7 Most Affordable Online Therapy Options in 2023

Getting the care you need can be tough on a budget. We researched the most affordable online therapy services and found top providers like Brightside, Calmerry, and Sesame Care.

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.

Most Affordable Online Therapy at a Glance

If you’re like most Americans looking for online therapy (or healthcare in general), the cost can determine whether you pursue the care you need or continue to cope in silence. In our reviews team’s June 2023 survey of 1,000 online therapy users, close to 91 percent described affordability as an important factor when considering therapy. In fact, 31 percent said affordability is what motivated them to choose online over in-person therapy.

Jessica Frick, a licensed professional counselor with Metamorphosis Counseling in Erie, Pennsylvania, says, “Often the first thing to go if a client doesn't have enough money to cover everything is their therapy.” In our June 2023 survey, more than 30 percent of respondents reported quitting online therapy because it was too expensive.

Our reviews team has tested and reviewed the top online counseling services, rating them by quality, professionalism, specialty, and cost. To make it easier for you, we did the research to find the most affordable online therapy platforms to fit your budget.

Our Top Picks for the Most Affordable Online Therapy Platforms in 2023

  • Most Affordable Online Therapy With Medication: Brightside
  • Most Affordable Prescriptions Without Insurance: Sesame
  • Most Affordable Online Text-Based Therapy: Calmerry
  • Most Affordable Online Relationship Therapy: ReGain
  • Most Affordable Online Therapy for Teens: Teen Counseling
  • Most Affordable Online Therapy if You Have Insurance: Amwell
  • Cheapest Pay-As-You-Go Online Therapy Without Insurance: Teladoc

Compare the Best Affordable Online Therapy Options for 2023

Platform
Who They Treat
Cost
Accepts Insurance
Learn More
Brightside transparent logo
Adults
$299 to $349 per month
Yes
Sesame logo transparent
Adults
Depends on location and provider
No
Calmerry transparent logo
Adults
$228 (unlimited messaging)
No
Regain transparent logo
Couples, individuals
$240 to $360 per month
No
Teen Counseling transparent logo
Teens (ages 13 to 19)
$240 to $360 per month
No
Amwell logo
Adults, adolescents (ages 10 to 19)
$109 per visit with master’s level therapist; $129 per visit for therapist with a doctoral degree
Yes
Teladoc transparent logo
Adults, teens (ages 13 to 19)
$99 per session without insurance
Yes
Brightside transparent logo

Most Affordable Online Therapy With Medication

Brightside

Our Rating
4.13

When our reviews team tested Brightside, we found that the plans had helpful features, such as unlimited messaging, a symptom tracker, and self-guided lessons.

Session types Video therapy and psychiatric appointments

Price and payment options $299 to $349 per month; accepts Visa and Mastercard

Accepts insurance Yes

Pros

  • Uses assessments and asks follow-up about your depression and anxiety symptoms
  • Proprietary technology helps psychiatrists prescribe the most effective medication
  • Accepts health insurance
  • Has an app for iOS devices
  • Therapy sessions are 45-minutes long

Cons

  • More expensive than Cerebral
  • Can’t choose your own therapist
  • No app for Android devices

Why Brightside?

All Brightside therapists use a modified version of the Unified Protocol, a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that’s effective for a broad range of emotional disorders, according to a clinical trial published in September 2017 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. The

Sesame logo transparent

Most Affordable Prescriptions Without Insurance

Sesame

Our Rating
2.7

Sesame has a prescription service, called SesameRx, that offers generic medications for $5 delivered to your door. Appointments are easy to schedule, with many psychiatrists and physicians offering same-day availability, as confirmed by our reviews team when we tested Sesame.

Session types Video therapy and video psychiatric appointments

Price and payment options Certain providers can prescribe $5 generic medications; prices for telehealth visits vary; accepts credit cards and Google Pay

Accepts insurance No

Pros

  • $5 generic prescriptions through certain providers with SesameRx
  • Video therapy and psychiatry visits, some offered the same day
  • Direct-to-provider payments can help reduce costs

Cons

  • Cannot prescribe all types of medication, including controlled substances
  • Prices will vary depending on your location

Why Sesame?

