- Vast selection of psychiatrists and psychotherapists
- Talk to your counselor via chat, phone or e-mail
- Pay per minute rather than paying a weekly or monthly fee
- Per minute pricing can become expensive for long sessions
- No mobile apps for Apple or Android are available
Breakthrough will help you find licensed therapists nearby
Headquartered in Redwood City, California and acquired by MdLive in 2013, Breakthrough is an therapy service founded in 2009. Breakthrough prides itself on connecting people with mental health disorders to qualified online therapists that are geographically located near you (such as in your city or state).
With Breakthrough, you can find many licensed therapists by quickly searching by city and state. Upon finding a therapist, you schedule 15 minute sessions to talk to your online therapist (it is suggested that appointments be booked within 48 hours of the desired time you wish to speak to your therapist).
Breakthrough verifies all licenses posted by therapists. They do not list any counselors in their database that are not Licensed Professional Counselors or a Clinical Social Worker. This ensure that all online counselors in their system do indeed possess licenses and certifications they claim to have.
Breakthrough allows you to search for therapists by type of therapy you’re seeking. Such area of specialty include: anxiety, depression, post mortem, bipolar, Aspergers, grief/loss, panic attacks, sexuality, spirituality, stress and more.
Pricing for therapists you find on Breakthrough will vary. All counselors list their “Hourly Rate” which can range from $70 to $150+. Given that you talk to your counselor in 15 minute blocks, a counselors' hourly rate would be your total cost for four therapy sessions.
Customer support is available around the clock by live chat to answer any questions you have.
- Quickly search for online therapists in your city and state
- Licensed Professional Counselors and Clinical Social Workers are available
- Wide variety of specialities to search by
- Hourly rate is clearly defined for each online therapist
- Does not accept PayPal as a form of payment like all other services I have reviewed
Common issues an online counselor can help you with
The following is a list of issues and mental health problems that can be treated successfully through therapy online.
Addictions: There are a number of addiction types one can experience, though the most commonly reported and treated are for substance and sex addiction. An online counselor can offer support and help you target the source of your dependency, and apply a specialized program and series of steps that will help you recover and overcome your addiction. Additionally, they can make sure you are following through with your regime, and help you manage any side effects.
Anger: Anger issues are punctuated by an inability to control one's temper in heated situations, resulting in ultimately harmful discourse. Anger management is a necessary skill for coping with personal and professional issues, and those with difficulty controlling their reactions in a socially acceptable manner may need the guidance of a licensed counselor, who can help them process external and internal events safely and effectively.
Anxiety: Anxiety is a common factor of adult life, and can manifest itself in feelings of self-doubt, paranoia, nervousness, and social dread. Many who suffer from anxiety experience frequent fatigue, panic attacks, difficulty sleeping, and irritability. Anxiety is often linked with depression, as well as prior trauma. Anxiety related to life changes is also commonly reported.
Bipolar: Bipolar disorder refers to periods marked by either extreme highs (feeling energized and optimistic) or extreme lows (depression, feelings of worthlessness, and thoughts of suicide.) Because many who suffer from bipolar disorder only seek help during low periods, bipolar depression is often misdiagnosed or undetected altogether. It's estimated that bipolar disorder affects roughly 5.7 million American adults a year.
Career: Our chosen as well as desired careers account for much of our quality of life, and finding the right career path is essential to leading a purposeful existence. A trained online career counselor can help you determine where your talents and interests lie, and assist you in turning them into a fulfilling career.
Chronic Impulsivity: Those with a lack of impulse control struggle with self-regulation, resulting in “act before thinking” tendencies. Compelled by risky and unmeditated behavior, those with chronic impulsivity often exhibit symptoms similar to ADHD and OCD. Hyperactivity, frequent boredom, aggression, impatience, and difficulty in maintaining lasting relationships are all common symptoms of chronic impulsivity.
Conflict: Conflict resolution skills are vital to leading a healthy and productive adult life. Learning to approach and resolve conflicts at home and in the work space, particularly if one struggles with anger management, can be achieved with the help of a counselor who is trained and experienced in areas of human resource.
Depression: An estimated 16.2 million American adults experience at least one depressive episode a year. Because depression goes largely unreported by those who suffer from it, it is believed that that estimate could be much higher. Symptoms include but are not limited to an inability to sleep or feel motivated to accomplish daily tasks, feelings of guilt and incompetence, loss or increase of appetite, lack of interest in hobbies and social events, and thoughts of suicide.
Eating: An eating disorder can include anorexia, bulimia nervosa, chronic binge eating or overeating. Eating disorders often stem from psychological trauma, and are closely linked to depression, anxiety, and PTSD. It is important to establish a healthy relationship with food, and an online counselor can help pinpoint the root cause of the disorder and eliminate it.
