10 Best Online Therapy Services We Tried and Tested in 2023

After testing online therapy platforms, surveying customers, and consulting leading psychologists, our team picked the top 10 online counseling services.

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.

Best Online Therapy Services at a Glance

With online therapy, you no longer have to travel to a therapist’s office to prioritize your mental health. Now you have access to therapy anywhere you have an internet connection. Plus, virtual therapy may be more affordable than in-person visits (unless you have insurance that covers therapy), according to the American Psychological Association.

With many new teletherapy platforms launching in recent years, it can be hard to choose the right one. To help guide you toward a provider that’s right for you, our reviews team conducted extensive research into online therapy platforms and selected the best for various healthcare needs, preferences, and budgets.

Our Top Picks for the Best Online Therapy Platforms in 2023

Compare the Best Online Therapy Services of 2023

Best For
Session Types
Best overall
Video, phone, text, and unlimited messaging
Talkspace transparent logo
Best that takes insurance
$69–$109/week for therapy, $299 for initial psychiatry appointment and $175 for each follow-up
Video, phone, and text sessions, unlimited messaging, live workshops
Calmerry transparent logo
Most affordable
Unlimited messaging
Brightside transparent logo
Best that can provide medication
$75–$88/week; $95/month plus $15 per medication for psychiatry plan only
Video and unlimited messaging
online therapy com logo
Best for cognitive behavioral therapy
Video, phone, text, and unlimited messaging
Regain transparent logo
Best for couples therapy
Unlimited messaging
Pride Counseling transparent logo
Best for the LGBTQ+ community
Video, phone, text, and unlimited messaging
Sesame logo transparent
Best for on-demand appointments
Prices vary by therapist and location
Video or phone
Teen Counseling transparent logo
Best for teens
Video, phone, text, and unlimited messaging
monument transparent logo
Best for treating alcohol use disorder
Video and unlimited messaging

Why You Can Trust Our Online Therapy Reviews

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 hundreds of 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, accumulating more than 400 hours to date spent researching and investigating the brands and market we cover
  • Tested eight brands over a two-month period by going behind the paywall to mystery shop our best online therapy choices, putting ourselves in the shoes of our readers and recording our daily experiences as real customers of the brands
  • Deployed five surveys of the following participant groups: 1,000 online therapy users, 200 BetterHelp users, 200 Brightside users, and 200 Talkspace users
  • Conducted two focus groups of online therapy users and potential users
  • Contacted brands’ customer service teams to ask questions and gauge responsiveness
  • Consulted six leading psychologists and psychiatrists
  • 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


Best Overall


Reviews team rating

BetterHelp offers one of the most comprehensive selections of teletherapy services. It also has some of the highest verified customer reviews in the online therapy space on third-party review sites like BBB and Trustpilot — and positive reviews for the smartphone BetterHelp app. BetterHelp has a 4.06 out of 5 rating on BBB, and a 4.6 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot.

Editor’s Choice

Session types Video, phone, and text sessions, plus unlimited messaging between sessions

Price and payment options $60 to $90 per week; accepts credit card and PayPal

Accepts insurance No

Our experience We liked how easy it was to sign up and get matched with a therapist. Our reviews team tester was matched with a therapist and the therapist reached out within two hours after the tester signed up on a Friday night. We also appreciated the wide variety of group sessions included in the subscription, from art therapy to exploring neurodivergence.


  • Optional weekly group sessions can provide a sense of community.
  • Every membership includes four weekly therapy sessions per month, unlimited counselor messaging, and group sessions.
  • Each therapist is licensed and possesses at least a master’s degree in their field.
  • Financial assistance is available for those who qualify.
  • It’s one of the highest-rated online therapy apps in the industry, according to verified customer reviews.


  • You can't choose which therapist you’re paired with (although you can change therapists at any time).
  • Therapists can’t prescribe medications.
  • The company doesn’t accept insurance.
  • It may take a few days to receive a message response from your therapist.

Our reviews team conducted a survey of 1,000 online therapy users in April of 2022, and of the 162 BetterHelp users who responded, 80 percent reported having a mostly positive or positive experience with customer service. In our reviews team's January 2023 survey of 200 BetterHelp

Use BetterHelp promo code “everydayhealth” for 20 percent off your first month.
A bar graph showing how fast BetterHelp responded to surveyed customers.
74 percent of BetterHelp users we surveyed said that customer service responded within one business day.
Talkspace transparent logo

Best That Takes Insurance


Reviews team rating

Talkspace is one of the only online counseling platforms that accepts insurance, so if you have a low deductible for mental health services and your insurance covers Talkspace, it may be more affordable than other options.

