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Published: May 16, 2023 44 min read
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The word's largest online counseling service

  • Over 25,000 licensed therapists
  • Starting at $60/week
  • Live video & phone sessions
  • Unlimited messaging
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Licensed Therapist and Counselors

  • From $42/week
  • Licensed mental health professionals
  • Get help with a wide-range of mental health issues
  • Sessions can take place via unlimited text or live video
  • 24/7 client support
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Professional counseling for the LGBTQ+ community

  • Option to keep your identity a secret
  • No per-session fees or limits on how often you can speak to your therapist
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Online Counseling for Teens

  • Get matched with a therapist chosen just for you
  • No per-session fees
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Specialized in treatment of depression, anxiety and many other conditions

  • Three mental health plans available
  • Therapy only, medication only, or combination plans
  • Care Counseling with unlimited text messaging included in Medication plan
  • $10 average cost of medication for self-pay patients
  • Covered by some insurance plans
  • Licensed providers in all 50 states
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$30/consultation starting price

  • Get help with a variety of conditions such as depression, PTSD, anxiety, and many others
  • Couples counseling or individual therapy
  • Video psychiatry consultations and refill visits
  • In-person mental health consults available
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Speak to a licensed Christian therapist at any time

  • $40-$70/week
  • No per-session fees
  • Mobile app helps you stay connected on the go
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Best Online Couples Therapy

  • $60-$80/week
  • Both parties can view all messages from counselor
  • Get paired with a counselor chosen just for you
  • Change or cancel your subscription at any time
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Cognitive Behavior Therapy

  • $40-$80/week
  • Fully HIPAA-compliant
  • Online journaling, activity plan, and yoga videos with all subscriptions

Online therapy can be a convenient alternative to in-person therapy. Sessions with licensed professionals may be conducted as live video sessions, live audio-only sessions, live chat or messaging.

Many online therapy platforms, whether online or via mobile app, offer monthly subscriptions that include a designated number of sessions. People seeking online therapy can also find providers through sites that function like a marketplace, each with its own searchable network of licensed professionals who offer various types of therapy and psychiatry services.

We’ve evaluated some of the most popular choices for online therapy and categorized our top picks to help you find the service that’s right for you. Read on to see our top picks for best online therapy of 2023, plus information and resources for those considering remote therapy for the first time.

Our Top Picks for the Best Online Therapy of 2023

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Best Online Therapy Reviews

  • More than 30k licensed therapists
  • Many therapy types, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based therapy and family therapy
  • Access to support groups and an online journal that can be shared with the therapist
  • Sign up with a nickname instead of full name for added anonymity
  • Insurance not accepted
  • Cost is $60 to $90 per session
  • No sliding scale pricing
  • No financial aid

Why we chose it: Featuring one of the largest network of licensed therapists on the market, BetterHelp also offers the greatest variety of types of therapy (e.g., CBT, mindfulness, family therapy, couples therapy, counseling) and modes of communication (video, audio, messaging).

BetterHelp’s providers include clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors and psychologists. Some of the clinical approaches employed by BetterHelp providers include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Solution-focused therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Existential therapy
  • Trauma-focused therapy
  • Mindfulness therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT0

The platform also offers flexible scheduling options, with many providers available for appointments on nights and weekends. In addition to scheduled live video therapy sessions, BetterHelp’s providers can be accessed through phone sessions, live chat and 24/7 messaging.

After specifying what kind of therapy you’re looking for (individual, couples or teen), you’ll be prompted to provide background information. The platform offers a comprehensive range of options for pronouns, gender identity and sexual orientation. You’ll also be asked about your current emotional and mental state as well as your expectations from a therapist (someone who listens, explores your past, checks in with you or assigns homework).

Additionally, you can use filters that allow you to select therapists based on characteristics such as LGBTQ+, Christian-based, aged 45-plus, non-religious or a therapist of color. Matches between customers and therapists are typically completed within 24 or less.

A subscription to BetterHelp ranges from $240 to $360 per month, depending on factors such as location, preferences and therapist availability. It’s worth noting that BetterHelp does not accept insurance, though you may be able to seek reimbursement through your insurance carrier. Financial assistance is available to those who qualify; to find out more, contact customer support.

  • Treatment for a variety of conditions
  • Message the care team anytime
  • Combine therapy with medication management
  • Discounts for new subscribers, e.g., 50% off the first month
  • Access to behavioral therapy resources like mindfulness exercises
  • With eligible insurance plans, you must pay membership costs upfront, then obtain a refund from your insurer

Why we chose it: Providers at Cerebral offer support for a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, ADHD, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression and alcohol use disorder. Memberships are available for only online therapy, medication only or a combination of both types of treatment.

Clients are supported by a Care Counselor who will speak with you at least once a month to discuss your needs. All memberships come with access to your Care Counselor, as well as several extras, such as a progress tracker, to see how your mental health has changed over time. Tools for stress management and mindfulness exercises are included, too.

Below are the details of each membership as offered without insurance coverage.

