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7 Best Online Therapy Platforms Of 2023 

In 2021, nearly 25% of adults in the United States received mental health care. While the pandemic helped normalize seeking treatment for conditions like depression and anxiety, the surge in demand strained traditional therapy providers. Virtual counseling has become an integral tool for people to receive care in a safe, timely manner.

Below, we have compiled a list of the best online counseling companies of 2023, a guide on choosing the right online therapist and some of the most frequently asked questions about online therapy.

Our Top Picks For Best Online Therapy

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Best Online Therapy Reviews

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Best Overall Online Therapy: BetterHelp

Pros
  • Offers individual, group and couples therapy
  • Large network of licensed mental health care providers
  • Message, chat, phone and video sessions
Cons
  • Doesn't accept health insurance
  • Medication management services aren't available
  • No family therapy available
  • Short 30-minute sessions

BetterHelp has a large network of licensed mental health professionals with over 29,889 licensed psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers and board-certified professional counselors.

The user-friendly platform offers professional therapy to address numerous mental health concerns such as stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, eating and sleep issues, grief and anger. Users can message a professional therapist anytime, anywhere through the chat room or schedule a live chat, phone or video session if they need a real-time conversation.

BetterHelp's services are available for individuals and couples, as well as businesses and organizations that wish to extend this benefit to their employees or members. The platform's subscription plan costs anywhere from $60 to $90 a week, depending on your location, preferences and therapist availability.

BetterHelp bills its members every four weeks and the membership can be canceled anytime.

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Best Online Couples Therapy: Talkspace

Pros
  • Couples counseling includes unlimited text, video and voice messaging
  • Three subscription options
  • Offers psychiatric services and medication management services
  • Provides counseling for teens 13-17 with parental consent
  • Accepts health insurance
Cons
  • Therapists aren't available 24/7
  • The most affordable subscription limits sessions to messages
  • No refunds, even if you cancel before plan expires

Talkspace provides virtual therapy sessions with licensed counselors. The platform offers three types of relationship counseling: marriage counseling, relationship counseling for unmarried couples (no matter the length of their relationship) and premarital counseling.

Couples have access to ongoing support through video sessions and unlimited messaging. During these therapy sessions, the couple can identify specific issues, learn valuable communication tools and practice conflict-resolution strategies.

Talkspace's pricing structure offers three plans for therapeutic and psychiatric services:

  • Messaging therapy: $69 per week
  • Messaging and video call therapy: $99 per week
  • Messaging, video therapy and workshops: $109 per week

In addition to providing general care, Talkspace's inclusive community of therapists can provide counseling for people with specific therapeutic needs, including teens, members of the LGBTQ+ community and veterans.

Talkspace accepts health insurance, and its list of partner companies includes Premera, Cigna, Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield, among others.

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Best Online Group Therapy: Circles

Pros
  • Subscription comes with additional content and exercises to work on outside of group therapy
  • Clients have 24/7 access to an anonymous chat room with group members
  • 60-minute group video sessions
  • Free one-week trial
Cons
  • Doesn't accept health insurance
  • No individual therapy
  • No medication management services

Group therapy can be invaluable in feeling less alone and isolated when processing difficult emotions or traumatic events. Circles provides a resource for people seeking virtual group therapy and an affordable platform for connecting with others with similar experiences.

Professionally trained facilitators (who may be social workers, psychologists or therapists) guide weekly group sessions with no more than 10 people. Members can get support for separation, divorce, grief, sobriety, narcissistic relationships, abortion, adoption, chronic illness, disability, caregiving, parenting challenges and more.

Outside group sessions, members have access to an anonymous chat where they can connect with their peers and get support as needed. Circles also offers tools for people to work on their own such as self-help exercises, webinars and an educational blog.

Plans start at $79 per month and include one weekly group video meeting, supplementary worksheets and 24/7 access to a chat with your group members.

