Free Online Therapy vs Affordable Counseling. Find Out Why is BetterHelp Therapy Not Free? Find The Best Online Therapy in 2020

By: Sarah Fader

Updated September 21, 2020

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

Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include sexual assault & violence which could potentially be triggering.

Free Online Therapy vs Affordable Counseling

Where Can You Find Free Online Therapy?

Free online therapy can be challenging to find. It's like looking for a mental health provider in a proverbial haystack. If you do locate a free therapist online, it's likely going to be through nonprofit organizations, a religious institution, chat room, peer support, teen community forums, or a site that provides limited access to mental health professionals. Also, remember that while a support group provides human interaction and scheduled group support, it is not the same as meeting with an online mental health professional. Yes, most support groups are free, but even the best free therapy may not be moderated by a therapist or mental health provider. They consist of people who are dealing with similar issues, such as depression, anxiety, grief, or addiction, and may include a trained volunteer. Community forums and chat rooms similarly provide peer support, but generally do not include text, video, and audio messaging.

free online therapy

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BetterHelp (rights reserved) is an online platform that offers access to online therapists at an affordable rate, but the sessions aren't free. The mental health providers at BetterHelp are experienced in the field and have treated many people like you with issues such as anxiety disorders, treatment for depression, and relationship counseling. You're paying for quality online therapy with a variety of ways to contact your therapist. You can use many online channels including live video chat, text, video and audio messaging, unlimited messaging, and phone - and these are as effective as face-to-face counseling. BetterHelp isn't free, but it's cost-effective. Millions of people have been using the service and paying rates as low as $40 a week! Some in-person therapists charge double that price or even more.

You are paying for the expertise of licensed mental health professionals and licensed clinical social workers who have helped people with issues such as an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, relationships, stress management, trauma, bipolar disorder, marriage counseling, issues common among the LGBTQ community, and more. Online therapy allows you to use text, video, and audio messaging to contact your counselor.

Visiting a therapist online is now more convenient than a traditional office visit and is also a fraction of the cost of traditional therapy. When you enter your confidential online therapy counseling session, you're digitally connected with a licensed mental health provider. It's easy to find support from trained listeners online that specialize in counseling online. You can use text, video, and audio messaging to contact your licensed marriage and family therapist or individual counselor.

Online Therapy: What is Affordable Counseling From a Licensed Therapist?

Everyone deserves to have access to counseling or therapy they can afford. Whether it’s online or in person, mental health treatment should be available to anyone who needs it. Affordable internet based counseling differs from free therapy in that you are paying a rate for therapy that fits into your budget. Some face-to-face therapists work with clients on a sliding scale. That means you tell the counselor what you can afford, and they will propose a rate that works for both of you. You know that expression, "you get what you pay for?" That applies to therapy. Whether you choose online counseling or work with a therapist in your local area when you pay for services, you will have a better experience than with free sessions.

With online therapy, talking with a licensed professional therapist is easy. It’s important to note that all you need is a reliable internet connection, and you can get the support you need through video sessions, phone calls, or text messaging. Your mental health is essential, whether you’re facing depression, anxiety, or something else.. You may be wondering, "Is this too good to be true?" "Is it possible to get affordable mental health treatment from your home? The answer is, "yes!" Online therapy is a great way to take care of our mental wellbeing, and offers access to licensed mental health professionals seven days a week.

If you're suffering from an anxiety disorder, depression, or other debilitating mental health issues, your ultimate goal is to get relief and learn coping strategies - now. You don't need to pay a substantial amount to see a therapist in their office. There are affordable online therapy options, such as BetterHelp and other verified sites. Regardless of whether you see a therapist online or in person, it’s crucial to get help for mental health concerns like anger management, stress management, marriage counseling, anxiety and depression. People suffering from mental health-related challenges are happy to find relief when they connect to their virtual counselor to discuss pertinent life issues related to family, child, relationship, and personal problems online. Seeking therapy online includes access to psychologists licensed to treat you with whatever you’re facing. Discover the value and relief that chatting online with a BetterHelp therapist can provide.