By operating outside of insurance networks, Sesame can allow providers to set their own prices without factoring in payments to insurance companies. This can help make Sesame visits less costly than in-person visits through insurance. In our reviews team’s April 2022 survey

Calmerry transparent logo

Most Affordable Online Text-Based Therapy

Calmerry

Our Rating
3.48

Calmerry’s unlimited therapist messaging plan is $48 cheaper per month than Talkspace’s unlimited messaging plan. While Calmerry’s app doesn’t support video messages like Talkspace does, some individuals may choose affordability over paying extra for video messages each month.

Session types Phone, video, and chat therapy

Price and payment options $228 per month for unlimited chat therapy; accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, Union Pay, JCB, and Diners Club International

Accepts insurance No

Pros

  • Cheaper than Talkspace’s messaging app with the same concept
  • Can send an unlimited number of text and audio messages to your therapist
  • Can ask your therapist to log on at a specific time to have a live texting conversation
  • Free self-care chatbot can help you prioritize your needs and understand your emotions

Cons

  • Does not support video messages, unlike Talkspace
  • Therapists will not respond on weekends
  • Does not take insurance

How Much Does Calmerry Cost?

Calmerry offers three plans: unlimited messaging, unlimited messaging plus one live video session, and unlimited messaging plus four live video sessions. The unlimited messaging plan is $228 per month and includes unlimited audio and text messaging with

Regain transparent logo

Most Affordable Online Relationship Therapy

ReGain

Our Rating
3.7

We found ReGain to be more affordable per month than most competitors who offer couples therapy, especially if you or your partner are eligible for the platform's financial aid.

Session types Phone, video, and chat therapy

Price and payment options $240 to $360 per month; accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, PayPal, and Google Pay

Accepts insurance No

Pros

  • Cheapest online relationship therapy platform we considered
  • Eligible individuals may apply for financial aid to make it even more affordable
  • Appointments available during weekends and after work hours

Cons

  • Can’t pick your own therapist
  • Limited therapist availability when trying to accommodate race, gender, age, and specialty preferences
  • Not transparent about session length

Why ReGain?

Unfortunately, your insurance most likely won’t cover couples therapy or marriage counseling unless it’s related to a mental health or substance use issue, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. If your employer has an employee assistance program

Teen Counseling transparent logo

Most Affordable Online Therapy for Teens

Teen Counseling

We chose Teen Counseling over sites like Teladoc or MDLive for its flexible options for teens who may be more comfortable with an instant messaging option.

Session types Phone, video, and chat therapy

Price and payment options $240 to $360 per month; accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, PayPal, and Google Pay

Accepts insurance No

Pros

  • Offers financial aid
  • Teens can use live chat, video, or phone to communicate with their therapist
  • Separate “rooms” for both parents and teens to chat with the therapist
  • Appointments available outside of school hours

Cons

  • Your therapist match may have limited availability
  • Therapists’ level of experience with teens varies
  • Doesn’t take insurance

Why Teen Counseling?

According to a review published in the journal JMIR Mental Health in January 2021, texting is the preferred mode of communication for adolescents with cell phones. Benefits like a chat room where they could exchange messages outside of therapy hours may be a plus

Amwell logo

Most Affordable Online Therapy for Using Insurance

Amwell

Amwell accepts more than 100 insurance plans from carriers such as Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare, Humana, and Highmark. Unlike Teladoc and MDLive, two similar telehealth platforms that also don’t require insurance, Amwell can see patients as young as 10.

Session types Phone and video therapy

Price and payment options Depends on your insurance provider and plan; accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express

Accepts insurance Yes

Pros

  • Accepts more than 100 insurance plans
  • Ability to pay for sessions as needed instead of committing to a membership
  • Offers therapy sessions for children ages 10 and older
  • Ability to choose your own therapist

Cons

  • Self-pay option is more expensive than Teladoc and MDLive
  • Can only schedule appointments in available time slots
  • Mobile app is only available on iOS

How Much Does Amwell Cost?

Amwell will prompt you to enter your insurance information during sign-up to confirm coverage. Your cost will depend on your individual plan.

If you pay out of pocket, you can choose a therapy or psychiatry plan:

  • Therapy
    • $109 per session for a therapist with
Teladoc transparent logo

Cheapest Pay-as-You-Go Online Therapy Without Insurance

Teladoc

We chose Teladoc because it was cheaper and had more open appointments than MDLive outside of 9-to-5 business hours.

