Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (2024)

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Online therapy should make it easier to care for your mental health in a way that fits your life and budget. Some estimates suggest 70% of Americans can’t access traditional, in-office therapy because of various obstacles, including cost, lack of public transportation, and therapist shortages.Online therapy—i.e. therapy conducted virtually through phone calls, video chats, emails, and text messages—can help bridge this gap for anyone seeking mental health support. Research suggests that online therapy can be just as effective as face-to-face sessions, and therapists agree. “While individual preferences exist, most people can benefit from online therapy, with comparable outcomes to in-person sessions,” says Amy Marschall, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and subject matter expert.

How We Tested

To help you find the most affordable, quality service for your needs, Verywell Mind editors and experts signed up and tested the services ourselves for a minimum of a month to evaluate each service’s cost, convenience, therapist qualifications, and user care. For more diverse perspectives, we then surveyed over 10,000 users at 80 different online therapy companies and directories. We also sent questionnaires to each company and evaluated each service with the help of three licensed therapists to compile this list of online therapy services we stand behind.

Read more about our company methodology and directory methodology here.

13 Best Online Therapy Services of 2024

Why Trust Us

80

Companies reviewed

10,637

Total users surveyed

350

Data points analyzed

We surveyed 105 users from 55 online therapy companies and 180 users from 25 therapist directories and asked the companies to complete questionnaires. Then, we tested the services ourselves across multiple states, conducted comprehensive data collection research, and evaluated our results with the help of three licensed therapists.

Privacy:

There have been some concerns raised by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and several government officials about what user health information online therapy providers collect and what they do with any information they collect.

When choosing an online therapy provider, we recommend that you read the company’s privacy guidelines before you sign up to better understand whether it is HIPAA-compliant and whether it shares any private information with third parties.

The 13 Best Online Therapy Services That Are Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved

The 13 Best Online Therapy Services That Are Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved

  • Our Top Picks
  • BetterHelp
  • ReGain
  • Talkspace
  • Talkiatry
  • Brightside
  • E-Therapy Cafe
  • Thriveworks
  • LifeStance Health
  • Teladoc
  • Little Otter
  • National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
  • Therapy For Black Girls
  • Open Path Collective
  • See More (10)
  • Compare Providers
  • How We Tested

  • How We Tested and Reviewed Online Therapy Services

  • FAQ

Best for Availability :BetterHelp

Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (1)

  • Price:$70 to $100 per week
  • Is Insurance Accepted?:No
  • Type Of Therapy:Individual Therapy

Special Offer

Verywell Mind readers get 20% off their first month of BetterHelp membership.

This offer is a partnership between Verywell Mind and BetterHelp. If you click this link and sign up for the BetterHelp membership, we will receive a commission. Learn more.

Why We Chose It

In the United States in 2020, a little over 28% of Americans could not receive the mental health care they needed. There are many reasons for this, but one of the main ones is that many people live in therapy deserts—regions where there are not enough mental health providers to meet demand. That is why BetterHelp stood out to us during our test of 80 services, surveying over 10,000 people: Not only does it have a network of over 30,000 therapists, but this network serves all 50 states and over 200 countries, allowing almost anyone to easily and quickly access the talk therapy they need.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Has a network of over 30,000 providers

  • Available in all 50 states and 200 countries

  • Therapist bios available prior to sign-up

  • Relatively thorough intake questionnaire

  • Sessions can take place via audio call, video call, live chat, or asynchronous messaging

Cons

  • You cannot choose your own therapist at sign-up

  • Only one subscription plan available

  • Will redirect you to a sister site if you want couples or teen therapy

  • Company engages in surge pricing

Our Experience

We had seven different people from various locations (including New York, Ohio, and the United Kingdom) sign up for therapy at BetterHelp, and we were particularly impressed with the company’s availability.

In addition to its network of over 30,000 therapists in all 50 states and 200 countries internationally, it was easy to schedule weekly sessions with our therapists through the BetterHelp app.

Most had a variety of session times available, making it easy to fit in over a lunch break at work or later in the evening.

We also appreciated the unlimited asynchronous messaging between sessions, emphasizing availability even more. It was nice to be able to message therapists after hours when something was bothering us, to receive helpful worksheets based on topics we’d discussed in session, or to resolve scheduling issues.

“On using the messaging option to reply, I found [my therapist] very responsive. It was apparent she took the time to consider my messages and provide supportive replies.”

  • Helen, who turned to BetterHelp to help her feel more confident in her parenting decisions

Not everything was great, though. The quality of replies we received to our between-session messaging did vary by therapist, with some therapists defaulting to scripted or rehearsed responses rather than responses personalized to our messages. In addition, we sometimes had technical issues during our sessions, with occasional lagged video and audio cutting out.

Plans & Pricing

BetterHelp only offers one therapy subscription that includes:

  • Four live video sessions per month via phone call, video, or online chat
  • Unlimited asynchronous text, audio, and video messages between sessions
  • An online journal that your therapist has access to

The price of this plan varies from $70 to $100 per week, though you are billed monthly upfront (which means you’ll pay between $280 to $400 once a month before attending therapy). This range in prices is because the company engages in surge pricing, which means you will pay a different amount depending on where you live, your therapy needs, your financial situation, and the demand for mental health care at the time you sign up.

You will likely have to pay this subscription fee out-of-pocket because unlike some of the other companies on our list, BetterHelp does not accept health insurance.

What Users Say

When we surveyed 105 current and former BetterHelp users, most had a generally favorable impression of the services they received.

Most users (86%, to be precise) rated the company good, very good, or excellent overall, and roughly the same amount (87%) rated their therapist’s qualifications the same way. In addition, three-quarters of our surveyed users said all or most of their needs were met by their BetterHelp therapist, and just a little more than that said they were likely or very likely to recommend the company to others.

Of those that had tried another therapy service, 84% rated the services they received at BetterHelp better than those they’d received in the past.

From 105 BetterHelp Users

Read the FullWe Had 7 People Try BetterHelp: Here’s Our Review

Best for Couples :ReGain

Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (2)

  • Price:$260-$360+ per month
  • Is Insurance Accepted?:No
  • Type Of Therapy:Couples Therapy, Individual Therapy

Special Offer

Verywell Mind readers get 20% off their first month of ReGain membership.

This offer is a partnership between Verywell Mind and ReGain. If you click this link and sign up for the ReGain membership, we will receive a commission. Learn more.

Why We Chose It

Research has found that couples counseling isn’t just for when your relationship is on the rocks—it can be helpful for anyone in a romantic relationship who’d like to improve communication, trust, and intimacy with their partner. That’s why, after reviewing 80 different online therapy companies and over 10,000 users, we recommend ReGain, which specializes entirely in relationship therapy. You can sign up alone or with your partner, or start alone and invite your partner later—making ReGain a great choice for anyone in any kind of relationship.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Specializes exclusively in relationship therapy

  • Sign-up process is detailed to make the best therapist match

  • You and your partner can access sessions from different places

  • Sign up alone, with your partner, or invite your partner later

  • Couples can attend joint sessions from different devices or locations

Cons

  • Therapist is chosen for you

  • Surge pricing policy means you may pay more depending on where you live and demand for therapy at sign-up

Our Experience

We asked five people (with and without their partners) to sign up and test ReGain and overall, we were impressed with the accessibility, convenience, and flexibility ReGain offers. We could schedule sessions at almost any time of day, including evenings and weekends, and could communicate with our therapists via video, audio, or live chat, so no matter how busy we were, we could find a time and type of therapy that worked for us.

We and our partners could also access our video sessions from separate locations, making ReGain exceptionally accommodating.

The therapists we worked with were professional, listened to us, and could meet our needs, whether that meant providing suggestions about improving communication or offering parenting advice.

“Our experience with our therapist was wonderfully positive. She was qualified, attentive, and did great work with us.”

