Best Online Therapy Services

Talkspace is our top pick for the best online therapy service

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Online therapy, or teletherapy, works much like in-person treatment, except that visits are conducted via video, call, or text. You’ll find many of the same options online that you’d find in an office—providers who offer individual therapy and relationship counseling, generalists or specialists, and a variety of therapy techniques. Yet, with so many options, finding the best online therapy services can quickly get overwhelming. 

Not all online counseling is the same. Whether you need help with anxiety, ADHD, an eating disorder, or any number of other issues, there is an online therapy platform that’s best for your needs. We’ve done the research for you—we looked at 55 online therapy companies, surveying 105 users of each, plus 25 directories, surveying 180 users, and tested each service. This helped ensure that each platform we recommend will provide quality treatment that specifically addresses your concerns.

Best Online Therapy Services of 2023

Best Overall : Talkspace


Talkspace logo

Talkspace 

Key Specs
  • Cost: $276 - $436 per month without insurance
  • Types of Therapy Offered: Individual, Teen, Couples
  • Insurance Accepted? Yes
Why You Should Try It 

Talkspace has an extensive network of therapists and psychiatrists with diverse specialties and treatment approaches. It accepts insurance and offers flexible plans.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Accepts insurance

  • Includes couples therapy and psychiatry

  • Therapists with a range of expertise

Cons
  • Expensive without insurance

  • Sessions can be short

  • Can feel impersonal

Overview 

The top online therapy service should provide quality, affordable care to the widest range of people possible, and Talkspace does just that. It offers therapy and psychiatry services for individuals, couples, and teens aged 13 and up. Therapy seekers can choose from an extensive network of practitioners who use everything from trauma-focused therapy to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to somatic therapy, and who specialize in a range of issues, like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression. 

Talkspace is easy to enroll in and will get you into sessions fairly quickly. You’ll be matched to a therapist within 48 hours after answering a series of questions determining your needs, issues, and insurance information, if applicable. In our full review, we reported that you can sign up for sessions all at once using your session credits, which means you can do several in a short time space if needed. 

Talkspace has a large pool of clinicians with varied treatment approaches such as Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Psychodynamic Therapy, which means you’ll have a better shot at finding the right fit. If the issues you’re hoping to address evolve or prove to be more complex than you realized, you’ll have more clinicians to choose from than a service specializing in anxiety, for example. 

Talkspace offers live sessions via video, audio, or live chat, and text therapy which includes audio messaging. The ability to message a therapist regularly without having to wait for a weekly appointment can be a lifesaver for some. The live chat feature can be helpful for those who need to protect their privacy.

Plans & Pricing 

Talkspace offers three subscription tiers:

  • Unlimited messaging therapy plus includes text, video, and audio messaging 5 days per week for $276 per month
  • Unlimited messaging therapy premium includes unlimited text, video, and audio messaging 5 days per week and one live 30-minute session per month for $396 a month
  • Unlimited messaging therapy ultimate includes unlimited text, video, and audio messaging 5 days a week and four live 30-minute sessions a month for $436 a month
User Satisfaction 

Overall, the users we surveyed had a very favorable opinion of Talkspace: 90% rated it as good, very good, or excellent. Eighty-two percent of users said they’d recommend Talkspace to a friend, while 95% of users said they would also recommend Talkspace’s psychiatric and medication management services.

Best For Cancer Patients : Doctor on Demand


Key Specs
  • Cost: $179 for an hour therapy session without insurance
  • Types of Therapy Offered: Individual, Children
  • Insurance Accepted? Yes
Why You Should Try It 


Doctor on Demand has therapists for all mental health needs and accepts insurance.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Providers available 24/7

  • High user satisfaction

  • Accepts insurance

Cons
  • Cost is high without insurance

  • Cannot prescribe certain medications

Overview

A diagnosis of cancer can be earth-shattering and cancer patients can face depression and anxiety related to their disease, yet studies have shown psychotherapy can help. For example, a 2021 study found that psychotherapy improved cancer patients' levels of happiness, sense of pleasure, and feelings of emotional strength, while another 2021 study found it reduced depression and anxiety. However, not all therapists are equipped to treat the unique mental health needs of patients struggling with this disease. 