Medication & Care Counseling

  • $99 per month
  • Live video or phone appointments with prescriber as needed
  • One live video or phone session with a therapist
  • Unlimited messaging to the care team
  • Free medication delivery

Therapy Only

  • $295 per month
  • Weekly live video or phone sessions with a therapist
  • Can send messages to the care team

Medication & Therapy

  • $365 per month
  • Weekly live video or phone sessions with a therapist
  • Live video or phone appointments with prescriber as needed
  • Free medication delivery

Cerebral accepts several insurance plans, such as Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cigna, in specific states. (Note: Cerebral requires that clients first pay the subscription cost and then apply for reimbursement from the insurance carrier). The platform also regularly offers discounts at signup to new subscribers, such as $150 off for the first month.

  • Prioritizes the needs of people from marginalized groups
  • Mental health professionals are required to commit to platform values, e.g., anti-racism, anti-ableism and anti-stigma
  • Financial aid and sliding scale pricing available
  • Therapy is offered within five days of requesting a session
  • Without financial aid or sliding scale pricing, individual sessions rates can cost up to $100 — higher than some other platforms that offer monthly membership pricing
  • Insurance acceptance varies by provider

Why we chose it: Inclusive Therapists stands out for its focus on providing affirming mental health care to individuals of marginalized groups. Additionally, the platform offers a broad range of clinical approaches and therapy types (e.g., individual, family) for various client needs and preferences.

Inclusive Therapists is a nonprofit collective of providers where individuals who belong to marginalized communities such as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color), individuals with disabilities and members of the LGBTQIA+ community are offered culturally conscious and affirming mental health services.

Clients can choose to get matched with a provider by entering preferences and other personal information on the Inclusive Therapists site. Matches are provided within five business days. They can also choose to independently browse the provider network, which is free to access, and book directly from there. Filters are provided for categories such as cultural knowledge, specialties (e.g., political climate stress, polyamory, body image, learning or intellectual disabilities, medical trauma) and therapeutic approaches.

The network of providers includes licensed professionals such as:

  • Psychologists
  • Psychotherapists
  • Counselors
  • Relationship therapists
  • Social workers
  • Psychiatrists
  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Mental health coaches
  • Family therapists

Many Inclusive Therapists providers accept insurance, while others offer sliding scale, self-pay rates ranging from $50 to $100 per session. In addition, Inclusive Therapists provides financial support for services through its sister nonprofit, Mental Health Liberation.

  • Combine psychiatry and therapy in one subscription
  • Data evaluated by AI tech aids providers in prescribing medications
  • Accepts insurance, such as Cigna, Aetna and United Healthcare
  • Membership discounts available for students
  • Therapy-only membership rate ($299) is a bit higher than some companies
  • Video visit is required for psychiatry appointments; some companies allow audio only

Why we chose it: Brightside Health offers a comprehensive membership for mental health care that includes both therapy and psychiatric services. Additionally, Brightside Health psychiatrists use data from AI tech alongside client-provided information to help identify best-fit medications and dosages.

The Medication + Therapy plan at Brightside Health offers a combination of talk therapy and medication (non-controlled substances only). Clients get access to weekly sessions with a therapist, plus an evaluation with a psychiatrist and weekly check-ins. After completing an initial assessment, Brightside Health matches clients with providers who may be available as soon as 24 hours from signup.

Conditions treated by Brightside therapists and psychiatrists include:

  • Panic disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Postpartum depression
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Major depression

Finding the most effective mental health medication is often a trial-and-error process, but psychiatrists at Brightside Health employ proprietary AI technology for improved results. The platform’s PrecisionRx tool compares over 100 patient data points with more than 1,000 medication and dosage combinations, which the site claims helps clients get on the right treatment track faster.

The Medication + Therapy bundle includes:

  • Weekly 45-minute video sessions with a therapist
  • Unlimited messaging with the therapist through the platform
  • Self-guided mental health education program
  • Evaluation via live video with a psychiatrist
  • Weekly check-ins with a psychiatrist
  • Prescriptions sent to the pharmacy of your choosing
  • Virtual tool to track mental health over time

The cost for Medication + Therapy is $349 per month. For therapy only, the cost is $299 per month. Medication alone is $95 monthly. Some insurance plans, such as Cigna, Aetna, United Healthcare and Anthem, may cover these memberships.

  • Lowest rates ($40 - $70 per session) among online therapy providers we evaluated
  • Student intern sessions available for $30
  • Designed for uninsured and underinsured people or people with annual income under $100,000
  • You must pay a one-time fee of $65 to access the provider network
  • No reimbursement of the membership fee if you cancel after beginning work with a provider
  • No psychiatry services
  • Open Path Online Wellness Courses require a $4.99 payment plus an additional fee for a completion certificate

Why we chose it: Open Path offers some of the most affordable online therapy sessions on the market, with prices ranging from $40 to $70 — and as low as $30 for sessions with student interns.

The nonprofit psychotherapy collective Open Path connects clients to providers who charge below-market rates. A one-time fee of $65 grants you lifetime access to Open Path’s directory of licensed therapy providers.

Its providers offer individual, couples and marriage therapy. Rates for sessions, whether online (video, audio) or in person at a provider’s office, range from $40 to $70, while sessions with student interns cost just $30.