  • Amy, a licensed psychologist who tried ReGain with her partner

Some also shared worksheets to review in between sessions. And unlike other companies offering relationship therapy, ReGain gave us the choice of signing up alone, with a partner, or starting alone and inviting a partner later, a nice touch for anyone in a relationship where one partner is reluctant to start therapy.

However, despite offering relationship counseling for individuals, we found that our therapist in this circ*mstance was not supportive, and openly acknowledged that she did not understand why we were seeking relationship therapy without our partner—this judgment made our session awkward. We had much better luck with ReGain’s traditional couples therapy.

We also found 45 minutes to be on the shorter side for a couples session where two people had to talk. (Traditional couples therapy lasts 60 to 90 minutes for each session.)

This sometimes meant that we brought up issues in therapy that we did not have time to fully address in that session, creating tension between us and our partners until our next appointment.

Plans & Pricing

There is only one type of subscription plan at ReGain, which includes:

  • Unlimited asynchronous joint messaging with your therapist
  • One 30- to 45-minute live video session per week

This plan's cost ranges from $260 to $360 per month ($65 to $90 per week), depending on your location and therapist preference due to the surge pricing policy of its parent company, BetterHelp. A scholarship option is available if you apply and are willing to share details about your financial situation.

What Users Say

The results of our survey of 105 new and former ReGain users were generally positive. Most (88%) of the users we surveyed said the qualifications of the therapist they were matched with were good, very good, or excellent, and more than three-quarters rated ReGain as good, very good, or excellent overall.

In addition, four out of every five survey respondents said their therapist met most or all of their needs, while almost three out of four respondents said they were likely or very likely to recommend ReGain to a friend.

Read the FullReGain Online Therapy Review

Most Comprehensive :Talkspace

Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (3)

  • Price:$69-$109 a week for therapy, billed monthly; $65 for additional sessions
  • Is Insurance Accepted?:Yes
  • Type Of Therapy:Couples Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling

Special Offer

Get $85 off your first month using promo code VERYWELL85.

Why We Chose It

When you’re new to seeking therapy, you may not always know exactly what kind of therapy you want. For example, maybe you’re experiencing issues in your relationship and also struggling with depression and are not sure if individual or couples therapy makes more sense. Or, maybe you’re not sure if you should see a therapist or a psychiatrist for your anxiety. That’s why Talkspace stood out to us during our testing and when compared to the 79 other companies we reviewed: it’s a one-stop shop for virtual mental health treatment, offering individual therapy, couples therapy, teen therapy (ages of 13 to 19), and psychiatry, while also specializing in care tailored to veterans and the LGBTQ+ community.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Multiple subscription plans available to meet different needs and budgets

  • Numerous health insurance plans are accepted

  • Therapy available in all 50 states

  • Can sign up for individual, teen, couples therapy and psychiatry services

  • Website has helpful blogs and articles about mental health

Cons

Our Experience

To thoroughly test Talkspace and all its different services, we had ten people from a variety of different backgrounds, professions (including some therapists), and locations (from New York to South Dakota) sign up for its multiple subscription options. Overall, we were impressed with the company’s comprehensive options and quality of care.

With a network of 3,000 therapists across all 50 states, we were pleased with how well the company matched us with qualified, competent, affirming providers, regardless of whether we signed up for individual, couples, or teen therapy.

“[My therapist] used some cognitive behavioral and mindfulness techniques to help me manage anxiety and stress. She also ended the session with a breathing exercise, which was a nice transition back into my day.”

  • Amy, a therapist who tried Talkspace for us

We also like that Talkspace offers several different methods of communication (including live chat, asynchronous messaging, phone calls, or live video sessions) and a range of other subscription plans for individual and teen therapy.

The cheapest plan includes just asynchronous messaging with your therapist, which allows you to message them whenever you want and receive at least one response five days a week, Monday to Friday. This format worked especially well for our teens, who were more naturally comfortable with texting. However, we found the quality of responses we got back from our therapists varied wildly. Sometimes the answers were thoughtful and personalized; at other times, they were robotic and superficial. Still, overall, we found our Talkspace therapists to be qualified, caring, and attentive to our needs.

We were disappointed, however, to find that Talkspace’s live video or audio sessions are only 30 minutes long, which is shorter than the other online therapy companies we tested (and most in-person therapy too).

While the shorter session time does make it easier to slot therapy into busy schedules (like your lunch break at work), it does make it challenging to have the time to delve into more serious issues you might be experiencing.

Plans & Pricing

If you sign up for individual or teen therapy, you can choose between three therapy subscription plans, which range in price from $69 to $109 a week (though you’re billed monthly and upfront). The plan options include messaging only; video and live messaging therapy; or video, messaging, and workshop therapy (though in our experience, the workshops were not worth the extra cost due to the limited topic options and times available).

There is only one couples therapy plan, which costs $109 a week (billed monthly) and includes one live video session a week and messaging therapy.

Psychiatry services are considered add-on services and are billed per session, not as a subscription. Your intake session will cost $249 and include a full psychiatric evaluation. Follow-ups then cost $125.

What Users Say

Of the 105 new and past Talkspace users we surveyed, nine out of 10 users rated their overall experience at Talkspace as excellent, very good, or good. Not only that, but a whopping 97% of those that had tried another online therapy service said Talkspace was much better, better, or a little better than others they’d tried in the past.

Three out of four users also said they’d return to Talkspace if they ever needed to find a new therapist, while 82% said they would recommend Talkspace to a friend or someone like them.

From 105 Talkspace Users

Read the FullTalkspace Online Therapy Review

Best for Psychiatry :Talkiatry

Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (4)

  • Price:Depends on your insurance
  • Is Insurance Accepted?:Yes. BCBS, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Tricare, Medicare, and others
  • Type Of Therapy:Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry

Why We Chose It

Although access to psychiatric services and medication management is critical to mental health and quality of life, an estimated 50% of U.S. counties don’t have a single practicing psychiatrist. Talkiatry’s online psychiatry services can help address a dire need, connecting you to providers licensed in your state but who might otherwise be too far away for you to make an in-office visit. The company offers affordable, convenient medication management. We particularly like that while Talkiatry narrows down a list of psychiatrists it thinks might be a good match for you, the choice is ultimately yours. This is why, of the 80 companies we tested and 10,000 users we surveyed, Talkiatry stood out to us as the best resource for online psychiatry.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Team of board-certified psychiatrists

  • Free initial consultation

  • Select your own psychiatrist from a list Talkiatry recommends based on your needs

  • Hour-long first consultation

  • Easily switch psychiatrists

  • In-network with most major insurance carriers

  • Available in 43 states

Cons

  • Not available nationwide

  • Need to email for a self-pay quote

  • Doesn’t ship medication to you

  • Talk therapy only available via referral from your Talkiatry psychiatrist

  • $100 fee for canceling or rescheduling with less than 48 hours’ notice

Our Experience

In over six months of reviewing online mental health companies, we’ve found that many online psychiatry services generally offer impersonal care and rushed sessions—but that was not the case with Talkiatry during our testing, which we tried twice in New York.

We were especially impressed with the thoroughness of the questionnaire and intake session (which lasted 60 minutes—more than twice as long as intake sessions at other companies we tried).

We found our psychiatrists warm and approachable. Our appointments began on time, and our psychiatrists were very welcoming. Thanks to the longer session time, we felt we had the time to discuss our treatment history and give the psychiatrists the time to develop a personalized treatment plan.

“[My psychiatrist] spent more time asking me about things that went beyond just my immediate symptoms: We spoke about my mother, my childhood, and my relationships with my father, siblings, and husband, as well as about my experience of becoming a mother and the emergency c-section I’d had and my postpartum experience.”

  • Simone, a Verywell Mind editor who has used Talkiatry for two months and counting

We left with all our questions answered and knew what to expect moving forward. And keeping with the practice of extended sessions, Talkiatry’s follow-up psychiatry sessions last 30 minutes—twice as long as its competitors.

