How Much Does An Online Counseling Chat Cost?
If you’re used to the idea or experience of traditional, in-person therapy sessions, imagining the shift to a virtual format may be hard to wrap your head around. You may wonder if it would feel more impersonal or be less effective, especially when it takes the form of an online chat. While your preferences for one form of therapy or another are valid, research shows that virtual therapy can be equally effective for those who feel comfortable with it. Let’s explore this format, including its advantages and how much it costs.
Online Counseling Chat Cost Estimates
There are a few different factors that can affect the cost of online therapy, including chat:
Features offered. A service that provides chat only will likely cost less than one that also provides phone/video sessions. Research about the efficacy of text-based therapy alone is yet unclear; more studies are needed. However, research about the efficacy of virtual therapy in the form of phone/video chat suggests that it can be an effective treatment for a variety of mental health conditions. Text-based chat may support or contribute to these outcomes.
The counselor’s experience level. Online counseling chats may cost more when the counselor has additional training, certifications, and/or experience. A professional with an advanced degree and/or many years of experience will typically charge more than one with a bachelor’s degree and/or few years of experience.
Time. The way some services charge for time can vary. Some charge a flat rate per session like traditional therapy services, which could range from $140 to $260 each. Some charge for weekly for phone, video, and chat sessions, which could range from $65 to $80 per week. Others charge by the minute for online counseling chat alone, which can be anywhere from $1.75 to $4.99 per minute.
Other miscellaneous factors. These may include the number of visits per week or month, the commission that the therapist or counselor makes, whether audio/video chats are included, etc.
Advantage Of Online Chat Counseling
Along with being generally cost-effective, most therapist texting models are based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It’s considered to be the “gold standard” of therapy and has been proven through research to be an effective treatment for a variety of mental health challenges. It’s based on the goal of identifying and shifting warped or otherwise harmful thought patterns and teaching new coping skills.
Another element of online chat in general that can be beneficial in therapy is what’s known as the “disinhibition effect.” It refers to the phenomenon of people feeling freer to express themselves via chat on the internet, where they have some level of exclusiveness. One study found that it may even correlate to the revealing of emotions and self-disclosure, both of which can be helpful in a therapeutic relationship.
Some people may also prefer text chat as a method of receiving therapy because it gives them more time to decide how to put their thoughts and feelings into words. Those who feel pressured to express themselves on the spot may find that this method offers them extra flexibility in choosing how to say something. Plus, it can be easier for some people to type out what’s bothering them rather than work up the courage to say it out loud.
Finally, convenience is another advantage of online chat counseling. It offers more flexibility in terms of scheduling, since you can send messages back and forth at your own convenience without having to schedule a set time to meet. You don’t have to travel to and from an office for in-person visits, either; you can chat with a therapist from your computer or phone wherever you are. You also aren’t limited to therapists in your area, since online services mean you can connect with a professional who works in another location.
How Much Does BetterHelp Cost?
There are a variety of different types of mental health care available for a variety of different budgets. With a service like BetterHelp for example, you can generally expect to pay $60-90 per week (billed monthly). Costs may be higher based on availability and your preferences and location. This fee includes weekly online therapy sessions with a licensed mental health professional via phone or video chat, plus the option of online chat (in-app messaging) any time.
While BetterHelp does not accept insurance, session costs are generally comparable to co-pays of most insurance plans. In comparison, traditional therapy appointments typically range from $75 to $150 per session. If you're concerned about the cost of therapy, options for financial aid are available. The support team at BetterHelp can help you learn more about supplemental assistance for online mental health resources.
Continue reading to see how BetterHelp has assisted individuals who were seeking affordable mental health resources.
“She’s amazing. I’ve gone to therapists that cost 3 times as much and never really clicked with me. Lauren listens, is patient, and most importantly, knows the right questions to ask, leading me to new, better ways of thinking rather than judging me or telling me what to do. 10/10 she has been so helpful.”
“After several unsuccessful programs with overpriced Manhattan therapists, I feel like I’m making the most progress with Jamie. Even though we’ve only had a couple sessions together so far, I find the 30 minute Zooms with her and the worksheets she provides to be more efficient and effective than the more traditional sessions.”
Seeking therapy is a personal decision, and you should choose the therapist and format that feels right for you. If online chat or another version of online therapy appeals to you, it’s a cost-effective option for many.