Best online therapy sites for 2021

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Today, millions of people receive the benefit of therapy online, for a simple reason: It works. 

There are several quality online therapy platforms, including free online therapy apps, as well as online therapy paid for by your insurance. But with so many options out there, finding the best online therapy platform or app can be overwhelming. With this in mind, we’ve reviewed the most popular online therapy sites so that you don’t need to do the research yourself, choosing out favorite sites and explaining why they stand out. 

hese two therapy sites stood out from the rest based on value relative to cost, ease of use, and reviews by customers and third-party credentialing agencies:

  1. We chose BetterHelp as the best online therapy platform overall. This is because of its A BBB rating, immediate access to a large selection of tens of thousands of therapists with infinite specialties and qualities, 100% of packages include live video sessions, offering of individual therapy, couples counseling, therapy for teens and LGTBQ members through its Pride brand. Use this link to get 20% off and get connected with a therapist immediately >>
  2. We chose Online-therapy.com as runner-up for online therapy sites. This platform is affordable, based in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which is proven to help those with depression and overall well being, and is offering for free portions of its coursework for 100% free in light of the pandemic. 

There are several important factors we use to chose the best online therapy sites to recommend:

Rating and reviewsHow does this online therapy company rate with Better Business Bureau, Trustpilot, and individual client reviews?
Ease of useIs the online therapy company's technology up-to-date with a great app, multiple modes of communication, and otherwise great user experience?
PriceWhich sites are a) most price competitive, b) transparent in pricing, c) offer financial aid
Honesty and transparencyHow is customer service? Are there hidden fees? Is it easy to change therapists? Is canceling straight-forward? Is it easy and fast to connect with a helpful customer service representative through multiple channels — chat, email, phone. 
ContentSome sites do a better job than others at creating content — articles, podcasts, videos, online events — that compliment the live therapy itself. This is important since people grow and learn through different modes, in addition to talk therapy.
SecurityWe rated each online therapy platform for its compliance with Internet security practices, which work to prevent malicious third-parties from accessing your medical, personal, and financial data. 
PrivacyIs the site HIPAA compliant? Does it take steps to ensure that your personal and health information will never be shared illegally. Do users have the option to engage anonymously? 
Dr. Tracy Pobuda, PhD, reviewed the content of this site with an eye towards accuracy, and adherence to clinical best practices.

No. 1 Best online therapy site and app: BetterHelp

Our #1 online therapy site choice is BetterHelp, which also happens to be the most widely used online therapy app. BetterHelp offers therapy via phone, text, and video, for fees starting at $65/week. Financial assistance is available. A BBB rating. Use this link to get 20% off and get connected with a therapist immediately >>

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder and editor, Emma Johnson, chose BetterHelp when she was looking for a therapist. Here’s what she found in her investigation of and experience with BetterHelp.

BetterHelp reviews and ratings

BetterHelp worked with Berkeley Well-Being Institute on a study that found BetterHelp to be as effective as face-to-face therapy. The study found:

  • 98% of BetterHelp users made significant progress
  • 94% of BetterHelp users preferred the service over traditional, face-to-face therapy
  • 70% users reported reduced depression

BetterHelp currently has an A rating with the BBB, and has been accredited with the organization since 2015. The company also has an average score of 4.12 out of 5 stars, taken from more than 290 real customer reviews. While most of the reviews consist of 4 or 5 stars, there are a handful of 1-star reviews, which are mostly related to confusion around billing. 

BetterHelp also scores 4.5 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot, based on more than 3,000 customer reviews. These reviews mirror the same key praise and complaints found on the BBB website.

Ease of use 

BetterHelpmakes it very easy to both sign up and participate in therapy. 

To sign up for therapy using BetterHelp, all you need to do is create an account. As a part of this process, you’ll answer a short questionnaire that the company will use to get to understand you and why you are seeking therapy. Within 24 hours (or sooner!) you’ll be paid with a therapist.

Therapy itself can take many different forms through BetterHelp, depending on your own personal preferences and style. You can text your therapist throughout the day, or you can schedule a phone call, video session, or even a live chat. However you best respond to therapy, BetterHelp has an option for you.

You can access the BetterHelp platform through either their app or their website.

BetterHelp price 

BetterHelp is less expensive than its competitors with prices starting at $65/week for unlimited texting and one live session per week — and a 20% discount for new clients. Financial assistance is available.

Honesty and transparency 

BetterHelp is also very open and clear about its pricing, and makes it easy to cancel, change therapists, and otherwise manage your account. Here is one of the first emails our editor, Emma Johnson, received from BetterHelp when she first signed up for the service:

How to cancel BetterHelp, change therapists.

