Therapy Apps For You
By: Marie Miguel
Updated December 30, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Stephanie Beebe, MSW, LISW-S
If you need help with a mental health issue like depression or anxiety, consider using a therapy app. Therapy apps allow you to take control of your mental health care and find help from the comfort of your own home. A therapist app on your phone or device allows you to talk to licensed professionals who can provide the help you need.
What Can A Therapist App Do For Me?
Mobile therapy apps allow you to participate in mental health treatment and therapy sessions from anywhere in the world. Sometimes, you might need help responding to panic attacks or other mental health crises. Other times, you might need help with a less acute personal issue, like seeking career advice or managing a mental health disorder. Using a therapy app can quickly help you relieve stress and anxiety related to these and other life issues.
Therapy apps employ numerous user-friendly techniques to allow you to communicate with a therapist:
Text therapy apps allow you to chat with a therapist through text or video chat, 24 hours a day. You can also view messages and notes from previous therapy sessions, which makes it easier to recall and retain advice.
In-depth mental health conversations may require a little more time for the therapist to respond. Messages sent using your therapy app are available for you to check at your convenience. Luckily, most apps require the therapist to respond at least once a day, so you can get the help you need.
Phone apps, also known as voice therapy, arrange calls with a therapist using your telephone or device and a compatible therapy app. Depending on the type of therapy recommended in your treatment plan, you may be able to combine phone therapy and text therapy sessions for your online mental health solution.
Talking on the phone can be comforting, especially if you're experiencing a mental health crisis. Also, some therapists may use voice messages to communicate, making it a little more convenient.
Video chatting allows you to get the closest possible experience to an in-person session. With video chats, you can speak with a therapist in real-time as long as your connection is reliable. Therapy apps with a desktop feature usually run more smoothly. Video chat sessions also work well for couple therapy, marriage counseling, and sessions that involve another family member.
The Best Therapy Apps
Many mental health therapy apps are available for download on mobile devices. Finding the best online therapy app for you depends on why you need it, pricing, and features. You should choose a therapy app that offers access to trained and licensed professionals who can offer a variety of mental health counseling options. Apps with the capability to match you to a professional based on your symptoms or needs are ideal.
BetterHelp matches clients dealing with common mental health problems with a licensed therapist who provides the type of therapy you need to alleviate your mental health related concerns. This is one of the best-known online therapy apps for diagnosing and treatment of mental health issues, and for good reason. Signing up is easy, and through desktop and mobile communication, BetterHelp provides numerous options for receiving mental health support. BetterHelp employs thousands of licensed therapists, and its highly rated app offers quick help for common mental health disorders.
ReGain is another popular site that offers mental health services via an online therapy app. What makes ReGain different is its focus on providing couples with counseling to support their close and intimate relationships, including marriages, long-term relationships, friendships, and family troubles. The goal of ReGain is to improve relationships by first improving mental health.
Like BetterHelp, ReGain employs licensed professionals. ReGain allows you to talk one-on-one or together with your partner. Sometimes, both individual and couple therapy are needed to improve the relationship. ReGain is a good fit for couples who are ready for an alternative to traditional counseling. Intimate couples can use the app to begin healing their relationships from the privacy of their own homes. For any relationship, using ReGain should help with addressing relationship issues and individual mental health concerns.
Talkspace is an online therapy app that operates very much like BetterHelp.com. The Talkspace app provides online mental health services and runs familiar ad campaigns featuring celebrities like Michael Phelps. Similar to BetterHelp, it offers a matching service for thousands of therapists to provide therapy and support.
Talkspace focuses on its app to provide services, but it lacks the critical desktop features that BetterHelp offers to make attending video mental health chat sessions easier for clients. However, the lack of a desktop option may not be a problem for someone seeking therapy solely through their mobile device.
This app comes with two advantages: scheduling and billing. Users can view available appointments and schedule immediately, which is particularly beneficial in times of crisis. Also, although most mental health apps are out-of-pocket expenses for users, some health insurance plans will cover Breakthrough. However, Breakthrough is quite expensive for users whose insurance plans do not cover its services.
Faithful Counseling is similar to BetterHelp, but it approaches counseling from a Christian perspective. Faith-based counseling is often available through religious organizations and houses of worship, but Faithful Counseling allows clients to receive online help from a licensed therapist. This service may be a good fit for individuals looking for a Christian spiritual connection in their online therapy.
Mental healthcare providers serving members of the LGBTQ+ community need to be particularly aware of specific needs and respectful of identities. Pride Counseling offers online therapy from therapists who specialize in serving the LGBTQ+ community. For clients who are seeking to come out to loved ones, struggling with issues of acceptance, or needing guidance in finding their identities, Pride Counseling is the app that guarantees authentic support.
The teenage years often include many struggles: finding a sense of identity in this world, figuring out what career to pursue, dealing with hormonal changes, dealing with peers… managing these and other stressors can be a challenge for any teen.
Teen Counseling offers online therapy from a therapist or counselor licensed to work with teenagers. Adult family members can send Teen Counseling invites to their teenagers. For teen users, everything, aside from mandatory reporting of abuse or self-harm, is confidential.
Which is the Best for You?
The best therapy app for you depends on your needs and schedule. Do you want a desktop option, or only a mobile app? Some of these apps are broad in what they cover, while others have a specific focus. You may want to try out several of them via free trials, if available, in order to find the right fit.
