The 10 Best Online Therapy Programs of 2020

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The 10 Best Online Therapy Programs of 2020

The 10 Best Online Therapy Programs of 2020

Updated: October 16, 2020

Online therapy sessions help individuals access professional care for mental, emotional, and behavioral health needs without having to travel to a specific physical location.

With so many companies offering therapy services via video and phone calls, live chats, and email messaging, it can be difficult to know which one is right for you and your needs.

To help users, we evaluated the most popular online therapy platforms based on 14 of the key features most important to those looking for an online therapist, forming the basis for our recommendations for the top 10 online therapy sessions.

The Top Online Therapy Sessions of 2020

BetterHelp — Best Overall

With 12,000 therapists trained to address a range of mental health needs, flexible communication methods, and affordable rates, BetterHelp tops our list as the best overall online therapy platform.

ReGain — Best for Couples

This platform focuses on delivering relationship counseling, with licensed counselors ready to help couples and individuals address issues like resolving conflict, building trust, improving communication, and developing intimacy.

Talkspace — Best for Convenient Communication

Talkspace is designed for ultimate accessibility and convenience, with therapy delivered primarily via unlimited messages between a client and their therapist, through Talkspace’s website or mobile app.

Teen Counseling — Best for Teens

Teen Counseling is a safe, secure way for parents and teens to get help from a licensed therapist who specializes in working with adolescents and young adults ages 13-19.

Amwell — Best for Insurance Coverage

As a full-service telehealth platform, Amwell accepts insurance from dozens of major providers, including Aetna, Cigna, and United Healthcare, making therapy accessible and affordable for many.

Online-Therapy.com — Best Guided Therapy Program

Online-Therapy.com offers users a virtual “toolbox” of approaches and activities to help them improve their mental and emotional health, including therapy sessions, journaling, worksheets, and yoga exercises.

7 Cups — Best for Free Services

Although 7 Cups offers sessions with licensed therapists, they also provide multiple free services, including self-help guides, online support groups, and 24/7 live chat with trained volunteer listeners.

Doctor on Demand — Best for Medication Management

For individuals who need treatment options beyond talk therapy, Doctor on Demand also employs licensed psychiatrists who can prescribe medications to help treat mental health issues.

MDLive — Best Membership Plan

With a free MDLive membership, users get access to therapy and psychiatry services, as well as on-demand medical care for many common acute conditions, like colds, coughs, and allergies.

Pride Counseling — Best for LGBTQ+

Pride Counseling’s mission is to provide discreet, affordable, and convenient care to the LGBTQ+ community, with counselors who specialize in working with the unique needs of this population.

How We Chose the Best Online Therapy Sessions

In curating our list of the best online therapy sessions, we evaluated online therapy platforms based on key features that ensure that these services are secure, reliable, and accessible to a wide range of patients.

Communication Methods

Engaging in online therapy is attractive because of its convenience and comfort. Telehealth platforms let clients choose the communication method they feel the most comfortable with, and fits best into their schedule. Therefore, we prioritized services that offer multiple ways for patients to connect with their therapists, including video and phone calls, live chats, and secure email and text messaging.

Available Therapists

Whether it’s in-person or online, finding the right therapist is a personal, precise process. We focused on online therapy platforms that have a large roster of available therapists, including those with different areas of training, like licensed clinical social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists, and licensed professional counselors. We also looked carefully at the client-therapist matching process, and prioritized services that let clients choose their own therapist.

Accessible Care

Online therapy means the days of waiting weeks for an in-person appointment with a mental healthcare professional are quickly becoming a thing of the past. We looked for services that facilitate sessions for clients as soon as possible, including same-day appointments. We also focused on platforms that provide on-demand services, like the ability for clients and their therapists to exchange messages in between sessions.

Our Top Picks for Online Therapy Sessions

BetterHelp — Best Overall

better help screenshot

BetterHelp offers individuals a convenient, affordable way to access quality therapy from any location.

When users join BetterHelp, they complete a brief questionnaire about their history, the issues they are seeking to address, and any preferences they have for their therapist, such as gender or specialization. BetterHelp then matches clients with a therapist from their roster of 12,000 LPCs, LCSWs, and LMFTs.