That’s not the case at Doctor on Demand, a telehealth company that offers therapy, psychiatry, and other medical services. Filtering its pool of therapists for those specializing in chronic pain and illness brings up plenty of clinicians who are ready to help those with chronic diseases. Sessions are conducted over live video and last 25 to 50 minutes (you choose). You’ll have the option to choose your own therapist or get matched. As it’s a pay-as-you-go system, you won’t be locked into a subscription.

Doctor on Demand is also helpful for those with high medical bills. The high cost of medical treatment means finding a therapist who accepts insurance is essential. That said, without insurance, Doctor on Demand’s pricing is pretty steep, so it won’t be for everyone.

Plans & Pricing 

If you do not have insurance, a session with a psychologist at Doctor on Demand costs $129 for a 25-minute consultation and $179 for a 50-minute consultation. A psychiatrist visit costs $229 for an initial 45-minute consultation and $129 for a 15-minute follow-up.

However, the company does accept insurance, so depending on your provider, you could pay less per session.

User Satisfaction 

Overall, 94% of the users we surveyed rated Doctor on Demand positively, making it one of the most highly rated services we reviewed. Of users surveyed, 92% said Doctor on Demand was better than similar services they’d received in the past, and 70% would start their search for a therapist there again if needed. Only 10% of users surveyed didn’t have insurance.

Best For Anxiety : Brightside Health


Brightside

Brightside

Key Specs
  • Cost: From $95/month
  • Types of Therapy Offered: Individual therapy, psychiatry/medication management
  • Insurance Accepted? Yes
Why You Should Try It 

Brightside’s therapists and psychiatrists specialize in anxiety and can help you reduce symptoms quickly with a combination of live video sessions, unlimited messaging, skill-building lessons to help you reframe thoughts, and progress tracking.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Anxiety specialists who treat varied issues

  • Offers both therapy and psychiatry

  • Includes detailed intake to match you

Cons
  • You can’t pick your own practitioner

  • Set-up can be slower than with other services

Overview

Brightside Health makes it easy to get both therapy and psychiatric care from anxiety specialists. The platform began as a specialty service for anxiety and depression and has now expanded to offer treatment for insomnia, PTSD, OCD, bipolar disorder, and social anxiety among other conditions. It offers psychotherapy, psychiatry, or a combination of both. Those open to medication who are seeking to reduce symptoms quickly will benefit from both services, which Brightside claims will improve symptoms 60% more quickly.

A detailed intake questionnaire helps match you to the right provider, and you can choose to have stand-alone therapy, psychiatry or medication management, or a combination of both. One thing that really stands out is the evidence-based interactive lessons and symptom tracker. These simple therapy adjuncts can enhance the therapy experience and encourage a proactive approach to mental wellness.

In our full review, we reported that Brightside’s therapists primarily use Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy to treat anxiety, and will assign homework for patients regularly, which may speed up the recovery process. Live sessions are 30 minutes long and held over the video, and you can message your therapist anytime.

Plans and Pricing

There are three therapy plans at Brightside:

  • Therapy: $299 per month for unlimited messaging and four monthly 30-minute video sessions, with additional video appointments at $59 per session.
  • Medication: $95 per month plus your pharmacy copay or $15 per medication for comprehensive psychiatric evaluation, ongoing provider support, and monitoring of your care, including medication adjustments.
  • Combination: $349 per month plus your pharmacy copay or $15 per medication. 

Includes benefits of the medication plan plus unlimited messaging and a weekly video session with a licensed therapist. 

User Satisfaction 

Overall, people are happy with Brightside’s services: 90% of users surveyed rated the company as good, very good, or excellent, and 78% said it was better than other services they’d used in the past. Of users surveyed, 38% said Brightside’s therapists had better expertise and specialized training than previous services. Its practitioners score well above average when it comes to medication management: 60% said psychiatrists were available when they needed them, and 38% said their psychiatrists were responsive to their needs.