Session types Video, text, and phone sessions; unlimited messaging; live workshops

Price and payment options $69 to $109 per week for therapy, $299 for initial psychiatric visit and $175 for follow-ups; accepts credit cards

Accepts insurance Yes

Our experience Our tester was impressed with how quickly Talkspace matched them with a counselor. They also found that Talkspace promo codes made it cheaper than using their out-of-network private insurance. Therapist response times varied except for the guaranteed morning and evening check-ins.


  • Accepts insurance
  • Online psychiatrists can prescribe medication and make diagnoses.
  • Corporate plans are available for universities and employers.
  • Unlimited messaging with guaranteed responses five days a week
  • Weekly counseling sessions are available on the most expensive plan.


  • Only video and text sessions are available, with no option for phone calls.
  • Therapy sessions are a maximum of 30 minutes.
  • No financial assistance program is available.
  • Psychiatric appointments cost an extra $299 for the initial visit and $175 for follow-ups.
  • Poor third-party reviews indicate frustration with response times from therapist and customer service.
Talkspace online therapy is a subscription plan, meaning you pay monthly for access to your personal therapist. Every plan includes unlimited messaging with your counselor, and higher-priced plans include weekly or monthly video counseling sessions and access to live workshops. Another
Use Talkspace promo code “EVERYDAY85” for $85 off your first month.
Calmerry transparent logo

Most Affordable


Reviews team rating
If you’re focused on finding the most affordable online therapy and prefer writing versus speaking directly with a therapist, Calmerry might be the best online therapy provider for you.

Session types Video, plus unlimited messaging

Price and payment options $57 to $90 per week; accepts credit cards

Accepts insurance No

Our experience Our Calmerry tester had an easy time matching with a therapist who fit their needs, and the tester appreciated the shorter 30-minute sessions. They also liked engaging with special features like a therapy plan and mood journal. Unfortunately, our tester experienced several technical difficulties, such as mid-session disconnections and buttons that did not work until the page was refreshed.


  • High rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot
  • One of the most affordable subscription therapy plans, because of the messaging format
  • The smartphone app is straightforward and easy to use.
  • You can get matched to a therapist in only a few hours.


  • Therapists cannot prescribe medication or make a diagnosis.
  • There is no option for phone therapy sessions.
  • You cannot pause your subscription.
  • Therapists don’t respond in real-time.
  • Not all counselors respond every weekday.

If you’re focused on finding the most affordable online therapy and prefer writing versus speaking directly with a therapist, Calmerry might be the best online therapy provider for you. Calmerry offers unlimited messaging with your therapist for $57 per week, which is far

Use Calmerry promo code “EVERYDAYHEALTH” for 40 percent off your first month.
Brightside transparent logo

Best That Can Provide Medication


Reviews team rating

Brightside offers the option of online therapy, psychiatry, or both combined in a monthly subscription. The company says its proprietary technology, PrecisionRx, analyzes a variety of patient data to help providers recommend a mental health medication that’s most likely to be tolerable and effective — however, there are no independent studies to confirm this.

Session types Video sessions and unlimited messaging

Price and payment options $75 to $88 weekly for therapy; $95 per month for psychiatry plan only, plus $15 or pharmacy copay per medication; accepts credit cards

Accepts insurance Yes

Our experience Our Brightside tester was impressed with the level of customer service provided by both customer representatives and their therapist. When the first therapist match didn’t work out, they were quickly able to match with a better fit. On the other hand, they found that they were unable to go over their lessons and discuss their goals for therapy in 45 minute sessions.


  • Online psychiatrists can prescribe medication and make diagnoses.
  • Proprietary software helps providers prescribe medication.
  • Regular assessments track progress over time on your account dashboard.
  • You can be matched to a therapist as soon as the next business day.
  • Accepts health insurance.
  • Therapy sessions are 45 minutes long.
  • Has an app for iOS phones.