There are multiple ways clients can connect with their therapists. Synchronous sessions can be held via phone calls, video chats, and live messaging. BetterHelp also lets clients and their therapists exchange unlimited messages in a secure chat room, so help and guidance are accessible in between regularly scheduled sessions. Clients can access BetterHelp through their website, or via their mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android.

BetterHelp’s therapists are skilled at providing counseling for a variety of common mental health issues including anxiety, depression, grief, addictions, relationships, trauma, and more. The platform also allows users to request a new therapist if they find the counselor they are assigned is not a good fit.

Clients are billed on a monthly basis. Although BetterHelp does not accept health insurance, they do offer financial assistance based on clients’ income. They also offer discounts for referrals and through promo codes.

Price Appointment Types Accepts Insurance Therapists on Staff
Weekly: $80-$100 (billed monthly) >Video chat
>Phone call
>Live chat
No 12,000

What Patients Are Saying

The majority of BetterHelp users praise the service for offering convenient, compassionate care. “My counselor has helped me through my mental health and relationship issues with friends, family, and people from my past.” writes one client. “She was very empathetic and helped me to develop good coping mechanisms.”

ReGain — Best for Couples

regain screenshot

Even the best relationships sometimes hit rough patches, or need a little help to reach their full potential. That’s where ReGain comes in.

This online therapy platform is designed specifically to address relationship issues, whether the clients are couples or individuals seeking guidance on how to improve communication, trust, or intimacy in their relationship.

The process starts with clients answering initial questions about their relationship, the issues they want to address, and what their counselor preferences are. ReGain gives clients the option of signing up as a couple from the start, or starting individual therapy and inviting their partner to join at a later time.

Partners share a joint account, in which all written communication is visible to both partners as well as the therapist. Live sessions are held via phone or video chat through ReGain’s website or mobile app. However, it should be noted that currently, the ReGain platform does not support three-way calls, so couples using the platform should be in the same location.

ReGain matches clients with a therapist from their staff of over 5,000 licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, licensed clinical social workers, and psychologists. Regardless of credentials, all ReGain therapists have experience and expertise in couples’ therapy.

ReGain is a subscription-based service, and costs between $60-$80 per week. This platform does not accept insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.

Price Appointment Types Accepts Insurance Therapists on Staff
Weekly: $60-$80 (billed monthly) >Video chat
>Phone call
>Live chat
No 5,000+

What Patients Are Saying

ReGain users appreciate the platform’s flexibility in scheduling and sharing thoughts between sessions. “It’s nice to be able to communicate on a whim when an issue comes up,” says one client. “You get feedback from your counselor without needing an appointment every time you want to throw something out there.”

Talkspace — Best for Convenient Communication

talkspace screenshot

Launched in 2012, Talkspace was a pioneer of online therapy. Since that time, it has connected over 1 million clients with licensed therapists, bringing mental health care to millions regardless of their location or circumstances.

Talkspace primarily delivers therapy through unlimited text, audio, and video messaging. This allows clients and therapists to communicate when and how is most convenient for them, and get support when they need it most. Additional plan tiers offer clients the option for live video sessions. There are also plans for couples and teen therapy.

Talkspace’s 5,000 licensed therapists represent a variety of different approaches, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Psychodynamic, Mindfulness, and more. All users start with a free consultation to help them learn more about Talkspace’s services, and provide information that is used to match them with the most appropriate therapist.

In situations where prescription medication might be recommended, Talkspace can connect clients with a licensed psychiatrist with prescribing privileges, to help them access more treatment methods.

Talkspace partners with a number of health insurance providers, such as Cigna and Humana, to give employees access to care through their mental or behavioral health benefits. Clients can also use Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Accounts, or pay out of pocket for Talkspace’s services.

Price Appointment Types Accepts Insurance Therapists on Staff
Weekly: $49-$79 >Text, video, and audio messaging
>Video chat
Yes N/A

What Patients Are Saying

Many Talkspace users recommend the platform to those who feel too busy to accommodate therapy in their schedule. The convenience is unmatched,” writes one client. “I have a schedule of when to unwind and use my app, but it’s nice knowing I can access it whenever I need to.”

Teen Counseling — Best for Teens

teencounseling screenshot

Teens today face a number of unique pressures and challenges, making accessible mental health care specifically geared towards their needs more important than ever. Teen Counseling is a secure, convenient platform where parents and teens ages 13-19 can get guidance and support through these often challenging years.