Best For Eating Disorders : Eating Recovery Center


Eating Recovery Center logo

Eating Recovery Center

Key Specs
  • Cost: Depends on insurance or self-pay agreement
  • Types of Therapy Offered: Inpatient, Residential, Partial Hospitalization, On-site Intensive Outpatient, and Virtual Outpatient/Recovery at Home
  • Insurance Accepted? Yes
Why You Should Try It 

Eating Recovery Center is designed specifically for adults and teens who struggle with eating disorders. It offers treatment at varying levels, including intensive inpatient and partial hospitalization, to support those in different stages of recovery.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Provides specialized eating disorder support

  • Offers a variety of treatment formats

  • Can provide intensive support for severe cases

Cons
  • Doesn’t serve all 50 states

  • Expensive without insurance

  • Requires a high level of commitment

Overview 

A severe eating disorder can be life-threatening, so it’s important to have the help of specialists who understand the risks of escalating symptoms. Eating Recovery Center provides support at multiple levels for both adults and adolescents (ages 10 - 17) who are at different stages in their recovery. They can easily move from a less restrictive to a more restrictive tier based on their needs.

Their inpatient program, based in Denver, Colorado, is the most intense, requiring 24/7 supervision, and is for those whose disorder is endangering their life. The intensive inpatient option requires nurse supervision and may include medical stabilization via partners at Acute Center for Eating Disorders and Severe Malnutrition. Patients aren’t confined to their rooms and are free to engage in therapy and community building to the extent that they are physically able.

Partial hospitalization and residential treatment are less intensive options that include a combination of therapy and nutritional support, plus supervision. Patients and their families, if applicable, will need to travel to facilities to obtain these treatments, sometimes out of state.

The most accessible options are the intensive outpatient (which may still require travel) and virtual outpatient programs, which can be done at home but are limited to certain states. These programs also include therapy and nutritional support.

Residential, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and virtual outpatient options include individual, group, and family therapy if applicable using modalities like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Remediation Therapy (CRT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Art, psychodrama, yoga, and mindfulness are also used. Patients learn to deconstruct harmful behaviors, prevent relapse, and identify recovery challenges.

Plans & Pricing 

Eating Recovery Center takes all major insurers, though what’s covered will vary. It will work with you to establish self-pay rates if your insurance doesn’t cover treatment or has high co-pays or deductibles.

While it accepts insurance, the Eating Recovery Center may still be expensive for some, especially if they need to travel and stay at a center. Yet Eating Recovery Center’s virtual offering can make treatment more accessible.

Best For Depression : E-Therapy Cafe


Key Specs
  • Cost: $45 - $55 per session
  • Types of Therapy Offered: Individual, Relationships, Marriage, Trauma-Focused, Veterans, Emotional Support Animals Therapy
  • Accepts Insurance: No
Why You Should Try It 

This user-friendly, approachable platform offers pay-as-you-go therapy and features relatable therapists who specialize in depression and issues that may relate to depression such as trauma, low self-worth, and combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Well-rounded therapists specializing in depression

  • Convenient pay structure

  • Provides Emotional Support Animal prescriptions

Cons
  • Doesn’t accept insurance

  • Limited number of practitioners

  • Includes coaches among practitioners

Overview 

E-Therapy Cafe offers individual, relationship, marriage, and trauma-focused therapy. Additionally, it offers bridal counseling, life coaching, and wedding counseling. You can pay as you go for your therapy sessions or sign-up for session bundles, which means site visitors can move quickly into the therapy process without worrying about making a commitment. While it doesn’t accept insurance, rates are reasonable, and it offers a discount for military veterans who are known to have high rates of depression. 

Sessions are 30 minutes long via live chat or live video. There’s also the option to write in a virtual journal (you’ll write an entry of 700 words and get a detailed response from your therapist).  