Educational Assessments: Educational assessments can be made to identify a number of internal learning obstacles that may be hindering adults and children alike. These can include autism, dyslexia, ADHD, and area-specific difficulties. Learning disabilities can stunt one's school and work progress, making it difficult to accomplish tasks at designated levels and getting in the way of potential success.
Family: Family counseling is a healthy and normal approach to addressing and resolving conflicts within families, due to both internal and external issues including grief, absence, estrangement, substance abuse, or divorce. No family is perfect, and speaking with a counselor can help repair and strengthen even the most compromised familial foundation.
Self-Esteem: Low self-esteem can affect every aspect of one's life, resulting in missed opportunities, uncomfortable social gatherings, and dysfunctional relationships. Often the result of prior abuse or traumatic events, low self-esteem is often accompanied by anxiety, depression, and compulsive behavior.
Grief: The death of a loved one can leave a lasting impact, and many times the pain prevents one from embracing a healthy life and engaging with the wider world. While the emotional strain of grief is well-known, there can also be physical symptoms including loss or increase in appetite, inability to sleep or focus on tasks at hand, panic attacks, and chronic pain.
Health: Our physical and mental health play the largest role in our quality of life, and sometimes we need extra help in meeting and maintaining our goals in matters of nutrition, recovery, fitness, or body image. A trained and trustworthy counselor can provide assessment and diagnosis of your health-related concerns, and provide you with the tools to establish a rewarding relationship with your body and mind.
Intimacy: Intimacy is our ability to trust and open ourselves, sexually, mentally, and emotionally, within a relationship. Those who struggle with intimacy may have difficulty in practicing a healthy and fulfilling sex life, or trusting a partner with their health and wellness. Often intimacy issues stem from a previous trauma.
LGBTQ: For those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (with an additional “Q” occasionally added for ‘questioning' ) and are either experiencing social, professional, or familial difficulties, speaking with a counselor may be of significant help and comfort. Because sexual acceptance and practicing a healthy lifestyle are crucial to a safe and fulfilling life, online therapy can provide a supportive foundation for discovering and establishing one's identity.
Life Transitions: Life is full of transitional periods regarding one's work, physical location, or changes in one's relationship. While life transitions can often mark a time of celebration, they can also be enormously challenging. Stress-related anxiety, doubt, and feelings of loss of control are common factors of transitional difficulties. An online counselor can help you address the root cause of your anxiety, and work towards a positive set of goals and expectations.
Parenting: Parenting is perhaps the hardest job in the world, no matter the stage of your child's development. Sometimes parents need extra help when navigating their relationship with their child or children, whether it's an outside problem or internal issue. Behavioral issues or trauma on the part of the child, divorce, or various life transitions can all test one's parenting skills, making it necessary to seek professional help and guidance.
Relationships: Even the healthiest relationship can hit a rough patch, no matter how long you've been with your partner. Relationship or couples counseling is a proactive way to address concerns that may arise, as well as issues regarding fidelity, intimacy, and mental health matters, while receiving constructive guidance from an impartial third party.
Religion: A crisis of faith can happen to anyone, and those experiencing a spiritual dilemma will find comfort and critical guidance with the help of a therapist specializing in faith-based counseling. Regardless of the religion you practice, coming to a crossroads in your spiritual life can be a disheartening but perfectly natural occurrence.
Sleeping: Sleep disorders are rarely incidental, and are often due to an underlying issue such as stress, anxiety, depression, grief, or substance abuse. Those with sleep disorders report irregular sleep-wake cycles, insomnia, and periods of prolonged sleep. A reported 50-70 million American adults report having a sleep disorder.
Social Behavior: Our social behavior understandably determines the quality of our social lives: the people we meet, befriend, work with, and even form relationships with. Problematic social behavior, often the result of low self-esteem, anxiety, compulsive disorders, or a more serious mental issue, can have devastating long term effects if not properly addressed.
Stress: Stress is a common factor of life, but if not properly managed can lead to a number of serious and potentially fatal conditions. A recently reported 77% of American adults reported recurring stress-related physical symptoms, with 48% feeling their lives have become more stressful in the past five years. Work-related stress accounts for much of the extreme duress felt by many, with 2018 seeing a spike in stress related to political anxiety.
Substance Abuse: Drug and alcohol abuse have reportedly cost the United States $740 billion annually in relation to crime, health expenses, and work productivity. Substance abuse can pertain to the illicit or destructive consumption of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, and can often require both psychological and medical treatment to overcome. Contrary to many stigmas, substance abuse can happen to anyone. It can affect anyone from all walks of life.