Session types Phone and video therapy

Price and payment options $99 per session; accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express

Accepts insurance Yes

Pros

  • Cheapest à la carte therapy of the platforms we looked at
  • Offers sessions outside of 9-to-5 hours
  • Same service model as MDLive, Thriveworks, and Amwell, but cheaper
  • More availability after 5 p.m. than services like BetterHelp

Cons

  • No messaging with your provider between appointments
  • Can get expensive if you need weekly sessions

Why Teladoc?

When looking for the best pay-per-session online teletherapy, we also considered the competition. Thriveworks, for example, charges the same $99 fee per session as Teladoc, but tacks on an extra $39 membership fee per month. It's also only available in 43 states

What to Consider When Choosing an Affordable Online Therapist

About 60 percent of those who responded to our June 2023 online therapy survey reported that affordability was the most important factor when it came to deciding between platforms. When deciding which therapist or online therapy provider is right for you, consider these questions:

  • Is virtual therapy the best option for you? Virtual therapy isn’t for everyone. Those who aren’t comfortable with technology or prefer to be in the same room as their therapist will likely do better with traditional therapy.

  • What is your deductible? If you can’t afford your deductible, even over time, you may want to consider a platform that offers therapy on a sliding scale, where your salary dictates how much they charge per session.
  • What mental health services does your insurance cover? Maximizing your in-network benefits, if the deductible isn’t too high, may be cheaper than paying completely out of pocket.
  • Is the platform in-network for your insurance? Just because a brand works with your insurance doesn’t mean it will be cheap. “In-network” status means that the company made a deal with your insurance to charge only a certain amount per visit. If they use your out-of-network benefits and submit a bill to your insurance, also known as a superbill, they can charge whatever they want. Your insurance will pay only part of it, and you’ll be stuck with the rest.

Most bad reviews we read for different online therapy platforms involved being hit with a surprise bill and not understanding how the platforms worked with their insurance. The American Psychological Association (APA) recommends always calling your insurance provider, not the platform, to confirm this information.

  • How much are you paying per month for therapy? Weekly breakdowns may seem cheaper, but it’s always better to do the math to compare how much you’re paying per month. Consider your monthly budget and how the overall cost of therapy will fit, especially as you pay over months or years.
  • Do you like working with your therapist? Therapy is about building a rapport, and you should be with a mental health professional you like and are comfortable with.
    • Is cheapest always best? Be sure to weigh all the pros and cons of each therapy service you consider. Mental health care is like any other healthcare — you may not want to sacrifice the quality of your treatment to save a few dollars.

    Are you mentally prepared for the long-term investment? “A major obstacle during the therapy process is the belief that healing will take place immediately or quickly,” says Jennifer Weaver-Breitenbecher, a licensed mental health counselor in North Providence, Rhode Island. “We don’t have magic wands, and we can’t speed up the therapeutic process, but we can promise that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel — no matter how long the tunnel may be. Be patient and trust the process,” she adds.

    A Comparison of Other Online Therapy Platforms We Researched

    Platform
    Who They Treat
    Cost
    Accepts Insurance
    Couples
    $225 per session
    No
    Couples
    $80 to $240 per hour
    No
    Couples
    $105 to $125 per session
    No
    Couples
    $185 to $350 per session
    No
    Adults or couples
    $60 to $250 per session
    No
    Adults, teens (ages 13 to 19)
    $108 per session without insurance
    Yes
    Couples, adults, teens (ages 13 to 19)
    $396 per month (therapy); $276 per month (unlimited messaging only)
    Yes
    Adults; may offer teen or child therapy depending on the area; couples
    $99 per session without insurance; $10 to $40 (copay) with insurance
    Yes
    Adults
    $40 to $50 per session
    No
    Adults
    $259 per month
    Yes
    Adults
    $240 to $360 per month
    No
    Adults, couples, teens (ages 14 to 19), preteens (ages 11 to 13), children (up to age 10)
    $30 to $70 per session; one-time $65 membership fee
    No

    * Nonprofit

    Why You Can Trust Us

    We independently investigate and recommend products and services that we believe will enrich the lives of our readers and meet their specific needs. We’ve spent hundreds of hours carrying out in-depth research in 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 two 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
    • Became customers of online therapy providers ourselves
    • Reviewed academic research into the efficacy of online therapy versus in-person therapy
    • Read hundreds of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as the BBB and Trustpilot

    Learn more about how we researched and evaluated the best online therapy brands via our online therapy methodology page and see the full results of our online therapy testing.