Therapists at E-Therapy Cafe use a range of techniques that have been shown to effectively treat depression, including CBT, trauma-focused, positive-psychology, relational, and solution-focused, and can provide assessments for Emotional Support Animals (ESAs).

Plans & Pricing 

E-Therapy Cafe has a great payment structure that won’t lock you into a costly plan. Therapy seekers can choose from the following options:

  • E-Therapy Shot: $55/session of instant chat, video, or virtual journal
  • E-Therapy Four: Four E-Sessions (instant chat, video, or virtual journal) at $49 a session or $196 a month
  • E-Therapy Eight: Eight E-sessions (instant chat, video, or virtual journal) at $45 a session, or $360 a month
User Satisfaction

Of all the services we evaluated, E-Therapy Cafe received one of the highest scores in overall satisfaction: 94% of users rated it good, very good, or excellent overall. What’s more, 58% said they’d still be seeing the same therapist in six months and 51% said the same for 12 months, both well above average. When it came to whether users would choose E-Therapy Cafe if they needed to start their therapist search again, 77% said they would—one of the highest scores of all services surveyed.

Best For OCD : NOCD


NOCD

NOCD

Key Specs
  • Cost: Depends on insurance
  • Types of Therapy Offered: Exposure-Response Prevention for OCD
  • Insurance Accepted? Yes
Why You Should Try It 

NOCD is the only platform designed specifically for people with OCD, including its many subtypes. Its therapists receive ongoing specialized training and mentorship in treating OCD.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Expertise in OCD and all its subtypes

  • Uses Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)

  • Patient forum provides community

Cons
  • Lukewarm customer satisfaction

  • ERP may not be for everyone

  • Therapists have varying levels of experience with OCD

Overview 

It can be hard to find a provider who truly understands and can effectively treat OCD. Not all symptoms are visible, as is the case with Pure Obsessional OCD (Pure-O), and subtypes like perfectionism, checking, symmetry, and rumination OCD aren’t always easy to spot. 

NOCD is here to change all of that. Its therapists treat OCD and its many subtypes using  Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that many consider to be the gold standard in OCD treatment. Providers on the platform receive ongoing specialized training and mentorship in treating the disorder.

Patients can request a therapist or get matched, depending on availability. Since ERP works well with frequent sessions, some therapists can see patients multiple times per week.  NOOCD leaders also understand the biggest challenges and triggers that occur outside of therapy, so patients can message their therapist anytime and have access to peer communities, support groups, and self-help tools throughout the week.

Beyond the care it provides, NOCD makes the condition easy to understand through its website, blog, and community. Overall, NOCD offers patients much-needed understanding and evidence-based treatment.

Plans & Pricing 

Cost varies according to insurance. By joining NOCD, you’ll get 30 to 60-minute live video sessions plus a Peer Support Counselor who understands OCD, virtual support groups, peer communities, and self-help tools. You can also message your therapist in between sessions.

User Satisfaction 

While NOCD has demonstrated expertise in OCD treatment, there is room for improvement: 71% of users surveyed rated it positively overall,  26% described it as average, and only 29% of users said they’d still be seeing the same therapist six months later (which is lower than average). Still, 46% said therapists at NOCD have better training and expertise than therapists they’ve tried in the past.

Best for Substance Use : Thriveworks


Key Specs
  • Cost: Varies according to therapist
  • Types of Therapy Offered: Individual, Couples, Children’s Therapy, Addiction Counseling, Medication Management and Psychiatry, Group Counseling
  • Insurance Accepted? Yes
Why You Should Try It 

With a nationwide network of therapists, in-person options, and same- or next-day appointments available, those suffering from addiction issues can start therapy quickly and easily.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Offers addiction counseling

  • Large pool of therapists to choose from

  • Same- or next-day appointments

Cons
  • Messaging unavailable

  • Minimal matching process

Overview 

Thriveworks is a convenient, flexible way to get quality online via live video or in-person therapy (depending on your location). Besides individual, couples, and children’s therapy, Thriveworks is unusual in that it offers addiction counseling specifically. It also offers psychiatry and medication management.

