Mental health is as important as physical health, but unlike physical conditions, most people do not see mental health issues as real problems. Regardless, online therapy services are not new to many people. Instead, many teens and even adults go-to online counseling to help themselves survive with their day-to-day problems. If you think you do not need online therapy at this moment, you may know someone needing it. Fortunately, there are different online therapy platforms you can choose from.
So, where can you get the best online therapy? Are these online therapy platforms legit, and provide good mental health services? How far can online counseling or any kind of online therapy help you? This article review will not only discuss the seven best online therapy platforms you can go to but also help you determine which among these online therapy providers suits you best, depending on a person’s needs.
The Benefits of Online Therapy
Before looking at websites offering the best online counseling programs, it is important to know about the benefits of online therapy and counseling for you, or for someone you know dealing with certain mental health issues. Prior to that, however, you shall understand what online therapy really means. So, what is online therapy?
When we say online therapy, we refer to psychotherapy or counseling services, which are being conducted using the internet. It is relatively similar to in-person therapy. The major difference however is that you may have the option to connect with your therapist anywhere, as long as you have a reliable internet connection. There are other terms some people use, which are the same as online therapy. These are teletherapy, virtual therapy, and e-therapy.
Now, why should you avail of an online therapy service or online counseling? Even though there are some limitations, online therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy. Take cognitive behavioral therapy as an example. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can also be conducted online. This means that online therapy can help treat certain mental health conditions such as moderate depression and different types of anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), and panic disorder.
Furthermore, you can get this mental health opportunity, even if you live within rural areas. You do not have to pay the cost of transportation. Using your computer, smartphone, or tablet with an internet connection, you can tap on websites and grab the best online therapy that suits you the most.
- Stay anonymous
- Free trial
- Unlimited messaging
Best Online Therapy: Top 7 Virtual Counseling Services 2021
- BetterHelp – Editor’s choice
- Talkspace – Best Overall
- Calmerry – Affordable Price
- Self-therapy Journey
- 7 Cups of Tea
- Unlimited messaging
- Free trial
- No mental health diagnosis
In our BetterHelp review section, we will point out the pros and cons of this service. If you are looking for a reliable online therapy platform where you can have online counseling, BetterHelp may be your first option as well. Compared to other online therapy websites, Betterhelp is the largest online counseling platform worldwide. The company ensures that you will only be talking with highly qualified and licensed mental health professionals. As such, their online therapists-licensed professionals need to have at least 3 years and 1,000 hours of experience in dealing with mental health issues before they can handle clients like you.
Their mental health care professionals only include licensed professional counselors, psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists, and licensed clinical social workers. Moreover, their online therapists and online counselors have different specializations, to ensure that your needs will be addressed more effectively. Common mental health issues they cater to include but are not limited to stress, self-esteem, relationships, parenting, life adjustments, identity, management, addiction, eating problems, grief, sleeping issues, religion, sexuality, family problems, and relations, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. In line with that, they do not only offer individual online counseling for adults. Instead, they extend their counseling services to teen counseling and couple counseling as well. Many online therapy services are supposed to be good for therapy demand as they offer thoughtful and professional service.
Aside from having reasonable prices, signing up with an online therapy company is easy. Simply answer the questions the company provides, and provide a username and password. Alternatively, you can log in using your Facebook or Gmail account. Also, you do not have to provide your real name if you are uncomfortable with it. However, you must answer the whole questionnaire so that they can match you with the appropriate therapist based on your condition. You may also change your own therapist if you feel you need to.
- Flexible plans
- 24/7 access
- Talkspace accepts insurance
- Age restrictions
Aside from Betterhelp, Talkspace is also one of the largest online therapy sites you may consider. The site also functions similar to Talkspace, and the signing up process is also easy. First, simply create your account. After signing up, you will then be directed to a live chat with a licensed mental health professional. He or she will personally ask you certain questions, which will guide them in matching you with the most suitable online therapist.
This private live chat will serve as a proper consultation. At that moment, the therapist will also tell you all about how their company works, (what you can and should not expect with different plans). You may also ask the therapist any questions you may have. Afterward, you will be given a list of therapists that match your needs, and you can freely choose among those mental health care professionals. You can also change your therapist if you need to.
Talkspace allows different methods to communicate with your online therapist. As such, you can use text, audio, and video messaging within the platform. Also, different counseling and/or therapy methods are available. Some of those include but are not limited to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), client-centered therapy or person-centered therapy/humanistic therapy, existential therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, Psychodynamic therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy. Online therapists themselves are the ones to identify what to apply, based on your current mental health state. Moreover, family therapy and group counseling are also available.
As for the quality of their online therapy program, they only allow the following professionals: licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), Ph.D. in clinical psychology, licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC), and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). These professionals should have at least 3,000 hours of clinical experience, particularly in mental health.
- Refund available
- Greatly affordable
- User-friendly interface
- Little details about the pricing plan
Calmerry is relatively new in the industry of providing online therapy services. However, it does not mean that it does not belong to the group of high-quality online therapy sites. The initiative to help people amid the COVID-19 pandemic leads American and European entrepreneurs to build such an online therapy company.