Either a teen or their parent can initiate a membership with Teen Counseling. Regardless of who initiates the process, they will start by answering a series of questions to help identify the issues that need to be addressed, and match the client with an appropriate counselor. Teen Counseling’s staff of therapists includes licensed professional counselors, licensed clinical social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists, and psychologists. Common issues that Teen Counseling can help teens address include stress, depression, school challenges, family conflicts, LGBTQ issues, eating disorders, and more.

Clients can communicate with their therapist via video conferencing, phone calls, live text chats, and secure email messaging. Teen Counseling’s secure platform is accessible through their website or via their mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android devices. Communications between the teen and their therapist are kept confidential, although there are exceptions for situations regarding self-harm and abuse.

A Teen Counseling membership costs $60-$80 per week. Teen Counseling does not accept health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

Price Appointment Types Accepts Insurance Therapists on Staff
Weekly: $60-$80 (billed monthly) >Video chat
>Phone call
No 5,000+

What Patients Are Saying

Teens and parents both praise this therapy platform for providing effective and sensitive care. “Working with my therapist has been great,” writes one client. “I’ve learned to control my emotions a lot better, she’s fun to talk to, and I don’t feel shy about opening up to her.”

Amwell — Best for Insurance Coverage

amwell screenshot

Amwell is a telehealth platform that offers mental and behavioral healthcare among its many services.

Clients can use Amwell to speak to a therapist on-demand, or schedule an appointment. All appointments are conducted via a video chat, and clients can connect with their therapist via Amwell’s website or their mobile app, available for iOS and Android devices.

Amwell’s mental health care providers include doctoral-level psychologists, and master’s-level therapists and social workers who are trained in providing interventions and treatments via telehealth platforms. They also have psychiatrists on staff, to help clients who need prescription medications to manage their mental health care. Common mental health issues that Amwell’s therapists can help address include stress management, anxiety, depression, PTSD, insomnia, grief, and more. They also provide child and adolescent therapy for individuals ages 10-17.

Although clients have to create an Amwell account, this is not a subscription-based service. Clients are charged a flat per-session fee of $99 for a master’s-level therapist, or $110 for a doctoral-level therapist. Amwell accepts many major insurances, so individual copays may be less than the stated fees. Once a user has an Amwell account, they can also use the platform for other needs, like urgent medical care and dermatology, which are also available on a fee-for-service basis.

Price Appointment Types Accepts Insurance Therapists on Staff
Master’s level: $99
Doctoral level: $110
(Prices vary based on insurance coverage)
>Video chat

>Phone call

Yes 350+

What Patients Are Saying

Clients like using Amwell because it saves time while providing quality services. “I was pleasantly surprised to find how user-friendly Amwell was,” says one client. “I was cautiously optimistic that this would serve my needs, but from making the appointment to accessing the service, everything was phenomenal.”

Online-Therapy.com — Best Guided Therapy Program

online-therapy screenshot

Online-Therapy.com’s mission is to be a different type of online therapy platform. It’s approach is rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve mental health by challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors.

Online-Therapy.com uses CBT as the basis for eight-part guided therapy programs specifically tailored to a variety of mental and behavioral health issues, including anxiety, anger, obsessive-compulsive disorder, insomnia, addictions, depression, and more.

Online-Therapy.com offers its basic eight-section plan for free. This gives users access to information and hands-on tools, such as worksheets, to help them identify and overcome their issues, as well as yoga and meditation videos, journal exercises, and activity plans to help them improve their overall mental and physical well-being.

For clients who need more support, Online-Therapy.com offers three paid plans, which offer varying levels of access to licensed therapists who work with clients through the different steps of the program. Their popular Standard plan, which costs $47.96 per week, includes one live session per week, via video, voice, or text chat, as well as unlimited messaging Monday through Friday. Online-Therapy.com’s Premium plan, which costs $63.96 per week, includes two live weekly sessions and express replies from the therapist.

Online-Therapy.com assigns therapists to clients based on the client’s profile, although clients can request to switch therapists at any time. Although Online-Therapy.com delivers therapy through a pre-designed program, there is no set time limit for completing the program.

While Online-Therapy.com does not accept insurance, clients can pay using a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account.