We like that the upcoming charge was announced well in advance, and the site proactively offered ways to change therapists, cancel and apply for financial assistance. No need to go hunting for this information — much less get a customer service runaround. This made us feel like BetterHelp truly aims to help clients, and offer quality service.

Content 

BetterHelp has dedicated a lot of time and attention toward creating high-quality, valuable content for those seeking information about mental health. This content ranges from blog posts and articles describing different types of therapy to real, practical advice that you can use to address your personal mental health concerns. Key areas of focus for this content include depression, anxiety, and much more. The best part is that all of this content is completely free: Even non-members can access it.

BetterHelp members also have access to this content, as well as group therapy sessions for 20 specialty topics — included in your fee.

Security 

The BetterHelp website is hosted with an SSL certificate and 256-bit encryption, which is best-of-breed online security. When you use the website, you can feel confident that your information and privacy are well protected. 

Privacy 

BetterHelp takes your privacy seriously. The company only hires therapists that are HIPAA compliant, and takes special steps and precautions to ensure that your personal information is always protected. 

The first way that BetterHelp protects your privacy is by shielding your identity from your therapist. When you begin working with a BetterHelp therapist, you will choose a nickname that they will know you as. Outside of this information, you remain virtually anonymous to your therapist. Unless you choose to engage in a video session, they don’t even need to know what you look like.

Second, if BetterHelp ever needs to contact you for whatever reason—for example, to let you know that you have a message from your counselor—they will never include any identifying or sensitive information in their emails. They will send you a very basic, straightforward email letting you know that you have a notification. To read the message, you’ll need to actually log into the system. This means you never have to worry about your kids, significant other, or your ex seeing something you don’t want them to see.

BetterHelp also guarantees that they will never share your information with any third party, ever. You even have the option to permanently delete any messages you receive to your BetterHelp account, if you choose to do so.

More on BetterHelp

Unlike other online therapy sites, which also offer quality therapy, all BetterHelp packages include one-on-one therapy — and not just ongoing messaging. Other sites require you pay extra for those sessions.

BetterHelp's secure app is just as dynamic as its desktop website, and helps make therapy even more accessible, since you can conduct live sessions from your office, car, on walks — wherever works for you.

To get started, you can browse a list of BetterHelp's therapists, read client reviews, and start the process of feeling better.

One of the features that many users like about online therapy company BetterHelp is how much control you have over choosing a therapist, and how often you interact with your therapist.

The onboarding process allows you to choose a BetterHelp therapist's qualifications and attributes, including:

  • Gender
  • Race
  • Religion
  • LGBTQ
  • Teens
  • Specialists in various needs, including addiction, eating disorders, trauma, grief, sexuality, anxiety, depression, couples and relationship therapy
  • Therapy types, including Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Client- or Person-Centered Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, etc.
  • Experience working with various personal, family and mental health issues
  • Communication and personality style

BetterHelp's process starts with a text exchange with an online matchmaker, who will ask you about your therapy history, reasons for seeking therapy, and if there are any special considerations you'd prefer (here's where you'll want to disclose your preference for, say, a female counselor or a therapist specializing in panic disorders, etc.).

You receive a form, similar to a traditional office's intake form, to fill out and send back, and then you're paired with your “primary therapist.”

Because this is all happening in real-time, you will be matched with a therapist within 24 hours.

The timeliness of the process is an especially helpful aspect of BetterHelp — especially for busy moms, or those who struggle with anxiety or depression, or otherwise are eager to start working with a therapist.

Read Wealthy Single Mommy editor Emma Johnson's BetterHelp review, including her own personal experience with the app, or get connected with a BetterHelp therapist now and get 20% off >>

Here is her video review:

Our #1 pick for online counseling is BetterHelp. Your regular therapist, or a counselor near you, likely also offers online sessions.

BetterHelp offers a large database of more than 18,000 online therapists that it may match you with. The site states:

“We have found that we are able to provide a successful match most of the time; however, if you start the process and you feel your counselor isn't a good fit for you, you may elect to be matched to a different therapist.”

Each counselor is verified via:

  • Licensing
  • Good standing with their licensing board
  • Video review
  • 100% BetterHelp therapists have a Master's or Doctorate degree
  • Minimum 3 years and 2,000 hours of training.

“The result of this rigorous 4-5 week process is that only about 15% of the therapists who apply to work through BetterHelp are accepted to the platform,” BetterHelp's site states. 

