Top Online Therapy: What Are The Best Online Therapy Sites?
By Sarah Fader
Updated November 07, 2019
There was a time when you had to visit a therapist in the office to get mental health treatment. Most likely, you needed to take time out of your busy workday to drive to their office, sit in traffic, and then try to be open and honest on a (potential stranger's) couch. These factors all help to explain why many people tend to cancel their face-to-face appointments with therapists.
With online therapy, however, you can meet with your counselor at whatever time is convenient for you-in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Whether you're seeing an individual therapist or a marriage counselor, the online therapy you get must meet your needs. Maybe you want to learn coping techniques for anxiety or find ways to communicate with your partner better. Online therapy can help you with all of these goals.
When you're pursuing online counseling or online therapy, you want to make sure you're getting quality treatment. It's not enough to have good online therapy. You want to make sure you're getting excellent treatment. That's why it's important to choose the best service. This article will cover the top picks.
Online Therapy - Getting the Top Online Therapist
Over 90 million Americans have some type of mental health disorder, which is about one out of every five people. The subject of mental health sometimes holds a bit of stigma or embarrassment for some people, making it hard to convince them to get the help they need. Online therapy is here to bridge that gap between the help people need, and the help people get.
Let's get more specific and explore some of the top online therapist sites out there. These reputable online counseling companies help people with mental health issues and life transitions.
BetterHelp is recommended by the American Psychological Association (APA), is HIPAA compliant, and partners with the American Medical Student Association, Mental Health America, and the International Society for Mental Health Online. As the global leader in online therapy, BetterHelp offers a whole range of options such as:
- Text messaging with your counselor, whenever you want.
- Live text, phone call, or video conferencing with your counselor.
- A secure, encrypted platform (with banking-grade 256-bit encryption).
With BetterHelp, you don't have to use your real name, if you don't want to. You can remain completely anonymous through the entire process with your therapist. The only information they need is your emergency contact information.
As of August 2019, BetterHelp has conducted over 50,500,000 sessions, helping over 640,000 people. Their counselors are not only professional and licensed, but are also trained, experienced, and accredited. Each counselor possesses at least three years and 2,000 hours of hands-on experience.
A study done by the Berkeley Well-Being Institute determined BetterHelp to be as effective as traditional face-to-face therapy, with 98% of their clients making significant progress. All you have to do to start is answer a few questions online, and they will match you with a therapist within 24 hours. If you do not like that therapist, you can change any time you want, no questions asked. Prices range from $40 to $70 per week (billed monthly) and these prices include unlimited messaging, as well as weekly live sessions (chat, phone, or video) if you prefer.
Talkspace is a great platform for online therapy services that has licensed therapists and counselors. With their 24/7 available messaging, you can write to your therapist whenever you need to. Therapists check their messages twice a day (five days a week), so you'll get an answer within 12 hours. With this plan, you'll pay $260 monthly.
If you prefer to schedule live sessions, you may choose their Therapy Premium plan, which includes one live session per month (and therapists responding daily, 5 days/week) for $316 monthly. Their final Therapy Ultimate plan includes four live sessions per month (and therapists responding daily, 5 days/week) for $396 monthly. With Talkspace, you may only do live video chat from your phone or tablet-if you prefer video chatting live from your laptop or computer, BetterHelp is there for you.
To give you a good idea of how Talkspace works: they will assign you to a matching agent for a free initial consultation. First, you get an assessment, then you choose a plan, and then they help you find the top therapist for you. You may mind a therapist's in-depth comparison of Talkspace and BetterHelp here. Other comparisons to browse include reviews from e-counseling, live bold and bloom, and online therapy.
7 Cups of Tea
When you need to chat, 7 Cups of Tea will link you with a good listener or a therapist that suits your needs. They also have fun activities that will help boost your mood. Whichever you feel like doing, 7 Cups of Tea offers several choices such as one-on-one chatting, group chats, forums, self-help articles, and over 100 mental health and relaxation videos. The difference with 7 Cups of Tea is that they are free, and their "therapists" are called listeners because they are not officially licensed. Some of them are students in the process of getting their license and some are volunteers who want to help. However, all their listeners must pass a vigorous background check. 7 Cups of Tea has provided over 16 million conversations for people who needed to talk, and they are there for you whether you are going through a rough time or just need to chat. They have listeners who have life experience based on your specific issues or affiliation. Also, you can join a group chatroom to virtually hang out with others. They cover all subjects such as love, relationship issues, life skills, addiction, abuse, anxiety, stress, depression, and the opportunity to just vent about your day. Their website is very user friendly, so even the most inexperienced computer or smartphone user can participate.