Open Path providers have expertise in a wide range of areas, such as anxiety, body image, family conflict, codependency, burnout, racial and cultural identity, gender or sexual identity exploration and trauma. They also use various treatment approaches and techniques, including acceptance commitment therapy (ACT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Gottman Method, feminist, mindfulness and humanistic.

Additionally, Open Path offers low-cost wellness courses at $4.99 each. The self-paced online courses can be used for court-mandated education as well as personal growth.

Course topics include:

  • Parenting
  • Burnout prevention
  • Financial wellness
  • Grief and loss
  • Study skills
  • Nutrition and exercise
  • Self-esteem
  • Anxiety and stress reduction
  • Co-parenting and divorce
  • Alcohol and other drugs
  • Mindful social media

You can purchase a certificate of completion once you’re finished with a course. The cost depends on course length; for example, a certificate for a 4-hour course costs $17, while a 36-hour class certificate costs $100.

  • Most major insurance plans accepted
  • Easy-to-use provider directory
  • Comprehensive selection of service types (e.g., couples, individual) and counseling approaches
  • Few options for Medicaid
  • No platform for messaging with your provider
  • Session rates without insurance start at $99, higher than some other companies

Why we chose it: Thriveworks accepts a wide range of major carriers and its comprehensive directory makes it easy to find local providers who accept your plan.

Through the Thriveworks network of mental health professionals, you’ll find online therapy as well as psychiatry services via video sessions. You can also book in-person sessions for therapy or psychiatry at Thriveworks offices across the U.S. It accepts many major insurance carriers, including Blue Cross, United, Aetna, Cigna, Anthem and Humana.

Searching the Thriveworks directory for a provider who accepts your plan is simple: Simply filter by insurance company and add a location to see a list of provider profiles. From there, you can book the provider of your choosing.

Users can further refine their search by service type (couples/marriage, family, individual, medication/psychiatry) and counseling approach, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), existential therapy, emotionally focused or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Other search filters include client age, which starts at 0 and goes up to 65-plus, as well as provider gender and language.

Only a few Thriveworks providers accept Medicaid, so the company suggests contacting customer service for assistance. Additionally, many Thriveworks providers take patients without insurance; out-of-pocket (or self-pay) starts at $99 per session.

  • 24/7 access to your provider via messaging
  • Live chat and video sessions
  • Add extra live video sessions as needed
  • Psychiatry services available
  • Insurance accepted
  • Higher out-of-network psychiatry costs ($249 evaluation, $125 follow-ups) than some other companies on our list
  • Medicaid and Medicare not accepted

Why we chose it: Talkspace is a messaging-centric therapy platform ideal for clients who prefer communicating via text.

As a messaging therapy platform, Talkspace offers users 24/7 access to their providers. Clients can send text, audio and video messages anytime and receive a response at least twice per day on business days. Clients can add live chat and video sessions for an extra cost.

Therapy providers at Talkspace have a doctoral degree in clinical psychology or are certified, licensed clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists or professional clinical counselors.

Specializations among Talkspace providers include:

  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Substance abuse
  • Family conflict
  • Chronic illness
  • Trauma
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Parenting

Treatment is available to individual adults, couples and teens aged 13 to 17. Psychiatry services from medical doctors and nurse practitioners are also offered.

Memberships for individuals are as follows:

  • Messaging Therapy - $276 per month for 24/7 messaging with daily responses five days per week
  • Video + Messaging Therapy - $396 per month for weekly 30-minute video sessions plus anytime messaging
  • Video + Messaging + Workshops - $436 per month includes all of the above plus workshops
  • Add-on live video session - $65 per 30-minute session for members who don’t have live video in their subscriptions or have already used allotted sessions per month
  • Psychiatry - $249 for one initial 60-minute evaluation and shorter follow-ups at $125, on a per-session basis (not a monthly subscription)

Talkspace accepts some insurance plans, such as Cigna, Aetna, Optum, Coventry, United HealthCare and Blue Cross. In some states, Medicaid and Medicare are also accepted.

Additionally, self-pay clients may receive discounts, such as price reductions for first-time members and promotional discount codes advertised on the Talkspace site. Clients that pay for quarterly or biannual memberships, as opposed to monthly, can save between 10% and 20% off for quarterly payments.

  • Caters specifically to young children (18+ months) and teens (up to 18 years old)
  • Coaching sessions, behavior therapy and medication support offered
  • Support for parents, including caregiver-only sessions
  • Session rates for behavior therapy are $225 without insurance, higher than with other platforms
  • No discounted service bundles offered

Why we chose it: Brightline specializes in mental health care for children as young as 18 months old and teens up to 17 years old through providers who specialize in these age groups.

Brightline offers mental health care for toddlers, kids and teens with no monthly membership required. Coaching, behavior therapy and medication support via live video are provided by licensed professionals who, per Brightline requirements, have a minimum of five years of experience working with kids aged 18 months to 17 years old.

Coaching programs typically last four to six weeks and are open to children aged 18 months through 17 years old. Sessions are 30 minutes long and goal-oriented. Depending on the child’s needs, coaching could cover topics such as coping strategies for difficult situations, ADHD, sleep, self-esteem, navigating identity or school-related topics. Additionally, coaches offer interactive virtual exercises clients can practice between sessions.