Its main draw is convenience: therapy seekers can sign up quickly and search for therapists offering immediate appointments. This can be vital for those struggling with addiction, who may experience strong triggers to use substances or emotional crises that require urgent, timely support.

The sign-up process is straightforward and quick as is selecting a therapist. Therapy seekers can filter for location, treatment issues (in this case, they’d select addiction), availability of teletherapy, and insurance. There’s no questionnaire or matching process, which might deter those who need more help finding the right fit, but those who know they need help with substance issues can get started quickly. 

Thriveworks has great content throughout the site, including information on addiction, which can make those with substance issues feel welcome. It also offers supplementary services like an “Ask a Therapist Q & A '' (you can submit a question and get a response typically within 24 hours) and educational videos.

Plans & Pricing 

Prices vary based on location and therapist, as well as by insurance plan, so in some ways, it’s more like a directory than an online therapy site. However, the Thriveworks website indicates that out-of-pocket costs start at $99 per session.

User Satisfaction 

Of users surveyed, 10% sought out Thriveworks for addiction issues, one of the highest rates among all the online therapy services we reviewed. Overall, 90% of users rated Thriveworks positively, and it seems most were satisfied enough to stick with their clinicians: 52% said they would still be seeing the same therapist in six months, and 50% in twelve months.

Best For Psychiatry : Talkiatry


Key Specs
  • Cost: Varies according to provider 
  • Types of Therapy Offered: Psychiatry and Medication Management
  • Insurance Accepted? Yes
Why You Should Try It

Talkiatry is a highly-rated psychiatry service with excellent clinicians who take the time to understand you.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • High user satisfaction

  • Psychiatrists take their time with you

  • You choose your own psychiatrist

Cons
  • Only serves 18 states

  • Doesn’t offer stand-alone psychotherapy

  • You must have insurance

Overview

Patients seeking psychiatry often face a few common scenarios: Either it’s challenging to find a psychiatrist who accepts their insurance and meets their needs, or they may find an impersonal clinician who hands out medication, but doesn’t take the time to understand the root cause of their symptoms.

Talkiatry is changing all of that. With a growing number of clinicians across the country, it offers personalized psychiatry and medication management, complemented with therapy when appropriate. Patients choose their own therapist and stick with them, receiving 60-minute first visits and 30-minute visits thereafter. If you’re unhappy, it’s easy to switch providers.

Talkiatry will only work with you if you have insurance it accepts, which is why it’s in-network with every major insurer. This does leave some people without treatment, but without insurance, the average cost of a psychiatry appointment might be out of range for most people.

Plans & Pricing 

Pricing varies according to your insurance.

User Satisfaction 

Talkiatry is among our highest-rated services in terms of user satisfaction: 96% rated Talkiatry as good, very good, or excellent overall, 87% would recommend it to a friend or loved one, and 70% would start their provider search at Talkiatry again if needed. Further, 38% of users said their provider’s bedside manner was excellent, 58% said their prescriber really took the time to listen to them, 44% said they didn’t feel rushed, and 35% said providers were empathetic and caring. These scores are well above average compared to other providers of psychiatric care, making Talkiatry a unique and valuable service.

Best Directory : Open Path Collective


Open Path Collective

Open Path Collective

Key Specs
  • Cost: $40 to $80 per session, plus a one-time membership fee of $65
  • Types of Therapy Offered: Individual, Couples, Group
  • Insurance Accepted? No
Why You Should Try It 

Open Path Collective is an online therapy directory that offers an extensive network of therapists with diverse specialties and treatment approaches. It’s cost-effective, convenient, and easy to switch therapists.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • You pay only $40 to $70 per session for individual, $40 to $80 for couples

  • Couples, family, and group therapy available

  • Inclusive and identity affirming

Cons
  • Has a membership fee

  • Therapist information may not be current

  • Doesn’t accept insurance

Overview 

It’s no secret that finding an available, affordable therapist is a challenge, with or without insurance. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed that four in 10 adults have medical debt, and 20% of those said the debt was for mental health services. 