  • Cost of medication is not included in the monthly subscription.
  • Psychiatry sessions are only 30 minutes long.
  • Does not have an app for Android phones.
  • No option for phone sessions with counselors.
  • No financial assistance program available.
  • Not many third-party reviews from current users.

Brightside offers three plan options. The costs without using insurance are broken down as follows:

  • Psychiatry plan $95 per month ($45 for the initial month)
  • Therapy plan $299 per month ($249 for the first month); includes unlimited messaging and four monthly 45-minute video calls
Use Brightside promo code “EDH60” for $60 off your first month of cash plans.
online therapy com logo

Best for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)


Reviews team rating
Online-Therapy.com has a subscription model and unique add-ons when you sign in to your account. The more expensive plans include either a monthly or weekly therapy session via phone, video, or chat, along with unlimited messaging with your counselor.

Session types Video, phone, and text sessions, plus unlimited messaging

Price and payment options $40 to $80 per week; accepts credit cards and PayPal

Accepts insurance No

Our experience Our Online-Therapy.com tester found the platform easy to use and appreciated the option to choose your therapist. But their first selection turned out to not be available, so selections are not guaranteed. Their therapist set them up with worksheets that took about 20 minutes to complete and would respond or comment on them within a day.


  • Every counselor has CBT training (see definition below).
  • Therapists respond to messages within 24 hours, Monday through Friday.
  • The online therapy tool kit includes a self-help course with worksheets, a journal, and yoga videos.
  • There’s a 20 percent discount on the first month.


  • Sessions are only 30 minutes long.
  • Online-Therapy.com is not for teens, couples, or family counseling.
  • Therapists do not diagnose conditions or prescribe medications.
  • You can’t receive discounts for financial difficulties.
  • The company doesn’t accept insurance.
  • Therapist availability varies based on your location.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, centers on the premise that your thoughts influence your behaviors and feelings, and that you can learn to modify your thoughts, according to the American Psychological Association. If you’re interested in accessing anxiety therapy online, and

Regain transparent logo

Best for Couples Therapy

ReGain Counseling

Reviews team rating
ReGain is a telehealth platform owned by BetterHelp and designed specifically for couples. Rather than offering couples counseling from a general online therapy platform, all ReGain therapists specialize in working with couples.

Session types Video, text, or phone sessions, plus unlimited messaging

Price and payment options $60 to $90 per week; accepts credit cards and PayPal

Accepts insurance No

Our experience Our testers, a couple, said they liked that ReGain offered a wide variety of therapists, varying in specialty and expertise. They also liked that they were able to choose a therapist from a list. They find the interface intuitive and easy to use. But, they struggled to find a therapist with enough availability to accommodate their schedules.


  • Therapy designed specifically for couples
  • Virtual chat is available 24/7.
  • Can be more affordable than most in-person couples therapy.
  • ReGain provides financial assistance discounts based on income.


  • There is no individual message option, so your partner will always see what you write.
  • ReGain doesn’t accept insurance.
  • ReGain has some negative customer reviews.
  • Our reviews team testers had trouble matching with suitable counselors.

With ReGain, you start by answering questions about your needs and preferences in a therapist. Then, the ReGain team assigns a therapist to you and your partner. The matching process could take up to three days. Most communication occurs in a shared chat room with you, your partner

Use ReGain promo code “everydayhealth-rg” for 20 percent off your first month.
Pride Counseling transparent logo

Best for LGBTQ+ Community

Pride Counseling

If you identify as LGBTQ+, you may prefer a therapist who consistently works with members of your community. Each Pride Counseling therapist is either a member of the LGBTQ+ community or specializes in working with the LGBTQ+ community. They are psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, or licensed professional counselors, according to the Pride Counseling website.

Session types Video, phone, and text sessions, plus unlimited messaging

Price and payment options $60 to $90 per week; accepts credit cards and PayPal

Accepts insurance No


  • All therapists specialize in working with the LGBTQ+ community.
  • You can message your therapist at any time.
  • You can change your therapist at any time, if needed.
  • The easy-to-use app has a 4.4 out of 5 rating on Google Play.
  • Weekly counseling sessions are available.
  • Discounts are available for those who financially qualify.


  • Pride Counseling does not accept insurance.
  • Services are available only to adults.
  • Therapists cannot diagnose conditions or prescribe medication.
  • Not all counselors will write recommendation letters for hormone replacement, because of the limitations of virtual therapy.