    The Bottom Line

    Online therapy can be inexpensive and sustainable for your budget when you maximize your in-network insurance benefits. If you don’t have insurance or have a high deductible, à la carte options where you pay per session can help you save some extra cash and provide payment and scheduling flexibility that subscriptions don’t.

    If you prefer a subscription, be sure to weigh the pros and cons and remember to look at the total cost per month, not per week, to see if it makes sense for your financial situation.

    For affordable online therapy with medication, our reviews team selected Brightside as the best option. Sesame was our choice for low-cost online prescriptions for mental health medications if you don’t have insurance. Calmerry offers affordable online text-based if you prefer to connect with your therapist that way. We chose ReGain as the most affordable relationship therapy online, and Teen Counseling as the best option for affordable online therapy for teens. Finally, Amwell is the best option for affordable online therapy if you have insurance, while TeleDoc is the most affordable option for pay-as-you-go therapy sessions without insurance.

    In Emergency Situations

    If you are in crisis, waiting for an online therapy appointment is not 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 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. Help is available 24/7.

    You can also reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357). The SAMHSA helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-days-a-year treatment referral and information service for individuals facing mental or substance use disorders.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Is online therapy cheaper than in-person therapy?

    The cost of your online therapy depends on the therapist you see, the platform you use, and how much your insurance will cover. You may see a difference in price if you compare a more expensive therapist, say $150 per session without insurance, to an option like BetterHelp at $240 to $360 per month.

    Is in-person therapy better than online?

    In-person therapy can give you a better connection with your therapist and allow them to read your body language, but you don’t need to be in person to have effective therapy, especially if it’s cognitive behavioral therapy, according to a review published in the journal Cureus in August 2017. Many patients and therapists are satisfied with the arrangement.

    Is there such a thing as free online therapy?

    We could not find free online therapy from licensed providers. Websites like 7Cups, known for their free emotional support, use volunteers to listen and empathize with your issues, but they are not therapists and do not provide therapy. An alternative would be a provider who uses a sliding scale for payment.

    Is online therapy trustworthy and safe?

    Online therapy can be trustworthy and safe depending on the provider you choose. The American Psychological Association recommends making sure that your therapist is licensed in your state, and that the website confirms both your identity and your therapist’s identity.

    Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

    • The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
    • MacDougall S, Jerrott S, Clark S, et al. Text Message Interventions in Adolescent Mental Health and Addiction Services: Scoping Review. JMIR Mental Health. January 2021.
    • Bennett E, Le K, Lindahl K, et al. Five Out of the Box Techniques for Encouraging Teenagers to Engage in Counseling [PDF]. VISTAS Online.
    • Zucker N, Schmitt C, DeJonckHeere M, et al. Confidentiality in the Doctor-Patient Relationship: Perspectives of Youth Ages 14–24 Years. Journal of Pediatrics. October 2019.
    • Interview with Jessica Frick. Erie, Pennsylvania. April 21, 2022.
    • Interview with Jennifer Weaver-Breitenbecher. North Providence, Rhode Island. April 21, 2022.
    • Kumar V, Sattar Y, Bseiso A, et al. The Effectiveness of Internet-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders. Cureus. August 29, 2017.
    • What You Need to Know Before Choosing Online Therapy. American Psychological Association. 2015.
    • The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. CMS.gov.
    • Sharar D. Where Do We Go From Here? Improving Value and Pricing in EAP. International Employee Assistance Professionals Association. 2019.
    • Barlow D, Farchione T, Bullis J, et al. The Unified Protocol for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders Compared With Diagnosis-Specific Protocols for Anxiety Disorders. JAMA Psychiatry. September 2017.
    • Kroenke K, Wu J, Wu Z, et al. The Patient Health Questionnaire Anxiety and Depression Scale (PHQ-ADS): Initial Validation in Three Clinical Trials. Psychosomatic Medicine. July 1, 2017.
    • Online Therapy Survey. 1,000 Respondents. Conducted Using Pollfish. Launched April 11, 2022.
    • Online Therapy Survey. 1,000 Respondents. Conducted Using Pollfish. Launched June 13, 2023.
    • Brightside Survey. 200 Respondents. Conducted Using Pollfish. Launched January 9, 2023.
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