Open Path Collective aims to address this problem. The company is unique in that every therapist in its directory accepts a sliding-scale fee. This is invaluable since finding affordable practitioners who also have the necessary qualifications and background can be time-consuming and stressful.

Every therapist on Open Path has the same pricing model, which can truly save therapy seekers time and energy sifting through practitioners they can afford. They’re then free to focus on searching by treatment orientation, specialty, and modality, among many other factors. Therapists are diverse in their approaches and backgrounds and you can find therapists that provide individual, group, and couples counseling and treat children, teens, and adults. Once you’ve found someone you like, you’ll email them directly from the website. 

Survey results indicate that finding the right practitioner may take a little longer than with other sites, but that satisfaction with clinicians is high. With such low costs, however, it is worth the effort, especially when you can end up with an experienced, qualified therapist.

Plans & Pricing 

Therapists accept sliding scale rates from $30 to $60 for individual therapy, and $30 to $80 for couples and family sessions. There is a one-time, lifetime membership fee of $39.

User Satisfaction 

Overall, Open Path Collective scores high in terms of user satisfaction, with 90% rating it positively. Survey results did indicate that finding the right fit takes a little longer: 64% had to reach out to multiple therapists to confirm availability, with 28% having to reach out to four therapists. But 81% (higher than average) said they were still with the therapist they found.

Open Path also does well in terms of inclusivity. Of the users who said Open Path outperformed past therapy providers, 30% said that therapists were more experienced working with LGBTQ patients, 29% said they were more experienced at working with people who are BIPOC, and 24% they were better at serving those with experiences of racism and discrimination. Between the great pricing, quality care, and inclusivity, Open Path is an excellent directory.

Best for Chronic Pain : Teladoc


Teladoc

Teladoc

Key Specs
  • Cost: $99 per session, $209 for initial psychiatry, and $109 for follow-ups 
  • Types of Therapy Offered: Individual, Couples, Psychiatry
  • Insurance Accepted? Yes
Why You Should Try It 

Teladoc is a highly rated service with providers capable of providing mental healthcare to those with chronic pain.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • High user satisfaction

  • Insurance accepted

  • Can treat patients with chronic pain

Cons
  • Unable to see therapist info before subscribing

  • Must sign up to verify insurance

  • No free trial

Overview 

Teladoc is a telehealth company where you can visit doctors ranging from primary care to mental health for individuals and couples to pediatrics. To obtain therapy, you must sign up and fill out an intake questionnaire. You’ll then be given a list of providers to choose from. This combines the best of both worlds: help with finding the right match, but freedom to make the final choice.

A few things make Teladoc great for those with chronic pain. The most obvious is that there are numerous clinicians who can treat people with chronic pain, which isn’t always the case. Also, online therapy through Teladoc can help people with chronic conditions receive mental health care services that were otherwise inaccessible to them. If someone is in pain, has mobility issues, or feels overwhelmed, hopping on a 45-minute video or audio call (as Teladoc offers) may be all they have the energy for.

Additionally, those with pain likely have a condition that requires medical care. So, pricing will be important to them. Luckily, Teladoc accepts insurance. Plus, since it’s not specifically a mental health site, those who have chronic conditions could potentially make use of other services such as "Expert Medical Opinion" or primary care.

Plans & Pricing 

Visits are $99 per therapy session, $209 for the initial psychiatry session, and $109 for follow-ups. All visits are live video visits, and frequency and duration will be determined by the provider.

User Satisfaction 

Teladoc has high scores overall: 97% of users rated it good, very good, or excellent, our highest scores across all companies. Additionally, cost and insurance acceptance were important to those seeking treatment at Teladoc: 50% of those surveyed cited accepting insurance as an important factor in their search and 66% found Teladoc affordable, which is higher than average. What’s more, 46% of users (higher than average) said they could filter therapists by insurance providers during their search. 82% of users with insurance said Teledoc accepted it, compared to the 54% average.