Talkiatry also stood out to us because it accepts most major health insurance plans—and you can quickly check if your plan is accepted and what your copay would be before signing up. This is a big deal considering that, in the U.S., only a little over half (55%) of psychiatrists accept insurance, compared to 89% of other board-certified doctors and specialists—which means it can be tough to find affordable psychiatric care, even online. That said, if you do not have insurance, this is not the company for you because it only accepts patients with insurance.

Plans & Pricing

Talkiatry isn’t a subscription service. Instead, you pay per session with your psychiatrist plus the cost of any prescribed medication. The price you pay per session will depend on your insurance.

What Users Say

The 105 Talkiatry users we surveyed had overwhelmingly positive reports of their time with the company. Nearly all (95%) of users said the services they received at Talkiatry were good, very good, or excellent, and more than two-thirds felt their psychiatrist met most or all of their needs. Users also told us that Talkiatry’s reasonable cost (thanks to insurance) was one of the top three reasons they chose to use the company and 81% were satisfied or very satisfied with the selection of psychiatrists Talkiatry offered. Nine out of 10 said their psychiatrist’s qualifications were good, very good, or excellent.

In regards to what their specific psychiatrist did particularly well, 85% said their provider had a good, very good, or excellent bedside manner, and 58% said they felt their provider really listened to them. Seventy percent of users said they’d come back to Talkiatry if they needed a similar service again, and nearly 90% would recommend Talkiatry to a friend, making it a no-brainer for us in terms of psychiatric care.

Best for Anxiety and Depression :Brightside

Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (5)

  • Price:$95-$349 per month
  • Is Insurance Accepted?:Yes
  • Type Of Therapy:Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry

Why We Chose It

Two of the most common mental health conditions in the United States are anxiety and depression: Approximately 40 million adults are affected by anxiety-related disorders, and 17.3 million adults are affected by depression. That’s why a mental health service specializing exclusively in treating those conditions makes a lot of sense—and Brightside was the company that did best in our testing of 80 companies and over 10,000 users because it offers accessible, affordable therapy and psychiatric medication management.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Specializes in anxiety and depression

  • Provides both therapy and psychiatry services

  • Free assessment available

  • Free self-care resources without needing to sign up

    Matches you with a provider

Cons

  • Only accepts five insurance providers

  • You can’t choose your own therapist

  • No same-day appointments

Our Experience

We had two people try out Brightside’s services from different parts of the country (North Carolina and New York) so that we could get a sense of the company’s quality of care—and we were impressed. By specializing entirely in treating depression and anxiety disorders (including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety) through talk therapy and (if appropriate) medication, the company has streamlined its service to be effective, reliable, and affordable regardless of where you live. We were also particularly impressed with its self-care services—a bonus to its therapy and medication management plans—that include self-paced audio lessons and exercises you can try between therapy sessions.

The company uses cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, as the core of its talk therapy treatment plans. This evidence-backed therapy approach is frequently used to treat depression and anxiety because it can be very effective, including virtually.

“[My therapist] did a really good job of weaving bits of personal information about herself into our discussions to help me feel more connected.”

  • Ashley, a mom who turned to Brightside to deal with anxiety and stress

Our live sessions were 45 minutes and held over video calls at convenient times, including evenings and weekends. Thanks to the messaging feature, we could message our therapist anytime through our portal. Some therapists also sent us worksheets and other CBT materials to read through that same messaging portal, which we appreciated, since it helped us feel supported during our therapy journey.

Something else that stood out to us during our testing was how thorough the intake process was: It took about 15 minutes to complete and involved two different assessments, one to assess us for symptoms of depression and one to evaluate us for signs of anxiety. Based on our experiences, if you are looking for structured, solution-focused support, especially for anxiety and depression, we highly recommend Brightside.

Plans & Pricing

Brightside has three subscription plans, all of which can be offset if you have an in-network insurance provider.

  • Medication only: $95 per month, plus your pharmacy copay or $15 for medication; includes an initial 15-minute video consultation with a psychiatrist, ongoing provider care and monitoring, and self-care tools to use at your own pace
  • Therapy only: $299 per month; includes unlimited messaging and, after an initial 45-minute session, one 30-minute therapy session per week (additional video sessions can be purchased for $59 per session)
  • Therapy + medication: $349 per month; includes everything in the other two plans

What Users Say

The 105 users of Brightside we surveyed had similarly positive experiences with the company. Nearly all (90%) of users gave the company an overall rating of good to excellent, and three-quarters said they were likely or very likely to recommend Brightside to a friend. In addition, four out of five reported that their therapist’s qualifications were good, very good, or excellent, and the majority (62%) said they would use the service again if they were starting over with the process of searching for a therapist.

Most Affordable :E-Therapy Cafe

Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (6)

  • Price:$55-$65 per session
  • Is Insurance Accepted?:No
  • Type Of Therapy:Couples Therapy, Individual Therapy

Why We Chose It

The cost of therapy is often the reason why people opt out of it and, unfortunately, the number of people who can’t afford therapy is rising: 42% of adults with a mental illness say they were not able to get the treatment they needed because they could not afford it. This is why we recommend E-Therapy Cafe as the most affordable option over the other companies we tested: it’s a company that, while small, is trying to close that gap by offering affordably priced therapy. We liked that it pulls out all the financial stops with discounts, insurance reimbursem*nts, and financial aid, making online therapy with E-Therapy Cafe more affordable and accessible.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Easy to find prices on the website

  • All therapists are licensed and life coaches are certified

  • Discounts for students, veterans, and first responders

  • You can choose your own therapist for a better fit

  • Customer service is responsive and helpful

Cons

  • No psychiatry offered

  • Sessions don’t carry over if you don’t use them all within a month

  • There are more coaches than licensed therapists

Our Experience

We asked four people to sign up for E-Therapy Cafe in Colorado, California, and Michigan, and we were overwhelmingly surprised with how well this company delivers on its promises of quality, affordable care. Yes, its sessions are only 30 minutes long—short for individual therapy and especially for couples therapy—but the company has the lowest out-of-pocket subscription therapy prices of all the companies we reviewed. It delivers on its mission statement of helping people “get unstuck.”

“[My therapist] was kind and attentive. From the way he responded and what I read of him in his impressive bio, he seemed very qualified to talk me through some of the things I brought up. He was able to validate my feelings and encourage me as I work through them and in the end, I was very happy with who the company chose for me.”

  • Sadie, who needed flexible scheduling like late-night sessions and found that at E-Therapy Cafe

Across the board, our therapists were well qualified and included a range of specializations and credentials, such as licensed therapists, social workers, and certified life coaches. (Bear in mind that coaches are not held to the same licensure standards and laws as licensed therapists.)

Our coaching sessions focused mainly on goal-setting, decision-making, and behavioral changes—rather than delving deeper into historical and emotional issues—and were as helpful as the sessions with licensed therapists.

Throughout our testing, we had multiple ways to access sessions at E-Therapy Cafe: We could choose between live video sessions, live audio sessions, real-time chat, and e-journaling, which was a format unique to this company and involved writing a 700-word entry to our therapist, which they would then read and respond to in their own time with a letter back to us.

However, we don’t recommend the e-journal format; we missed the real-time responses and personal connection of a live conversation with a therapist.

(When we tested the journal, it was included in our subscription price—it’s now offered as a separate service.)

We appreciated that we could schedule at many different hours, timing our sessions after work, with one as late as 9 p.m. In fact, we enjoyed the service so much that we considered using it even after our testing period ended.

Plans & Pricing

E-Therapy Cafe allows you to pay per session ($55 for your first trial session, then $65 for each session afterward) or sign up for one of its subscription plans:

  • ETC Flex: Eight sessions per month with your therapist; costs $470 a month
  • ETC 90: 24 sessions over a 90-day period; costs $440 a month
  • ETC Reflect: Digital journal/email sessions for between-session support; costs $65 each
  • ETC Pet: Emotional Support Animal subscription with one therapy session; costs $170

Subscription plans and pay-as-you-go rates apply to individual and couples therapy and coaching sessions.