When you begin the online counseling process, you answer questions about your pronouns, sexual orientation, and how you identify, to help match you with a therapist. You will receive a notification once you’ve been matched with a therapist, which can take one to three days. Once

Use Pride Counseling promo code “everydayhealth-pc” for 20 percent off your first month.
Sesame logo transparent

Best for On-Demand Appointments

Sesame Care

Reviews team rating
Sesame is one of the best online therapy platforms if you want to speak with a therapist on demand, don’t have insurance, and need a prescription. On the Sesame site, you can schedule video visits for weekly therapy sessions, on-demand mental health needs, or prescription refills.

Session types Video or phone

Price and payment options Prices vary by therapist and geographic region; credit cards accepted

Accepts insurance No

Our experience Because Sesame Care offers a variety of telehealth services, our tester found it difficult to find the “mental health” services option right away. But they liked how they could sign up with the click of a button via their Gmail account. They also appreciated that they could sign up for a same-day virtual therapy appointment. They noted that there were no technical issues during their two-month testing period.


  • You have fast access to appointments, sometimes within a day (depending on therapist availability).
  • You can access care estimates before sharing personal information.
  • Affordable care is available for people without insurance.
  • You pay for visits only when you schedule them.
  • Positive third-party reviews on Trustpilot (4.3 out of 5 stars)


  • You have limited counselor availability in certain states.
  • The search platform can be confusing.
  • Sesame doesn’t offer a bundled subscription plan, so it may be more expensive if you pay per weekly session.
  • You can’t message with therapists between appointments.
  • Sesame doesn’t have a smartphone app.

Since you select your therapist and schedule appointments with Sesame, you receive immediate matching and flexible scheduling. If you aren’t seeking weekly therapy sessions, you may prefer the pay-per-visit format that allows you to schedule visits only when you would like them.

Appointment details for Sesame Care video mental health consult


Teen Counseling transparent logo

Best for Teens

Teen Counseling

Teen Counseling is a BetterHelp company that incorporates parents into their teenagers’ talk therapy process right away.

Session types Video, phone, and text sessions, plus unlimited messaging

Price and payment options $60 to $90 per week; accepts credit cards and PayPal

Accepts insurance No


  • Parents and teens can both contact the therapist.
  • Affordable weekly rates are less expensive than some insurance copays.
  • Teen Counseling offers video, phone, or chat therapy sessions.
  • Users can message with their therapist 24/7.
  • Teen Counseling offers discounts for financial hardship.


  • Lack of in-person contact won’t work for some teens.
  • Therapists cannot prescribe medications or make diagnoses.
  • Teen Counseling doesn’t accept insurance.
  • Some reviewers on Google Play had a glitchy app experience.

During the matching process, which typically takes one to three days, parents may approve or deny the selected counselor. Once you find the right online therapist, they work one-on-one with your teen.

The Teen Counseling platform was specifically designed with teenagers in mind. The

monument transparent logo

Best for Treating Alcohol Use Disorder


Monument is a platform that specializes in online treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), with options for therapy, medication management, or a combination of both. Its therapists use techniques like CBT and motivational interviewing.

Session types Video sessions and unlimited messaging

Price and payment options $38 to $63 weekly; accepts credit cards

Accepts insurance Yes


  • Specializes in therapy and resources for alcohol use and sobriety support.
  • Accepts insurance and Medicare for medication and therapy plans.
  • Suggests a personalized therapy plan based on an online assessment.
  • Options for weekly or biweekly therapy sessions.
  • Cost includes unlimited messaging with providers.
  • Free moderated group sessions and community chat.


  • No financial assistance program available.
  • Cost of medication is not included in the monthly subscription.
  • Licensed providers aren’t available in all states.
  • Physicians on the platform treat alcohol use disorder only.
  • No option for phone sessions with counselors.
  • Not many third-party reviews from current users.

After creating an account, you will complete a 15-question assessment in order to suggest a recommended treatment plan depending on the level of support you need. The assessment is based on the World Health Organization’s Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), which was

What Is Online Therapy?

