It can be a struggle to find the best online counseling, particularly with a busy schedule. You may simply be unable to visit a therapist or stick to appointments. However, recently, there has been a rise in people switching to online therapy services. Online therapy is a convenient and affordable option, particularly if you are buying a subscription. However, as with any form of therapy, it may not be a good fit for everyone. We have done the hard work and researched the benefits and drawbacks of the best online therapy for you.
Read on for our list of the best online counseling platforms to save you time as well as money.
What is online therapy?
Online therapy, also known as e-therapy, is the delivery of counseling via the Internet. The best online therapy platforms are staffed by licensed therapists, family and marriage counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists alongside registered nurses. These board-certified professionals have years of practice, training and they serve to help people improve their mental conditions.
In just a few clicks on your phone, tablet, or computer you can access the best online therapy possible with top-rated therapists. This allows you to talk to a therapist regardless of appointments and at any time comfortable for you.
However, even the best online counseling may not be appropriate without first speaking to your doctor, as many platforms do not provide therapy for certain mental health conditions. Individuals who experience thoughts of self-harm or those who are in crisis situations that require emergency help should not use online therapy, and instead seek help from their doctor. Please, speak to your doctor to determine whether the best online counseling may fit your particular case.
How is online therapy different from in-person therapy?
The first and most obvious difference between the best online therapy and in-person therapy is that you do not need to travel to see a therapist. Instead, the best online counseling is accessed through an Internet platform. Even though it is still a new mode of therapy, and may not be appropriate for every particular case, it is considered a convenient and affordable option for individuals who have stress, anxiety, or depression, among other conditions. Traditional in-person therapy remains a better fit for those individuals with severe mental health conditions, and those at risk of developing more severe side effects. In these cases, a therapist alongside a psychiatrist may also incorporate pharmacological treatment alongside therapy.
Online counseling is also a good option for individuals who feel embarrassed to visit face-to-face therapies or support groups.
The best online therapy platforms can accommodate a range of services for specific populations, including couples counseling, LGBTQ counseling, and best online therapy for teenagers.
Note, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, turning to the best online counseling platforms is the only possible way of receiving help from a therapist. Speak to your doctor about the applicability of this treatment for you.
What are the PROs and CONs of online therapy?
Even the best online therapy has downsides, and may only serve as a substitute for in-person therapy when approved by a doctor.
Pros of the best online therapy:
- Convenient, as you may talk to a therapist through your mobile phone or other devices.
- Access to a wide selection of licensed and state-board certified therapists, counselors, psychiatrists, and other experts.
- Choice of different platforms to suit your own requirements and paying capacity.
- Flexibility to pay for live sessions on-demand or save with a subscription.
- Great for individuals who live in rural areas and find it hard to pay visits to a nearby city for therapy.
- A good choice for individuals with physical disabilities.
Cons of the best online therapy:
- Federal and state insurance plans are unlikely to cover online therapy.
- Some states do not allow out-of-states therapists to provide online therapy.
- Confidentiality and security may be lower due to the potential for hacking or unauthorized access.
- It may take a therapist some time to answer you, so it is not a good fit if you are in a crisis situation.
- Even the best online counseling platforms are not suitable for all mental health conditions.
- The therapist is unable to completely assess your body language, which can be useful for some conditions.
What are the best online therapy platforms?
There are various online counseling platforms with a number of certified and good therapists for your mental health condition. They are designated to provide treatment and connect you to a therapist who may be there for you to help cope with a problem. However, finding the best online therapy service that meets all your requirements or needs may be a tough task, so we have reviewed some of the best online therapy platforms to help you:
- Best Overall: BetterHelp
- Best for Teens: Teen Counseling
- Best for Couples Counseling: Regain
- Best for LGBTQ: Pride Counseling
- Best Peer Support: 7 Cups of Tea
- Best for Therapy + Medication Prescription: the Brightside
Best Overall: BetterHelp
Our top pick is BetterHelp, one of the best online therapy platforms where you can speak to a licensed professional at affordable prices. It was featured by Forbes, Fox5, Self, WSJ, Chicago Tribune as well as Entrepreneur. With over 4,000 professional therapists, counselors with at least three years of experience, they provide the best online counseling for individuals residing in the U.S as well as internationally.
- Sign-up anonymously. You may create an alias nickname and email for using their platform.
- Offers communication with a therapist through a text chat, video conference, and over the phone.
- Free 7 day trial.
- 24/7 access to a chat room.
- A+ as per Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating.
- Therapists may use homework or worksheets to strengthen the results of treatment.
- Financial assistance available if you are unable to pay for the e-therapy.
- It may take some time to receive an answer from a therapist, and some answers may seem generic.
- Matching with an expert through this best online counseling platform is based on your filled out questionnaire.
- You are discouraged to change a therapist you have been first matched with.
- $80 per week for unlimited chatting.