Brightline also offers therapy for kids between the ages of six and 17. Video sessions last 55 minutes and are rooted in the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach. Care is offered for conditions such as depression, anxiety, trauma and ADHD, as well as for challenges like age-related transitions or issues at school. Therapists may work with the child to explore their past in search of connections to current behavior.

Psychiatry services, open to kids aged six to 17, begin with an initial evaluation via a 55-minute video session with a nurse practitioner (NP) in psychiatry. Brightline providers can only prescribe non-controlled substances. However, NPs can work with a child's primary care doctor to prescribe controlled medications (such as stimulants for ADHD or opioids for anxiety) when necessary. Follow-up appointment frequency is decided upon by caregivers and providers.

Brightline accepts several insurance carriers, such as Cigna, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Premera. Prices without insurance are as follows:

  • Coaching: $70 per 30-minute video session
  • Behavior Therapy: $225 per 55-minute video session
  • Medication Support: $270 for initial evaluation, then $190 per session

Parents and caregivers get support through Brightline, too. They can access educational resources and chat on-demand with coaches, therapists and psychiatrists. They can also schedule caregiver-only sessions, as well as sessions with their child.

  • Caregiver Check-in with Coach: $70 per 30-minute video session
  • Caregiver Check-in with Therapist: $170 per 30-minute video session
  • Caregiver Check-in with Psychiatrist: No charge for a 15-minute video or audio session
  • Counselors specialize in challenges relevant to teens, e.g., body image, bullying, academic issues, anxiety and gender/sexuality
  • Virtual messaging room for teen and provider, accessible 24/7
  • Live sessions by video, phone or chat
  • Diverse gender identity options at signup
  • Financial aid available to those who qualify
  • Insurance not accepted
  • No options for Medicaid
  • No customer service by phone

Why we chose it: Teen Counseling offers access to over 13,000 licensed counselors and therapists who specialize in online therapy for teenagers.

Weekly sessions with a Teen Counseling membership are conducted by live video, phone or chat, depending on client preference. Sessions are scheduled online or via the TeenCounseling app, and teens get a virtual messaging room where they can talk to their provider anytime.

At signup, parents and caregivers will find extensive gender identity options — including non-binary, transfeminine, transmasculine and agender — for their child. They’ll also be asked why they’re seeking therapy for their teens as well as their preferences in therapist specialties, such as depression, ADHD, LGBTQ+, family conflict, motivation and self-esteem.

A member of the Teen Counseling support team checks in with parents or caregivers and teens periodically to review their experience. Unless there is a serious concern, all communication between teens and their providers is private — including the virtual messaging room.

Teen Counseling doesn’t accept insurance, though clients can submit a claim for reimbursement to their provider. The monthly membership cost ranges from $240 to $360. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify.

  • Care for children from early months to age 14
  • Providers cover a range of challenges, including tantrums, bedtime, depression and family stress
  • Psychiatric services and medication management of non-controlled substances for conditions such as depression, anxiety and ADHD available
  • Support for parents/caregivers, including coaching and therapy
  • For potential new clients, a phone consultation (free) or a 30-minute video evaluation ($20) offered
  • Only insurance accepted is Kaiser Permanente
  • Prices are high compared to other online therapy platforms
  • Currently only available in California, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New York

Why we chose it: Little Otter provides clients with a support team — Care Leads, parenting specialists, therapists and psychiatrists — for comprehensive care for children (early months to age 14) as well as parents and caregivers.

Little Otter’s mental health care for children and their parents and caregivers starts with a mental health check-up, which they can fill out online or via the mobile app. They’ll then schedule a 30-minute evaluation for a fee of $20, during which a “care lead” helps them map out a plan of care. From there, clients can book subsequent 45-minute live video sessions ($200) for their child with their recommended therapist.

If desired, a psychiatry evaluation can also be scheduled (60 minutes at $500), as well as psychiatry follow-ups (30 minutes at $250). Additionally, parent/caregiver sessions can be booked at a rate of $200 for 45 minutes.

Little Otter only accepts Kaiser Permanente insurance. However, customers with other insurance plans can submit claims to their providers for potential reimbursement. Little Otter also offers bundles at discounted rates, such as the video therapy 12-session bundle for $2,040 — an overall savings of $360.

Parents still considering whether therapy is a good fit for their family can take Little Otter’s family check-up online or on the platform’s app; a preview of the results is complimentary. Additionally, they can book a free consultation by phone.

  • Specialized treatment for alcohol use disorder
  • Therapy sessions explore root causes, aim to create healthy coping mechanisms
  • Physicians are available to provide medication if needed
  • $45 initial sign-up fee in addition to the monthly cost
  • Session cost without insurance is more than $60. No information about financial aid is available

Why we chose it: Therapy at Monument seeks to address the root causes of alcohol use disorder to encourage lasting change. Physicians are also available to provide specialized medication that may help curb or stop alcohol use altogether.