Additionally, BetterHelp isn’t the only therapy site. Realizing the need for affordable, accessible mental health support for everyone, BetterHelp launched Pride Counseling, Teen Counseling, ReGain Relationship Counseling, and Faithful Counseling. However, you get the same benefits of using these sites by using BetterHelp.com because of their counselor matching process.

Unique types of therapy offered by BetterHelp

Teen Counseling 

Teen Counseling is an online therapy platform to help meet the mental and emotional needs of teens aged 13 to 19.

The site also caters to parents, with parents or guardians having access to the same therapist (though the discussions are confidential at all times, unless the therapist has a concern about serious risk). Each can have unlimited contact with the counselor, via whatever digital method is preferred: video call, phone call, or messaging.

Teen Counseling is aimed at teens ages 13 to 19, though either a parent/guardian or a teen can initiate the sign-up process. The online counseling for teens website has an A+ rating through the Better Business Bureau, via its parent company BetterHelp.

Pride Counseling

The LGBTQ community members suffer from mental health challenges at a twice the rate of the general population — with suicide rates at twice that of straight people, and nearly half of transgender adults attempting suicide within the past 12 months, compared with just 4% of the general public, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness.

Additionally, depression, anxiety and PTSD are experienced at a much higher rate among those who identify as LGBTQ. Pride Counseling set out to be a catalyst to getting the help to those who need it with LGBTQ therapists.

Pride Counseling does offer financial assistance. Otherwise, rates start at $65 per week for unlimited messaging and weekly sessions, no coupon code required.

ReGain Relationship Counseling

Whether you are working on your first, second or third marriage, another romantic relationship, or trying to improve your co-parenting relationship with your child's other parent, online relationship therapy can be an affordable, convenient, and productive tool.

Bonus: You don't have to be in the same room with the person, since you communicate with the counselor via chat, text, email, voice or video!

If your relationship is in trouble, couples counseling could be the answer. Enter ReGain, an online platform that helps couples find counselors to help them get their relationships back on track — or save it.

ReGain is a sister site to BetterHelp, our favorite online therapy source, which earned an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

ReGain starts at $65 a week for unlimited messaging and one weekly live video or phone session.

Faithful Counseling

Faithful Counseling brings together licensed therapists who are practicing Christians and clients who are seeking faith-based mental health care.

“By combining Biblical wisdom with clinical expertise in mental health, our counselors do their best to invite God into the conversation and formulate actionable plans that best address the unique challenges their clients face,” the website states.

Faithful Counseling clients can access both pre-scheduled sessions with their therapist as well as have unlimited messaging with counselors any time they are available. You can also pick your preferred method of discussion for each session, either by phone, video call, or messaging. Because of the unlimited contact, costs for Faithful Counseling can be much lower than a traditional, per-session charge.

Faithful Counseling is one of the services offered under the umbrella company BetterHelp, which has an A+ Better Business Bureau rating.

Listen to Wealthy Single Mommy founder Emma Johnson interview BetterHelp therapist Haesue Jo about anxiety, depression, isolation — and how to find joy, relief and beauty — during the COVID-19 pandemic, on her Like a Mother podcast:

Second best site for online therapy: Online-Therapy.com

Online-Therapy.com is an online therapy platform that consists of a dedicated team of consultant therapists, cognitive-behavioral therapists, practitioners and support staff that collaboratively works to help people in need of emotional support.

This online therapy company gives you full access to an online therapy program designed for your specific needs with easy-to-follow information and hands-on tools, your daily journal and activity plan, including daily contact with your therapist (Monday-Friday), tests to monitor your progress and access to the forum.

Online-Therapy.com's programs are based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has been developed on the idea that your thoughts are what cause your feelings and behaviors, not external stimuli like people, situations and events.

Online-Therapy.com is supporting the public through COVID by offering free access to its online therapy program with 8 easy-to-follow sections and 25 worksheets, yoga and meditation videos, activity plan, journal, and tests.

Online-therapy.com reviews and ratings

Online-therapy.com is owned and operated by CRN Solutions AB, which is headquartered in Sweden. The company is not accredited with the BBB, and does not have a profile or any reviews on the BBB website. Likewise, it does not have any reviews on Trustpilot.

That said, Online-therapy.com has collected more than 1,600 customer reviews directly, the vast majority of which are 5 out of 5 stars. The average review is 4.7 out of 5 stars. You can see some of the most recent reviews below:

Additionally, Reddit offers a wealth of reviews for the company, mostly positive.

Ease of use 

Unlike other online therapy apps that are really traditional therapy, but online, Online-therapy.com bills itself as a “therapy toolbox,” consisting of an online worksheet and video tutorial program, with therapist support and sessions offered on a tiered-basis.