Free Online Therapy: What is the difference between free online therapy and counseling at a cost?

First of all, it's hard to find free online counseling. And often, places that offer it only do so for limited or trial periods. Whereas, with the best online affordable counseling you get guaranteed support from a licensed mental health professional, often with a free trial to entice you to start therapy and get the help you need quickly. Paid online therapy is an investment in your mental health. You're depositing money into your wellbeing. Also, online therapy providers can help you to identify critical relationship issues and individual issues. In some cases, the therapist that you see online and one that you see in person can be the same. The information that is learned in therapy doesn't decrease in value because it's online. The benefit of online counseling is that it’s flexible for people who have busy schedules and have trouble fitting in therapy into their routine. The best online counseling is the kind you pay for because it’s a sign of quality. If a service is completely free, we are inherently skeptical as to how reputable it is, whereas the best online therapy comes at a price. Even the best free services don’t necessarily compare to their paid-for counterparts. You are paying for unlimited access to skilled mental health professionals, including clinical social workers, individual counselors, couples therapists, and marriage and family therapists. There are a variety of treatments to choose from, depending on your therapeutic needs. There’s online therapy for depression, anxiety disorders, or other forms of mental health issues. 

As far as the best online therapy, there are many sites out there that offer it, including BetterHelp. For example, like BetterHelp, there is online therapy with Talkspace; Talkspace (rights reserved) offers online counseling. Professional counselors and therapists work with clients through online therapy chat, phone, or video sessions to provide quality telehealth services. As a part of online treatment, clients can use unlimited messaging therapy. That means they can communicate with their counselor or therapists between sessions using live chat, and get the most out of online counseling. With unlimited messaging, you don’t have to wait a whole week to hear back from your therapist. If you’re having a crisis, you can message your online counselor and let them know what’s going on. Online therapists are used to being in contact with their clients virtually between sessions. The unlimited messaging therapy can make people feel seen and heard. One of the most isolating feelings is when you are depressed or anxious but have no one to talk to, and that’s where online therapy can help. You can express those emotions through messaging your therapist. They will read your messages and get back to you as soon as possible. Part of developing a relationship with an online counselor is being able to trust them. When you see that they’re present for you in times of emotional need, your trust will build more and more. People who attend therapy and commit to their own mental health report that they feel happier, develop stronger coping skills, and better stress levels.

What online counseling services are offered at BetterHelp?

BetterHelp offers flexible online counseling. If you have questions about online therapy, email us at Online therapy sessions can be conducted from the privacy of your own home, or anywhere else that you feel safe to open up about personal and relationship issues. Your sessions are secure and confidential, and you can feel confident knowing that your information is protected by our privacy notice. Save the hassle of attending embarrassing office visits by chatting with your therapist privately via your tablet or smartphone. All BetterHelp professionals are licensed therapists. To get the best online therapy, you need to be speaking to a quality mental health professional, and that means the person has a license and is trained in the field and can provide superior mental health treatment. Who wouldn’t want to receive the best online therapy? That’s what BetterHelp aims to provide.

The professional counselors and therapists at BetterHelp are licensed and experienced in treating people just like you. Their degrees range from psychologists (Ph.D. / PsyD), licensed clinical social workers (LCSW / LMSW), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), and LPCs. Depending on what your needs are, you can find a mental health provider who meets them. All BetterHelp providers have a Masters Degree with over 2,000 hours of work experience in the field.

BetterHelp provides a variety of options for affordable counseling. The cost ranges from $40 - $70 a week. You are billed once a month for your subscription. The fees for online therapy are reasonable compared to traditional in-person therapy. Our app offers live chat sessions, video sessions, and unlimited messaging.