Providers at Monument treat alcohol use disorder through therapy that addresses potential root issues (trauma, stressors, anxiety, depression, societal pressures), as well as guidance in adjusting self-destructive behaviors and learning healthier coping responses. Physician care may include prescription medications that may aid in curbing or stopping drinking altogether.

Monument offers three treatment subscriptions, all of which may be covered by insurance carriers such as Cigna, Optum, Blue Shield, Aetna, Medicaid and Medicare. Self-pay rates are below. There’s a $45 initial sign-up fee for each service.

Physician Care - $9.99 per month

  • One introductory physician appointment by video
  • Medication management
  • Unlimited chat messaging if prescribed medication
  • Additional video sessions with the physician at $45

Total Care - $149 per month

  • Two video therapy appointments per month
  • Unlimited physician appointments
  • Medication management
  • Unlimited chat messaging with therapist and physician

Total Care - $249 per month

  • Four video therapy appointments per month
  • Unlimited physician appointments
  • Medication management
  • Unlimited chat messaging with therapist and physician

Monument offers free access to its online community forum and support groups moderated by licensed therapists. These resources give you the opportunity to explore the community and can help you determine if Monument is a suitable option for you.

  • Extensive network of providers, including licensed clinical social workers, addiction counselors and marriage and family therapists
  • Therapist listings for adults, couples and children, plus support groups and treatment centers
  • Many providers offer sliding scale prices
  • Free educational resources available through the GoodTherapy blog
  • Insurance acceptance varies by provider
  • No provider rate cap is publicly disclosed
  • No options for messaged-based therapy

Why we chose it: GoodTherapy provides an extensive selection of providers to choose from. Its directory is well-structured for filtering by provider characteristics, e.g., language, gender and accessibility (such as assistive listening systems).

GoodTherapy is a directory of mental health providers. Within the network, users can find a wide variety of mental health professionals, including psychologists, family therapists, psychiatrists and residential treatment facilities. GoodTherapy ensures that all individual providers meet specific membership requirements, which include vetting for educational credentials such as a Master’s degree in psychology and relevant licenses.

There are multiple ways to find online therapy services within the network. One option is to use the search bar and select the “Telehealth” option, followed by your state. Alternatively, you can search for online therapists using the “Find a therapist” option by entering your zip code and selecting“Telehealth” as the “Type of Service.” The filters include language, accessibility, industries and communities served, and age group, all of which can be particularly useful in narrowing down potential providers.

However you choose to browse, the profiles you see will include information about the providers’ certifications, specialties and cost per session. Depending on the provider, you can pay through insurance or out of pocket. Many offer sliding scale prices.

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Other online therapy providers we considered

Teladoc Health

  • Multiple insurance carriers accepted
  • Out-of-pocket cost for therapy is capped at $99, psychiatry at $299
  • Minimum rates for therapy sessions aren't publicly listed
  • Minimum rates for psychiatry sessions aren't publicly listed

Teladoc Health, the parent company of BetterHelp, offers many medical services through its telehealth site and app. Talk therapy with psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists and licensed professional counselors is available at a rate of up to $99 per 45-minute session.

Psychiatry services are also offered; the maximum rate is $299. This rate could be lower with insurance; however, you do have to contact Teladoc to find out if they accept your particular plan.

Why Teladoc Health didn’t make the cut: Teladoc provides maximum prices on their website, but not exact rates. To find actual rates, you need to first set up an account.


  • Access to multiple medical services
  • Variety of mental health treatments available
  • Multiple insurance carriers accepted
  • Providers do not treat people with bipolar disorder
  • No treatment for children under 10 years old

MDLIVE offers a variety of medical services, including primary care, urgent care and dermatology. In addition, the telehealth company also provides therapy and psychiatry services for depression, parenting challenges, LGBTQ+ support, substance abuse and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Why MDLIVE didn’t make the cut: Treatment at MDLIVE is costlier than other companies in our top picks — therapy can cost up to $108 and psychiatry up to $284, per session. Additionally, no treatment is available for children under 10 years old or people with bipolar disorder.

Pride Counseling

  • Caters specifically to LGBTQIA+ community
  • Multiple gender identity and sexual orientation options to choose from
  • Reduced fees available for people in financial need
  • Other platforms for LGBTQIA+ people have lower base rates
  • No insurance carriers accepted

Owned by BetterHelp, Pride Counseling offers mental health care for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. At signup, clients can choose from multiple gender identity and sexual orientation options. Therapy methods offered include video sessions, phone sessions, live chat and messaging.

Pride Counseling doesn’t accept insurance, but you can try seeking reimbursement from your insurer. Like its parent company, subscription costs range from $240 to $360. However, Pride Counseling does offer reduced fees for people who need financial assistance.

Why Pride Counseling didn’t make the cut: The service is a solid option for LGBTQIA+ people, but we didn’t designate it Best for LGBTQIA+ because another company (Inclusive Therapists) requires specific commitments from its providers, and its rates are lower.


  • Providers are trained in relationship and couples therapy
  • Two users can share an account
  • No indicators that ReGain offers anything different than other companies who provide relationship or couples therapy
  • No educational mental health resources or virtual activities for in-between sessions

ReGain specializes in relationship therapy. In most cases, two users share a joint account, and all written communication is visible to both users. Sessions by video, phone and live chat include both users, and each can sign in remotely — they don’t have to be in the same room to receive therapy together. The cost of membership to ReGain follows the pricing structure of its parent company, BetterHelp. Membership rates are between $240 and $360 per month, based on location and preferences of service.