Price Appointment Types Accepts Insurance Therapists on Staff
Trial: $0
Basic: $31.96/week
Standard: $47.96/week
Premium: $63.96/week
>Video chat
>Phone call
>Messaging
No 67

What Patients Are Saying

Online-Therapy.com clients have high praise for the company’s therapists. “My therapist is smart and intuitive, and really knows how to get to the bottom of my issues,” writes one user. Adds another, “My therapist has been instrumental in the positive changes I’ve seen so far.”

7 Cups — Best for Free Services

7 cups screenshot

7 Cups is a unique online therapy platform that uses technology to create a supportive community, and ensure that everyone has someone to talk to when they need it most.

Clients can access professional therapy services through 7 Cups for a flat rate of $150 per month. 7 Cups matches clients with an experienced licensed counselor, and creates a secure room where clients and therapists can exchange unlimited messages, and discuss a variety of mental health issues, including stress and anxiety, depression, grief, anger, relationship issues, and more. Clients can exchange messages with their therapist any time, from anywhere, via 7 Cups’ website or their mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android devices.

For individuals who aren’t sure if online therapy is right for them, or don’t need the full support of a therapist, 7 Cups lets users connect with volunteer “listeners” for free. While these listeners are not licensed therapists, they are trained to provide compassionate emotional support, and help create a community for individuals who simply need to talk, whether it’s about big, existential issues, or small, everyday challenges.

According to 7 Cups, their volunteer listeners come from all walks of life, and have a range of diverse experiences. Users can select a specific listener based on background, experience, or organization, or connect with the first available listener.

7 Cups also offers several other free tools for improving mental health and well-being, including support communities tailored to specific age groups or issues, self-help guides, and advice columns from licensed therapists.

Price Appointment Types Accepts Insurance Therapists on Staff
Monthly: $150 >Live chat Yes 180

What Patients Are Saying

One 7 Cups user describes the site as “a great community with kind people.” Whether clients use the free services or pay for therapy sessions, they can expect exceptional support. “All the therapists and listeners are really kind and make you feel like you belong somewhere,” says another user.

Doctor on Demand — Best for Medication Management

As the name implies, Doctor on Demand is all about giving clients access to quality mental and behavioral health care whenever they need it. Doctor on Demand’s team includes licensed therapists, as well as psychiatrists with prescription privileges. This makes Doctor on Demand a good option for individuals who need medications to help treat their conditions, as the platform’s psychiatrists can order electronic prescriptions to a convenient local pharmacy.

Doctor on Demand’s therapists can help clients address a number of common mental health issues, including anxiety and stress, depression, trauma, grief, relationship issues, and parenting challenges. It is free to sign up for a Doctor on Demand account; clients are charged a flat fee of $129 for a 25-minute session, and $179 for a 50-minute session. However, this platform does accept many major health insurance plans. Clients will be able to check during the sign-up process if their health insurance covers Doctor on Demand’s services.

Once you create an account, you will be able to browse profiles of available therapists, and schedule an appointment at your convenience. Sessions are held via video chat, either through Doctor on Demand’s website, or their mobile app, available for iOS and Android devices.

Price Appointment Types Accepts Insurance Therapists on Staff
25-minute session: $129
50-minute session: $179
(Prices vary based on insurance coverage)
>Video chat
>Phone call
Yes N/A

What Patients Are Saying

Clients love Doctor on Demand for making mental healthcare more accessible than ever. “This app has changed my mental health experiences for the better,” says one user. “Between struggling to physically make it to appointments and struggling with being consistent, Doctor on Demand has helped me in many ways.”

MDLive — Best Membership Plan

MDlive screenshot

MDLive is another full-service telehealth platform that offers mental health care in addition to medical and dermatology services.

It’s free to join MDLive, and typically takes about 15 minutes to create an account, including completing a questionnaire about your healthcare needs. Once you’re a member, you can schedule a session with one of MDLive’s licensed therapists or psychiatrists.

Unlike some other services, which match you with a therapist based on your preferences, MDLive lets you browse through profiles of available providers, and select the one you think is the best fit for you. Appointments for new users are typically available within a few days of signing up. Clients can connect with their therapist via phone or video chat, accessible through MDLive’s website or their mobile app.