The platform is web-based, and can easily be accessed on desktop computers, smartphones, or tablets with internet access. As of right now, the company does not offer a mobile app.

Online-therapy.com price 

Online-Therapy.com's website is easy to navigate, and with prices that start at $31.96/week. 14-day money-back guarantee.

Honesty and transparency 

Unlike many companies, which would hide the secret to their methodology and processes behind some kind of gate, Online-therapy.com is pretty open and honest about how they work. 

Right on the homepage is information about how the company leverages content, therapist sessions, worksheets, messaging, journal entries, a personalized activity plan, yoga,meditation, and more to help you reach your goals. 

Online-Therapy.com’s reviews page does not just display reviews that show it in a positive light. While the majority of reviews are either 4 or 5 stars, you can also read a handful of 2-star and 3-star reviews. This is the kind of behavior that we expect from a business with nothing to hide, and we’re happy to see it. 

Finally, if you want to cancel, pause, or downgrade your subscription, you can do so at any time. However, you will not typically receive a refund for days or appointments that you have already paid for.

Content 

Online-Therapy.com provides a complete toolbox of resources built on the success of CBT:

  • An online, self-directed, 8-module Cognitive Behavioral Therapy course
  • Worksheets — with daily feedback from your personal therapist
  • Journal
  • Live chat, video or phone sessions with your personal certified and licensed therapist
  • Action plan — where you add activities that bring meaning and joy to your life
  • Meditation videos
  • Yoga videos

Additionally, the website includes information and advice about mental health issues, including agoraphobia, anger management, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, insomnia, OCD, panic attacks, PTSD, relationship issues, stress, weight issues, and more. 

Security 

Online-therapy.com is hosted on an 256-bit encrypted SSL certificate, ensuring that any information you share is safe and protected from prying eyes. Additionally, the platform takes precaution to ensure that any information that is saved is done so on an encrypted server which can only be accessed by you and your therapist. 

Any information that you have submitted to the platform is automatically deleted after two years, in order to prevent data leaks or hacking, and if you choose to, you can delete your account whenever you wish. Alternatively, you can also choose to download all of your data as well. 

Privacy 

Online-therapy.com states that they have designed their platform to meet and exceed HIPAA guidelines. Your information is protected by multiple layers of security, requiring multiple checks and controls in order to keep you safe. Databases, chats, videos, and any audio between you and your therapist are encrypted end-to-end. 

You can choose to remain anonymous with your therapist for whatever reason, as well as choose a nickname to go by so that your therapist doesn’t know your real name.

More on Online-therapy.com

Online-Therapy.com does not have an app. Instead, clients log in directly to their accounts via smartphones or tablets.

The online portal allows for text, phone or video appointments.

Read the Online-Therapy.com review or get started now with a 20% off discount to Online-Therapy.com >>

More online therapy sites reviewed

While we have chosen BetterHelp and Online-therapy.com as our top choices, other therapy websites and apps are also available. We’ve reviewed these alongside our top choices. 

There are several important factors we used to vet the best top online therapy sites to make the above recommendations for BetterHelp and Online-therapy.com. Here’s how we came up with the “best” list so you can see why these other sites didn’t quite make the cut:

Rating and reviewsHow does this online therapy company rate with Better Business Bureau, Trustpilot, and client reviews?
Ease of useIs the online therapy company's technology up-to-date with a great app, multiple modes of communication and otherwise great user experience?
PriceWhich sites are a) most price competitive, b) transparent in pricing, c) offer financial aid
Honesty and transparencyHow is customer service? Are there hidden fees? Is it easy to change therapists? Is canceling straight-forward?
ContentSome sites do a better job than others at creating content — articles, podcasts, videos, online events — that compliment the live therapy itself. This is important since people grow and heal through different modes, in addition to talk therapy.
SecurityWe rated each online therapy platform for its compliance with Internet security practices, which work to prevent malicious third-parties from accessing your medical, personal and financial data. 
PrivacyIs the site HIPAA compliant? Does it take steps to ensure that your personal and health information will never be shared illegally. Do users have the option to engage anonymously? 

1. Talkspace: Online therapy site review

Talkspace is one of the giants of online therapy. They are a direct competitor of BetterHelp. 

Talkspace has done brand partnership deals with celebrities including Demi Lovato and Michael Phelps. While this is a buttoned-up site with quality service, note that base prices do not include live therapy sessions — phone or video — like BetterHelp does. 

During an initial text exchange, a virtual Talkspace matchmaker will ask you about your therapy history, reasons for seeking therapy, and if there are any special considerations you'd prefer (here's where you'll want to disclose your preference for, say, a female counselor or a psychotherapist specializing in panic disorders, etc.).