Why ReGain didn’t make the cut: Beyond users sharing an account, ReGain lacks extra features, such as educational resources or virtual activities to complete between sessions, that other platforms offer with similarly priced memberships.

Therapy for Black Girls

  • Caters specifically to the needs of Black women and girls
  • Virtual community subscription available
  • No filters in provider directory to sort providers by specialty

Therapy for Black Girls is a network of mental health care providers that focuses on encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls. To locate providers, you can use the searchable directory by selecting your state and using the “virtual” filter. Note that insurance acceptance and per-session costs may vary by provider.

For an additional $9.99 per month, Therapy for Black Girls offers a subscription to a virtual community called Sister Circle, where Black women can connect with peers and attend Q&A sessions and talks with experts on mental health topics.

Why Therapy for Black Girls didn’t make the cut: Our sole concern about Therapy for Black Girls is the lack of filters in the company’s search directory. For example, users can’t filter search by types of provider (e.g., therapists or psychiatrists) or treatment type. Instead, users have to click on individual providers to see what they offer.

Best Online Therapy Guide

To help you navigate the world of online therapy, we’ve gathered information on how it works, the differences between online and in-person sessions and more. You’ll also find free online therapy resources and guidance on selecting a provider that meets your needs.

Table of contents

What is online therapy?

Online therapy is a broad term used to describe remote alternatives to in-person therapy, such as video, phone calls or text-based sessions. By eliminating the need to visit a professional’s office, online therapy provides convenience as well as privacy to its patients.

Also called teletherapy, e-therapy and virtual therapy, online therapy usually requires an internet connection — hence the term “online.” However, if you don’t have an internet connection, you can access online therapy using a smartphone’s cellular data.

Like its in-person predecessor, online therapy providers are licensed healthcare professionals; they are psychologists, therapists and counselors. The same topics covered in a professional’s office — anxiety, depression, stress, relationship issues and other concerns — can be discussed during online therapy sessions. Sessions with licensed psychiatrists are also available through online therapy sites and apps.

The best online therapy sites and mobile apps provide a secure platform for patients. Security measures include vetting providers as well as facilitating secure and private video, phone or text sessions.

Types of online therapy

There are multiple types of online therapy. Patients can choose which method they prefer or, in some cases, use a combination of more than one kind.

  • Video-based therapy - Live sessions conducted through a video platform (similar to Google Meet or Zoom)
  • Audio-based therapy - Live, voice-only sessions conducted through a secure platform
  • Live chat therapy - Messaging back and forth with your provider during a set session time via a secure platform
  • Message-based therapy - Text messaging your provider, who will answer at agreed-upon intervals, on a secure platform

How online therapy works

Online therapy is much like in-person therapy, particularly in the way sessions unfold. Providers use many of the same treatment methods, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or mindfulness-based therapies.

The way you communicate with your provider is where the difference lies. Rather than travel to see your provider in person, you’ll access an online portal at your appointment time. From there, you’ll log into a live video, audio or chat session to begin your appointment.

For message-based therapy, you’ll send messages through a private platform. The frequency with which your provider answers will vary according to what you’ve agreed upon or what’s stipulated in your membership to a particular platform.

Like with in-person therapy, all communications with your provider are covered by doctor-patient privacy laws. You can also switch therapists anytime.

How to find the right online therapist

Most online therapy platforms start off by providing new patients with a questionnaire about their mental health past and present, as well as their therapy goals. This helps get you matched with an appropriate provider.

You can typically specify preferences, such as the provider’s gender, therapy approach (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy, humanistic therapy, dialectical behavior therapy) or whether they belong to the LGBTQIA+ community. Note that changing your therapist is permitted with the vast majority of platforms, so don’t feel like you must continue with a specific therapist if you think they’re not for you.

Consider if the following characteristics are important to you when looking for a therapist:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Language
  • Sexual orientation
  • Methods (e.g., mindfulness techniques, cognitive behavioral therapy)
  • Specialty (e.g., anxiety, depression, trauma, relationships)

If you aren’t sure what you’re looking for, try a general mental health assessment (Psychology Today) or take a specific-issue screening. While the results of these tests cannot give you a definitive diagnosis, they can help you identify topics you may want to ensure your provider covers.

Technology and security behind online therapy

All communications shared with your therapist are private and confidential, just like with in-person therapy. Live video, audio and chat sessions are conducted on encrypted platforms, typically with as much security as a banking site.

Most platforms use multiple-server distribution, plus browser and database encryption. To find out the details of a specific platform’s security, check their FAQ page and privacy policy.

The benefits of remote therapy

There are considerable upsides to remote therapy, whether you opt for video, audio, or message-based sessions.

Consider some of these benefits:

  • Convenience - You don’t have to leave your home for a session
  • Short wait time - You can often schedule within days of selecting a provider
  • Flexible scheduling - Many online providers offer night and weekend appointments
  • Accessibility - Most platforms allow you to message your provider anytime
  • Privacy - Eliminates any possible concerns about visiting a mental health services office
  • Ease of changing providers - You can switch to a new provider easily with most platforms

Why is online therapy important?