What Users Say

While E-Therapy Cafe’s team of therapists is smaller than its competitors, most of the 105 users we surveyed (80%) said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the selection of therapists available. In addition, nearly every user rated the company as good, very good, or excellent, and 90% said they found the therapists’ qualifications to be top-notch (despite the confusion surrounding coaches versus licensed therapists). More than three-quarters of users reported that they’d try E-Therapy Cafe again if they needed to go searching for a new therapist, and most (89%) of those that had tried online therapy somewhere else thought the services they received from E-Therapy Cafe were better.

Best for Flexibility :Thriveworks

Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (7)

  • Price:$160 - $240 per therapy session, $300 - $375 for initial psychiatry/medication management session, $210 - $300 for follow-ups
  • Is Insurance Accepted?:Yes
  • Type Of Therapy:Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Group Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling

Why We Chose It

When it comes to taking care of yourself, including your mental health, lots of things can get in the way, like work commitments, childcare issues, school, family commitments, and financial limitations. This made Thriveworks stand out in our research against the other companies we tested: it makes finding time for therapy really convenient. You can schedule same-day or next-day appointments, as well as early morning, late evening, and weekend appointments. It accepts health insurance, offers a variety of therapy types (including individual therapy, couples therapy, child/teen therapy, family therapy, and psychiatry), and even offers in-person or hybrid therapy through its 380 centers across all 50 states (though many states only had one location listed).

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Same-day appointments are available

  • Multiple ways to connect with therapists

  • Accepts a wide range of insurance plans

  • Self-pay is an option

  • Lenient cancellation policy

    380+ in-person locations

Cons

  • Not available in every state

  • Messaging is unavailable

  • Children’s services not available everywhere

Our Experience

We asked four people to sign up and test Thriveworks’s therapy services to understand its different therapy offerings (including therapy for adults, kids, and families) and level of care across various states (including Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Kansas). Overall, we were impressed.

With such an extensive network of over 3,000 social workers, therapists, professional counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists and 380 in-person locations, it’s able to offer a level of flexibility to its users that most other companies were not: multiple therapy types, early morning, evening and weekend session times; and the option to do virtual, hybrid, or in-person therapy depending on where you live.

We could choose our therapist at Thriveworks during sign-up from a list of providers in our state, and we liked this flexibility. We could filter through the list by location, conditions the providers can treat, insurance plans accepted, and type of therapy offered. However, we were a little disappointed that the therapist bios were short, and there wasn’t any filter to search for therapists that were LGBTQ+ friendly or had experience treating people with disabilities—both factors that were important to us in our testing.

Throughout our testing, we found our therapists to be warm, skilled, and qualified, making us feel like we were seeking care at a cozy private practice, not a giant national company.

We were especially impressed with our therapists’ thoroughness during our intake. Rather than just asking open-ended questions (like “What are you looking to get out of therapy?”), the therapists asked specific, detailed questions so we could get to know each other quickly. Our therapist was so thorough in one intake session that we went over by 25 minutes at no extra charge.

“Therapists follow different theoretical orientations and approach work with clients differently, which is wonderful because every client has different needs and deserves a therapist they click with. While my therapist did not have extensive training in ADHD or neurodiversity-affirming care, I still felt affirmed by her approach.”

  • Amy, a licensed therapist living with ADHD

The biggest drawback to Thriveworks is that there are differences in what services are offered depending on where you live. For example, while we wanted to test virtual therapy for kids in Kentucky, we could not because no providers were available—and the closest brick-and-mortar location was too far of a commute.

Plans & Pricing

Plans and pricing with Thriveworks aren't as straightforward as other online therapy companies. Pricing depends on the provider you choose and the treatment you receive. If you’re paying out of pocket, you can expect prices to start at $99 per session. But Thriveworks also accepts a wide range of insurance plans, such as Blue Cross, Anthem, Optum, UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Cigna, Humana, and more. If your insurance is accepted, you’ll likely only be responsible for your copay.

What Users Say

Of the 105 users we surveyed that had used Thriveworks for their therapy needs, nearly half said that morning, evening, and weekend availability was important to them when choosing an online therapy service—and nine out of 10 rated the company as good, very good, or excellent overall and four out of five said they would recommend Thriveworks to a friend or someone like them.

In the end, more than three-quarters of survey respondents (78%) said they found a provider who met most or all of their needs at Thriveworks.

Best Range of Specialties :LifeStance Health

Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (8)

  • Price:$150-$300 per session out-of-pocket
  • Is Insurance Accepted?:Yes
  • Type Of Therapy:Children's Therapy, Family Therapy, Group Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling

Why We Chose It

No two people need the same thing out of therapy. For example, if you’ve just given birth and you think you might be experiencing postpartum depression, your needs might be different from someone who has been dealing with depressive thoughts since they were a child. That’s why we choose LifeStance Health for our list: Its therapists have the most comprehensive range of specialties of any of the 80 companies we reviewed. Not only that, but it caters to kids, teens, adults, couples, and families; accepts numerous insurance plans; provides psychiatric services; and offers both in-person and virtual care.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Access to a diverse range of mental health professionals

  • Treats more conditions than most online therapy companies

  • Teletherapy and in-person appointments may be available within a week of sign-up

  • Switching therapists is simple and quick

  • You can cancel service at any time, no questions asked

  • Accepts insurance

Cons

  • No online pricing guide

  • Doesn’t serve 16 states, including the Dakotas and Connecticut

  • No way to personalize session details, such as length of session or live chats at a specific time

  • Cannot message therapist outside of sessions

  • Asks for a payment method immediately upon signing up

Our Experience

We had four people sign up and test LifeStance Health’s individual adult therapy, couples counseling, and family therapy services in four states: Florida, Illinois, Oregon, and New York, respectively. What stood out most to us was the 42 different mental health issues and conditions its providers were qualified to treat—way more than at any other company we tested.

Initially, we were concerned that in the attempt to “do it all,” the care we’d receive at LifeStance Health would feel impersonal, but that was not the case. The therapists we met with for individual therapy were compassionate and attentive, making us feel heard. In couples therapy, we appreciated how well both therapists we worked with were able to guide the conversation with insightful questions so both partners could feel heard, involved, and understood.

“I liked both therapists that I had sessions with. They seemed to really want to help and were ready to listen to anything I had on my mind.”

  • Laura, who tried both individual and couples therapy through LifeStance

We found LifeStance to be an excellent choice for someone seeking online therapy from a specialized therapist for a wide variety of conditions, including depression, anxiety, and postpartum anxiety or depression. You can schedule appointments with a psychiatrist and in-person sessions if your diagnosis requires it (as may be the case with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder). We also appreciated that we could choose our therapist, too, and there were plenty to pick from during sign-up (as many as 700 when we signed up for couples therapy, for example).

The therapists at LifeStance are racially and culturally diverse, and we could filter the therapist list to find providers with gender identity, sexual orientation, and language spoken when that was important to us.

However, we encountered some issues when trying to sign up for family therapy because there wasn’t a therapist available in our state to take new patients. Despite calling customer service and speaking with the director of operations, we were never able to schedule a family therapy session—we opted for individual sessions instead—so it’s important to note that the number of types of therapy and specializations does vary across the 33 states LifeStance serves.

Plans & Pricing

LifeStance Health is not a subscription service, meaning you pay per therapy session you book. How much you pay for those sessions then varies based on what therapist you work with, what kind of care you need, and whether you have health insurance.

You can check whether your health insurance is accepted directly on the website, and if your plan is in-network, you will likely pay a copay. If you’re paying out-of-pocket, sessions range from $75 to $300 per-session for individual talk therapy (for adults, kids, or teens), couples therapy, or family therapy.

Psychiatric consultations range from $200 to $300 per session; follow-ups cost between $150 to $250.

What Users Say

Of the 105 users of LifeStance we surveyed, almost nine out of ten rated the company’s services as good, very good, or excellent overall, and an overwhelming majority (90%) felt the same about the qualifications of their therapists.