You receive a form, similar to a traditional office's intake form, to fill out and send back, and then you're paired with your “primary therapist.”

The speed of registering is an especially helpful aspect of Talkspace — especially for busy moms, or those immobilized with anxiety or depression.

Talkspace reviews and ratings 

Talkspace has been accredited with the BBB since 2017, and maintains a B rating through the organization. They also maintain an average of 1.1 out of 5 stars, based on 46 customer reviews. On Trustpilot, Talkspace has a score of 1.5 out of 5 stars, based on 34 customer reviews. 

Each of these scores are lower than what our top choice, BetterHelp, has received.

That being said, Talkspace does claim on their website to have more than 60,000 5-star reviews. 

Ease of use 

Getting started with Talkspace requires a brief assessment where you will be asked a series of questions. Based on your answers, Talkspace will give you a list of recommended therapists to choose from.

Once you have signed up, you can access Talkspace through their web-based platform from any device with an internet connection, or you can download their app for either iPhone or Android. 

Base packages allow you to message your therapist by text, and you can also send audio, pictures, and video messages if that is what you prefer. Live video appointments are also available for an additional fee. 

Talkspace price 

TalkSpace online therapy starts at $65 per week, or $260 per month, for messaging-only therapy, with live therapy is $65 per 30-minute session. A plan with four live talk therapy sessions is $396 per month.

Couples therapy is also offered for $396 per month, with four live sessions.

TalkSpace does not offer a free trial, or any free online counseling.

Honesty and transparency 

Talkspace is not as open and transparent about their methodology as other services are (such as Online-Therapy.com). That said, they do have a lot of valuable content on the website to educate their customers.

That being said, the fact that the Talkspace website only displays 5-star reviews is interesting, and something that should be taken with a grain of salt. Virtually all services will receive some level of negative reviews, and the decision to hide those reviews rarely ever speaks well to the company being reviewed. Talkspace could benefit from more transparency in that regard.

Content 

The Talkspace blog is full of content and information that you can access for free whether you are a Talkspace customer or not. This content can be a great resource if you are considering therapy but not yet ready to commit, or if you are still doing a bit of self-discovery. 

The Talkspace website also has a number of online tests or graders—such as a Depression Test, Anxiety Test, and Mental Health Test—that some users find helpful.

Security 

Talkspace is built on an SSL certificate, which is industry standard for online therapy websites. This puts it on par with other players in the space. All of your chat data is encrypted on Talkspace’s servers, for added security. In order to access the app, you will need to enter your password and passcode (optional), offering additional layers of security.

Privacy 

Talkspace is HIPAA compliant, so they take your privacy seriously.

According to Talkspace’s privacy policy, they will never share your private data with anyone unless you authorize disclosure, or in cases where disclosure may be required by law. Talkspace limits which employees can access customer data, and trains its employees on the proper way of interacting with customer data in order to ensure your privacy is maintained. 

Life after divorce — 3 things you can do now to move on

More on Talkspace

Earlier versions of Talkspace app had several bugs, including crashing at start-up. Updates in February 2020 have addressed these issues.

TalkSpace partners with several U.S. health insurance plans, although individual insurance plan participation varies. In other words, you’ll need to check with your insurance provider to see if online therapy is covered and what you’re expected to pay out-of-pocket — and which online therapy companies your insurance works with.

Talkspace also shares that many of their customers pay for their therapy with a credit card or Paypal then submit their bills for reimbursement through a Flexible Spending Account (FSA).

Talkspace does not currently accept Medicaid or Medicare. This means that if you do not have private insurance, you’ll need to pay for your online therapy through Talkspace out of your own pocket. At approximately $60 per week ($260 per month) for message-only therapy through Talkspace, you can likely find less expensive alternatives. 

Bottom line: Why Talkspace isn’t one of our “best” online therapy sites

Talkspace spends its budget partnering with celebrities, and not including live talk therapy sessions for all clients. Message-based therapy can be incredibly effective, but many users of online therapy also need those live sessions to build a real connection and trust with their therapist. The fact that live talk therapy costs more through Talkspace while it is included in the base packages of our top picks simply puts Talkspace on a lower bar. 

Read: Talkspace online therapy review

2. Calmerry: Online therapy site review

Calmerry is another popular online therapy site. Getting started is easy: Just fill out a quick self-assessment, choose how you want to receive therapy, get matched with a therapist on the platform, and begin therapy.

Calmerry currently offers two types of therapy: Text therapy and live video therapy. All Calmerry therapists are required to hold licenses in the states in which they practice.