Online therapy is often said to have helped democratize mental health care, making it more accessible to more people. The flexibility offered by online therapy, including the absence of travel time and the availability of night and weekend appointments, has made mental health care more accessible to individuals with busy schedules. Furthermore, the remote nature of online therapy can benefit those with mobility issues or transportation hurdles.

Unfortunately, social stigmas around mental illness and therapy still exist, which can affect a person’s likelihood of seeking treatment. However, those who feel intimidated about seeing a therapist in person may find comfort in the privacy of remote video, audio or message-based sessions.

Online therapy is often more affordable than in-person therapy, especially for those without insurance. In-person sessions without insurance can often cost as much as $200. Meanwhile, many online therapy platforms offer subscription plans and sessions ranging between $60 to $90 each. There are also multiple directory sites where clients can find therapists who offer sliding scale rates.

Does insurance, Medicare or Medicaid cover online therapy?

Whether or not online therapy is covered by a health care plan will depend on your provider and the online therapy platform or service you’re using.

Many online therapy companies accept private insurance, employer benefits, Medicare or Medicaid. You should contact your preferred online therapy platform to find out if it accepts your insurance. You can also look to online therapy networks like Open Path or GoodTherapy, where you’ll find providers’ profiles listing the plans they accept.

People covered by Medicare can also access online therapy services covered by their plan. Medicare Part B is particularly helpful in assisting with the expenses related to mental health treatment, including psychiatry. Typically, Medicare covers 80% of the therapy cost after the Part B deductible and coinsurance cost. For further information, refer to the Medicare webpage on psychology, talk therapy and psychiatry.

Online therapy is also covered by state-run Medicaid plans in the same way these plans cover face-to-face services. However, Medicaid doesn’t typically cover online therapy platform subscriptions, but instead virtual sessions from individual providers. Most state Medicaid programs have websites and customer service centers that can provide more information about mental health care coverage. Be sure to check the details in your state.

If your online therapy platform or provider does not accept your insurance carrier, you may request a superbill from customer service or the individual provider. A superbill is similar to a receipt that contains the total cost of all services received. You can then send this superbill to your insurance company in the hopes of receiving partial or total reimbursement for your expenses.

Online therapy pros and cons

Virtual therapy has loads of upsides — but there are a few downsides, too. Consider the following when deciding if you want to try online therapy.

Pros Cons
Potential for improved mental health Online therapy is not appropriate for severe situations like thoughts of suicide or self-harm
Access to a wider range of therapists Some online therapy platforms can be costly without insurance; research is required to find the best rates
Variety of session styles: Video, audio/phone, live chat Provider can’t read non-verbal cues or body language during audio or text sessions
Sessions are remote; no traveling to appointments Reliable internet or smartphone connection required
Many platforms offer 24/7 messaging with your provider Some controlled substances, such as benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax) or hypnotics (e.g., Ambien), may not be available through online psychiatry

Differences between online therapy and in-person therapy

Both online therapy and in-person therapy are proven to impact your mental health in positive ways. However, there are several key differences between the two methods of receiving care.

Online Therapy In-Person Therapy
Convenience of appointments at home Must travel to provider office
Flexible and quick scheduling; many providers offer nights/weekends Scheduling wait can be weeks long and is limited to the provider’s office hours
Access to a wider range of therapists Therapist access limited by distance
Increased privacy; appointments conducted at home Decreased privacy; must visit office of provider
Can remain mostly anonymous if you choose, especially with messaging or audio/phone No anonymity
Virtual psychiatrists cannot prescribe controlled substances, e.g., benzodiazepines Psychiatrists can prescribe full range of medications, including controlled substances
Provider sees limited non-verbal cues/body language Provider can evaluate non-verbal cues, body language

How to choose the best online therapy platform

When evaluating platforms, consider the following factors to help you identify what might be best for you.

  • Session types: Many platforms offer video and audio/phone, and some offer live chat. There are also platforms that allow you to message your provider anytime.
  • Types of therapy: Make sure the platform offers the type of therapy you’re looking for as not all providers can offer all.
  • Therapist qualifications: Credentials for mental health care providers vary. They include licensed professional counselor (LPC), licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) and clinical psychologist (this means they have a doctoral degree), among others. Ensure the online therapy platform or network you choose includes credentials in provider profiles.
  • Appointment scheduling: Online therapy generally offers short wait times and availability on nights and weekends, but that isn’t the case with every platform or provider you find in an online network.
  • Cost: Some platforms offer monthly subscriptions, while others operate on a pay-per-session basis. With some networks, you pay your provider directly.
  • Insurance: If you want to use insurance to cover the cost of your sessions, check to make sure the platform or provider you choose is in-network. It’s also helpful if the platform or provider offers guidance for insurance claims.
  • Medication management: Only certain mental health care providers are licensed to prescribe medication. These include psychiatrists, physician assistants and psychiatric-mental health nurses. Not all online therapy platforms offer medication management, though many do. Only non-controlled medications can be prescribed through online therapy platforms.