Online therapy providers offer a platform that allows you to work with a licensed mental health professional online. Every online platform is different, but many include video, phone, or text therapy sessions, along with a virtual room where you can message your counselor between visits. That kind of flexibility can offer more convenience than in-person therapy. When we surveyed 1,000 online therapy users in June 2023, the top three reasons for choosing online therapy versus in-person therapy were:

  • The comfort of being at home
  • More flexibility in appointment scheduling
  • No travel time required

There are different types of online therapy available, such as online therapy for anxiety, depression, family counseling, eating disorders, and trauma, among others.

Is Online Therapy Effective?

The results of more than 100 independent studies were published in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy in May 2021, comparing the efficacy of in-person therapy and online therapy. Significant improvements occurred in patients in both categories, with no significant difference in efficacy between the two formats.

According to Nora Feldpausch, MD, a psychiatrist in Colorado and the medical director of Mantra Health, a digital mental health provider for university students, its unique benefits make virtual counseling a great fit for certain folks. “Telehealth is just easier to access than in-person care for many people,” says Dr. Feldpausch. She notes that many patients and caregivers are unable to take time off from work for in-person appointments, and that telehealth appointments can be of particular benefit to elderly patients or those living with disabilities. But Feldpausch says that telehealth isn't for everyone, and it should never fully replace in-person care. “Telehealth and on-the-ground care are complementary to each other,” says Feldpausch. She believes that it’s important to work with patients on a case-by-case basis to find the best solution for each person, rather than merely focusing on the cheapest option or whatever their insurance covers.

Pros and Cons of Online Therapy

Benefits of Online Therapy

Online therapy offers a number of benefits, including:

  • More accessible than in-person therapy, since it’s available wherever there’s an internet connection

  • Different options for sessions, including phone, text message, and video

  • Counselor messaging between sessions (available on select platforms) allows patients to message their therapist between sessions

  • Digital platform functionality such as progress tracking, and tools such as virtual journals, activity plans, online courses, and worksheets

Online Therapy Downsides

For all its benefits, there are also disadvantages to online therapy, such as:

  • Technological hurdles, including connectivity problems or difficulty navigating the platforms themselves
  • The lack of in-person interaction, which may be off-putting to people who prefer to be in the same room as their therapist
  • The lack of immediate support for those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts or another mental health emergency
  • Out-of-pocket costs, since not all providers and platforms accept insurance
  • Limits to prescription options for certain controlled medications, which cannot be prescribed on online therapy platforms, according to the Center for Connected Health Policy

How Much Does Online Therapy Cost?

Online therapy can cost anywhere from $40 to $109 per week or $70 to $300 per session, depending on your plan or insurance coverage. In our June 2023 survey, close to 23 percent of respondents ranked affordability as the most important factor when considering online therapy, and about 45 percent ranked it as extremely important.

You can pursue two main types of online therapy, which vary in pricing. The first option is a therapy subscription plan like BetterHelp or Talkspace. These plans cost roughly $40 to $109 per week and are billed monthly. Prices vary depending upon factors like where you live and the frequency of therapy sessions.

How much people pay monthly for online therapy, illustrated, with 44 percent paying $100 to $200 per month.
In our reviews team’s survey of 1,000 online therapy users, 44 percent of respondents paid between $100 and $200 monthly for online therapy.

The second teletherapy option is pay-as-you-go, which is more similar to traditional therapy in pricing. You usually work directly with a mental health professional, who sets their own prices. These sessions may cost between $70 and $300 each, and you’re charged at the time of your appointment. If you’re looking for an inexpensive option and don’t mind committing to a subscription, monthly plans will save you more money.

How to Save Money on Online Therapy

You can potentially reduce the cost of virtual counseling in a number of ways.

  • Consider insurance. Some companies, like Talkspace, accept insurance and may be covered under your plan. But sometimes you can find a better online therapy platform that’s more affordable out of pocket. Explore your options. Additionally, you may be able to find a local in-network therapist who does video visits, meaning you would only need to cover your copay. Ask your insurer for an explanation of your plan’s mental health benefits.
  • Ask about discounts. Online therapy platforms may offer lower prices on your first month for students, members of the military, or teachers. BetterHelp and its extensions, including Teen Counseling, ReGain, and Pride Counseling, all offer financial assistance to those who qualify, reducing weekly online therapy costs to as little as $40 per week.
  • Use an FSA or HSA account. You may be able to use your flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) to pay for virtual therapy. These are pre-tax accounts, so you end up saving money on your sessions.
  • Pause your subscription. Some platforms allow you to pause your monthly subscription, so you can take a break from payments when needed.
  • Ask your employer about an EAP. Some employers offer an employee assistance plan (EAP), which may provide discounts on certain virtual counseling providers.