This website has over 1,000 therapists to choose from, and an average of 30,000 visitors per month. They have an 80% success rate for those clients who used Breakthrough as directed. They provide online therapy or counseling for just about every type of mental health issue, such as anger management, depression, anxiety, postpartum depression, bipolar disorder, and addiction. Breakthrough offers messaging, online video, and phone chatting. You can search for a therapist by specialty, insurance type, provider type, or location. They are professional and accept many insurance providers. Their plans start at $50 per hour, which is a bit more than the other mental health resources mentioned, but this may be due to the broader insurance acceptance. They are recommended by The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, Oprah Winfrey, and The Boston Globe.
MyTherapist.com is an online counseling/online therapy platform with psychologists, therapists, social workers and counselors who all have either a Master's or a Doctorate degree in their field. Each has been certified by the state in which they practice and have at least 2,000 hours and three years of experience. They offer text messaging, live video or phone chats, phone calls, and video conferencing. Some of the specific topics they provide include grief counseling, parenting, depression, relationship issues, stress and anxiety, LGBT issues, family therapy (or counseling), post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, and eating disorders. Their plans start at $170 per month.
Types of Online Therapy
Just as there are many different HIPAA compliant online mental health resources, there are also different types of online therapy. Some of the most common versions of online therapy include:
- Individual Therapy: This is where you talk to a licensed, professional therapist or counselor online. There are many ways to do this, such as through Facetime or Skype, chat rooms, email, texting, instant messaging, and even talking on the phone. These types of therapy or counseling sessions are good for all types of issues such as depression, anxiety disorder, stress, borderline personality disorder, attention deficit disorder, and just about any other mental health condition.
- Group Counseling: This is when a group of individuals meet with a counselor or therapist online to talk about their concerns, share their feelings, and learn new coping methods. This is good for many types of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety disorders.
- Marriage and Family Counseling: This type of counseling works when your relationship with your partner or other family members is compromised or complicated by issues like addiction, abuse, extramarital affairs, financial hardship, mental health issues, or anything else. You will likely see a therapist or counselor online together with the other family members as well as individually, to get the counseling you need.
- Substance Abuse Therapy: If addiction is a problem, substance abuse therapy is a good way to help. For those going through serious withdrawal, this is not a good option and you would have to go to inpatient therapy. However, if you are a recovering addict needing some additional counseling, this type of therapy is great because you do not even have to leave your house to talk to someone and they are usually available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Group Chat Rooms: Many people do not like to use group chat rooms because they usually do not have a licensed therapist or counselor running the group. Also, some people do not feel comfortable talking to strangers about their personal issues. However, a lot of people find it much easier to talk to people they do not know and will probably never meet in real life. There are many types of group chat rooms for subjects such as depression, anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, etc.
Get Help Today with Online Therapy
Now that you've read about some of the top online therapy sites out there, you can make an educated decision about which one you'd like to explore. Online therapy is a convenient option for those of us who lead busy lives and can't make it to a local therapist. Rather than waiting until the next session to connect with your therapist, you can message them between meetings. You've read about Talkspace, BetterHelp and more of the top sites that offer online therapy. You now have more information to make an educated decision as to which site fits your needs. How you use online therapy for health care is up to you. But remember that it's an effective form of treatment.
All the sites covered share a commitment to helping people work toward stability and wellness. If you're struggling with any mental health issues, you don't have to suffer alone-reach out to a therapist. One of the advantages of choosing online therapy is how easy it is to sign up, and start treatment. Take the first step, start looking at the sites discussed in this article, and find one that works for your particular mental health concerns.
Regardless of which site you choose, you should always read all the rules and requirements and check out their reviews first. Make sure they are a good and reputable company (that is HIPAA compliant) before you talk to a therapist. Check them out with the American Psychological Association, your state counseling or therapy licensing board, or another reputable psychological source, and see if finding a therapist with online therapy is right for you.
No matter which site you end up trying, you're taking an important step forward in prioritizing your health. And that deserves recognition.
If you need a crisis hotline, please see below:
RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) - 1-800-656-4673
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255
National Domestic Violence Hotline - 1-800-799-7233
NAMI Helpline (National Alliance on Mental Illness) - 1-800-950-6264