As mental healthcare has expanded into different channels thanks to advances in technology, therapy apps have become a large and growing field of options for potential users like you. The apps described here are useful, but by no means exhaustive. More information is available through many reputable sources, like these rated reviews of mental health apps from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
In considering which apps might best support your mental health journey, you may want to look at which apps use research-based methods, offer feedback, or provide flexibility and ease of use. You also may want to think through which channels of communication are the best fit for you. The most important component of any app, however, is the same as any other mental health treatment: can it adapt to meet your individual needs and provide the care that will support your wellbeing? It is well worth it to take your time in finding a therapy app that offers what you need. These reviews from BetterHelp users show what a difference the right fit can make.
Back in those days of pandemic and crisis we have been under a lot of pressure and trying to find a way out… I consider myself very lucky to be with Laurie. She gave me hope from the beginning and even I cut show her more how I really feel, even it’s hard on me to cry to a strange I feel her support. Sometimes I start to write the way I feel everyday and she remember even those details. I feel I’m moving forward even if there are some dark says she is always telling me don’t be hard on yourself. I appreciate she listen to me, and she gave me hope in the way in the words I never imagine this app has such professional and human very human people!
Lauren is a wonderful therapist! This is my first time using online therapy and she has made me feel so comfortable and confident about this process. We use a mixture of chat and phone calls which works great for me. She is so easy to talk to, understanding and supportive. I feel very thankful to have been matched with her.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you get therapy online?
Online therapy has been around in some form since the beginning of the Internet but has exploded in recent years due to improving technology and greater mental health awareness. It's easier than ever to talk to a therapist online. Online therapy is also a competitive market, so you can find better prices for the services you seek.
Can therapists do phone sessions?
Most online therapists offer phone or voice chat sessions. With that said, phone sessions do lack the additional input of nonverbal communication, which may be valuable for treatment. However, if you are unable to talk to a therapist in person or in a video chat, a phone session can be invaluable.
What apps are available for therapy?
Many apps are available for online therapy and mental health support. Most of the apps on the market today fall into one of three categories:
These are therapy apps where you help yourself. For example, you may download an app to help you accomplish your goals, and while the app may have reminders and other ways to keep you accountable, you enter the information and keep yourself going.
Other self-help apps may use prerecorded voices or sounds. For example, a meditation or sleep app may play ambient sounds to calm you down or have a prerecorded meditative breathing session. Some fitness apps could be considered therapy apps as well. Working out is a great mental health booster, and apps that allow you to reach your fitness goals can also improve your mental health.
These apps tend to connect you with people who are going through similar situations or can provide advice and guidance. These people are usually not mental health professionals. If you would like to speak with people who are facing challenges similar to yours, or even if you’d like a space to vent, a community app might help. Some of these apps are free, but others charge fees.
These apps connect clients to licensed therapists for online sessions. They may include features from the other two types, but they focus on working with a professional. You can pick a plan and text, call, or video chat with a licensed therapist. These apps tend to charge weekly or monthly fees.
What are the best therapy apps?
It depends on what you need. Here are a few of our favorites:
- If you need to speak to a licensed therapist through text, live chat, or video, check out the BetterHelp app. It also offers many informative resources for your reference.
- If you want to learn meditation, Headspace is a great app. Created by a Buddhist monk, the app hopes to help you achieve mindfulness, a state of mind that can improve wellbeing and reduce anxiety.
- Looking to be happier? Happify offers various games and other resources designed to improve your mood. If you want a mood boost, Happify can help.
- If you are struggling with panic or anxiety, Rootd is specifically designed to take users through steps of managing panic attacks and anxiety episodes.
- Trying to get better sleep or cope with anxiety? Calm is a great app for these issues. Besides meditation resources, it also has plenty of sleep stories to help you fall asleep.
Many of these apps charge fees, but may have free versions to try out. Download them and see which ones work for you!
Is there a free therapy app?
While talking to a licensed therapist is going to cost you, there are plenty of self-help therapy apps that don't cost anything except a few megabytes of data storage. Here are a few of them:
- Take a Break! This app provides meditations for stress relief, with prerecorded sessions and tips to achieve meditative mindfulness. Meditation aids in many mental health issues, and anyone can do it.
- PTSD Coach. This app is for people with post-traumatic stress, particularly veterans and active members of the military. Its resources and guidance make it worth the download, and it's absolutely free.
- T2 Mood Tracker. This app helps you track your mood and looks for symptoms of mental health disorders. With that said, though, it's important to seek an official diagnosis.
- Stop Panic and Anxiety Self-Help. This Android app can help you prevent and treat panic attacks.
Is online therapy effective?
While effectiveness can vary from person to person, online therapy has many benefits. Many studies, such as this one in 2014, have indicated that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy.
Which is better: BetterHelp or Talkspace?
BetterHelp and Talkspace are two big names in online therapy, and when you are looking to start online therapy, you may wonder which one comes out on top. Both are well-run services and have similar advantages. Both offer help from licensed therapists for a fraction of the price of in-person therapy. However, BetterHelp comes out on top for a few reasons, such as:
- Unlike Talkspace, BetterHelp offers video sessions with therapists in both mobile and desktop modes.
- BetterHelp also allows phone sessions. Voice communication is valuable, especially if you're in an area where video chat is impossible.
- In addition to messaging, BetterHelp also offers live chats. Being able to chat with your therapist in real-time is a valuable necessity for many people who rely on a therapist.
- Both have flexible pricing plans, but overall, BetterHelp is more affordable.
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