Best Online Therapy: How Are The “Best” Online Therapy Websites Ranked?

By: Nicole Beasley

Updated January 06, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC Counsel The Mind, LLC

Research shows that online therapy is more effective than ever before and offers similar benefits to in-office therapy. According to recent studies that considered the best online therapy programs (evaluated from the year 2000 to 2012), attending regular sessions with online therapists proved effective in reducing negative thoughts, depressive symptoms, and other mental health issues.

In many cases, online therapy has proven to be even more effective than in-person therapy. How is this possible? For starters, effective online therapy is not merely a well-written correspondence course or a "life coach" session. These programs are based on the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) technique, which has been studied as the most effective therapy to treat depression and anxiety. CBT is considered equal to or even more effective than medication, according to some studies.

Online therapy that incorporates CBT is essentially in-person therapy with one major difference: any pressures that trigger anxiety attacks, like driving to the clinic, or confronting a doctor face-to-face, are eliminated. The patient can, therefore, focus solely on applying the therapist’s techniques and practical advice. What's even better is that online counseling allows the session to take place in a setting where the patient feels comfortable. Patients have the freedom to really relax in their own home – to sit on a couch or a chair as they share their thoughts and feelings.

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Conversely, with in-person therapy, a patient must drive to the clinic, sit in a waiting room, and then sit in an uncomfortable office. It makes for a very uncomfortable situation all around, and those living with depression or anxiety could be less inclined to open up in these kinds of conditions. That's why it's so important to find a neutral ground where the patient feels good. This allows the therapist to get the best possible idea of what the patient is experiencing and what they need most as far as treatment. Participating in therapy online removes the sometimes-stressful components of attending in-office therapy sessions.

According to studies published in JAMA Psychiatry, distance therapy works out well for online therapists as well. In-office therapy doctors are typically overworked and stressed, sometimes leading to impaired judgment or their own depression. By allowing HIPPA compliant online therapists to work from a more comfortable setting, they can feel better about interacting with patients and give them more freedom to set unique hours. This can help the doctor also to make sure they are prepared for whatever their patients might need.

The Best Online Therapy Offers Education And Experience

In order for sessions with online therapists to be truly useful, the therapist must come from an educational background. Licensed and accredited therapists typically have Master's or Doctorate Degrees and specialize in a specific field. The specialized training that online therapists receive prepares them to practice internet psychotherapy and develop a therapeutic relationship with online clients.

A therapist who specializes in depression may not do as well with patients living with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Consider choosing an online therapist who works in the field related to your specific diagnosis or complaint.

The therapist's education is only part of the tough screening process necessary to provide internet-based care. Certification and licensing require experience, sometimes up to three years, and thousands of in-person training with another doctor. Look for an online therapist who has worked in their field for an extended period of time and has worked with a number of patients before. A good rule of thumb is to search for online therapists who are licensed to practice therapy services online. Today's therapists are often licensed to provide treatment for individuals, couples, veterans, and more. This will help demonstrate that your therapist knows what they're doing and how to help you to improve your life.

It's also important to remember that the best online therapist may not be the most educated or experienced. Rather, it will be one with education and experience that matches your needs. After all, you want someone that you can feel comfortable with and that you're going to feel comfortable opening up to. If the doctor who fits those qualifications isn't the most experienced, that's okay. Your comfort is the number one concern when you start your search for a therapist you can trust.


When it comes to the types of doctors, you'll find that there are plenty out there, and each specializes in something different. There are family counselors as well as therapists who specialize in depression and/or bipolar. Some therapists specialize in treating adults or younger children, and there are those who work in just about any area you can think of. Keep in mind that even though your friend really loves their counselor doesn’t mean you will “click” with that same therapist. The importance of the personal relationship between client and therapist is important. You should seek out someone whom you enjoy chatting with and can put you at ease.

Millions of people are learning the value of receiving health services online and are opting out of in-office therapy. CBT with a trained online therapist has been proven to change thinking patterns and can lead to successful treatment. Thus, the million-dollar question: If you experience depression or anxiety, why not video chat with an online therapist who understands you and can give you the best therapy available?

With the advent of technology and all the changes that are taking place around us, there's no reason to deal with the hassle of an in-office therapy session again. Instead, you can take the steps necessary to truly change your life without even leaving your own home. When you attend chat sessions with an online therapist, you can work through your depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses – they don't need to run your life anymore. If you're ready to start changing the way you think and improving the way you live, consider working with an online therapist today. Online clients are often surprised at how life drastically improves in a short amount of time.

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Online therapists are everywhere, but the right one, the one that's going to help you improve your life, may take some searching to find.

Don't get discouraged if you’ve looked in all the usual places and still haven’t found your ideal online therapists. The best therapist for you just might be somewhere that you wouldn't have expected.

Large health insurance companies now cover mental illness and behavioral health-related services online. Health insurance can cover video chat sessions with online therapists the same way that they cover in-office therapy sessions. If you have a health insurance plan that covers behavioral health visits for online clients, an online therapist could be the answer to getting the life that you want to live back.

Sessions with online therapists are designed to mimic in-office therapy visits and provide support for mental illness and behavioral health-related issues. If you, a friend, or a family member are in immediate physical danger, this issue is an emergency. Visit your nearest emergency room for immediate attention.  If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and is available 24/7. You don't need to have health insurance to visit the emergency room or speak with a specialist by phone 24-hours a day.

Consider Working With BetterHelp

Online therapy is an affordable alternative to costly and time-consuming in-office therapy.

Research shows that electronically delivered therapy is as effective as traditional face-to-face counseling, which makes it an incredibly convenient option. This study, conducted by Brigham Young University researchers, found that technology-based therapy provides other added benefits too, including “lower cost, no travel time, easy access, no waitlists, and trackable progress.”

If these perks are attractive to you, consider choosing an online therapy solution such as BetterHelp. The professional, licensed therapist at BetterHelp can provide ongoing daily support via email, chat, or video conferencing, which means you can select the best format for you. The site also offers numerous sources of helpful information about common mental illness disorders and articles discussing how to cope with stress, difficult people, and challenging situations. Here's a look at what others had to say about the assistance they received from the counselors at BetterHelp.

“I was hesitant to try online counseling, primarily because I understand how important human connection is to the process. Mebi was instantly warm and supportive while being direct and honest. She is attentive, thoughtful, and non-judgmental. I would strongly recommend her, particularly for those in the queer community.”

“I was hesitant about doing counseling online, but now I think it really comes down to the counselor. I have been really pleasantly surprised at how much I have benefitted from these sessions. Lauren is obviously very knowledgeable and professional. She has really helped me think through things in new ways, which is, of course, helping me heal in new ways. I am so grateful for her and this platform!”

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