Nearly three-quarters of survey respondents could use their insurance to pay for therapy, and 22% indicated that having access to in-person sessions was important to them in their search for mental health care. All in all, 73% of users found a therapist at LifeStance who met most or all of their needs. Seventeen percent of users sought psychiatry services through LifeStance, and nearly 9 out of 10 rated its psychiatry services as good, very good, or excellent.

Best With Insurance :Teladoc

Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (9)

  • Price:$0-$299
  • Is Insurance Accepted?:Yes
  • Type Of Therapy:Couples Therapy, Individual Therapy, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling

Why We Chose It

The average cost of talk therapy, when paid out-of-pocket, can be as high as $200 per session, which means you might need to spend $800 a month for your mental health care—or more if you also need to see a psychiatrist and take medication. This can make mental health care unaffordable to a lot of people (especially considering the median household income in the US is $70,784), and while the Affordable Care Act made it easier to use health insurance to cover mental health treatment, not all therapists accept insurance because of the high administrative burden (read: paperwork) and low reimbursem*nt rates from insurance companies. This made Teladoc stand out in our testing of 80 companies and over 10,000 users: It accepts 60 different insurance plans, which is more than any other company we tested, including some Medicare and Medicaid plans.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Accepts a wide range of insurance plans

  • Available in all states

  • Medication management offered

  • Choose your own therapist

  • Couples therapy available

Cons

  • Limited insurance information prior to sign-up

  • No free trials or discounts

  • Company does not focus on therapy

Our Experience

We had three people from Missouri, California, and Texas sign up for and test online therapy services at Teladoc, and overall, we had a great experience. Not only could we use our insurance to pay for therapy—a rarity in both the online and in-person therapy worlds—but we were pleased that Teladoc accepts 60 different insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid in some places (another rarity).

We also didn’t feel like we were skimping on quality for affordability at Teladoc because the quality of care we received was outstanding.

“I met with two different therapists over the course of a month, and I found both to be knowledgeable and empathetic. In each session, the provider offered the option of homework but was very clear they didn’t want to add to my plate as a mom of four.”

  • Mary, a busy parent who needed flexible and affordable care

We found Teladoc’s team of accredited psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and social workers to be highly qualified and available to support numerous mental health needs, including anxiety, depression, grief, work-related stress, and trauma. Our therapists were friendly and compassionate, though one seemed a bit clinical in the first intake session, where they appeared to be reading from a list of questions, which stunted the natural flow of conversation a bit. However, this therapist warmed up over time so that, in the end, we found all the therapists to be attentive, caring, and good listeners.

Admittedly, Teladoc doesn’t have a super thorough intake process.

When we signed up for therapy, we just had to fill out a short online form that consisted of sharing our demographic information, then picking a reason for why we were seeking therapy (and there were only six reasons to choose from—COVID-19 concerns, anxiety/depression, drug/alcohol addiction, family/relationship issues, stress, or other) and answering five quick questions.

Then we were shown a list of therapists that might be a match, but we could also pick whoever we wanted based on their availability. Being able to choose our therapist was something we liked: we didn’t feel saddled with someone an algorithm chose for us. We also appreciated that once you do pick a therapist and begin seeing them regularly, you can message them between sessions through your patient portal.

Plans & Pricing

Teladoc doesn’t have a subscription therapy plan. Instead, once you’ve selected your therapist, you pay per session or psychiatry visit. However, the price is the same out-of-pocket no matter who your therapist is: $99 per session.

Psychiatry session prices are set too. You’ll pay $299 for your initial psychiatry consultation, then $119 per follow-up visit. However, if your insurance plan is accepted—which is highly likely, since Teladoc accepts over 60 plans—you’ll pay less out-of-pocket than either of these prices.

What Users Say

Of all the 80 companies we evaluated, Teladoc scored the highest in user satisfaction: a whopping 97% rated the company as good, very good, or excellent overall.

In addition, more than four out of five users said they used their insurance to pay for services, with more than three out of five rating the company as affordable or very affordable. Eighty percent of users could find a therapist who met most or all of their needs, and an impressive 94% thought the therapist qualifications at Teladoc were excellent, very good, or good.

Best for Family Therapy :Little Otter

Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (10)

  • Price:$20 "welcome" session; $195 for standard therapy session; $500 for general psychiatry evaluation; $250 for follow-up psychiatry sessions
  • Is Insurance Accepted?:Yes
  • Type Of Therapy:Children's Therapy, Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Teen Counseling

Why We Chose It

In the U.S., one in five kids lives with a mental health condition, but finding treatment for those kids is not easy, which is why only about 20% of kids with a mental health condition receive the treatment they need. There simply aren’t enough therapists that treat kids, especially in “therapy deserts,” or places where mental health resources are already scarce. Even online, most companies only treat teens if they treat children at all. But that’s why Little Otter stood out amongst the 80 companies we reviewed: It specializes in treating this underserved demographic by offering therapy and psychiatry services for children from birth to age 14. Plus, it offers family therapy, couples counseling for parents, and parent coaching services as part of its “whole family” approach to treatment.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Treats children ages 0-14

  • Offers parent coaching and family therapy services

  • Free initial informational call

  • All therapy is HSA/FSA eligible

  • Therapy session packages are discounted

Cons

  • Only available in 11 states

  • Only accepts one insurance provider

  • High out-of-pocket costs

Our Experience

We asked three parents and their kids to sign up and test Little Otter’s therapy for kids and parents coaching services from Pennsylvania and New York. Across the board, we were pleased with the care we received. The uniqueness of the company’s specialization and its family-focused approach stood out to us; whether your child is showing signs of depression, is dealing with bullying at school, or is having attention issues, Little Otter can help you get your child the therapy or psychiatric help they need online. Plus, since it also treats babies from birth, it’s also a resource where you can get help to sleep train your baby or learn how to deal with toddler temper tantrums. No other company we evaluated offers this kind of help.

Once we signed up for Little Otter, we and our child had a “welcome session” with a “care lead” who explained the company’s services and asked us about what we were looking for in therapy.

We appreciated how thorough the intake process was and the time the company took to figure out what treatment plan would work best.

We found that the therapists were good at developing a rapport with the kids who participated in our testing. Sessions were 45 minutes long, which is a reasonable amount of time to build trust, and joining the first session made us feel more confident in letting the children attend subsequent sessions on their own—even though our child testers were as young as 10 years old.

"I have personal experience talking to adolescent therapists, and, based on those experiences, I was impressed with our psychiatrist. I felt she immediately understood our situation and gave us plenty of time to talk about our concerns.”

  • Laura, who had both a therapy session and psychiatry session with her young son

The parenting coaching service was also beneficial. The coaches were well-trained and thoughtful, giving us insightful tips and advice for changing our behavior to better support our children and be the parents we were striving to be.

The most significant drawbacks to Little Otter are how few states it services—it only operates in 14 states right now—and its pricing.

Therapy sessions are $195 each, and psychiatry sessions cost even more. And unless you have one of the three insurance plans it accepts, you’ll have to pay for each session out-of-pocket.

Plans & Pricing

Little Otter isn’t a subscription service. Instead, you pay per session:

  • $20 for a 30-minute welcome session with your care lead, the clinician coordinating your Little Otter care team
  • $195 for a 45-minute session with your assigned therapist
  • $500 for a 75-minute general psychiatric evaluation
  • $250 for a 30-minute psychiatric follow-up or medication management visit

There are bundles available to help reduce the cost, though (as of November 2023):

  • Assessment bundle: $527 for a 90-minute assessment session plus one 45-minute therapy session
  • 12-session bundle: $1,989 for 12 45-minute therapy sessions

Little Otter is only in-network with Kaiser Permanente, Sana, Independence Blue Cross, and AmeriHealth insurance plans.

