5 Best Text Therapy Platforms in 2023

Text therapy, also known as messaging therapy, works similarly to email or instant messaging. Here are the 5 best text therapy options to consider.

This content is researched and written based on extensive testing by an external reviews team and does not reflect the views or opinions of Everyday Health’s editorial team. Everyday Health may earn a commission from purchases of products featured in this article.

Text therapy, or messaging or chat therapy, comes in two forms: asynchronous or synchronous. Asynchronous messaging is similar to sending a text or email; you message your therapist and wait for a response. Synchronous messaging is the same as live chat; you message with your therapist back and forth in real time. Both forms will always happen in a private chat room on your chosen online therapy platform.

While more research is needed, some studies are exploring how text-based therapy can better reach people in remote areas and provide anonymity in places where there may be a greater stigma to seeking mental health care, according to a review published in February 2021 in the journal JMIR Mental Health. When we surveyed 1,000 online therapy users in June 2023 about why they’d opted for online therapy, including text therapy, rather than in-person therapy, nearly 1 in 3 said it was to protect their privacy. We consulted with six mental health experts to gauge the efficacy of text therapy and compared the available options to help you find the best online texting therapy platform for your needs and budget.

Our Top Picks for Text Therapy

Compare the Best Text Therapy Platforms

Brand
Cost Per Month Without Insurance?*
Percentage of Users Who Received Responses Within 24 Hours**
Offers Financial Aid
Accessibility
Learn More
betterhelp-logo-stacked
$240–$360
50%
Yes
App and web browser (laptop, smartphone, or tablet)
Talkspace transparent logo
$316–$556
48%
No
App and web browser (laptop, smartphone, or tablet)
online therapy com logo
$200–$440
30%
No
Web browser (laptop, smartphone, or tablet)
Calmerry transparent logo
$228–$360
45%
No
App and web browser (laptop, smartphone, or tablet)
Regain transparent logo
$240–$360
48%
Yes
App and web browser (laptop, smartphone, or tablet)

*Costs vary by location, preferences, and the availability of licensed therapists in your state.

**According to our April 2022 survey of 1,000 online therapy users.

5 Best Text Therapy Providers

betterhelp-logo-stacked

Best for Financial Assistance

BetterHelp

Our Rating
4.01
BetterHelp offers one monthly subscription option that includes one live chat, phone, or video session per week and unlimited asynchronous messaging with your therapist between sessions.

Messaging options Unlimited text, video, and audio messaging

Session format Live chat, video, or audio sessions

Cost $240 to $360 per month, depending on location, preferences, and therapist availability

Accepts insurance No

Pros

  • Offers live sessions and unlimited messaging between sessions
  • Offers ongoing financial aid

Cons

  • Does not accept insurance
  • Price depends on your location and therapist preferences

BetterHelp is one of the few online therapy platforms that offers ongoing financial aid to eligible individuals. With discounts of up to 40 percent every month, it may be a good option if you can’t afford therapy without financial assistance. “BetterHelp actually ended up being cheaper

Talkspace transparent logo

Best for Using Insurance

Talkspace

Our Rating
3.58

Talkspace is one of the few online therapy platforms that accepts insurance. Coverage varies by plan, so call your insurance provider to confirm your coverage and what you’re expected to pay. You can also check the Talkspace insurance page to see if your insurance carrier is listed.

Messaging options Text, video, and audio messaging

Session format Live video, audio, or chat sessions

Cost $316 to $556 per month, depending on your plan, location, preferences, and therapist availability

Accepts insurance Yes

Pros

  • Accepts some insurance carriers
  • Unlimited messaging and live sessions with some plans

Cons

  • More expensive plans overall than competitors
  • Pricing is not straightforward

According to our January 2023 survey of 200 Talkspace users, 60 percent used health insurance to pay for therapy, while 30 percent of those who had health insurance did not use it. If you’re considering Talkspace, be sure to investigate how much your insurance would cover and compare

online therapy com logo

Most Affordable

Online-Therapy.com

Our Rating
3.96
Online-Therapy.com is the most affordable text therapy platform on our list. For $200 per month, you can access an online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program and unlimited asynchronous messaging to a licensed therapist in your state.

Messaging options Unlimited text and audio messaging

Session format Live chat, video, or audio sessions with some plans

Cost $200 to $440 per month

Accepts insurance No

Pros

  • Straightforward pricing
  • Lower prices than BetterHelp, Talkspace, and Calmerry
  • Includes unlimited text messaging with your therapist

Cons

  • Does not accept insurance
  • Can only send text messages to your therapist, not audio or video messages

Your text therapist will respond daily to any of your work in the CBT program, which includes worksheets on topics like identifying your problems, your long-term goals, your unhealthy behaviors, and how to challenge negative, unhealthy emotions. Online-Therapy.com also offers a 20

Calmerry transparent logo

Best for 24/7 Customer Service

Calmerry

Our Rating
3.48
Unlike Talkspace, BetterHelp, and Online-Therapy.com, Calmerry offers a 24/7 chat line to provide answers to any questions about your online therapy subscription.