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There are many different forms of therapy to try. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective form of mental health treatment that you can try online. It works for people who are managing conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy can treat other mental health conditions, such as eating disorders. When you first meet with your counselor, you can discuss what online treatment options there are and what works best for you. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the modalities you can try, and there are many more. Just like with in-person or traditional therapy, there are many ways to get help. For example, there’s online therapy for anxiety, which could be different from cognitive behavioral therapy. Your online counselor might be using exposure therapy, or psychodynamic treatment. It depends on what their expertise is in and what you feel comfortable with in treatment. 

The therapists at BetterHelp have different expertises. When you sign up you will complete an online questionnaire to identify what your counseling needs are.

Where can you find quality affordable therapy/counseling?

There are so many ways to see a therapist, whether you choose to work with someone in private practice, or online. BetterHelp offers quality online therapy sessions, and you can immediately start chatting with a licensed therapist. It's essential to find support for relieving anxiety, stress, depression, and relationship issues. Using BetterHelp online therapy is easier than ever as you can access your therapy sessions via iOS or Android devices.

Start chatting with a therapist immediately to begin your growth path to better mental health! 

Signing up for an online therapy session is as easy as creating a new email address and logging in to start chatting. A licensed therapist is available to discuss your life experience with you via online text chat or sms text messaging (text chat) directly to your mobile device.

BetterHelp counselors are experts at helping clients relieve symptoms of anxiety, stress, and the negative effects of mental health issues via online therapy. The licensed therapists at BetterHelp adhere to a strict privacy policy that protects your confidential information. This privacy policy assures that all sessions between you and your licensed therapist remain confidential. BetterHelp offers affordable monthly payment plans. Once you sign up with the site, you will be matched with an online therapist who meets your needs between 24-48 hours.

You may be wondering if your health insurance will cover online counseling. In some cases, insurance companies will include online counseling in health care plans. It's worth asking your health insurance provider if they offer coverage for therapy services online-these are common questions, and your insurance provider will be happy to answer them. That way, you can save on the cost of treatment even more. Larger health insurance companies like Blue Cross understand the value of online therapy and offer insurance coverage in some cases via the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. For online therapy, there are cost ranges depending on several factors, including your health insurance and the therapist you choose.

There's no reason that everyone who wants to improve their lives through therapy or counseling shouldn't have that chance. Programs like the accountability act and HIPAA make it possible for patients to start chatting confidentially with a licensed professional online once they start therapy.

Your mental health is critical to your overall well-being and quality of life. BetterHelp therapy sessions give clients a unique opportunity to discover their growth paths with the guidance of a certified professional online. Receive top-notch service when you login to start chatting with your therapist online when you know that they have your best interests at heart. Learn new coping strategies to achieve more life success via online text chat with a BetterHelp professional.


Remember, online therapy is designed to manage chronic mental health symptoms. If you're in crisis, experiencing a life-threatening situation, or having thoughts of suicide or suicidal ideation, call 911 immediately for help. Don't wait. Online counseling helps you to mitigate the effects of long term mental health issues and is not intended to replace emergency treatment.

Learn more about others who have experienced a better life as a result of improved mental health -read the full study here. Join the ranks of over one million people who are taking back their lives by getting serious about maintaining positive mental health.

**BetterHelp counselors adhere to a strict privacy policy and your information is kept confidential between you and your therapist under the HIPAA privacy act.

Counselor Reviews - BetterHelp Therapists Actively Working Online

"I was skeptical about this type of counseling but Leah made me feel confident from the beginning with her straight forward profile, thoughtful questions, and rapid responses. I feel that she truly sympathizes with my situation but also holds me accountable for finding solutions."

Get Started - Affordable Counseling With BetterHelp.

"Cole has been a great fit for a counselor for me. He is down to earth and doesn't sugarcoat anything. He quickly identified an emotional problem for me, which allowed me to continue researching it on my own as well as using the practical techniques he suggested. Just putting a name to it was tremendously helpful! He follows up when I haven't responded in a couple of days and keeps me on track toward my target. The online format fits my availability. I really appreciate Cole's communication style, suggestions and unwavering support."