Calmerry reviews and ratings 

Calmerry is not currently accredited with the BBB, and does not have a profile with the bureau featuring reviews.

That being said, Calmerry maintains a score of 4.3 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot based on 76 customer reviews and a score of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Sitejabber based on 98 customer reviews. The vast majority of these reviews are positive. Those that are negative cite a poor experience with therapists who are unresponsive or dismissive.

Ease of use

Calmerry’s website is clean, modern, and easy to use. You can access Calmerry’s platform via the website if you prefer, or you can download their app (available for both iPhone and Android).

To find a therapist and get started with Calmerry, all you need to do is complete a 5-minute survey. Your answers to the survey questions will be used to match you with a therapist on the platform, typically within 24 hours of signing up. If you decide that you would prefer a different therapist, you can request a switch completely free of charge.

Calmerry price 

Calmerry is a subscription-based online therapy service. This means that you'll need to select either a weekly or monthly subscription plan. The most inexpensive plan currently offered is $42 per week.

Calmerry does not currently offer free therapy or a trial period.

Whether or not Calmerry’s services are covered by your insurance plan will ultimately depend on the specifics of your plan.

Calmerry states that their services are not typically covered by Medicare or Medicaid. If you have a private insurance plan that covers online therapy (also called teletherapy) then Calmerry should be covered. You should review your policy or call your insurance company to determine exactly what is covered.

Honesty and transparency 

The vast majority of reviews that Calmerry has received from customers are positive, and speak highly of both the service as well as the individual therapists that Calmerry matches their customers with. Of the negative reviews that do exist, none of them accuse Calmerry of being dishonest or of lying, which speaks well of the company.

That being said, there is some data leveraged throughout Calmerry’s website that can be seen as misleading. On the homepage, Calmerry states that “88% of clients found Calmerry to be as effective or more effective than traditional therapy,” and that “found it to be more convenient than traditional therapy.” Calmerry doesn’t provide any information about where this data came from, however, such as who was surveyed or how many people were included in the sample. Without this detail, it’s impossible to know how accurate the statements are, so it’s important to take them with a grain of salt.  

Finally, Calmerry is owned and operated by the parent company Mental Fuel Inc. This information is somewhat hidden from consumers, being stated only in Calmerry’s privacy policy. While there is nothing wrong with being owned by another company, the lack of transparency about the fact is interesting to say the least.

Content 

The Calmerry blog has a lot of content that you can access whether or not you are a paying customer. This content ranges from blog posts describing different types of therapy, answering commonly asked questions about therapy, and simply offering mental health advice. It’s high-quality and valuable content.

Security 

Calmerry is built on an SSL certificate, ensuring that any data you enter through their website is safe and secure. Calmerry also states that any of your data stored on their servers is encrypted as an added layer of security.

Privacy 

Calmerry is HIPAA compliant. This means that any information or data that Calmerry collects is protected by law. Additionally, when you use Calmerry you will only ever be matched with a therapist who holds a license from your state. This means that your therapist will be subject to the unique privacy laws of your state as well as federal privacy laws. 

More on Calmerry

Therapists on the Calmerry platform are experienced in working with patients experiencing a variety of conditions or concerns, including:

  • Anger management
  • Anxiety
  • Childhood abuse
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Emotional abuse
  • Family conflict
  • Grief and trauma
  • LGBTQIA+
  • PTSD
  • OCD
  • and more

Bottom line: Why Calmerry isn’t one of our “best” online therapy sites

At first glance, Calmerry appears to be cheaper than the competition. While it’s true that Calmerry’s plans start at $42 per month, it’s important to note that those plans are text-only. They don’t include any form of live or video sessions. If you’d like to add live therapy to your subscription, the price jumps up to $63 per month, which is essentially the same as what you’d pay going through BetterHelp.

BetterHelp is one of the top online therapy services currently available. It’s incredibly popular, has a stellar record with the BBB and on rating sites such as Trustpilot, and is simply the best of the best. If you’re going to pay top dollar for online therapy, you might as well get it from the best.

3. MDLIVE Counseling: Online therapy site review

In 2014, MDLive, a leader in online medical care, bought online therapy giant Breakthrough. Today, the service is branded “MDLive Counseling”and works to connect patients with licenced therapists.

MDLIVE Counseling reviews and ratings 

MDLive has a B rating with the Better Business Bureau. The company’s profile has a score of 1 out of 5 stars based on 15 customer reviews. These reviews range in content from payment issues to poor website experiences.

On Trustpilot, MDLive fares slightly better, maintaining an average score of 4.7 out of 5 stars based on more than 11,500 customer reviews. 