Similar to other online therapy sites, Calmerry is also a good online platform offering an easy-to-use interface and signing up process, affordable price, and easy-to-switch therapists. First, create an account with your chosen email and password. Afterward, a verification code will be sent, and you should enter those three-digit numbers. Upon logging in, you will have to answer a survey, which will help the company match you with their online therapist.
Their mental health personnel is well-equipped with skills in handling clients with different mental health conditions. They are all licensed therapists, and certified therapists as well. Moreover, they only hire online therapists with at least one year of experience in online therapy. In many mental health issues, they have an appropriate therapist for you. These issues may include but are not limited to self-esteem, anxiety, depression, stress, grief, and career.
The only way to talk to your online therapist in Calmerry is through video sessions. The number of video sessions you are allowed to have may vary depending on the plan you choose. You are also free to pick your own schedule, but still in accordance with your therapist’s availability. Nevertheless, you are free to switch therapists if necessary.
- Therapist-guided worksheets
- Low prices
- CBT only
- No mobile app
This online therapy company started helping adult individuals cope with their mental health concerns in 2009. Unlike other online therapy sites above, Online-therapy.com focuses more on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This is the same type of therapy commonly used in treating anxiety and depression, even in traditional therapy. But, talk therapy and out-of-session, self-led work is added to your live sessions.
You do not have to provide your real name upon signing up, if you are not comfortable doing so. However, the website will ask you for emergency contact details. This will only be used if there is an emergency on your part or in the part of the people around you. In other words, this is for your security as well, especially if your condition is more chronic.
While their online therapists are helping people manage their depression and anxiety, the company also caters to adults with other issues. Such mental health issues include but are not limited to anger management, sleep problems, relationship issues, eating disorders, domestic violence, trauma, self-esteem problems, and stress. However, there are several drawbacks. For instance, they do not offer group therapy, couple counseling, and teen counseling.
There are different ways to reach out to your online therapist. You can use text messaging or chat at any time. However, sometimes you may need to wait for some time before your therapist could reply. Alternatively, you can schedule live sessions, where you can talk to them with voice and video. Anyone can also switch therapists anytime.
Lastly, all their online therapists have 2000 hours of clinical experience, particularly in mental health. Aside from that, they must have been trained on how to do CBT plus additional training in CBT online. A lot of mental health care professionals the company has are licensed, professional counselors and clinical psychologists.
- Modern therapy
- Personalized report
- Limited therapeutic technique
The self-therapy Journey is quite unique from other online therapy sites listed in this review. Jay Earley founded this online therapy company. He is a psychotherapist with more than 40 years of experience in helping people with psychological issues. This may be the reason behind the company’s positive reviews from their clients.
If you sign up with Self-therapy Journey, you should expect that their licensed mental health professionals use pattern systems and internal family systems. Some customer reviews showed that some clients find these systems more helpful than traditional therapy. Like other therapeutic methods, these systems also address common mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, sleep disorders, and many more. You can also access a customized report that your online therapist or online counselor makes after your sessions. Plus, aside from the online therapy, you will be able to join their online community and participate in discussion groups, which are helpful in having healthy support.
- Comes with a free plan
- Available in 140 languages
- Online therapy service is extra fee
7 Cups of Tea is one of the few websites giving free mental health services. The company has diverse personnel capable of catering to individuals having difficulty coping with their day-to-day problems. If you opt into a free version, you will most likely talk with helping individuals, who submitted themselves for volunteering. Basically, they are there to listen to you with empathy, helping you figure out solutions to your problem. It is also a good place to talk about anything you want to voice out, even if you do not actively seek ultimate solutions.
They have thousands of active listeners, and they are available worldwide. However, these active listeners do not have a license to cater to more serious mental illnesses. If they think you need professional help, they can redirect you with resources or with an online therapist that suits your needs. If you want to talk directly to their licensed mental health professionals or licensed mental health therapist, you need to pay for a certain amount, yet affordable.
In 7 Cups, the only means of communication is text or chat. This is a good start for those who are not comfortable speaking or having their voice being heard. Moreover, the signing up process is easy. Plus, your real name does not show off to listeners, but only your username. It is up to you to tell your listener what you want to be called or addressed.
Their online therapists have not just licensed professionals. They must have at least 2-3 years of experience in dealing with people with mental health issues. Most of them were already in a private practice setting.
- Psychiatric services available
- Flexible scheduling
- Video sessions only
Amwell not only provides mental health services but telemedicine services as well. Unlike other online therapy platforms above, Amwell allows face-to-face checkups even therapy sessions are being done via the internet. Signing up is easy, and you will be able to view the profile of mental health service providers available.
Scheduling sessions is like scheduling them in face-to-face or in-person doctor visits/therapy. You must set an appointment prior to the session, and each session may last around 45 minutes. It may be shorter or longer than that, depending on your needs.