As MDLive accepts health insurance, costs vary based on individual copays. Their flat fee for non-insured individuals is $108 per session with a therapist, or $284 for an initial session with a psychiatrist, and $108 for follow-up sessions.

In addition to mental health care, an MDLive membership gives users access to on-demand care for urgent medical needs like colds, fevers, pinkeye, and more, as well as dermatologists who can treat rashes, acne, and other basic skincare needs.

Price Appointment Types Accepts Insurance Therapists on Staff
Session: $108
(Prices vary based on insurance coverage)
>Video chat
>Phone call
Yes 1,000+

What Patients Are Saying

MDLive users appreciate this service for being flexible and accessible whenever they need help. “I really appreciate this platform,” says one client. “I needed a last-minute therapy appointment and was able to schedule a virtual visit using MDLive. It’s very easy to use, and I love the interface and tools.”

Pride Counseling — Best for LGBTQ+

pride counseling screenshot

Pride Counseling was founded to provide counseling that focuses on the specific needs of the LGBTQ+ community, in a safe, judgement-free space. As an online therapy platform, Pride Counseling creates a discreet, accessible environment for individuals to discuss issues related to mental health, relationships, and identity.

Upon joining Pride Counseling, clients will complete an intake questionnaire that the service will use to match them with a therapist. Pride Counseling’s roster of therapists include psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, and licensed professional counselors, all of whom specialize in working with the LGBTQ+ community. Clients are matched with a counselor, but can request a different therapist if they don’t feel it’s a good match.

Pride Counseling offers a variety of different session types for clients, including video chats, phone calls, and live text messaging sessions. Clients and therapists can also exchange asynchronous messages anytime, offering an additional way to ask questions, share thoughts, and receive feedback and guidance. Pride Counseling’s platform is accessible via their website, or mobile app, available for iOS and Android devices.

All of these communication methods are included in a Pride Counseling subscription, which costs between $60 and $80 per month. Pride Counseling does not accept health insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid.

Price Appointment Types Accepts Insurance Therapists on Staff
Weekly: $60-$80 (billed monthly) >Video chat
>Phone call
No N/A

What Patients Are Saying

Multiple Pride Counselor clients call the service “life-changing.” Says one user, “I’m so glad I reached out for help. My counselor is awesome, and I feel comfortable sharing everything with her.” Clients also cite the privacy and anonymity the platform provides as a key perk of Pride Counseling.

Online Therapy Sessions FAQs

What is online therapy?

Online therapy is the delivery of professional mental health counseling via a virtual platform, such as video or phone calls, live chats, and texting or email messaging.

The key difference between online therapy and traditional therapy is that the client and their therapist do not have to be in the same physical location.

With online therapy, sessions may be held synchronously, when a client and their therapist talk via video or phone call, or asynchronously, by exchanging messages.

Is online therapy effective?

Although online therapy is a relatively new way of delivering mental health care, thus far, research has shown that it is an effective way to treat a variety of common mental health issues.

Studies published in the Journal of Affective Disorders and the Journal of Anxiety Disorders have shown online therapy to be an effective treatment for common issues like anxiety and depression.

However, as with in-person therapy, the effectiveness of online therapy will vary based on multiple factors, including the relationship between the client and their therapist, the specific issues being addressed, and the client’s commitment to the therapeutic process.

What are the benefits of online therapy?

The primary benefit of online therapy is convenience. The ability to connect with a therapist virtually means that the process is more flexible and less time-consuming than in-person therapy. This also makes therapy more accessible to those in remote areas, or who have jobs or commitments that make scheduling appointments during business hours difficult.

Online therapy is discreet, and clients can choose the communication method with which they feel most comfortable. It is also typically more affordable than in-person therapy, especially as more insurance providers begin to cover telehealth services.

How much does online therapy cost?

Pricing models for online therapy services vary by platform. Some charge clients a flat per-session fee that can range from $99 to $179, depending on the length of the session and the therapist’s education level.

Other platforms that offer multiple communication methods charge a weekly fee that covers all available services These fees range from $50-$100 per week, but are often billed monthly.

Whether you have insurance, and whether an online therapy provider accepts that insurance, can also impact the cost of online therapy. Many platforms that do not accept insurance offer a sliding scale or discounts to individuals based on their income.

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