Best Online Therapy: Top Counseling Apps & Services of 2021

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Best Online Therapy: Top Counseling Apps & Services of 2021

Want to attend therapy sessions, but not feeling comfortable with the idea of being in a therapist’s office? Are you uncomfortable leaving your home due to anxiety or other medical reasons?

If so, doing online therapy in your home could be right for you, and believe us, you are not alone.

It is not a magic solution for everybody, but telehealth is rapidly becoming a quality solution for mental health services.

Whether you have never done online therapy before, or just want to know how it all works, we can help you by showing you five of our top choices for the best online therapy platforms.

Best Online Therapy Programs of 2021 [Our Top Picks]

#1. Talkspace: Top-Rated & Best Overall Online Therapy Service

 

This online therapy platform boasts 3,000 plus therapists that are all licensed and many subscription plans as well. We had a positive impression from the get-go, and you will soon see why.

Once you have signed up, you will do an assessment and pick the payment plan that works for you. Then, you will undergo consultation and a licensed mental health professional will match you up with professionals that best fit your needs. Within a few days, you will be introduced, and you can get started talking and letting your therapist know your concerns.

The therapists at Talkspace are equipped to handle anything. Some of the conditions they help with are:

  • PTSD
  • Relationship trouble
  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

They not only can help with individual issues, but they are also qualified to help with teens and couples, too. You should also check out Talkspace Psychiatry for personalized treatment of the psychiatric kind and prescriptions from an individual licensed to prescribe medications.

We liked Talkspace because of how easy it was. The signup process is very simple. You will begin by downloading their app or by going to their website. There, you will enter a nickname (you do not need to use your real name). You will then create a password and enter a valid email.

After that, you will go to a space where you will speak to a consultant who is licensed and will help match you to the correct therapist for your needs. They will ask you some basic queries you should answer truthfully. They include questions about your age, location, and your name (you only need to give your first name). Rest assured these are not meant to invade privacy but simply to get to know you better.

They will also show you how Talkspace works. You will share with them what issues you would like help with overcoming, such as stress, relationship trouble, or depression.

They might ask you some follow-up questions as well, just to be sure they have matched you with the right person that can best help you. Other queries you might encounter are: “Have you ever undergone therapy before?” or “Do you have something that triggers this issue?”. Rest assured they are meant to help get you matched with a professional that can help.

They will see if you are interested in video chats, which is hard to answer for some, as you have not even met your therapist yet, nor have you started online therapy. If you are new to online therapy, you might not know whether or not you even like video calling for such a purpose.

At the end of the consultation, you will have some time to ask questions of your own. You are free to alter your preferences at any time, too.

You will also be asked to provide emergency contact info. They advise you to share the name and number of a person whom they can call should an emergency arise, which is good for people at high risk or in crisis.

Getting a match is a relatively fast process; some users noted only 30 minutes went by before they were matched. Others stated it took about two days before they were paired up. On average, it takes about a day, per the company. Once you are matched with a therapist licensed to practice in your state, it will take about 24 hours for them to get back to you after you send that initial message.

Pricing

There are many subscription plans to choose from with Talkspace. Prices go from $65 to $99 each week. They offer video, text, live sessions, and audio messages. You will have to sign up for at least one month of services, so if you cancel early, you will be charged for the whole month. This is a pain point for some subscribers, so it is worth knowing about ahead of time.

Insurance

If you have an EAP through your work (Employee Assistance Program) that includes behavioral health as part of its benefits, you could be covered. It is best to check with your employer first to see if you are covered.

So, check out Talkspace.

It is the best option overall for online therapy.

Features

  • Varied Sessions
  • Video, texting, or calling is available
  • $65 to $99 each week

#2. BetterHelp: Biggest Group of Qualified & Licensed Mental Health Professionals

 

Signing up with BetterHelp will grant you access to 12,000 accredited, experienced, and licensed counselors. They are great at matching you to a therapist that suits your individual needs.

The licensed psychologists, marriage and family counselors, clinical social workers, and other employees are skilled in the areas of:

  • Life changes
  • Anxiety
  • Religion
  • Eating disorders
  • Parenting
  • Grief
  • Relationships
  • Addiction
  • Depression

Family, couples, and individual counseling are all available on this platform. You can see your therapist via video chat, live chat, or phone. You can exchange messages with them, too. Users love the live sessions, stating they are glad they opted to go with BetterHelp.

To start, you will do a short questionnaire and complete your account setup. Then, you will be matched to a therapist that best suits your needs. It takes just 24 hours to be matched with a therapist, and you can always request a different one if you wish.

BetterHelp is there for, well, everyone. They are a trailblazer in the world of online therapy and boast thousands of satisfied clientele. It is not hard to see why others prefer to use BetterHelp, with customers raving about their full compliance with HIPAA, the platform being secure and safe, and the convenience of being able to get help right at home.