Trauma & Abuse: Abuse-related trauma can carry on well into adulthood, and result in a number of symptoms that, if left unaddressed, can build in severity. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, and destructive behavior are just some of the issues that can stem from prior abuse. It is important to address and overcome abuse-related trauma in order to lead a healthy and productive existence.
Is therapy online the right choice for you?
Not sure if an online therapy service is the best path for you? Consider some of the following benefits of exploring therapy online:
No in-person appointments
There are a number of reasons an in-person therapy session might not appeal to you. For some, it's a simple matter of finding the time between work and personal commitments, as well as arranging transportation. For others, face-to-face appointments can trigger anxiety, embarrassment, sudden shyness, and the overall inability to fully articulate one's issues, concerns, and possible past traumas.
Online therapy allows you to write out your feelings in the environment and at the pace you are comfortable with. Rest assured, the top online therapy platforms will allow you to chat live with your therapist, but written correspondence is always an option.
Affordable for all budgets
There's no getting around it, even with insurance, therapy is extremely expensive. Your finances shouldn't affect your access to a healthier, happier life; and the top online therapy sites recognize that. With most online therapy service memberships ranging between $40-80 a week (depending on the frequency of sessions), you pay a flat weekly fee and that's that — no hidden charges or add-ons.
When compared to the cost of an in-office therapy session which could be hundreds of dollars, therapy online is significantly cheaper for the same outcome.
Counseling online allows for anonymity
Only your preferred online therapy site will have your personal info, and they will NEVER release it under any circumstances. Which means no more risking an uncomfortable encounter on the way to your therapist's office or worrying about your privacy in the wider world.
Therapy and counseling online allows you to conduct your self-care away from prying eyes or potential outside interference, and get the results you need in a way that feels both discrete and natural.
E-therapy has a convenience factor
Most of us lead busy lives that are stressful enough without balancing an added block of time to our already packed schedules. An in-depth e-therapy session can rarely be achieved during a lunch break, and many places of employments will not allow for the necessary time off each week. With e-therapy you can work within your preferred timeframe, each and every time.
Access to licensed and experienced professional therapists
The most reassuring aspect of therapy online is that the help you receive is from fully licensed, verified, and experienced professional therapists. All of the therapists listed on each site are certified and matched with their clients according to each individual's personal needs.
And with thousands of therapists and counselors listed for each state, you can rest assured that there is a designated therapist for you. In addition to your scheduled sessions, you will also receive ongoing reading material and guides to download and refer to whenever you want.
Can I get reimbursed from my health insurance company?
At this time, expenses related to therapy over the internet are generally not covered by health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. There are certainly some exceptions to this, so it is always advantageous to contact your health insurance provider and ask what benefits, if any, are available for your insurance plan.
Some questions you should ask your health insurance provider might include:
- Does my plan include benefits for mental health related issues?
- What is my deductible? Has my deductible been meet this calendar year?
- Does many insurance plan cover therapy sessions? If so, how many sessions per year are included with my plan?
- What is the exact coverage amount the insurance company will pay per therapy session?
- Is there any specific approval required from a primary care physician?
With all that said, it is worth worth noting that online therapy sessions are generally less than most health insurance co-pays. If you have to pay a steep deductible, it may very well workout to be cheaper to pay out of pocket than through insurance.
When should counselling online not be a consideration?
There are a number of situations where you should absolutely not consider counselling online. These situations would include:
If you are currently feeling suicidal
If you are presently feeling suicidal, you should immediately call a suicide hotline to talk to someone who is qualified to help you get through what you are feeling. If you are not comfortable talking on the phone, you can alternatively text someone right now.
If you're a minor under the age of 18
If you wish to talk to a therapist on any of the counselling sites reviewed on this website, you must be at minimum 18 years old. Minors are not permitted to use online therapy services in any capacity. The same rules apply if you have a legal guardian.
If you in an emergency situation (dial 911 now)
If you are in an emergency situation you should immediately dial 911 from any landline or mobile phone. Counseling sites are not built to assist individuals in emergency situations.
If a court has required you to undergo counseling
If you have been instructed by a court (or similar authority) to undergo counseling or therapy, an online counselling service online will not be suitable. You will need to visit a local psychiatrist.
If you do not have a reliable internet connection
You will need a device with an active and reliable internet connection in order to use a counseling site. Most services are fully compatible with any device so long as you have a modern web-browser that is capable of communicating across HTTPS (such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari or Firefox).
Therapists Directory – Find A Therapist
Looking to find an online therapist that is local to your state? Select a state from the list below to view all available counselors.
- District Of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
This page was last updated on April 21, 2021.