Final Verdict

Overall, Talkspace is the best online therapy service because it offers flexibility with plans, provides psychiatry in addition to psychotherapy, and has a large pool of clinicians to choose from. User satisfaction for Talkspace is higher than for BetterHelp, its leading competitor. It also takes insurance and offers multiple pricing tiers. 

If you don’t have insurance or are on a budget, Open Path Collective may be your best bet. All therapists on the directory have the same pricing model, so you’ll never have to filter through therapists you can’t afford. Therapy seekers who need psychiatric services and medication management will find excellent options at Talkiatry, which features caring clinicians that truly take their time with you. Those with chronic pain may find relief from one of the highly-rated Teladoc’s chronic pain mental health specialists.

Other Companies We Considered

There were a number of great services that didn’t make the list. Amwell, for example, was scored positively by 88% of users surveyed — still good, but not as high as competitors BetterHelp and Talkspace. Cerebral, a company that has come under fire for unethical prescriptions of controlled substances such as stimulants for ADHD, lost to DoneFirst in terms of patient satisfaction and was not selected.

Compare the Best Online Therapy Services 

Company Cost Types of Therapy Insurance Accepted
Talkspace Best Overall $276 - $396 per month Individual, Teens, Couples Yes
Doctor on Demand Best for Cancer Patients $179 per hour Individual, Children Yes
Brightside Health Best for Anxiety From $95/month Individual Therapy, Psychiatry/Medication Management Yes
Eating Recovery Center Best for Eating Disorders Depends on insurance or self-pay agreement Inpatient, Residential, Partial Hospitalization, On-site Intensive Outpatient, and Virtual Outpatient/Recovery at Home  Yes
E-Therapy Cafe Best for Depression $45 - $55 per session Individual, Relationship, Trauma-focused, Veterans, Emotional  Support Animals  No
NOCD Best for OCD Depends on insurance Individual Exposure-Response Prevention Therapy Yes
Thriveworks Best for Substance Use Depends on practitioner Individual, Couples, Children’s Therapy, Addiction Counseling, Medication Management/Psychiatry, Group Yes
Talkiatry Best for Psychiatry Depends on practitioner Psychiatry and medication management  Yes
Open Path Collective Best Directory $30 - $80 per session, plus a $39 membership fee Individual, Couples, Group  No
Teladoc Best for Chronic Illness/Pain $99 per therapy session, $209 for initial psychiatry and $109 for follow ups Individual, Couples, Psychiatry  Yes

Guide to Choosing the Best Online Therapy Service

How Does Online Therapy Work? 

Online therapy services provide treatment for therapy-seekers through clinicians who work for the service. This is different from directories listing therapists that provide virtual services. An online therapy service typically handles the logistics of treatment and has its own policies and procedures around session frequency, length, payment, and insurance. A directory simply connects therapy-seekers with therapists.

Most online therapy services will offer sessions via video, phone, text, or a combination of all three. Some may allow for messaging in between sessions. You’ll find many similarities between regular therapy services and online therapy services, such as types of specialties, therapist expertise, and conditions treated.

What to Consider When Choosing an Online Therapy Service?

  • Communication Options: You should consider how you like to communicate, whether it’s through video, phone, or chat, and see if a therapy service can accommodate that. 
  • Types of Therapy Offered: You should consider if you need or may need psychiatry services and medication, a couples counselor, a group counselor, or sessions for your children, as not all companies can provide them. 
  • Insurance: Check with your insurance company to see what type of mental health coverage is available, if any, and whether a company can accept it. 
  • Medication Management: If you take medication, you’ll want to find an online therapy service that provides it and that has a positive reputation for its psychiatric services. Some services, like Brightside and DoneFirst, can ship medication directly to your house.
  • Therapist Qualifications: You should vet therapists for qualifications like you would for in-person therapy services. Consider each clinician’s experience, treatment methods, and specialties.

Who Is Online Therapy For?

Online therapy is a great option for those looking to take charge of their mental health. People suffering from anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, and a history of abuse can all benefit from it, depending on the severity of the symptoms. If symptoms are severe or if you’re suffering from complex conditions like schizophrenia, psychosis, or a personality disorder, you should seek treatment from a qualified professional in person.