They also have a user-friendly mobile app you can use to get in touch with your therapist. The professionals that work for the platform are all highly qualified to do so, and even after the platform was bought out in 2015 by telehealth giant Teladoc, they still put their prospective licensed mental health professionals through rigorous testing before they are allowed to work for the service. According to the company itself, only 15% of therapists who apply for work are accepted.

The prospective mental health professionals must undergo a review of their references, background, and skill sets. They must also have credentials verified. After that, a case study exam that is evaluated by a clinician takes place, along with a video interview, followed by a platform skills assessment.

All therapists must have a Master’s or Doctorate and must have accreditations such as LCSW (licensed clinical social worker), Ph.D., PsyD, LPC (licensed professional counselor), or LMFT (licensed marriage and family counselor).

Aside from meeting these high standards, the therapists must be certified and qualified by their state’s licensure board and have three years plus 2,000 hours of experience. With BetterHelp, they will also be put through various quality control measures such as monitoring of results and peer reviews. Each professional also has a mentor to aid them in professional growth.

BetterHelp is accepting and welcoming to all people. Our team was delighted to see they offer couples, LGBTQ+, and teens help as well. This is done via their subsidiary companies known as Regain.US, TeenCounseling, and PrideCounseling, respectively.

You do not need to try to decide which one is best for you. For instance, if you are an LGBTQ+ teen undergoing relationship issues, it might be hard to know which one is right for you. Simply start at any of the services and they will help direct you to the correct one for your needs. You will find the platform is easy and enjoyable to use.

Pricing

It will be about $40 to $70 each week to use this platform, and you will be billed every month.

Insurance

BetterHelp does not take health insurance. You will be paying cash for these services, but financial help is available for qualified people, and you may cancel the membership anytime, with no penalty.

So, get to know BetterHelp.

It is the biggest group of licensed professionals available.

Features

  • Varied sessions
  • Video, chatting, or texting is available
  • $40 to $70 per week

#3. Online-Therapy.com: Best for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

 

Online-Therapy.com’s entire model is based on CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy.

This method is commonly utilized when treating mental health ailments such as:

  • Drug/alcohol issues
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Phobias

Cognitive behavioral therapy patients will identify and challenge their unhelpful or harmful thinking. They will then take steps to overcome such behavior, slowly but surely making changes to transform their behaviors into positive and healthy ones (and creating positive and productive thought patterns as well).

Online-Therapy uses many helpful resources in getting you or a loved one to overcome what is bothering them, such as 30-minute online therapy sessions each week, worksheets, journaling, and messages. For some users, the fact that the therapists are only Monday to Friday for eight hours a day is concerning, as other online therapy platforms offer support that is round-the-clock and there for you 24 hours a day.

With that being said, the site is still worth checking out. It is very user-friendly, and the design is clean, plus they have helpful mobile apps you can use. Using those apps, you can create your account and start using the Toolbox right away.

Four subscription levels are currently offered on Online-Therapy.

The first plan gets you to access the Therapy Toolbox, which are worksheets you can use to understand your state of mind a bit better. You will start by filling out a form that talks about your work history, family, health, and education. You will then get a briefing on what CBT is (cognitive behavioral therapy).

The site then will give you worksheets with various queries on them. These are tough, and you might find them hard to answer. However, our advice is to do your best. These questions are designed to help identify anxieties. Bear in mind you do not have access to a therapist at this level of membership.

To speak with a therapist, you will need the Basic plan, where the therapist looks at your worksheets and communicates with you daily. The Toolbox is a self-serve option. Meanwhile, the feedback of your therapist is helpful, and they can work with you based on what you wrote to them in the worksheets.

For sessions with a therapist, you will need to buy either the Standard or Premium plans. The Standard plan gets you one 30-minute session a week, the Premium offers two 30-minute sessions you can partake in through video or other forms of communication.

Online-Therapy.com is HIPPAA compliant and takes serious measures to ensure your information is saved on an encrypted server that is anonymous and secure. Only you and your therapist will have access to this data.

Pricing

Costs will run about $32 to $65 per week depending on the plan you pick.

The Basic plan costs $32 per week and includes eight modules and 25 worksheets plus daily therapist feedback.

The Standard Plan costs $48 per week and includes eight modules and 25 worksheets, plus therapist communication through a weekly chat session. Lastly, the Premium plan costs $65 per week and includes eight modules and 25 worksheets, daily feedback from your therapist, two chat sessions per week, message support, and fast replies.

Insurance

Insurance is not currently accepted, but new members can take 20% off their first month’s subscription fees.