What Users Say

We surveyed 105 parents who had used or were still using Little Otter for their children's or families’ mental health needs. Over half said their therapists’ qualifications were much better than other online therapy companies. Seventy percent said their provider met most or all of their needs.

In addition, three out of four users rated Little Otter as good, very good, or excellent overall, and more than three out of five users felt the same about the company’s value for the money.

Best for LGBTQIA+ :National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network

Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (11)

  • Price:Free to use
  • Is Insurance Accepted?:Yes. Varies by provider
  • Type Of Therapy:Children's Therapy, Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Individual Therapy, Teen Counseling

Why We Chose It

Trans and queer people frequently experience discrimination, hom*ophobia, and transphobia and, over time, the impact of this trauma can take a toll on mental health. That is partly why it is estimated that queer and trans people are 2.5 times more likely than cisgender or heterosexual individuals to be diagnosed with a mental health condition—and the number is even higher for queer people of color. But finding a therapist that is LGBTQ+ affirming and accepting isn’t always as easy either, which is why the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN) stood out to us in our testing of 80 companies and survey of over 10,000 users. It’s a nonprofit online therapist directory that intertwines social justice and mental health support to provide a multitude of accessible resources to the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly queer and trans people of color (QTPoC).

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Every provider identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community

  • Mental Health Fund available to cover financial costs

  • Filters make finding a provider simple

  • Multiple ways to contact provider prior to sign-up

  • Many providers accept insurance or offer sliding scale costs

  • Serves two Canadian provinces and 36 U.S. states

Cons

  • Not available in 14 states

  • Not all therapists in the directory accept insurance

  • No therapist matching service

  • Number of therapists accepting new clients varies by state

  • No psychiatrists on the directory

Our Experience

We tested the National Queer and Trans Therapist of Color Network (NQTTCN) across 18 ZIP codes to get a sense of how easy or difficult it was to find a therapist that might match the different therapy needs someone might have. For example, this directory out-performed 24 other similar services in how easy it was to find a Black therapist, a therapist willing to write a letter of support for hormone replacement therapy or medical transition, or a therapist that might be able to support parents with children that were non-binary or trans.

NQTTCN made it easy to find qualified, licensed therapists, behavioral health workers, psychologists, social workers, counselors, case managers, and peer support counselors who are members of the QTPoC community and/or specialize in treating this community through affirming, knowledgeable care.

All we had to do to search for a therapist was indicate our location (by city, ZIP code, or state) and select filters like languages spoken, whether they’re accepting new clients or providing telehealth, and if they offer a sliding scale or low fee. Across the board, we found a range of specialties, including identity issues, trauma, relationship conflict, and sexual wellness, across different states.

“From start to finish, my experience with NQTTCN was easy, seamless, and, honestly, rejuvenating. I quickly narrowed down providers in my area and got in touch with a provider within 10 minutes, which I consider record time. As someone who’s been both a therapist and a client, I value how this directory has taken a traditionally burdensome system and turned it into one that’s accessible to everyone.”

  • Morgan, a mental health professional and a member of the QTPoC community

NQTTCN does not list psychiatrists, however, so if you think you need medication as part of your treatment, you will need to look elsewhere. It’s also important to note that there are not clinicians available in every state, and the number of therapists does vary by state: you’ll have more options in California (which has 27 therapists listed) than in Idaho (which has only one).

Plans & Pricing

Since NQTTCN is not a therapy service, like many other companies on this list, but a directory service, each therapist on the site runs their practice and sets their rates. This means that the cost per session varies widely, though, in our testing, we found therapists with rates as low as $60 per session and as high as $200 per session listed in their bios.

We found some therapists that accept health insurance, though, so you may be able to use your plan to reduce your out-of-pocket cost. Others don't accept insurance but do offer sliding scale rates.

For therapy seekers struggling to afford mental health care, NQTTCN also offers a Mental Health Fund that covers the cost of its therapists’ services. You can apply for the fund on the website.

What Users Say

When we surveyed 180 people who had used NQTTCN to find their former or current therapist, more than four of five said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the selection of therapists in the directory, and the same number said they were pleased with their therapist’s qualifications. Three-quarters of users would recommend NQTTCN to a friend or someone like them, and 77% would use NQTTCN again if they needed to find another therapist.

Overall, 84% rated the directory as good or very good overall, and a whopping 99% of users found a therapist who met most or all of their needs.

Best for Black Communities :Therapy For Black Girls

Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (12)

  • Price:Free to use
  • Is Insurance Accepted?:Yes
  • Type Of Therapy:Children's Therapy, Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Individual Therapy

Why We Chose It

Mental illness can impact anyone of any age, gender identity, background, race, or ethnicity—but when it comes to accessing treatment, there are wide discrepancies. For example, people in Black communities are far less likely to sign up for therapy because of the cost, discrimination they experience from their therapist, a traumatic history with the health systems in this country, and stigma. We found several directories and therapy companies trying to change this, but of all of them, Therapy for Black Girls stood out amongst the 80 companies we reviewed. It offers a variety of resources, including a podcast and blog, that work to de-stigmatize seeking therapy as well as a comprehensive directory of over 800 therapists (in all 50 states and 13 Canadian territories) that’s easy to navigate and filter so you can find a Black therapist near you offering individual, couples, or group therapy.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • All providers are BIPOC

  • Blog and podcast for additional information and support

  • Filters for virtual vs in-person sessions, specialty, and group options

  • Can be matched with a therapist upon request

  • You can find a psychiatrist on the directory too

  • Serves all 50 states and parts of Canada

Cons

  • Hard to identify therapist specifications

  • Payment depends on therapist

  • No therapist matching service

Our Experience

We tested Therapy for Black Girls across 18 ZIP codes to get a sense of how easy or difficult it was to find a therapist that might match 37 different therapy needs someone might have, such as wanting to work with a Black, female-identifying therapist or a therapist that has experience with issues that arise with transracial adoptions. We were pleased to discover we could find therapists in all the ZIP codes we tested since the site also serves all 50 states and parts of Canada.

We were very impressed with the range of qualifications, expertise, and certifications of the therapists listed on Therapy for Black Girls, and we were able to find providers who addressed culturally-specific issues like race-related stress.

We found it easy to find Christian counseling—which isn’t always easy to find at other directories or companies—as well as therapists that met more specific needs, like therapists that specialized in multi-racial adoption issues, adoption trauma, or racism trauma.

“By connecting me with someone who I know understands my identity and how that affects my life (both in and outside the therapy office), I feel like Therapy for Black Girls makes good on its goal of destigmatizing therapy for women of color who may have had negative experiences with therapy in the past.”

  • LaKeisha, a Black woman who had previously experienced microaggressions in therapy sessions

We did have some problems that are worth noting: We could not choose more than one specialty at a time, so if we were looking for a therapist that met a variety of criteria (say, one who had experience in trauma, ADHD, depression, and race-related stress), we ran into errors. Instead, we had to search by choosing one specialty at a time, then read the provider’s bios to see if they had the other experience we were looking for. We also found that when a therapist didn’t use the exact keywords that the search filters did, they would sometimes be excluded from search results (such as not coming up in the “parenting” filter because they say “postpartum” in their bio instead).

Plans & Pricing

Since Therapy for Black Girls is not a therapy company but a directory, each therapist listed on the site runs their practice and sets their rates. This means that the cost per session varies widely.

In our testing, we did find it difficult to find those rates, though. While you can see whether a therapist is or is not accepting new clients clearly on the directory site, you have to dig deeper (like clicking through to the provider’s personal practice website) to find rates because most bios do not list prices or scheduling information.

That said, we found therapists with rates that ranged from a $20 consultation to $450 an hour, with a range of prices in between (usually falling between $150 and $250). Many therapists do accept insurance, and some offer lower-cost sliding scale fees.

What Users Say

We surveyed 180 therapy users that had used Therapy for Black Girls to find their current or former therapist. Of those, 84% said that the qualifications of the therapists in this directory were good or very good, and the same number said they were likely or very likely to recommend it to a friend. Eighty-three percent said they would use Therapy for Black Girls again if they needed another therapist. The directory also performed well overall, with more than nine out of 10 users rating the service as good or very good.