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Best Online Psychiatric Services: Doctor on Demand

Pros
  • Accepts health insurance
  • Therapists and psychiatrists are available
  • Medication management is offered in addition to therapy services
  • Language interpretation (including American Sign Language) available
Cons
  • Costs more than other online therapy platforms if you don't have insurance
  • List of accepted insurance plans isn't shown until after you sign up
  • Therapists have limited availability

Doctor On Demand offers online therapy and virtual counseling for all types of mental health needs. Its network of licensed psychiatrists and therapists can help treat anxiety, PTSD, depression, stress, postpartum, grief and loss.

The platform accepts health insurance (including Medicare), and patients can choose talk therapy, medication management with a psychiatrist or a combination of both. Psychiatrists in Doctor On Demand's network can prescribe medication at their discretion, except when the medication is a controlled substance or requires an in-person visit with a psychiatrist.

Unlike other online mental health care providers, Doctor On Demand doesn't charge a subscription. Patients pay per visit, depending on the service. A 25-minute talk therapy session costs $129, while a 50-minute consultation costs $179.

Psychiatric services are more costly. The initial consultation will set you back $299 (not including the cost of medication) and follow-up appointments cost $129.

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Best Online Therapy for the LGBTQ+ Community: Pride Counseling

Pros
  • Therapists specialize in the LGBTQ+ community
  • User-friendly assessment and sign-up
  • Therapy is available through messaging, live chat, phone calls and video conferencing
Cons
  • No medication management services
  • Getting recommendations for hormone replacement therapy may be difficult
  • Therapists are assigned by the platform, not selected by patients

Pride Counseling addresses the unique issues facing many members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Members have access to licensed psychologists, marriage and family therapists, social workers and professional therapists, all of whom are state certified and have at least a Master's degree in their field. Pride Counseling also requires at least three years and 1,000 hours of practical experience.

After answering specific questions about your mental and physical well-being, gender identity and therapy preference, the platform will match you with a therapist. You'll have access to 24/7 messaging and scheduled live chat, phone or video sessions.

Pricing ranges from $60 to $90 per week, depending on your location, preferences and the therapist's availability.

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Best Online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Online-Therapy.com

Pros
  • Offers individual and couples therapy
  • Access to CBT-trained licensed therapists
  • Services are available internationally
  • 20% off the first monthly subscription
Cons
  • Basic subscription doesn't include live therapy sessions
  • No free trial or option to subscribe weekly
  • Doesn't accept insurance

Online-Therapy.com is a solid choice for people interested in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This therapeutic approach helps patients identify and overcome negative thoughts, behaviors and emotions.

The platform offers a therapy program divided into eight sections. There's also an unlimited messaging tool to contact your therapist whenever you need, and you can send questions about exercises and expect a reply within 24 hours.

In addition to the worksheets, the platform includes a journaling tool, an activity planner, and meditation and yoga videos. Depending on the subscription level, you'll also have access to weekly live sessions via phone, video, or chat.

Online-Therapy.com has four monthly subscription plans available, all of which have a 20% discount for the first month:

  • The Basic plan includes the therapy program and unlimited messaging for $50 per week.
  • The Standard plan includes the therapy program, unlimited messaging and one weekly live session for $80 per week
  • The Premium plan includes the therapy program, unlimited messaging with express replies and two weekly sessions for $110 per week
  • Couples therapy includes the therapy program, unlimited messaging and one weekly couples live session for $110 per week

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Best Online Support Group for People with Addiction: Smart Recovery

Pros
  • Free access to online and in-person meetings
  • Participants can find meetings in 23 countries
  • For those who want an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous
Cons
  • SMART's approach may not suit everyone
  • Facilitators aren't required to be licensed therapists
  • No sponsorship or buddy system

SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training) offers free online support groups for people who are overcoming addiction. Access to such support groups is an invaluable tool — someone seeking group support can access virtual meetings wherever they are without being exposed to potential triggers.

SMART Recovery offers an alternative for people who don't want to participate in Twelve Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). SMART Recovery treats addiction as a behavior and focuses on a more evidence-based, scientific approach to recovery.

The program's online community hosts meetings and events for beginners and specific groups such as veterans, first responders, teens and women. Participants can find groups focused on specific addictions as well as support groups for friends and family of the person with addiction.

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Other Companies We Considered

This section includes our top runners-up for best online therapy platforms. These companies aren't part of the "best of" categories but still offer mental health support services worthy of mention.