- $65 per month for unlimited chatting and $260 for weekly live sessions.
- $45 per 3 months for unlimited chatting and $540 for weekly live sessions.
- $35 per year if buying the whole subscription at once, for unlimited chatting and $1,820 for weekly live sessions.
Best for Teens: Teen Counseling
This is the best online therapy platform for teens aged 13-19. It offers discreet online counseling for teenagers experiencing anxiety, stress, depression, low self-esteem, bullying, eating disorders, or other conditions. A parent is required to sign up on behalf of the teen.
- Sessions are private and strictly between a counselor and teen.
- Cost ranges from $40 – $70 per week
- Their online therapy may be ongoing through a mobile application for chatting.
- May not be suitable for teenagers who have self-harm issues.
Best for Couples Counseling: ReGain
Our pick for the best online therapy platform for couples is ReGain, a platform staffed by professionals accredited and certified in couples treatment. Among the therapies offered, you can choose counseling for marriage guidance as well as divorce or separation healing, among others. However, at the moment this best online counseling platform for couples does not offer a live 3-way communication if you live separately from your partner.
- This online therapy platform solely specializes in couples counseling.
- 3-way communication is available only through chatting.
- A subscription fee is $40-$70 per week.
Best for LGBTQ+: Pride Counseling
One of the best online therapy platforms for members of the LGBTQ community is Pride Counseling. This platform matches users with professional counselors who have specialization in LGBTQ practice providing therapies for mental health conditions such as, bullying, addictions, trauma, and identification issues. The platform offers anonymous online therapy through chat, video conferencing, and over the phone.
- Discreet chatting without revealing your identity.
- This is one of the best online counseling platforms that offers therapists with years of practice with the LGBTQ members.
- A subscription fee is $40-$70 per week.
Best Peer Support: 7 Cups of Tea
7 Cups of Tea has had over 25 million users since 2013. This best online counseling platform works as a “social network” for individuals who may require help or support from professional therapists alongside community listeners who share their opinions on an individual’s problem. Beyond that, it also offers anonymous group chats where you can create an alias name and talk to other users.
- Replies from a therapist are twice a day.
- Self-grow programs and exercises help you cope with your mental health condition and personal issues.
- Group chats and chat with listeners are free, while e-therapy with a counselor is $150 per month.
Best for Therapy + Medication Prescription: the Brightside
The Brightside platform connects you with experts, including psychiatrists, therapists, physicians, and psychologists among others. This is the best online counseling for individuals who are seeking therapy alone or in combination with medication treatment to cope with anxiety or depression.
- Good for anxiety and depression treatment as well as eating disorders, personality disorder, suicidal attempts, substance abuse, pregnancy issues, self-harm behaviors.
- Medication and therapy are only available in certain states.
- The Brightside Medication Plan costs $95 per month + your pharmacy copay or $15 per medication. The Therapy plan costs $165 per month for unlimited messaging with a licensed therapist. The Brightside combined Medication + Therapy plan currently costs $240 per month plus your pharmacy copay or $15 per medication.
What to look for in a good therapist?
To make it easier for you to find the best online counseling with the right therapist, we recommend you follow these steps:
- Check the reviews on the best online counseling therapists from other patients or via Yelp.com;
- Ask your friends to give you a good referral if they already found the best online counseling for their problems.
- Check the qualification, accreditation, training, and expertise of your preferred therapist;
- Evaluate a therapist’s communication skills or personal approach to your treatment goals;
- Don’t feel pressured to stay with a therapist that you don’t feel comfortable with
Additionally, you may ask your doctor if they have any recommendations for the best online counseling for your treatment protocol.
How does online therapy work?
Using the best online therapy platform is pretty simple, as basically all you need is to choose a therapist and have a device at hand for further online communication. For example, e-therapy with BetterHelp works as follow:
- Fill out a short questionnaire to provide a platform with information on your gender, age, orientation, mental health condition, eating habits, your country and language you would like to receive the best online therapy among others.
- Create your private account (or sign up with Facebook or Google), and wait to be matched with a therapist. You can also set preferences for a therapist such as race, age, gender among others.
- If you believe a match is good for your particular case, get access to a chat room for communication with a therapist. If needed, add your partner to the chat room to exchange messages. Note, the live communication should be ongoing from the same screen with your partner, as three-way calls are not available.
- A chat room works 24/7. If you need to talk to a therapist live, you may schedule live communication through chat, video conference as well as speaking over the phone.
The best online counseling platforms may differ in approach, as some of them may match each user individually with a therapist, while others base the match on the questionnaire only. To start with, you may try to pick the best online counseling for you based on our research. Before committing to one platform, consult with your doctor to make sure that they are a good fit for your particular case. Some individuals may require in-person therapy or pharmacological treatment. However, if your doctor approves you to turn to the best online therapy, we wish you all the best.
Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.