Who Is Online Counseling Good For?

Virtual therapy is a good fit for some people, especially if you relate to the following:

  • You want greater convenience. Online therapy works anywhere that there is an internet connection, making it convenient if you have limited mobility, don’t live near a therapist, or have a busy schedule.
  • You don’t have insurance. In-person therapy without insurance is typically $100 to $200 per session, although if you live in a big metro area you can expect to pay more, according to Northwestern Mutual. Most online platforms are cheaper.
  • You want to save money. Even with insurance, virtual counseling may be the most affordable option. It depends on how much your mental health copays are.
  • You like added features. Online counseling platforms often come with perks like self-help courses, online journals, and group sessions.
  • You prefer to write, not talk. You can find some teletherapy options where you have text sessions or simply message your therapist, which is better if you’d rather not directly talk with your counselor.
  • You’re more comfortable opening up behind a screen. Some people find online therapy uncomfortable because it’s a vulnerable process to open up to someone through a text or video chat. But others feel more comfortable talking with a therapist from the comfort of their own home. How you seek therapy depends on your preferences and needs — but make sure you are comfortable communicating through a screen if you pursue online therapy.

What to Consider Before Purchasing an Online Therapy Subscription

When trying to decide whether an online therapy subscription is right for you, ask yourself the following questions.

  • How much do you want to spend? Weekly prices start at around $40 but go up to $99 depending upon which service you use, what you want from the plan, and where you live. Select a plan with a price you’re comfortable with.
  • Do you need immediate help? If prioritizing your mental health means you need more urgent, consistent support, an in-person therapist may be a better fit for you. Remember, if you have an emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
  • Are you hoping for a diagnosis? Few providers on this list offer mental health diagnoses. Those therapists who do often charge a price that’s more than most insurance copays.
  • Do you need medications? Most online therapists do not prescribe medications, so you may want to speak with your primary care physician about what type of practitioner to see.
  • Do you have a private space? You’ll probably want a quiet, private space for virtual therapy visits. If you’re struggling to find one, you might consider text therapy. As one focus group participant told us, “Being able to have a full text session for an hour was better than trying to discuss sensitive topics where I could be overheard by my family.”

What to Look For in an Online Therapist

When searching for a therapist online, start with the basics. Your therapist should:

  • Be licensed to practice in your state
  • Have experience working with people with similar needs to yours
  • Be open to your preferred form of communication, whether that’s video, phone, text, or a combination
  • Have any characteristics that may be important to you, such as gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, or religious background
  • Have relevant certifications or specialized training, if you’re interested in a specific type of therapy such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
  • Possess a level of experience, personality, and approach that suits you, such as someone who can challenge you with tough questions or guide your progress with weekly homework assignments
  • Display markers of professionalism in every interaction with you

How to Prepare for Your First Online Therapy Appointment

Person sitting comfortably with a blanket and a laptop.
Find a quiet, comfortable space to attend your online therapy sessions.
When you sign up for a new virtual counseling program, you’ll select or be matched with a therapist. Be sure that you know how to log in and use the platform before your first session — whether it’s a video, phone, or text visit. If you’re doing a video therapy visit, check that you have a working camera. Don’t forget to carve out a quiet space for privacy.

How We Chose Our Best Online Therapy Services

Our reviews team determined our top picks for the best online therapy options based on the following criteria:

  • Cost We chose companies that provide a range of costs, with a preference for companies that offer at least one budget-friendly plan.
  • Customer service Exemplary customer service is crucial with a virtual service like online therapy. We contacted each company on this list via phone or email to verify their responsiveness and helpfulness. We paid close attention to whether customer service teams answered promptly and cheerfully, shared their name, and worked to resolve our issue.
  • Customer satisfaction We recorded each company’s score on BBB and Trustpilot and read countless reviews to get a sense of overall customer satisfaction. We paid close attention to whether companies responded to complaints and negative reviews, how long it took them to respond, and whether the customer found the resolution satisfactory.
  • Modes of therapy We researched the modes of therapy offered and favored companies that had multiple types of therapy (such as CBT and psychoanalysis) for the user to choose from.
  • Therapist credentials We verified the credentials of each company’s therapists. We prioritized companies that have therapy teams that possess a variety of credentials (such as psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional therapists, and licensed mental health counselors) or have particular expertise in their field (such as couples counselors or counselors trained in CBT).
  • Years in operation We examined companies that have been in operation for a long period of time as well as ones that have served as disruptors in the marketplace, such as Pride Counseling, which was established in 2017 but fills a niche by offering therapy specifically to the LGBTQ+ community.
  • System usability and access The online therapy system should be easy to use and intuitive. Companies should, ideally, offer multiple formats for their therapy sessions and make it easy to switch therapists or cancel subscriptions altogether.
  • Ease of registration Companies should have an easy registration process that puts as much control into the user’s hands as possible. That includes a streamlined registration process with, ideally, control over who your therapist is and when you can meet with them.

How We Research and Evaluate Online Therapy Platforms

Our reviews team extensively scrutinizes online therapy platforms to make sure we only recommend those we believe will make a difference to our readers. According to our June 2023 survey, trust is the second most important factor behind affordability when it comes to deciding between online therapy platforms.

Together, our team has researched prominent brands by mystery shopping the platforms, understanding the experiences of real customers, and consulting with independent mental health professionals to better understand why people seek out online therapy. Our method includes going past the paywall to test online therapy platforms for ourselves, conducting in-depth interviews with focus groups, and deploying surveys to gain real customer insights.

We used our collected data to develop a scorecard to evaluate the platforms we tested ourselves. Read more about how we researched and tested online therapy platforms in our online therapy review methodology.

The Bottom Line

Online therapy isn’t for everyone, but the convenience, potential cost savings, and added perks make it win out over in-person sessions for quite a few folks. Still, with so many online therapy providers, choosing the best one for you can be daunting.

Our pick for the best online therapy is BetterHelp. Every membership includes weekly therapy sessions, unlimited counselor messaging, and group sessions. Plus, it has high customer reviews on trusted sites. Those looking for medication support may prefer Brightside, which offers psychiatry along with online therapy. If using insurance is a priority, Talkspace partners with a variety of insurance companies and EAPs.

Other online counseling platforms may be better for meeting specific needs. For instance, parents of teens will be more involved in the therapy process on Teen Counseling. Someone looking for couples therapy or therapists familiar with LGBTQ+ issues may want to consider ReGain or Pride Counseling, respectively. Individuals looking for therapy for AUD may benefit from Monument, which provides online therapy plus medication management.

Sesame’s on-demand appointments, some even on the same day, may appeal to individuals who do not want to purchase a subscription for online therapy. And Calmerry’s low-cost messaging plan may be attractive to individuals who prefer written communication with their therapist. With so many different online counseling options, it’s helpful to ask yourself what matters most to you, and to read through our top picks to find one that fits.

When to Seek Help

Online therapy providers are not meant to assist in a mental health emergency, such as when someone is a threat to themselves or others. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline at 800-662-4357 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 to speak with a skilled, trained counselor at a 24/7 crisis center in your area. If you are located outside of the United States and need help, call your local emergency line.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is online therapy legit?

Yes, online therapy is legitimate therapy. The best online therapy platforms have licensed, accredited therapists with the same credentials as those you can meet in person.

Which online therapy site is best?

One of the best online therapy services is BetterHelp, which also has largely positive customer reviews on third-party sites like the BBB. There are many other credible online counseling sites as well, including Online-Therapy.com, ReGain, Calmerry, and more.

Is online therapy just as effective as in-person therapy?

Online therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy for many people, but not for everyone. In a systematic review published in July 2020 in eClinicalMedicine, researchers of past studies suggested that online CBT therapy was at least as effective as in-person CBT therapy, if not slightly more so. Yet people with severe symptoms or complex mental health conditions may do better with in-person therapy, according to a review article published in February 2020 in Frontiers in Psychiatry.

What is the best online therapy covered by insurance?

Talkspace is one of the largest internet-based therapy providers that accepts insurance. But, for some people, insurance copays may be higher than the cost of weekly online therapy plans. To save money on online therapy, consider using funds in an FSA or HSA account.

What is the best affordable online therapy?