So, get to know Online-Therapy.com

Features

  • Uses CBT
  • Messages, helpful activities, and live chats are available
  • $30 to $65 a week

#4. TeenCounseling: Best Option for Parent-Teens Session

 

TeenCounseling is just for people aged 13 to 19 years old. They offer young people the chance to partake in live chat, video conference, messaging, and phone calls to get the help they need. Plus, teens will appreciate that all sessions are private in virtual “rooms” with their licensed therapists.

Some issues therapists can help teens work through are:

  • Eating disorders
  • Bullying
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Teens are sometimes nervous about starting online counseling or online therapy, but TeenCounseling does a great job of helping young people feel relaxed and at ease. That being said, it is good to understand their process a bit better so parents and their kids know what to expect.

Teens will start by getting matched with a therapist licensed to practice in their state. They can then use the secure messaging system on the platform to speak with their therapist any time of the day or night.

Teens can schedule live chats, phone, or video sessions as well if they would rather talk with them in this manner. They do not have to choose one or the other, either. They can change how you communicate with their therapist as much as they want.

All therapists that work for Teen Counseling are licensed in their residential state and hold a Master’s or Doctorate in a field related to mental health. They all must have at least three years of experience in counseling as well. Teen Counseling also requires all therapists interested in working for the platform pass a thorough exam before rendering services to teens.

Once the teen and their parents finish the questionnaire that tells the professionals about themselves and why they are seeking help, they will be paired up with a therapist that best suits their needs. If teens find they need to switch their therapist, they can do so by contacting Teen Counseling. They will gladly pair them up with someone else if necessary.

Parents are required to set up an account, so they accept the use of the platform (and are aware their teen is using it). Once parents create their account, an invite code is sent to the teen so they can join.

Teens can also sign up on their own and send an invite code to parents, which is another way of gaining consent. It is easy to manage and review account info, go over message history, and schedule new meetings using your online account or mobile app.

All of the information shared on the site is confidential. They will not share any of the information with the teen’s parents. Parents will not be able to review message history, either.

With that being said, there are some situations where therapists are required by law to speak with parents. This arises in cases where teens express a desire to hurt themselves or others. Authorities may also be contacted if teens express they are being abused or they know of an elder or child being abused.

Pricing

The pricing ranges from $40 to $70 each week.

Insurance

TeenCounseling does not accept health insurance.

So, get to know Teen Counseling.

Features

  • Geared just toward 13 to 19-year-olds
  • Video chats, live calls, and texts are available
  • $40-$70 each week

#5. PrideCounseling.com: Best for LGBTQ+ Matters

 

The professionals at PrideCounseling.com understand that folks of the LGBTQ+ community are at risk for mental health issues at much higher rates. So, their main goal is to provide assistance and care to all.

Once you are signed up, you will get matched with a counselor who suits your needs best. They will be able to help with the issues you are dealing with. All counselors working for PrideCounseling.com are specialists when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community, but they all have different areas of expertise and approaches to these matters.

They specialize in:

  • Eating disorders
  • Relationships
  • Family issues
  • Trauma
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Anxiety

All therapists possess a valid license, and some are psychologists while others are licensed, clinical social workers. Others are family and marriage therapists, while others are licensed counselors. The sessions will take place using your phone or device, as you can speak with somebody through video chat, phone calls, messages, or live chat.

The signup process for PrideCounseling.com is quite easy. You can do it through the app or the website. 

For starters, you will begin by answering a questionnaire. On that, you will discuss your current mental and physical health, plus issues you would like to discuss and address. You will also go over your preferred pronouns and how you personally identify. If you are questioning, it is OK. You can provide the answer to your pronouns at any step of the way.

Your next step will be the creation of your account. You can be fully anonymous here if you would like. You will use a nickname when creating your account, and it will be used when you use the site or app, too. Make sure the email you give is legit, however.

The third step is to provide preference information to your professional. You will have the chance to discuss any preferences for the counselor you will first be assigned to, including if you would rather be assigned a counselor that is LGBTQ themselves. If you find your counselor is not working out for you or is not a good fit, you can request to switch to a different one.

All of that information is gathered up and used to connect you with just the right professional, whether they are a social worker, psychologist, therapist, or counselor. It will take about 24 hours to get your match.

Lastly, you will be asked to pay. Let us discuss pricing now.

Pricing

$40-$70 per week is the cost for PrideCounseling. You will be paying on a monthly basis. You will first pay for a month, and that month begins once you are matched to your counselor or other professional. The billing can be discreet, meaning it will not show up as a payment for a counseling service on your credit card bill.

Before you enter that payment information during the signup process, PrideCounseling will discuss your financial aid options offered on a sliding scale. This is good news for those of us with lower incomes. It is possible to cancel the subscription any time you desire, and you will be able to partake in counseling until the subscription time you have paid for runs out.

