4 Best Online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Options in 2023

With online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), there’s no need to see a therapist in person to get the mental health support you need. We review the top online CBT therapy options.
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.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common form of psychotherapy that challenges beliefs that negatively impact an individual’s mental health. While some popular online therapy platforms have therapists who use CBT, certain platforms also offer courses and worksheets that can support individuals between therapy sessions.

This review examines the best platforms for online CBT, including options with free resources and financial assistance programs.

Our Top Picks for the Best Online CBT Platforms

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 needs. You can read our full online therapy review methodology here. 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
  • Mystery shopped each of the brands
  • 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

Compare the Best Online CBT Options

Platform
Cost
Session Types
CBT Support Via
Accepts Insurance?
Learn More
online therapy com logo
$50 to $110 per week
Text messaging; live video, voice, or text sessions
A CBT program, CBT worksheets, and live therapy sessions
No
betterhelp-logo-stacked
$60 to $90 per week
Video, voice, or text messaging; live video, phone, or text sessions
Live therapy sessions
No
Thriveworks transparent logo
Starts at $99 per session; optional membership starts at $39 per month†
Live video
Live therapy sessions
Yes
Sanvello transparent logo
$8.99 per month ($2.25 per week) for premium app features; therapy session costs vary with coverage*
Live video
Mood-tracking app, thought-reframing exercises, and live therapy sessions
Yes*

† Cost can be higher based on provider or practice location.

* Only users with in-network insurance plans can book therapist sessions.

Best Online CBT Providers in 2023

online therapy com logo

Best Overall

Online-Therapy.com

Our Rating
3.96

Online-Therapy.com supports users with both live sessions with a CBT therapist and online resources. All subscription plans provide access to a learning program to help you better understand your issues from a CBT perspective.

Session Format Text messaging; live video, voice, or text sessions

Cost $50 to $110 per week

Accepts Insurance No

Pros

  • All therapists are trained in CBT
  • Includes online CBT support materials like worksheets
  • Can choose from three plans that include unlimited messaging

Cons

  • Does not accept insurance
  • Only way to contact customer service is through email
  • Self-guided resources aren’t available offline

They also include CBT exercises and worksheets to complete on your own time, an online journal for self-reflection to help shift your mindset, an activity plan designed to track your progress, and videos with guided yoga and meditation instruction for practicing mindfulness. The

Compare Online-Therapy.com Plans

Basic
Standard
Premium
Cost per week
$50
$80
$110
CBT support materials
Yes
Yes
Yes
Unlimited messaging
Yes
Yes
Yes
Live sessions weekly
0
1
2
Daily worksheet replies (Monday through Friday)
Yes
Yes
Yes
Express replies
No
No
Yes
betterhelp-logo-stacked

Best for Financial Aid

BetterHelp

Our Rating
4.01
The BetterHelp platform has an extensive therapist-matching questionnaire to help users find a therapist who can support their mental health. Although BetterHelp users can indicate certain therapist preferences, such as age, sexual orientation, spirituality, or gender, users can’t specifically choose therapists who specialize in CBT. Instead, users need to email customer service or use the “change therapists” feature to request one.

Session Format Unlimited messaging; live video, phone, or text sessions

Cost $60 to $90 per week

Accepts Insurance No

Pros

  • Includes live sessions and unlimited video, audio, and text messaging
  • Offers financial assistance to qualified applicants

Cons

  • Doesn’t accept insurance
  • Need to request a CBT therapist during the matching process
  • Need to reapply for financial assistance every three months, if needed

Although it has licensed therapists in all 50 states, and a BetterHelp article states that it has many CBT therapists, BetterHelp doesn’t clarify whether it has CBT therapists available in all 50 states.

BetterHelp allows you to send unlimited messages to your provider between appointments

Thriveworks transparent logo

Best for Choosing Your Therapist

Thriveworks

Thriveworks providers offer sessions online and in person. Unlike Online-Therapy.com and BetterHelp, which match you with a therapist, Thriveworks lets you book sessions with the therapist of your choice. In addition to the ease of using the provider search tool, we were pleased with the live chat feature on the Thriveworks website.

Session Format Live video; email and phone access to therapists between sessions with a membership

Cost Starting at $99 per session, depending on provider and location; memberships start at $39 per month, depending on location

Accepts Insurance Yes

Pros

  • Can select a CBT therapist via the provider search tool
  • Responsive customer service
  • Accepts insurance

Cons

  • Requires a monthly membership to contact therapists between sessions
  • Not available in all states

All of the agents we contacted were knowledgeable and tried to help us find a therapist that matched our requested approach, insurance plan, and location.