Calmerry is one of the most affordable online therapy subscription platforms, with messaging-only plans starting at $42 per week. Online-Therapy.com has plans that start at $40 per week, but it can cost up to $80 per week, whereas Calmerry costs a max of $68 per week. Finally, people with financial hardship may qualify for a discount from BetterHelp, reducing the weekly cost from $60 to $90 down to $40 to $80.

Why is online therapy cheaper?

Online therapy is cheaper than in-person therapy due to multiple factors. To start, you don’t have insurance plans taking a cut of the funds. Additionally, many of these services are subscription plans, so you pay a flat fee whether or not you use all of your allotted sessions (many in-person therapists charge a fee for missed appointments). Finally, online sessions are often shorter than physical visits.

What are the disadvantages of online therapy?

With online therapy, few providers can make diagnoses. Even providers who can do so cannot prescribe controlled substances, unless it’s an emergency situation. For some people, connecting to a therapist over a screen can be challenging due to both technical issues and comfort level. But others tend to feel more comfortable in their own homes. Also, each provider is typically only able to provide care for individuals residing in the state(s) in which they hold current licenses.

Are virtual counseling and online therapy the same?

Online therapy is a type of virtual counseling. Any mental health session that doesn’t occur in person can be called “virtual,” such as a text conversation or phone call between you and your therapist. When a website or mobile app facilitates the conversation, it’s called online therapy.

Is online therapy safe and secure?

Online therapy platforms can provide a certain level of safety and security, but there are important considerations to keep in mind as you share your personal health information with them. It’s important to do your research, weigh the pros and cons, and take proactive steps to protect yourself. Ideally, online therapy platforms should be transparent about data-sharing practices, storage, and user control, such as whether or not you can access and delete your data.

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

  • What You Need to Know Before Choosing Online Therapy. American Psychological Association. 2015.
  • The Mental Health and Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
  • Hayes M. How Much Does Therapy Cost, and How Do You Pay for It? Northwestern Mutual. December 22, 2021.
  • What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? American Psychological Association. July 2017.
  • Prescribing Controlled Substances Via Telehealth. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. January 28, 2021.
  • Fernandez E, Woldgabreal Y, Day A, et al. Live Psychotherapy by Video Versus In-Person: A Meta-Analysis of Efficacy and Its Relationship to Types and Targets of Treatment. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. November 2021.
  • Pescatello MS, Pedersen TR, Baldwin SA. Treatment Engagement and Effectiveness of an Internet-Delivered Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program at a University Counseling Center. Psychotherapy Research. October 2020.
  • Professional Requirements for Online Prescribing. Center for Connected Health Policy. 2022.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. September 14, 2018.
  • Obtaining Informed Consent. Health Resources & Services Administration. June 2022.
  • Device Software Functions Including Mobile Medical Applications. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. August 2022.
  • Code of Ethics. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. 2023.
  • Luo C, Sanger N, Singhal N, et al. A Comparison of Electronically-Delivered and Face to Face Behavioural Therapies in Depressive Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. eClinicalMedicine. July 2020.
  • Stoll J, Müller JA, Trachsel M. Ethical Issues in Online Psychotherapy: A Narrative Review. Frontiers in Psychiatry. February 2020.
  • Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology. American Psychological Association.
  • AUDIT: The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test: Guidelines for Use in Primary Health Care. World Health Organization. November 18, 2001.
  • Online Therapy Survey. 1,000 respondents. Conducted using Pollfish. Launched April 11, 2022.
  • Chokshi S, Senathirajah Y, Yadav V, et al. A Comparative Evaluation of Measurement-Based Psychiatric Care Delivered via Specialized Telemental Health Platform Versus Treatment as Usual: A Retrospective Analysis. Cureus. January 2022.
  • Online Therapy Focus Group: Current Online Therapy Users. Nine Participants. Conducted using Google Meet. January 25, 2023.
  • BetterHelp Survey. 200 Respondents. Conducted Using Pollfish. Launched January 9, 2023.
  • Talkspace Survey. 200 Respondents. Conducted Using Pollfish. Launched January 17, 2023.
  • Brightside Survey. 200 Respondents. Conducted Using Pollfish. Launched January 9, 2023.
  • Online Therapy Survey. 1,000 Respondents. Conducted Using Pollfish. Launched June 13, 2023.
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