|Therapy Service||Current Pricing||My Score||Therapy Modalities||Counseling Suitable For||Total Therapists||Visit Website|
|Better Help||$35 per week||9.8||Live chat, phone, messages and video||Individuals, Couples, Teenagers||2,500||Visit|
|My Therapist||$45 per week||9.7||Live chat, phone and video||Individuals||2,000||Visit|
|Online-Therapy.com||$40 per week||9.4||Live chat and messages||Individuals||N/A||Visit|
|Presto Experts||$1.50+ per minute||9.1||Live chat, phone, and email||Individuals and couples||1,500||Visit|
|Talkspace||$79 per week||8.8||Live chat and video||Individuals and couples||1,000||Visit|
|Modalities||Live chat, phone, text, messaging, video|
|Suitable For||Individuals, couples and teenagers|
|Modalities||Live chat, phone and video|
|Modalities||Live chat and messaging|
|Total Therapists||Not known|
|Price||$1.50+ per minute|
|Suitable For||Individuals and couples|
|Suitable For||Individuals and businesses|
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 online counseling 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 good of a treatment for depression as face-to-face therapy. 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 services 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.
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 online 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.
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 reocurring 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 site is best 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, most online therapy sites 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 online counseling not be a consideration?
There are a number of situations where you should absolutely not consider counseling 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 a minor under the age of 18 or have a legal guardian
If you wish to talk to a therapist on any of the counseling 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, a counseling service online will not be suitable. You will need to visit a local therapist.
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).