Insurance

Services offered by PrideCounseling are usually not covered by health insurance.

So, get to know PrideCounseling.

Features

  • Remote and online therapy for members of the LGBTQ+ community
  • $40 to $70 weekly cost
  • Video chats, live chats, texts, and phone calls available

How We Selected These Therapy Services?

We thought of a few criteria the services had to meet before suggesting them to our readers.

They included:

  • Therapists can help with a variety of mental health struggles such as trauma, eating disorders, misuse of substances, anxiety, depression, relationship trouble, and grief
  • Insurance is accepted at some of the services
  • Flexible ways to pay, flexible fees
  • Positive reviews from customers
  • Easy signup process
  • Licensed mental health professionals

How Much Do Online Therapy Platforms Cost?

Many of you are likely worried about the cost of online therapy, and that is understandable. After all, quality care is not cheap, and you must work with a trained professional who is licensed to receive the best help possible. On average, you are looking at $75 to $150 a session. Thankfully, online counseling is much more affordable.

The first place to look for help when it comes to defraying the costs of online therapy is your insurance policy. Some policies offer mental health coverage. Your best bet is to contact their offices and see if your plan offers such coverage.

Then, you will want to see if the platform you are most interested in takes your insurance. Many of them do not accept it, so it may be worthwhile to shop around so you can save a few dollars. After all, each website here offers the quality care you can count on. It just happens that some of them are more tailored to specific needs (teens, LGBTQ+, etc.) than others.

Some of the best online therapy platforms have varied subscription programs that can make your care cost less. Some private therapists that offer online counseling may do so on a sliding scale, with some of these professionals willing to lower their prices by as much as half to help out people in need.

Another place you should seek help is your work’s EAP, or Employee Assistance Program. Many employers understand that workers with clear minds do better at their tasks, so contact your job’s HR department for advice on ways to take advantage of the EAP.

Lastly, you may wish to check out your local health clinic. These are usually government-sponsored, but some operate as non-profit organizations too. These organizations/offices can provide low-cost or even free counseling to those that qualify.

If you belong to a church or other religious organization, you may wish to check with your faith leaders, as they may be able to offer help also.

Potential Benefits of Online Counseling:

As is the case with in-person therapy, online therapy is a counseling session that takes place among two people, one person who needs help and a trained, licensed professional, such as a psychiatrist or therapist. The only difference is instead of office visits, you stay right at home and do your sessions using the phone, laptop, or another device.

How your therapist will conduct a meeting is your choice. Most folks opt to use video chats and phone calls, but others might prefer to use chat or messaging.

The fact these visits take place at home means greater flexibility for both parties. You can have a session in the evening, morning, or afternoon if you prefer. Online therapy becomes more accessible to all, especially those with crazy work schedules or family obligations. Even weekend sessions might be available, depending on the therapist.

For some folks, this way of receiving care might be just what they needed, while it could take some getting used to for others. It is no secret online therapy makes getting necessary care that much more approachable for people everywhere.

If your therapist already offers online sessions, you are good to go. But, if your professional does not offer such a thing, or you are just starting in online therapy, there are lots of platforms and professionals out there that can help you.

Special Note: Some Mental Health Issues Are Not Suitable for Online Therapy Services

Licensed professional therapists and psychiatrists can treat and help many people via the internet or phone, but there are times when you absolutely should schedule an in-person visit.

Very severe mental health ailments that require a team of people to treat may not work through online or telephone services. For instance, this is the case with harm to other people or thoughts of suicide.

If you are thinking of bringing harm to yourself or other people, or you know someone that is, you must immediately contact the National Suicide Prevention Line. Their number is 800-273-9255. Alternatively, you may dial 911 or seek emergency medical care.

Check Out Options for Online, Tailored-To-You Care from:

Talkspace

  • Video, chat, and texts available
  • $65-$99 a week
  • Best option overall for online therapy

BetterHelp

  • Largest group of licensed professionals
  • $60 to $90 a week
  • Videos, chats, texts are available

TeenCounseling

  • Safe therapy for people aged 13-19 years
  • $60 to $60 a week
  • Calls, texts, video chats are available

 PrideCounseling

  • Best for people in the LGBTQ+ community
  • Different approaches to treatment
  • Messaging, videos, and phone calls are available
  • $60 to $90 a week

Final Thoughts: Is Online Therapy Safe & Confidential?

Online therapy is a great way to get more people the help they need in a way that is comfortable for them. It is also very affordable, and the ways in which help can be delivered are varied. You can write, talk or video-chat your way to better mental health. Our recommendation for you would be to try TalkSpace.

With the chance to see a licensed therapist on your own time, in the comfort of your own home, and at a price that works, it is safe to say virtual care could become just as prevalent as office visits when it comes to online therapy.

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