Searching for a CBT therapist on Thriveworks
Users looking for a CBT therapist can select a CBT filter in the Counseling Approach section of the search tool.

Thriveworks offers email and phone access to therapists between each 50- to 60-minute live session. But users can only access

Sanvello transparent logo

Best Self-Guided CBT App

Sanvello

Sanvello, formerly known as Pacifica, is an app that combines both CBT and mindfulness, which Sanvello defines as “the practice of worrying less and noticing more.” It offers free CBT features such as mood tracking and paid features such as live therapy sessions.

Session Format Live video sessions

Cost $8.99 per month for premium app features without insurance; an average of $140 for an initial therapy session and $85 for follow-up sessions depending on insurance coverage

Accepts Insurance Yes

Pros

  • Free mood tracker and CBT resources
  • Low-cost premium subscription to access self-guided CBT tools
  • Peer support chat groups available on the free version

Cons

  • Only users with in-network insurance plans are eligible for therapy sessions
  • Therapy option not available in all states
  • Messaging option with a coach, not a therapist

The free self-guided content includes access to audio and video lessons, guided meditations, breathing exercises, journaling prompts, and trackers for mood, physical health, and thoughts. The free version also provides access to unmoderated group chats with individuals who have similar

Compare Sanvello Plans

Self-Care (Sanvello Premium)
Coaching
Therapy
Access to all CBT tools and activities
Yes
Yes
Yes
Access to classes
No
Yes
Yes
Text messaging with a mental health coach
No
Yes
Yes
Live sessions with a licensed therapist
No
No
Yes

What Is CBT?

CBT focuses on developing healthy ways of coping with mental health challenges. According to Sanam Hafeez, PhD, founder and director of the treatment center Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services in New York City, CBT helps patients develop problem-solving skills to cope with challenging situations, understand the behaviors and motivations of others, and face their fears. If a therapist recommends CBT, they’ll evaluate the number of sessions you need based on factors that include the severity of your situation and the type of mental health concern, according to the Mayo Clinic. CBT is generally considered short-term therapy that lasts between 5 and 20 sessions.

There is a set agenda for sessions, and patients are typically assigned at-home exercises to complete between sessions. Homework for CBT can include journaling or tracking unhelpful thoughts as they arise and the emotions that come up, and then challenging them. These exercises help reinforce the work done during sessions, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“CBT builds on the assumption that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all related to one another,” says Jaclyn Ross, PhD, clinical psychologist and postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Illinois at Chicago. For example, a person with depression may think that they are a burden to their friends —an unhelpful belief that can exacerbate negative feelings. A CBT therapist would point out that this belief is a cognitive distortion. The therapist then asks questions that may help the person reevaluate and think more flexibly, according to Dr. Ross. This is the cognitive aspect of CBT.

To address the behavioral aspect, the person and their therapist work together to modify dysfunctional behavior patterns. For example, they might use exposure therapy, which is a form of CBT used to reduce responses of fear and anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. In exposure therapy, a person is gradually exposed to a feared situation or object, learning to become less sensitive over time.

Online CBT allows for the convenience of connecting virtually with your therapist, and some platforms have extra resources like worksheets or journals to help. Virtual sessions may be easier for individuals with busy schedules or social anxiety issues that make it challenging to meet in person.

Remote sessions have made therapy of all kinds more accessible than ever before — and in one study, more effective. A review published in July 2020 in eClinicalMedicine found that online CBT was at least as effective as in-person CBT for reducing the severity of depression. “There is some evidence that online CBT — self-guided programs without a therapist — can be useful in treating mild to moderate depressive disorders, and even severe anxiety,” says Ross. “This is exciting because it’s a potential avenue for providing healthcare to those who might otherwise remain untreated.”

What Can CBT Treat?

According to the Mayo Clinic, CBT can help improve many mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia and sleep disorders, eating disorders, sexual disorders, bipolar disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and substance use disorders. Beyond treating mental health conditions, CBT can be used to address a broad spectrum of emotional challenges, according to Dr. Hafeez, such as navigating loss or grief, resolving relationship issues, and even chronic physical symptoms. Hafeez explains, “CBT can help teach techniques for coping with overwhelming life situations and identify how to manage emotions.”