If you’re having trouble functioning or are a threat to yourself or others, you should seek out in-person treatment and/or emergency services if needed.

Is Online Therapy Effective?

There is plenty of evidence to support online therapy’s efficacy.  In some cases, it can even be preferable, such as when there are no qualified therapists in an area (known as a therapy desert) or when it’s not possible to travel to an office due to disability or scheduling issues.

The accessibility and affordability of online therapy are beneficial to many and can help mitigate the effects of living in a therapy desert. Having the ability to choose from a greater number of providers means that you can get help quickly, without having to wait. You’ll also have a larger pool of clinicians to choose from, which can make finding the right fit easier.

A 2019 study found that multi-modal digital psychotherapy may be an effective treatment for adult depression.

A 2018 study in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders found that online cognitive behavioral therapy was equally as effective as an in-person treatment for major depression, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.  

A 2020 study found that internet-delivered therapy may be a viable alternative to in-person cognitive behavioral therapy.

Common Therapy Techniques in Online Therapy

Techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and trauma-focused therapy can all be done online. Some techniques, like body-based somatic experiencing (SE), are best done in person as they rely on body language, body reading, and movement.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Do Online Therapy Services Cost?

Online Therapy services can cost anywhere from $30 to $300 per session, much like in-person therapy. The cost will depend on the service used, the therapist, the insurance, or all three. Many online therapy services offer financial aid or sliding scale services, while others will not. It may also depend on the plan, which could include text only, video and text, or another combination.

What Diagnoses Does Online Therapy Typically Not Treat?

Complex or severe disorders will typically need in-person treatment. This could include severe forms of OCD, complex PTSD, panic disorder, agoraphobia, schizophrenia, psychosis, and personality disorders like borderline personality disorder (BPD). If a person’s symptoms interfere with their ability to function, or they are suicidal, online therapy cannot provide the quality or quantity of care required. Not all therapists are able to treat complex disorders, and those that are may not be able to respond in a timely manner to crisis situations.

Does Insurance Cover Online Therapy?

Some insurance providers cover online therapy, though not all online services will accept it. Check with your insurance provider to find out the specifics of your plan. Since 2020, providers such as Medicaid began removing restrictions around telemedicine. As online therapy continues to grow in popularity, it’s likely that coverage will continue or possibly expand for online therapy.

Can Online Therapists Prescribe Medication?

Only psychiatrists can prescribe medication. If you need psychiatric and medication management services, seek out a service that explicitly offers it. Good options include Talkiatry, Brightside, Talkspace, and DoneFirst.

Methodology

To assess the best online therapy services, we looked at 55 different companies including Amwell, Ginger, Circle Medical, Wellnite, and Growing Self, all of which didn’t make the list. We made selections based on overall patient satisfaction, how happy patients were with their therapists, the ease with which they could connect to therapists, and affordability.

We also looked at the services themselves — whether they offered psychiatry services or not, what formats were offered, what specialties they had, and what types of therapy were available — as well as insurance options and prices.

Therapist Providing Online Session

SeventyFour / Getty Images

Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Brittany Elyse Vargas
Brittany Elyse Vargas has been exploring topics around psychology, mental health, mind-body medicine, and psychospiritual development for the past twenty years. She’s written professionally for over ten years as a journalist, copywriter, and ghostwriter. Brittany is committed to rigorous reporting and to tackling topics on the cutting edge of the wellness, healing, and the mindfulness movements.

Edited by Ally Hirschlag
Allison "Ally" Hirschlag

Ally is a senior editor for Verywell, who covers topics in the health, wellness, and lifestyle spaces. She has written for The Washington Post, The Guardian, BBC Future, and more.

Learn about our editorial process
and Simone Scully
simone-scully-verywell

Simone is the health editorial director for performance marketing at Verywell. She has over a decade of experience as a professional journalist covering mental health, chronic conditions, medicine, and science.

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