Here are some recent reviews from MDLive Counseling from TrustPilot. The online telehealth and online therapy industry saw a huge influx of new clients during the Covid-19 pandemic.

MDLive counseling reviews - is it worth it?
MDLive counseling reviews - is it worth it?
MDLive counseling reviews - is it worth it?
MDLive counseling reviews - is it worth it?

Ease of use 

The site's process is different from its competitors. For starters, the therapy site doesn't pair you with a therapist.

Instead, you choose your own counselor by criteria like their location, what insurance they accept, or their specialties (anxiety, depression, family issues, etc.). Perfect for those of us who like a bit more control.

To sign up, pick a date and time that works for your schedule and your therapist either confirms the appointment or sends a “counteroffer” for a different date and time.

MDLive Counseling is available through phone calls or video chats using your computer or smartphone. Most states require an initial video assessment, but after that you can discuss whether phone or video are appropriate for your counseling needs.

MDLIVE Counseling price 

As of July, 2021, MDLive Counseling costs $108 per session for therapists, $284 for a first psychiatrist session, and $108 for follow-up sessions. This is very expensive when compared to the competition.

Honesty and transparency 

MDLive Counseling is open and honest about the services that they offer, what their therapists can and can’t do, and what you can expect when using the platform. That being said, due to a series of acquisitions in recent years, figuring out exactly who owns the company is a confusing process.

MDLive Counseling was originally a standalone company known as Breakthrough, which was founded in 2009. Breakthrough was acquired by MDLive in 2014 and was then rebranded as MDLive Counseling. In April of 2021, MDLive(and MDLive Counseling) was acquired by the healthcare conglomerate Evernorth. Therefore, you may see reference to Evernorth on some pages of the website and on some of your communications with the company. 

Content 

MDLive Counseling offers a lot of content on its blog, which essentially acts as an online wellness magazine. Because MDLive also treats medical issues, the blog offers a mix of content related to either mental or physical health. This is a big differentiator from the content found on other websites in our list. Some users find the variety helpful, while others would prefer it to be more focused purely on mental health. 

Security 

The MDLive Counseling website operates on an SSL certificate, which lets you know that any information you enter into the website cannot be hijacked or spied upon. All video sessions, data, and communication between you and your therapist are encrypted to provide further protection.

Privacy 

MDLive Counseling is completely HIPAA compliant. The company states that their privacy policy is also compatible with individual state privacy laws, some of which are even stricter than HIPAA. This means that your personal information is private and cannot be shared with anyone without your consent.

More on MDLIVE Counseling 

Therapists on MDLive can specialize in a range of mental health conditions, including:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Grief and loss
  • LGBTQ+ support
  • Trauma
  • PTSD
  • Relationship issues
  • Addiction
  • Gender specific issues
  • Postpartum depression
  • Life changes
  • And more

MDLive Counseling therapists do not provide services for individuals with autism, AD/HD, or those experiencing emergency situations.

Bottom line: Why MDLIVE Counseling isn’t one of our “best” online therapy sites

At $108 per session for a standard online therapy session, MDLive is the most expensive option that we reviewed, and is nearly double the price of our top pick. While MDLive has positive customer reviews, it’s hard to justify paying so much when cheaper (and just as effective) options are available.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that MDLive doesn’t let you text your therapist, which is a popular feature offered by many other online therapy platforms. You can only communicate with your therapist through videoconferencing on either the website or mobile app.

4. 7 Cups: Online therapy site review 

7 Cups was originally named “7 Cups of Tea,” referring to a Chinese poem that celebrates tea as a means to tranquility. 

7 Cups is unique among online therapy sites in that it offers both free and paid options. You can log on to 7 Cups 24/7 and connect immediately to an “active listener,” a volunteer who is there specifically to chat with you when you need it. This option is free to use. 

Of course, because not all problems can be solved by an untrained volunteer, you can also access paid online therapy through 7 Cups for a fee. 

7 Cups reviews and ratings 

7 Cups has been accredited with the BBB since 2018 and maintains a B rating with the organization. The company’s BBB profile currently has a score of 1.6 out of 5 stars based on 10 customer reviews. The majority of the negative reviews revolve around confusion as to what the paid option of the site looked like.

On Trustpilot, 7 Cups maintains a score of 4.4 out of 5 stars based on 120 reviews. The majority of these reviews are positive and speak to the compassion of the active listeners and therapists. As with the BBB reviews, the negative reviews on Trustpilot mostly revolve around issues of billing.