More impressive, though, is that 98% said that the therapist they found on Therapy for Black Girls met most or all of their needs.

Best Without Insurance :Open Path Collective

Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (13)

  • Price:$30 to $80 per session, one-time membership fee of $65
  • Is Insurance Accepted?:No
  • Type Of Therapy:Children's Therapy, Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Group Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling

Why We Chose It

According to our Cost of Therapy survey, about half of therapy-seekers are concerned about the ability to pay for their mental health treatment, with 48% saying they’d have to stop treatment if the cost went up and 38% saying they currently need financial help to pay for therapy. That’s why Open Path Collective stood out in our research of 80 companies and over 10,000 users: It's an online therapy directory that only connects you to therapists that offer sliding scale rates (ranging from $30 to $80 per session) so that you can find the affordable care you need when you’re on a tight budget.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Affordable sliding scale rates

  • Serves all 50 U.S. states and Canada

  • Has a strong social justice mission

  • Detailed therapist profiles

  • Only displays therapists who are taking on new clients

Cons

  • Does not accept insurance

  • Does not list psychiatrists

  • Most affordable therapists are pre-licensed

Our Experience

We tested Open Path Collective across 18 ZIP codes to get a sense of how easy or difficult it was to find a therapist that might match 37 different therapy needs someone might have—such as anger management, anxiety attacks, polyamory, or postpartum depression and anxiety—to see if it delivered on its promise to offer high-quality and affordable mental health care to middle- and low-income level therapy seekers. We’re pleased to say that it did.

“The main difference with Open Path and other therapy I’ve tried before is how I feel now that the session is over: I’m not anxious about getting a crazy bill in the mail because I’m under-insured.”

  • Theresa, who needed a grief counselor who offered a sliding scale fee

For $30, we could have a therapy session with a pre-licensed therapist (a student therapist currently obtaining their master’s degree under the clinical supervision of a licensed therapist), and for $40 to $70, we could see a therapist with more professional experience; in addition, we found couples counseling never to be more than $80 per session. And low prices are not the only reason we recommend Open Path Collective.

We were also impressed with the variety of therapists’ expertise.

For example, we were able to find appropriate therapists that could provide affirming care for members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their loved ones, therapists who could speak ASL, Christian therapists, Black therapists, and therapists that treat kids and teens of any age. We were also able to find therapists with more specific or niche specializations, such as therapists with experience treating religious trauma.

A few things to consider before using Open Path Collective to find your therapist: the service is aimed at families who make under $100,000 a year, so if you make more than that, the nonprofit asks that you look elsewhere (though this is based on the honor system—you don’t have to prove your income).

In addition, these sliding scale rates are out-of-pocket: if you want to use your health insurance to pay for your therapy, this is not the service for you.

Also, the number of therapists available varies wildly depending on your location—for example, there are over a thousand therapists listed in Texas, whereas Wyoming has only four.

Plans & Pricing

As noted above, using Open Path Collective’s directory to find a therapist with sliding scale rates requires a one-time fee of $65. Then, once you’re signed up, you can use it as often as you want to find and schedule an appointment with one of the providers listed.

Rates per session vary by the therapist but range from $30 (for a pre-licensed therapist) to $70 for a more experienced therapist. Couples therapy tends to cost $80 per session.

What Users Say

We surveyed 180 therapy users who had used Open Path Collective to find their current or former therapist, and, across the board, users told us that they loved this directory: Nine out of 10 rated the company as good or very good, while an impressive 97% said they were able to find a therapist who met most or all of their needs.

In addition, 84% said they would recommend Open Path to a friend or someone like them, and four out of five said they are still seeing the therapist they found on Open Path today.

Compare the 13 Best Online Therapy Services of 2024

Best For

Price

Is Insurance Accepted?

Does it Accept HSA/FSA?

Type Of Therapy

Communication Options

Reset All

BetterHelpBest for Availability$70 to $100 per weekNoYesIndividual TherapyMessaging, Phone, Video ChatLearn More

Hide, not for me

ReGainBest for Couples$260-$360+ per monthNoNoCouples Therapy, Individual TherapyAudio, Live Chat, Messaging, Video ChatLearn More

Hide, not for me

TalkspaceMost Comprehensive$69-$109 a week for therapy, billed monthly; $65 for additional sessionsYesYesCouples Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen CounselingAudio, Live Chat, Messaging, Phone, Video ChatLearn More

Hide, not for me

TalkiatryBest for PsychiatryDepends on your insuranceYes. BCBS, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Tricare, Medicare, and othersYesIndividual Therapy, Medication Management, PsychiatryVideo ChatLearn More

Hide, not for me

BrightsideBest for Anxiety and Depression$95-$349 per monthYesYesIndividual Therapy, Medication Management, PsychiatryMessaging, Video ChatLearn More

Hide, not for me

E-Therapy CafeMost Affordable$55-$65 per sessionNoNoCouples Therapy, Individual TherapyLive Chat, Messaging, Video ChatLearn More

Hide, not for me

ThriveworksBest for Flexibility$160 - $240 per therapy session, $300 - $375 for initial psychiatry/medication management session, $210 - $300 for follow-upsYesYesCouples Therapy, Family Therapy, Group Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen CounselingAudio, Phone, Video ChatLearn More

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LifeStance HealthBest Range of Specialties$150-$300 per session out-of-pocketYesYesChildren's Therapy, Family Therapy, Group Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen CounselingVideo ChatLearn More

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TeladocBest With Insurance$0-$299YesNoCouples Therapy, Individual Therapy, Psychiatry, Teen CounselingAudio, Video ChatLearn More

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Little OtterBest for Family Therapy$20 "welcome" session; $195 for standard therapy session; $500 for general psychiatry evaluation; $250 for follow-up psychiatry sessionsYesNoChildren's Therapy, Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Teen CounselingMessaging, Video ChatLearn More

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National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color NetworkBest for LGBTQIA+Free to useYes. Varies by providerNoChildren's Therapy, Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Individual Therapy, Teen CounselingPhone, Video ChatLearn More

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Therapy For Black GirlsBest for Black CommunitiesFree to useYesNoChildren's Therapy, Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Individual TherapyN/ALearn More

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Open Path CollectiveBest Without Insurance$30 to $80 per session, one-time membership fee of $65NoNoChildren's Therapy, Couples Therapy, Family Therapy, Group Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen CounselingVideo ChatLearn More

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How We Tested and Reviewed Online Therapy Services

We evaluated 80 onlinetherapy companiesandtherapist directoriesin order to compile this list.

Firsthand Experience

As part of our research, we signed up for talk therapy at all 55 online therapy companies we reviewed. We tested each company's therapy services, and if the company offered other services (such as couples therapy and kid or teen therapy) we tested those too. Our testers are located all across the United States and abroad, meaning we have extensive information about each company's services in a variety of areas.

User and Brand Surveys

In addition, we surveyed more than 10,000 therapy users: 105 at each of the 55 online therapy companies and 180 at each of the 25 therapist directories. We collected over 100 different data points in which we asked users to evaluate each company's services, from their therapist's qualifications to whether they found a therapist who met all their needs to how they'd rate the company overall. We also sent questionnaires to each company we considered, asking for their perspectives on the services they provide, and we interviewed former patients and therapists at the companies where possible.

Research

In addition to the extensive research we performed on each of the 55 online therapy companies we reviewed, we also researched dozens of therapy directories. We tested each by searching for appropriate therapists for 37 hypothetical scenarios that might lead someone to search for a mental health provider across 18 zip codes. We then rated the results by how well the therapists we found in each directory could address each scenario, looking into whether it had competent, licensed therapists that were qualified to treat these issues.