Get To Know Some Of Our Counselors Below:

Dr. Tomeka McGhee is a therapist providing online therapy services here at BetterHelp
Therapy Specialties as a therapist: Stress, Anxiety, Relationship issues, Grief
Years of Experience as a Therapist: 10 years as a licensed therapist

Therapy Specialties as a therapist: Addictions, LGBT, Family conflicts, Trauma and abuse, Grief, Intimacy-related issues, Eating disorders, Sleeping disorders, Parenting issues, Anger management, Career difficulties, Bipolar disorder
Years of Experience: 8 years as a licensed therapist
online therapist
Therapeutic Specialties as a therapist: Addictions, LGBT, Relationship issues, Depression
Years of Experience as a Therapist: 5 years as a licensed therapist
Daniel is an online therapist providing therapy at BetterHelp
Therapy Specialties as a therapist: Stress, Anxiety, Relationship issues, Family conflicts, Parenting issues, Depression
Years of Experience as a Therapist: 12 years as a licensed therapist
Kim Deaton provides therapy online via the BetterHelp platform as a licensed therapist
Therapeutic Specialties as a therapist: Stress, Anxiety, Relationship issues, Trauma and abuse, Depression
Years of Experience as a Therapist: 25 years as a licensed therapist
Jaclyn Settje is a therapist providing online therapy services at BetterHelp
Therapeutic Specialties as a therapist: Family conflicts, Trauma and abuse, Parenting issues, Self esteem, Coping with life changes
Years of Experience as a Therapist: 7 years as a licensed therapist
therapist online - Rebecca Zeleny is providing therapy via BetterHelp online
Therapy Specialties as a therapist: Addictions, LGBT, Family conflicts, Trauma and abuse, Self esteem, Career difficulties, Bipolar disorder
Years of Experience as a Therapist: 13 years as a licensed therapist
Dr. Yonta online therapist is providing therapy on the BetterHelp platform
Therapy Specialties as a therapist: LGBT, Relationship issues, Family conflicts, Grief, Intimacy-related issues, Eating disorders, Sleeping disorders
Years of Experience as a Therapist: 38 years as a licensed therapist
Walter is a therapist providing online therapy at BetterHelp
Therapeutic Specialties as a therapist: Stress, Anxiety, Relationship issues, Family conflicts, Grief, Depression
Years of Experience as a Therapist: 20 years as a licensed therapistFrequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is there any free online counseling?

There are options for attending free counseling online. Some sites offer confidential online sessions in a free trial via live video and chat sessions with a licensed professional counselor. However, after a limited period, they are likely to charge a fee for sessions. It can feel disappointing when you’ve started to develop a connection with a counselor, and then the free period of treatment ends. Be cautious of online therapy sites that offer a free trial without disclosing the terms after the promotional period ends. 

Can you get free online therapy?

Individuals and couples seeking mental health services in the United States can get free and affordable counseling online. Contemporary psychotherapy provides online sessions for marriage counseling, group therapy, community counseling, and provides resources for mental health and substance abuse. These services tend to be available through community or nonprofit organizations and can be hard to find. But, they are out there.

What is the best online therapy?

The best online therapy provides affordable treatment, including individual therapy and couples therapy online. Contemporary psychotherapy providers like provide counseling and psychological services through online therapy. These are effective therapy options that everyone, including young people, can afford. The best online therapy is the kind that is affordable and has quality mental health professionals. With online counseling, meeting with a therapist is easier than you could ever imagine!  

How much does online therapy cost?

The costs for online therapy vary. It depends on which site you’re interested in using. You can find online therapy services that are affordable by shopping around various sites. Online sessions provide affordable therapy and services that are often substantially less than visits to your local counseling center or health center.

What are the three types of therapy?