Messaging options Unlimited text and audio messaging

Session format Live chat, video, or audio sessions

Cost $227.96 to $359.96 per month

Accepts insurance No

Pros

  • Customer service available 24/7 for subscription questions
  • Standard pricing regardless of location or therapist preferences
  • Rated 4 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot
  • All memberships include unlimited messaging, a chatbot reflection, and mood tracker tool

Cons

  • Does not accept insurance
  • Can only send text and audio messages to your therapist, not video messages

When we asked online therapy users about the platform, one focus group participant said she was initially paired with a therapist who wasn’t experienced enough for her preferences. She contacted customer service and was quickly rematched with a therapist who had been in practice

Regain transparent logo

Best for Relationship Advice

ReGain

Our Rating
3.7
ReGain is a BetterHelp specialty site that offers relationship advice for individuals and couples.

Messaging options Unlimited text, video, and audio messaging

Session format Live chat, video, and audio sessions

Cost $240 to $360 per month, depending on location, preferences, and therapist availability

Accepts insurance No

Pros

  • Can receive individual therapy or couples therapy to help with your relationship
  • Offers financial aid
  • Offers unlimited messaging

Cons

  • Price varies depending on your location and therapist preferences
  • Does not accept insurance

Your ReGain subscription includes four 30- to 45-minute live sessions per week, which you can conduct using live chat messaging with a therapist. It also includes unlimited messaging, which allows you to send asynchronous video, audio, or text messages to your therapist at any time

Expert Opinions on Text Therapy

Our reviews team spoke with several mental health experts about text therapy, and their opinions on text therapy were mixed. Most recommended using in-person, video, or audio therapy sessions to supplement text therapy.

“I frequently advise my clients not to have tough or emotionally charged conversations with their loved ones over text,” says Tara McGrath, a licensed marriage and family therapist practicing in San Diego. “The same advice would apply to the sometimes difficult conversations that are often a part of therapy. The intimate and powerful relationship between client and therapist just does not work over text exclusively.”

Natasha Deen, a licensed clinical professional counselor in private practice in Silver Spring, Maryland, expands on the disadvantages of text therapy, including how it invites opportunities for misunderstanding and miscommunication. “There is a lack of context over text. We lose facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, affect, speech patterns, and many other verbal and nonverbals that are used by therapists to gather a range of information and assess situations,” Deen says. “This includes inconsistencies between content and tone, symptoms, diagnoses, the seriousness of the issue, and more.” She adds that texting can also be more time-consuming than video or audio therapy.

Lauren Hornbeck, a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Pueblo West, Colorado, does not recommend text therapy for similar reasons as Deen but adds that a preference for text therapy may involve a physical, mental, or relational barrier to therapy. “Text therapy has a distancing factor that does not allow an authentic psychotherapy experience,” she says. “I would recommend that a person challenges themselves to look at their underlying resistance to vulnerability. There is likely something that is mentally or emotionally preventing that person from being seen authentically and avoiding vulnerability.”

Steven Reidbord, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in San Francisco, does not consider text messaging to be a form of psychotherapy, adding that while texting may provide you some degree of emotional support, so could talking to a friend without mental health training. “The evidence for text therapy’s effectiveness for actual emotional disorders is scant,” Dr. Reidbord says.

Some of the experts we spoke to had more positive opinions on text therapy. Steve Carleton, LCSW, the executive clinical director of Gallus Detox in Denver, says that the efficacy of text therapy depends on the patient, their condition, and the approach of the therapist, noting that it allows for increased flexibility and a sense of comfort for those who prefer to express themselves through writing or who struggle with social anxiety. “It is crucial to prioritize what will be most effective for the individual in reaching their therapy goals, rather than sticking with a particular mode of communication just because it may be convenient or familiar. Ultimately, it is up to the therapist and patient to determine what form of therapy will work best for them,” Carleton says.

According to Kara Nassour, a licensed professional counselor in Austin, Texas, “Text therapy can be effective, especially for people who are deaf or have difficulty communicating in real time.” Nassour adds that text-based therapy options can help more people with disabilities access healthcare.

Is Text Therapy Right for You?

Text therapy isn’t for everyone, but it may be a good fit for you if:

  • Your schedule is unpredictable
  • You’re looking for affordable therapy options
  • You prefer writing about your concerns instead of talking about them
  • You live in a remote area with limited internet access
  • You have a disability that affects your ability to communicate vocally
  • You use a communication device

What to Consider When Choosing a Text Therapy Platform

If you are choosing a platform that offers therapy over text, consider the following:

  • Types of text therapy the platform offers Options include synchronous live chat sessions and asynchronous messaging, which is similar to sending an email or text message. Both occur in online chat rooms, not via SMS.
  • Messaging preferences Some platforms offer the option to send video, audio, or text messages to your therapist. Video and audio messages will be quicker to send than texts, but you need to check that the platform supports these options.
  • Therapist response rate Therapist response rates vary when it comes to asynchronous messaging. If you want real-time responses, look for subscriptions that include synchronous messaging or live chat sessions.
  • Effectiveness According to the guidelines for telepsychology published by the American Psychological Association (APA), therapists should perform an initial assessment with clients to determine whether it’s the appropriate approach. Most of the mental health experts we spoke to advised its use only as a complementary method to supplement live audio, video, or in-person sessions.
  • If you also want video or audio therapy sessions Some platforms also offer live audio or video sessions. If these are important to you, ensure that they are included in your membership and check to see how many sessions you get per month.