  • Inclusive Therapy is a directory that matches Black and Indigenous folks, people of color and members of neurodivergent and disabled communities of color with licensed providers who center inclusivity and cultural sensitivity in their practice.
  • Teen Counseling is an online counseling platform where teens ages 13 to 19 can access licensed therapy.
  • Brightside Health is an online therapy platform that focuses on treating anxiety and depression. It offers psychological and psychiatric therapy and medication management.
  • Therapy for Queer People of Color. Connects queer and trans people of color to mental health care professionals who exclusively serve those communities.

Online Therapy Guide

Below is a helpful guide designed to help you determine whether online therapy is right for you.

Main Things To Consider When Choosing Online Therapy

Online therapy offers many of the same benefits as in-person therapy. Still, there are several unique considerations that you should keep in mind if you're considering beginning or switching to virtual therapy.

  • Insurance: When choosing an in-person or online provider, always check to see if your insurance plan offers mental health coverage and if so, find a provider within your network.
  • Commuting: Not everyone can commute to an office for therapy. If you cannot commute for therapy and online therapy is your only option, be sure to find an individually licensed therapist or online therapy company that will meet your long-term needs.
  • Meeting your needs: If you find it challenging to connect virtually, online therapy may not be the right fit for you.
  • Security: Therapy is deeply personal, and you may tell your therapist things that you deem private. Be sure that any online therapy mobile app you use has clear communication regarding cybersecurity practices and that you are meeting with a therapist licensed in your state who is required by law to honor HIPAA.

What Is The Average Cost Of Online Therapy?

Online therapy costs depend on whether or not your insurance will cover your sessions. While not all insurance plans include policies for mental health services, many do. Therefore, if your insurance company covers the cost of in-person therapy, there is a high likelihood that certain telehealth providers will also be covered.

In this case, you will only be expected to pay your copay for each session. In other instances, insurance may be willing to reimburse your therapy sessions in part or in full once you file a claim. However, if your insurance does not cover therapy or you wish to use an online therapy provider that is not in your network, you will need to pay for sessions out of pocket.

The exact cost of online therapy differs based on the platform and provider, and the pay structure may also differ between companies. For example, two of the most popular online therapy platforms, Talkspace and BetterHelp, start at roughly $260 per month for weekly sessions.

Other online platforms may charge more or less than this and may charge by the week, by the session or as a monthly subscription in which you're eligible for four therapy sessions per month. In addition, subscriptions often come with additional features like free 24/7 chat services.

Differences Between Online Therapy And In-Person Therapy

In many ways, online therapy and in-person therapy are similar. However, there are some significant differences that you should be aware of as you consider whether or not online therapy is the right solution for you.

  • You may never meet your therapist in person. If you utilize an online therapy platform, there is a high likelihood that you will never meet your therapist face-to-face. Virtual counseling may not be the best fit for you if you feel that you cannot form an emotional connection and allow yourself to be vulnerable with an individual you've never met in person.
  • You may be able to remain anonymous. Many online therapy platforms allow individuals seeking their services to remain anonymous. While you may need to provide your information for individual therapy sessions, if anonymity is important to you, you may prefer seeking mental health guidance online.
  • You may have a more open line of communication with your therapist. Some therapy subscription services have features like voice, video or text messaging that let you get ahold of your therapist between sessions. However, individuals who attend in-person therapy may feel less empowered to reach out to their therapist regularly.
  • You're at the mercy of technology. When therapy sessions are held online, factors like access to a computer, outside noise and internet connection can all play a role in how effective your therapy sessions are. You may experience times when your virtual sessions are negatively affected — or completely blocked — by technological factors.

Is Online Therapy Better Than Face-To-Face Therapy?

Neither online therapy nor face-to-face therapy is objectively better than the other. Instead, each treatment method offers patients unique benefits, and it's up to you to determine which style of therapy you prefer.

Online therapy is convenient. You can attend therapy from the comfort of your home, while you're on vacation or in your car on your lunch break. In addition, the flexibility of online therapy means you don't have to factor in commuting to your therapist's office.