You may be surprised to learn that there are more than three types of therapy. Conventional therapy modalities include - Behavioral, Cognitive, Humanistic, Integrative, Holistic, and Psychotherapy.

How much is counseling per hour?

Today's online therapists offer options such as sliding fee scale therapy with a licensed social worker or other therapists. Your costs will vary by the type of service you receive and other factors. offers therapy services that begin at $40 a week.

How much is therapy out of pocket?

Your therapy costs will vary based on your treatment plan. There are many affordable therapy options online for less than it costs to visit your local health center. Professional therapists can charge a lot of money for their services. Whereas the online therapy cost can be more manageable than spending hundreds of dollars a month on mental health treatment. 

Is online therapy a good idea?

Getting therapy online is a great idea and an option to get affordable therapy from the comfort of your own home. The Center for Educational and Psychological Testing reports improvement in mental health status from online therapy is similar to (or better than) attending in-person therapy sessions at a mental health center. Online therapy counseling is becoming more and more popular each day. When you see an online therapist, you are in the comfort of your home, or another space you feel safe to discuss your mental health. Therapy, counseling and the road to mental wellness are achievable online. 

Can I use insurance for online therapy?

Yes, some health insurance providers cover online therapy. Your insurance provider may pay for mental health counseling sessions as a part of your behavioral health benefits. Check with your health insurance to learn if online therapy is a covered benefit under your health plan. Some online therapy programs are covered by insurance. It doesn’t hurt to ask your provider to see if it’s an option to see a counselor online. 

Does BetterHelp cost money?

BetterHelp costs are affordable and range from $80-$100 a week. Remember, you get what you pay for, rather than going to chatrooms and getting listeners for free. You are compensating licensed mental health professionals who are trained to provide online therapy. 

Does therapy work?

With online therapy, you have the ability to talk to your provider in many ways. Online chat can be a great option for people who feel more comfortable communicating via text than phone or video.  While online and in-person therapy does help to mitigate the negative symptoms of mental health-related issues, neither is intended to act as a substitute for emergency care. If you or your loved one is in imminent physical danger or you're having thoughts of self-harm, visit your nearest emergency room or make an emergency call to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to get help 24-hours a day.

What are the benefits of online therapy and counseling?

The benefits of getting therapy online are limitless! Many people love the idea of speaking with a licensed mental health professional from the comfort of their own homes. Eliminate long commutes, missed appointments, and embarrassing office visits by attending therapy online. Licensed online therapists provide free and sliding scale fee therapy. There are many kinds of therapy programs including online counseling and in-person therapy. You may feel more comfortable seeing a therapist in person, or maybe you prefer online therapy. Both have their advantages. Online therapy programs provide the client with flexible and affordable ways to get mental health treatment. When you see a therapist in person, you have to commit to a specific time slot. With online therapy programs, like BetterHelp, there is way more flexibility for when you can see or speak to your therapist. The beauty of meeting with a therapist online is that they’re understanding when you need to modify your schedule. Online therapy programs tend to be less rigid than seeing an individual therapist in person. 

Is 7 Cups of Tea Free?

7 Cups of Tea is possibly seen to be the largest e-counseling platform which has been of help to more than 25 million people since it was started in 2013.  The pricing of 7 Cups of Tea is one of the main reasons why more than 25 million people rushed to it to get help.

There are two types of support options provided by 7 Cups of Tea. These include a free & anonymous service of live chat online with caring listeners who are available 24/7 for emotional support, and a paid service for emotional support from an online therapist (emotional support from a licensed therapist in a confidential online therapy and counseling for $150 in a month for an unlimited chat with your therapist).

When Can I Text a Therapist for Free?

A Free text of a therapist is 100% available in a crisis situation. You can reach a crisis counselor by texting home to 741741. The crisis Text line is free and available 24/7 when you are in need of urgent emotional support.

  • How Can I Get Mental Help for Free?