Medical doctors in Amwell can also help you in your medication management. Indeed, their medical practitioners can prescribe over-the-counter medicines that may address your needs. These prescriptions will automatically be sent to your chosen pharmacy. Aside from talking to their mental health therapists, you can also seek help with certain physical conditions.
The platform can provide you with different mental health counseling services. They can help you address several common issues like depression, anxiety, sleep problems, various kinds of management, and more.
Criteria for Choosing the Best Online Therapy Providers
Obtaining virtual therapy, commonly known as online therapy is crucial. The same as when looking for the best online therapy provider. Thus, we made reviews for these best online therapy sites. For us to do that, we looked at some criteria. The most obvious one is the online therapy program of each online platform.
Health Care Professionals
When you want professional help in terms of mental health, it is highly important to go to a mental healthcare professional. Depending on your need, you may go to a therapist or a counselor that specializes in a specific area. There are different mental health professionals we may consider. Some of them may be licensed professional counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, clinical psychologists, or medical doctors (psychiatrists). Marriage and family therapists may sometimes practice more of being family therapists, while some also handle couple marriage counseling.
For online therapy sites to have the best online therapy programs, their mental health care services must be diverse. Thus, such an online platform should cater to different mental health problems. Since these seven sites reviewed above employ different licensed therapists, they can typically offer various types of online mental health counseling and/or therapy services.
Not all online therapy programs have the same coverage when it comes to mental health issues. However, most are catering issues related to depression, anxiety, stress, trauma, violence, eating disorders, sleep problems, and life management. A mental healthcare professional may also use different therapeutic techniques to address such issues. For instance, a licensed therapist may do certain types of online mental health counseling such as teen counseling, relationship counseling, marriage counseling, family therapy, group therapy, and couple counseling.
Ease-Of-Use is also important to anybody. So, we picked those sites with a friendly interface. Along with it is the easy sign-up process. Even though you may have to answer a series of questions, those are only for your profile, so that an online therapy platform can match you with the best possible licensed therapists.
Aside from a friendly interface, we also consider various ways to connect with your licensed therapist during online therapy sessions. Most of them allow text, video, and audio. Video and audio messaging are for those people comfortable speaking while their faces can be seen. Phone calls or voice messaging are for those who are comfortable speaking but do not want to make their face visible. Chat or text messaging is for the rest. Whatever you choose (chat, phone, or video), the therapy will always be a live session.
Since credit and debit cards are the most payment method worldwide, each online therapy platform we reviewed accepts such modes of payment. However, some of them also accept payment via PayPal and Google Pay.
Value for Money
In-person therapy may be costly because you must pay for your transportation before you can see a licensed therapist. Online therapy on the other hand is designed for convenience. Thus, these online therapy websites allow you to have therapy sessions at an affordable cost.
Does Insurance Cover Online Therapy?
Even if only therapy comes with a lot of conveniences, payment for licensed therapists may still be expensive to some people. Fortunately, some health insurance covers online therapy. However, there are websites that do not accept insurance as well. Therefore, it is best to check the coverage of health insurance from various health insurance providers. Plus, also check the policy of the platform where you want to subscribe for online therapy sessions.
Does Online Therapy Work? Here’s What Science Says
In this opinion feature, Erik Pham – senior editor in a Health Newspaper, HealthCanal posits that opting into the best online therapy programs can be as effective and helpful as going to a face-to-face therapy session. For instance, a study in 2014 found out that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is still effective in treating mild anxiety disorders. Similarly, there is a 2018 study, which showed that online cognitive behavioral therapy (OCBT) is an “effective, acceptable and practical health care.” method. It can help treat various mental disorders like major depression and anxiety disorders.
Moreover, there is another 2014 study, which studied the efficacy of face-to-face and online treatment. The research showed that the two have the same efficacy rate for mild to moderate psychological conditions.
Is Therapy Online The Right Choice for You?
Almost everyone can benefit from online therapy. Therefore, there is a high chance that you will benefit from it as well. If you think you are alone or need someone to talk to, try having an online therapy session from the seven platforms we had. However, if you think you are too suicidal, having a more severe psychiatric condition that needs physical interaction and intervention, it is best to consider in-person therapy.
Online therapy is as effective as face-to-face therapy. It helps in the treatment of certain psychological discomfort. So, if you are suffering from distress, you are free to try online counseling. All you can do is pick one of the seven online therapy platforms we reviewed above.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is online therapy effective?
According to research, online therapy is as effective as in-person therapy, as long as your condition is not severe. It also helps in coping with day-to-day stressors.
2. When should counseling online not be a consideration?
Online counseling may not be appropriate if you are suffering from a severe psychiatric condition. That may not also be appropriate in cases where there is a need for physical and direct intervention.
3. Is Talkspace or BetterHelp better?
Talkspace and BetterHelp are both good online therapy sites. However, BetterHelp is more popular worldwide. The decision to have online therapy will depend on your priorities.
4. Is there any free online counseling?
There is free online counseling and/or free online therapy available. One example is the 7 Cup of Tea. However, their free version does not allow you to talk to a therapist.