Expert Recommendations

Once we completed this testing and these surveys, we evaluated our findings with the help of three licensed therapists—Amy Marschall, PsyD; Nic Hardy, PhD,LCSW; and Hannah Owens, LMSW—in order to make our recommendations. These therapists provided extensive insight into the ethics and efficacy of online therapy as well as information about relevant therapeutic modalities and approaches.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How Do I Choose an Online Therapy Service?

    If you're considering how to choose an online therapy service, you'll want to evaluate the available choices based on the type of therapy offered (individual, couples, family, or group), whether the therapist is a good match and has the specialization you're looking for, the sign-up process and ease of use, and the cost.

  • How Much Does Online Therapy Cost?

    The cost of online therapy varies depending on the service and level of support you choose. The average cost of therapy in America is between $60 and $200 per session and the 80 services we reviewed fall squarely within that range, as well as to either side. Some online therapy companies offer pay-per-session rates, while others have subscription or membership models where you pay a set amount, ranging from $280 to more than $400 per month, for a specific number of sessions.

  • How Is Online Therapy Billed?

    At all the online therapy companies we evaluated, you pay for online therapy with a credit or debit card. Some also accept flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) cards. If you have health insurance and the company or therapist accepts your insurance, you may pay a copay at the time of your session or receive a bill in the mail after your health plan is billed.

  • Does Insurance Cover Online Therapy?

    Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, mental health services are covered by most insurance plans. However, insurance generally only covers talk therapy and/or psychiatric services where you receive a diagnosis. Services like couples therapy are generally not covered. Plus, some therapists and therapy companies do not work with insurance providers, meaning you pay for out-of-pocket or seek reimbursem*nt from your insurance provider.

  • Do Medicare and Medicaid Cover Online Therapy?

    Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicare and Medicaid do sometimes cover online therapy. But like you generally do with any insurance, you will want to check that the online therapy service or practitioner you choose is covered.

  • Does What I Tell My Therapist Stay Between Us?

    Online therapy companies, like all online services, gather personal data and information about anyone that visits their sites and uses their services. In addition, since online therapy companies are telehealth services, they also gather and store health information about their patients.In order to know how an online therapy company utilizes your personal data, we recommend reading the company’s terms of service and terms of use to better understand its particular policies.

    As for what you discuss in session, your online therapist generally will follow the same rules as an in-person therapist: They will not share what you discuss with them unless you are a threat to yourself or others, or there is evidence of abuse or neglect to a child, elderly person, or person with disabilities.

Therapy

Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (14)

Article Sources

Verywell Mind 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.

  1. Sagui-Henson SJ, Prescott MR, Corcoran JB, et al. Effectiveness of evidence-based telecoaching delivered through an employer-sponsored mental health benefits platform. Telemed e-Health. 2022;28(4):486-494. doi:10.1089/tmj.2020.0555

  2. Lin T, Heckman TG, Anderson T. The efficacy of synchronous teletherapy versus in-person therapy: A meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Clin Psychol Sci Pract. 2022;29(2):167–178. doi:10.1037/cps0000056

  3. Mental Health America.The state of mental health in America.

  4. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Could your marriage benefit from counseling?.

  5. University of Michigan Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center. Estimating the distribution of the U.S. psychiatric subspecialist workforce.

  6. Bishop TF, Press MJ, Keyhani S, Pincus HA.Acceptance of insurance by psychiatrists and the implications for access to mental health care.JAMA Psychiatry.2014;71(2):176-81. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.2862

  7. Vahratian A. Symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder and use of mental health care among adults during the Covid-19 pandemic — United States, August 2020–February 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021;70(13);490–494. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7013e2

  8. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Depression statistics.

  9. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Facts & statistics.

  10. Gautam M, Tripathi A, Deshmukh D, Gaur M.Cognitive behavioral therapy for depression.Indian J Psychiatry.2020;62(Suppl 2):S223-S229. doi:10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_772_19

  11. Kaczkurkin AN, Foa EB.Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders: an update on the empirical evidence.Dialogues Clin Neurosci.2015;17(3):337-46. doi:10.31887/DCNS.2015.17.3/akaczkurkin

  12. Kumar V, Sattar Y, Bseiso A, Khan S, Rutkofsky IH.The effectiveness of internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy in treatment of psychiatric disorders.Cureus.2017;9(8):e1626. doi:10.7759/cureus.1626

  13. U.S. Census Bureau. Income in the United States: 2021.

  14. U,S, Department of Health and Human Services. Does the Affordable Care Act cover individuals with mental health problems?.

  15. Abramson A. Children’s mental health is in crisis. Monitor on Psychology.2022;53(1):69.

  16. Bostwick WB, Boyd CJ, Hughes TL, West BT, McCabe SE. Discrimination and mental health among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults in the United States. Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2014;84(1):35-45. doi:10.1037/h0098851

  17. Rockefeller Institute of Government. Understanding and addressing the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people of color (POC) in accessing mental healthcare.

  18. Mental Health America.Black and African American communities and mental health.

  19. New York State Department of Health. Adult behavioral health and managed care.

Tried, Tested, and Expert-Approved: The 13 Online Therapy Services We Recommend (2024)

FAQs

Is online therapy good enough? ›

Is Online Therapy as Effective as In-Person Therapy? Studies suggest that live online therapy by video is just as effective as in-person therapy, particularly for CBT.

Why do people prefer online therapy? ›

Accessibility for People With Physical Limitations

People who are unable to leave their home for various reasons, such as physical or mental illness, may find online therapy a useful alternative to traditional in-person psychotherapy settings.

Is therapy really worth the money? ›

Research shows that motivation matters most to therapeutic success. If you turn up late and blame others, you won't get much from therapy. If you're motivated to change, and choose a mainstream therapy delivered by a qualified professional, then most of the time, and for most problems, therapy really is worth it.

Is online therapy less effective than in-person? ›

Is in-person therapy better than online? Both modes of therapy can offer effective mental health care. Patients and mental health professionals view telehealth positively, according to the National Library of Medicine. The choice comes down to your preferences and needs.

Is it better to work for Talkspace or BetterHelp? ›

BetterHelp therapists are better paid and happier than therapists on Talkspace. I believe that these happier therapists offer a better service to their clients.

Is Talkspace legit? ›

Talkspace is a subscription-based online therapy platform that costs between $276 – $436 monthly for anyone ages 13+ across the US and internationally. During our independent review of their services, they earned an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

Is online counseling expensive? ›

How much does online therapy cost? Online therapy costs vary from platform to platform and depend on factors such as the therapist you see, the subscription or plan you choose, and whether your insurance covers your treatment. The cost for platforms we reviewed in this article range from $120–$360 per month.

What percent of people use online therapy? ›

More than half of mental health appointments — 55 percent — are being conducted remotely, mainly via videoconferencing rather than in-person visits, according to a brief research report in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

What to expect from an online therapy session? ›

A teletherapy session is not much different from an in-person therapy session. You'll have the opportunity to ask questions and talk about your goals and concerns with your therapist. Depending on the type of psychotherapy, you'll also have the opportunity to work on specific exercises and treatment plans.

Is it OK to recommend a therapist? ›

However, I do think it is important for clients to be careful when they make such referrals. Don't hesitate to talk with your therapist if you are thinking of referring someone before you actually make the referral. Your therapist should be able to help you think about whether it is a good idea for you or not.

What do counselor recommendations say? ›

In essence, it's a letter sent to colleges that brags about what a great student you are and why a particular college should accept you. A recommendation letter should highlight your special skills and personal involvement. It should convey how you go above and beyond and set yourself apart from other students.

Why does everyone recommend therapy? ›

Therapy is a valuable tool for many people, and there are many different reasons why someone might seek therapy. Some of the most common reasons include improving physical and emotional health, understanding and improving relationships, and increasing productivity and overall satisfaction with life.

Is online therapy more cost effective? ›

Virtual mental health care often costs less than traditional in-person therapy sessions. According to Lorandini, the price of online therapy ranges from about $65 to $129 per session out-of-pocket. Compare this to in-person therapy, which typically costs about $100 to $200 per session.

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