There are ways you can get mental help for free if you can't afford the given charges of out of pocket therapy. The following are some of these ways:

  • Through your insurance
  • Through your local university or college
  • Through a pro-bono service
  • Through employee assistance program (EAP)
  • Through community resources or peer-support groups
  • Through an online listening service
  • Are Online Therapists Legit?

It's important to know that online therapy which can otherwise be called e-therapy is both effective and safe for users. It makes accessible mental healthcare to many people irrespective of where they live in as much as there is an internet connection. E-therapy is as good as face to face therapy as it effectively helps with the treatment of anxiety disorder, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Virtually, everyone always takes caution when doing sensitive things on social media. For e-therapy likewise, people take their privacy with all seriousness because it may involve divulging the most intimate parts of their lives. Online therapists are legit as there are specific laws protecting people's privacy when they are spoken to through an online therapy chat, whether it’s video sessions, live chat, or phone. This privacy and security of the online therapy chat between a therapist and client are protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and California privacy laws.

  • Is Talkspace Legit?

Talkspace is a legitimate online therapy provider. Talkspace uses therapists that are professionals and licensed which makes it legit, real, and helpful to those in need of mental health assistance.

  • Is 7 Cups of Tea Safe?

7 Cups of Tea is safe and legit. It makes us of licensed professionals who are guided by the terms of service of 7 Cups of Tea and HIPAA. The chat rooms and websites, in general, are SSL secured. Your data is safe based on the fact that 7 Cups of Tea does not save your conversation with your therapist or listener.

  • Is Counselling Free?

Going through debilitating mental health challenges requires appropriate mental health probable solutions. Counseling such as marriage counseling, group therapy, community counseling available in two ways. It can either be free of charge or paid for (online counseling is cheaper). The available free online therapy counseling sessions are meant to help people deal with their mental health issues.

How Much Does Online Counselling Cost? - For Happiness, Depression, and other Mental Health Support

There are different online counseling platforms that charge where therapists or counselors charge their clients differently. Some charge from $25 to $125 per email exchange, some from $1.75 to $4.99 per minute of chat, and some from $140 to $260 per week or per month.

What You Should Never Tell Your Therapist?

You're expected to disclose every necessary information to your therapist. Keeping information from your therapist won't help you with a successful therapeutic relationship. This is because your therapist will work on the information you provide him or her with for effective treatment plans. Therapists find it easy to work things out effectively when you're open.

Is the Crisis Text Line Free?

Yes. The crisis text line is free. You can reach a crisis counselor by texting home to 741741. The crisis Text Line is available 24/7 when you are in need of urgent emotional support

Is Online Therapy Cheaper than in Person?

Yes, online therapy is cheaper when it's compared with in-person traditional therapy. In-person traditional therapy price range is within an average of $75-$150 per session which usually takes 45-60 minutes. Online therapy, on the other hand, costs less per week for unlimited chat sessions.

Further Reading

Final Thoughts
If you're on the fence about trying online therapy for your mental health, click the "get started" button to see if it's right for you. Online therapy programs are becoming more popular every day! BetterHelp has all kinds of mental health professionals including couples counselors or family therapists. Depending on your particular needs, you can get the online counseling that you’re seeking right here.  BetterHelp has been proven to help people with common mental health issues, such as depression. If you're skeptical, here's something that may enlighten you: 70% of BetterHelp clients have reported a decrease in their depressive symptoms after participating in regular online therapy sessions. You can also check out the BetterHelp YouTube channel for helpful and informative videos on mental health, and BetterHelp's Facebook page for more information.
Mental health is an integral part of our overall well-being. Taking care of your emotional wellbeing will improve your quality of life.
Learn more about BetterHelp services, counselors, and who we are, or view our frequently asked questions and free mental health articles by visiting us online. Find BetterHelp on social media such as  Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. Contact a BetterHelp specialist at, or talk to your therapist today to take charge of your mental health.
If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911 immediately or the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-950-6264
If you need a crisis hotline, national healthline, or want to learn more about therapy, please see below:
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