As more people transition to remote work, it's become increasingly easier to communicate using tools like Zoom, so opting for online therapy may feel like less of a stretch than it once did.

However, some people like having face-to-face conversations with their therapists. You may find that you're missing the human connection essential to a productive therapy session if you meet your therapist via a video chat or phone session. This can be especially true for people using psychotherapy methods like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).

The primary factor that individuals seeking online therapy should consider is whether or not an online therapist is licensed in their state. Therapists receive state licensures, so be sure that an online provider is licensed to practice therapy in your state before booking any sessions with them.

Is Online Therapy Cheaper Than Face-To-Face Therapy?

Seeing a therapist in person and online typically costs about the same. The total cost of therapy depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • Qualifications of the provider
  • Location
  • Session length
  • Specialty

In-person therapy costs an average of $100 per session without insurance, which is often comparable to online counseling sessions. However, if your online or in-person provider accepts insurance, this can affect which of these methods is cheaper.

In addition, face-to-face therapy has commuting costs that are not associated with virtual therapy.

Online Therapy FAQ

Does Insurance Cover Online Therapy?

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If your insurance policy covers in-person therapy, there's a strong likelihood that it will also cover virtual therapy. Although not every online therapy platform accepts insurance, many do, so finding a platform that accepts your insurance works much like finding an in-person provider.

Several factors influence whether or not insurance covers online therapy, including your insurance plan, the compatibility of your insurance company and the online therapy platform and the state(s) in which your provider is licensed.

Can Online Therapy Prescribe Medication?

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Whether or not you can be prescribed medications by your online therapist depends on the provider and the type of medication.

Psychiatrists are some of the only providers able to prescribe medication because they are medical doctors. If your online counselor is not part of a psychiatry practice but decides you may benefit from medication, they can't prescribe you anything, but they may be able to help connect you with a prescriber who is qualified to write prescriptions.

In addition to having an eligible provider, your ability to be prescribed medications online depends on the type of medication. Although professional counselors may be able to prescribe some medications, other controlled medications (such as benzodiazepines and stimulants) will require a physical examination and cannot be prescribed online.

Can You Get Free Online Therapy?

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Online therapy is typically not free. Depending on the service and provider, you may end up spending roughly the same amount on online therapy as you would if you saw a therapist in person (although you'll save additional time and money not having to use public transportation, gas or paid parking).

That said, there are some cases where you can access online therapy for free or at a discounted rate. Many online providers offer specific services for free. For example, the online therapy company 7 Cups has a 24/7 anonymous chat feature where people can talk to volunteer "listeners" who are trained to provide necessary emotional support for free.

Other online providers, like Therapy Aid Coalition, offer free to heavily discounted short-term therapy depending on the individual's financial ability. In addition, online therapy providers like Pride Counseling provide free therapy and financial aid services to people who meet specific financial criteria.

How Does Online Therapy Work?

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Online therapy works much in the way that traditional therapy works but through virtual methods. This means that rather than going to your therapist's office for sessions, you hold sessions by videoconferencing on a phone, computer or tablet or through similar methods like live texting and phone calls.

Though each online counseling platform works differently, the process typically involves filling out a questionnaire and selecting services you'd like to receive. At this point, you will pay for either a subscription or a per-meeting pay schedule and select an available therapist or be assigned a therapist who meets your needs.

When considering which online platform to use, you should determine what is most important to you in the selection process. While factors like price and pay frequency will dictate whether or not specific portals are accessible to you, some individuals find selecting their therapist to be a must as well.

How We Found The Best Online Therapy

We conducted hours of extensive research to provide you with this comprehensive list of the best online therapy services available in 2023. Factors that influenced which online therapy platforms we chose include:

  • Accessibility
  • Affordability
  • Ease of use
  • User satisfaction
  • Areas of expertise

Whenever you select a platform through which you'd like to receive online therapy, make sure the therapists are licensed professionals who are licensed in your state.

Summary Of The Best Online Therapy Of 2023

The information provided on this page is for educational purposes only and is not intended as health-related advice. The companies, products, and services features on this page may not be right for everyone. Consult with a professional for individual health-related advice.