Different Types of CBT

The many types of CBT “work to address underlying thought patterns that may contribute to psychological distress,” says Hafeez. For example, multimodal therapy is based on the theory that “psychological issues can be treated by addressing the seven different yet interconnected modalities: behavior, imagery, affect, cognition, sensation, interpersonal factors, and drug or biological considerations,” says Hafeez. The exact balance is tailored to the patient’s specific needs.

What to Consider When Choosing a CBT Therapist Online

When you’re determining how to find the right CBT therapist online, there are a few factors to consider.

  • Therapist Preferences Consider what type of therapist may make you feel most comfortable. Some sites, like BetterHelp and Thriveworks, allow you to filter therapists by gender, sexual orientation, languages spoken, years of experience, and other user preferences.
  • Session Type Determine whether you’d rather have your sessions via video calls, audio calls, or live chat messaging. If you prefer quick feedback, live sessions may be more important than asynchronous messaging.
  • CBT Resources If you’re motivated by completing activities, you may find it helpful to have mood trackers, activity plans, and worksheets assigned between therapy sessions. Online-Therapy.com and Sanvello offer these CBT-supporting resources for their users.
  • Pricing Determine your preference for payment. You can go with a weekly or monthly subscription, or you can pay per visit. For online therapy that takes insurance, consider Brightside and Talkspace.

The Bottom Line

Some individuals may prefer online CBT if they do better with structured virtual sessions and homework, such as online worksheets, activity tracking, and mood tracking. We found Online-Therapy.com to be the best overall online CBT platform for its CBT program, its suite of CBT resources, and its roster of therapists who are all trained in CBT.

BetterHelp customer service representatives can match users with a therapist who specializes in CBT, and it has a financial assistance program for those who qualify. We found BetterHelp to be the best online CBT platform with financial aid.

For those who have specific preferences in therapists, Thriveworks has a provider search tool that can narrow down online CBT providers near you, making it our pick for the best online CBT option that lets you choose your therapist.

Sanvello is our pick for the best self-guided CBT app, with its free CBT tools and optional live therapy sessions for individuals with in-network insurance.

Additional reporting by Emily Orofino.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Can CBT therapy be done online?
Yes, CBT therapy is available online through platforms like Online-Therapy.com and BetterHelp. Virtual CBT therapy sessions offer convenience for those with scheduling conflicts, social anxiety, and other barriers to in-person care.
How much does CBT online cost?

Subscriptions for online CBT with live therapy sessions included cost between $60 and $110 per week, whereas subscriptions with self-guided CBT resources cost much less, starting at $2 per week on Sanvello. BetterHelp offers financial assistance for its online therapy subscription, and qualified applicants can receive a discount of up to 40 percent.

Does insurance cover online CBT?

Depending on the details of your health insurance plan, it may cover CBT sessions with therapists who are in your insurance network and licensed in your state. Thriveworks and Sanvello both accept insurance for online CBT therapy. Other online therapy platforms that accept insurance may also offer CBT on a case-by-case basis, including Talkspace.

If you have out-of-network behavioral health benefits, you may be eligible for reimbursement from your insurance provider if you submit an invoice from the online therapy platforms. Check with your insurance carrier to verify coverage.

How long does CBT take?

According to the Mayo Clinic, CBT can take 5 to 20 sessions, as it is generally considered a short-term therapy.

How does CBT online work?

CBT online may involve self-guided lessons and activities, assigned lessons and activities, and live sessions with a CBT-trained therapist. Your therapist will determine what CBT methods to use based on your individual needs.

Can I do CBT myself?

There are online resources for self-guided CBT. Online-Therapy.com offers self-guided CBT resources in addition to unlimited messaging with a therapist in all of its subscriptions. Sanvello offers self-guided CBT tools in the free and premium versions of the app.

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

  • Interview With Sanam Hafeez. New York City. May 23, 2022.
  • Interview With Jaclyn Ross. Chicago. May 19, 2022.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Mayo Clinic. March 16, 2019.
  • Types of Therapy. Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
  • Luo C, Sanger N, Singhal N, et al. A Comparison of Electronically-Delivered and Face to Face Cognitive Behavioural Therapies in Depressive Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. eClinicalMedicine. July 2020.
  • Online Therapy Survey. 1,000 respondents. Conducted using Pollfish. Launched April 11, 2022.
  • Moberg C, Niles A, Beerman D. Guided Self-Help Works: Randomized Waitlist Controlled Trial of Pacifica, a Mobile App Integrating Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression. Journal of Medical Internet Research. June 2019.
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