Questions to ask when evaluating online therapy options

  • What are your specific needs? First and foremost, ask yourself what you want to achieve with online therapy.
  • Do I want medication available through my provider? If you’re considering or are already taking prescribed medication, you’ll want to choose a platform that provides medication management. Only non-controlled medications can be prescribed through remote psychiatry services. If you’re looking into a network of providers, search for psychiatrists.
  • Am I most comfortable with a therapist who belongs to the same community as me? Some people feel most comfortable with a therapist with whom they share similar traits, such as ethnicity or being part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Many online therapy platforms allow you to filter your provider search by specific characteristics.
  • What additional features does the membership offer? Many online therapy sites and apps offer a range of additional tools for mental health care, such as workbooks and progress trackers. Consider whether or not this could be helpful for you.
  • Is the online therapy platform or network private and secure? If you’re concerned about the security of your sessions, consult the FAQ on any given online therapy platform for details on the company’s policies. For additional questions, reach out to customer service.

Is online therapy right for you?

For many, online therapy is an effective alternative to in-person therapy. Finding a provider and scheduling a session is often a much faster process than with traditional therapy and mental health care. The convenience of remote sessions is another bonus many people appreciate. In addition, online therapy can be more affordable than in-person therapy, particularly for individuals without insurance.

Still, online therapy isn’t the best fit for everyone. Some people prefer the traditional route instead. They may feel video sessions aren’t as personal, or they simply may not like online or smartphone video calls, period. Additionally, if you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, it may be best to seek immediate help through a crisis line or in-patient care.

Some online therapy platforms and individual virtual therapy providers offer short consultations at free or reduced rates or free trials for a short period. This could help you decide how you feel about the format before committing to a monthly subscription.

Free online therapy resources

If paid online therapy is not an option for you, know that there are alternative ways to find care – including immediate help if you’re in crisis.

Free online therapy and free virtual counseling

  • 211 - This United Way resource connects callers to many services, including free and low-cost mental health care. Call 211 or search the site using your location
  • Bliss - This 8-session interactive therapy program is provided by the Centre for Interactive Mental Health Solutions. It’s centered on depression and is free to complete on your own.
  • 7 Cups - While 7 Cups also offers online therapy subscriptions at $150 per month, anyone can access its free, 24/7 chat rooms, where you can remain anonymous. Volunteers are on hand to hear and support you.
  • Warmline Directory - A “warmline” is like a crisis hotline but reserved for less immediate situations. See this site for a state-by-state directory
  • Mental health app guide - Many apps offer free resources; this guide offers a searchable directory

Free crisis resources available 24/7 in the United States

  • Crisis Text Line - Connect with a crisis counselor by texting HOME to 741741, chatting online or messaging via Whatsapp
  • 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline - Call 988 for confidential support in a suicidal crisis or emotional crisis, and see the site for a breadth of helpful resources
  • Call BlackLine - Prioritizing BIPOC and LGBTQ+ Black Femmes. Call or text 800-604-5841 for peer support, counseling, reporting of mistreatment.
  • Trans Lifeline - Call or text 877-565-8860 for community support and resources
  • Military Helpline - Call 888-457-4838 for staff trained to help veterans or active military personnel
  • YouthLine - Teens can find crisis support by: texting teen2teen to 839863, calling 1-877-968-8491, chatting online or emailing teen2teen@linesforlife.org

Latest News on Online Therapy

It is now easier than ever to find affordable pricing and insurance coverage, as well as free online therapy resources, such as mindfulness exercises and breathwork therapy.

Best Online Therapy FAQ

What types of therapy are available online?

Online therapy providers offer a similar range of treatments as in-person therapists, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based interventions, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR).

Is online therapy confidential and private?

Yes. Just like in-person therapy, online therapy providers are bound by HIPAA and patient confidentiality laws set by the state in which they are licensed. The same standards of in-person therapy also apply to threats of harm to yourself or others: Your therapist is required to report this information to relevant authorities.

Is online therapy as effective as in-person therapy?

Studies have shown that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy for individuals seeking treatment for mental health conditions or to improve their emotional well-being. However, the effectiveness of online therapy varies depending on the person receiving treatment and the provider or platform they work with.

How to pay for online therapy


Depending on the online therapy platform or individual remote therapy provider, you may be able to pay for sessions using private insurance providers, Medicare or Medicaid. Many platforms also accept payment from an HSA (health savings account) and FSA (flexible savings account).

You may also be able to access online therapy through your employer benefit program. Otherwise, you can typically pay with most major credit cards. Some online therapy platforms also accept payments through PayPal.

How We Chose the Best Online Therapy

In evaluating online therapy options and choosing our top picks, we considered the following:

  • Types of treatment offered - psychology, counseling, psychiatry, wellness resources
  • Types of therapy offered - video, audio, live chat, messaging
  • Cost - membership plans or per-session pricing
  • Insurance acceptance
  • Provider credentials - licensing and other vetting measures
  • Ease of scheduling, including appointment availability
  • Reviews from clients via third-party sites

Summary of Money’s Best Online Therapy of 2023