Why You Can Trust Us

We independently investigate and recommend products and services we believe will enrich the lives of our readers and meet their specific needs. We’ve spent many hours carrying out in-depth research on the online therapy market. You can trust our review because we did the legwork for you in these specific ways:

  • Engaged in ongoing independent research
  • Spent over 245 hours testing eight brands, deployed surveys that included over 200 participants each, and interviewed focus groups
  • Went behind the paywall for two months with eight brands to mystery shop our best online therapy choices
  • Contacted the brands’ customer service teams to ask questions and gauge responsiveness
  • Consulted six leading psychologists and psychiatrists
  • Became customers of online therapy providers ourselves
  • Reviewed academic research about the efficacy of online therapy versus in-person therapy
  • Read hundreds of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot

Learn more about how we researched and evaluated the best online therapy brands via our online therapy methodology page.

The Bottom Line

Texting therapy can be a good option if you cannot comfortably use a phone or video for therapy sessions. About 7 percent of our online therapy survey respondents opted for online therapy options over in-person ones because of a physical health condition or disability. Many of the experts we interviewed recommended it as a complementary form of therapy to live video, audio, or in-person therapy sessions. If you want text therapy and are looking for the most affordable option, Online-Therapy.com is $200 per month, the cheapest option on our list.

For weekly live chat therapy sessions, Talkspace could be a good option for insurance users, and BetterHelp would suit those who need financial aid. If you want the benefit of 24/7 customer service, Calmerry is the only platform that offers an always-on chat line.

For those interested in text-based relationship advice, ReGain offers weekly live chat sessions with unlimited messaging between appointments for both partners.

In Emergency Situations

If you are in crisis, waiting for an online therapy appointment may not be safe. In case of an emergency, call 911. This includes plans to harm yourself or others. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, you can call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. Help is available 24/7.

You can also send a text message to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. A crisis counselor will respond via text to help you stay calm and make sure you’re safe. Although crisis counselors are trained volunteers, not professionals, they can provide you with a referral if you’re interested in seeking professional help. They may also ask emergency services to perform a wellness check if they believe you’re in immediate danger to yourself or others.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get therapy over text?

You can get text-based therapy through synchronous or asynchronous messaging. Synchronous messaging is live, with real-time responses. Asynchronous messaging is similar to texting or email; there are delays for an indeterminate amount of time before your therapist responds.

BetterHelp, Talkspace, Calmerry, Online-Therapy.com, and ReGain are our picks for platforms that offer text therapy.

Is there any free text therapy?

There is no free text therapy, but 7Cups offers free peer support. You can chat with trained volunteers at any time. While they can provide emotional support, they do not provide therapy and are not licensed mental health care professionals.

What is live chat therapy?

With live chat therapy, you schedule time with your therapist to chat directly in real time. During your appointment, you may be able to send chat, audio, and video messages in an instant messaging format, depending on the platform. The exact length of your session varies by platform, but the typical range is between 30 and 45 minutes.

Is messaging therapy effective?

The APA does not have an official stance on whether texting alone can or should be used as the only form of treatment. It notes that there is no research supporting that texting alone can be effective for therapy.

Most of the experts our reviews team spoke with cautioned that text therapy is not well researched and not an appropriate substitute for video, audio, or in-person therapy because of its lack of voice intonation, the likelihood that messages can be misconstrued, and how little ground can be covered when texting versus talking aloud in a therapy session. A few experts, however, noted the benefits of its convenience, its use in the short term for minor mental health concerns, and how it accommodates more individuals with disabilities.

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

  • Dwyer A, de Almeida Neto A, Estival D, et al. Suitability of Text-Based Communications for the Delivery of Psychological Therapeutic Services to Rural and Remote Communities: Scoping Review. JMIR Mental Health. February 2021.
  • Online Therapy Survey. 1,000 respondents. Conducted using Pollfish. Launched April 11, 2022.
  • Online Therapy Focus Group: Current Online Therapy Users. Nine Participants. Conducted Using Google Meet. January 25, 2023.
  • Text Therapy: New Platforms Spark Questions. American Psychological Association. June 25, 2015.
  • Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology. American Psychological Association. 2013.
  • Interview with Lauren Hornbeck. Pueblo West, Colorado. October 12, 2022.
  • Interview with Natasha Deen. Silver Spring, Maryland. October 12, 2022.
  • Interview with Steven Reidbord. San Francisco. October 12, 2022.
  • Interview with Steve Carleton. Denver. October 12, 2022.
  • Interview with Tara McGrath. San Diego. October 12, 2022.
  • Interview with Kara Nassour. Austin, Texas. October 12, 2022.
  • Online Therapy Survey. 1,000 Respondents. Conducted Using Pollfish. Launched June 13, 2023.
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