Ease of use 

According to the 7 Cups website, it is an “online emotional support service.” Its active listeners are volunteers who've been trained to listen deeply and to reflect what you're saying when offering feedback, to let you know that you're being heard — all through an easy-to-use chat thread platform.

You can connect with an active listener at any time, day or night. The live chats are anonymous and private. No one will know it's you, and no one except the active listener will be privy to the conversation. This service is 100% free.

It's easy to create a free account at 7 Cups, and to get in touch with an active listener. You ask, and within a short time (sometimes literally seconds), a listener will “pick up” and begin the e-chat.

If you want therapy with a professional rather than simply active listening, you'll be matched with one of 300 counselors (or allowed to pick your own, from the 7 Cups therapist directory) and given a private chat room. From there you can message the therapist as often as you want, though counselors respond once or twice each day, and only Monday through Friday. This service costs $150/month.

7 Cups does not offer live text, video or phone therapy options.

7 Cups price

Active listening through 7 Cups is completely free. You only pay if you decide to make an appointment with a therapist through the 7 Cups platform. Those plans cost $150 per month and include unlimited chat-based support with a licensed therapist.

7 Cups does not currently accept health insurance, meaning if you opt into their paid option you will need to cover that cost out of pocket. 

Honesty and transparency 

7 Cups is very transparent about their process. There is a ton of information on their site about how active listening works, how listeners are screened and evaluated, and what users can expect. It is also made clear up front that active listeners are volunteers and not mental health professionals.

The one area where transparency is a bit lacking is around the technology that the service uses. 7 Cups states that they use AI and machine learning to screen text and identify banned users as well as banned volunteers. This is mentioned only once on the entire website. While it is understandable why they would use this technology, some users might admittedly be turned off by the idea.

Finally, while negative experiences between users and active listeners appear to be rare, they do occasionally come up. This is why some active listeners end up banned or rejected. 7 Cups does not include any information on the website about these instances. The only way to gain any insight there is by finding reviews on Trustpilot, Reddit, or the BBB that specifically reference improper interactions with volunteers. 

Content 

The 7 Cups blog contains a lot of helpful information on topics ranging from addiction and anxiety to depression, eating disorders, domestic violence, family and relationship issues, financial stress, LGBTQ+ issues, grief, and more. All of this content is written by mental health experts and professionals.

While there’s a lot of valuable information on the website, the blog itself is not incredibly active. On average, there are about one or two new articles published each month.

Security 

The 7 Cups website is built using an SSL certificate. This means that it is encrypted and safe to use. Additionally, if you choose to work with a therapist through 7 Cups paid option, you can rest assured that each therapist is bound by their own code of ethics that dictates how they handle your personal information.

Privacy 

The 7 Cups platform is 100% HIPAA compliant. This means that any communications you have with your therapist are private and secure. 

On 7 Cups, you can remain completely anonymous if you’d like to, or you can let your identity be known. It’s completely up to you. The one caveat to this is that 7 Cups does collect your personal information for emergency purposes. This will only be accessed if you are in an emergency situation.

More on 7 Cups

7 Cups offers a number of programs designed to help specific populations work through their mental health issues. For example, 7 Cups offers special programs for schools, employers, and nonprofit organizations that are designed to help students, employees, and volunteers (respectively).

Bottom line: Why 7 Cups isn’t one of our “best” online therapy sites

If you choose to opt into a paid subscription through 7 Cups, you’ll pay $150 per month. This works out to about $35 per week, which is lower than many of the other options in our list. The key difference, however, is that this is text-only therapy. You can’t communicate with your therapist by video or phone, even for an additional fee. 

While text-based online therapy can be very effective, many people find value in the occasional live therapy session, whether that is through phone or over video. Because this isn’t an option with 7 Cups, it doesn’t make it into our top choices. 

Read more in our 7 Cups online therapy review

Frequently asked questions about online therapy

Here are your answers to questions about online therapy pricing, insurance, how it works, and whether online therapy platforms are worth it.

How does online therapy work?

First, consider your personality type and preferred method of communication.

Would you rather video conference with your therapist, or have a phone call? Text or instant message? Post intermittently on an online message board?

Most services provide at least a couple of these options, but it's still good to keep in mind which ones are most effective for you.

If online therapy is new to you, be open to trying different communication modes.

Typically, online therapy works like this:

  1. After you are matched with a counselor, there will be an in-take session. This might be over the phone or video, and you may be asked to provide information over email or an online portal.
  2. If you prefer phone or email, that is up to you! You never have to use video (for example) if you don't want to.
  3. From there, depending on what you agree to with your therapist, you can schedule weekly calls of 30-50 minutes each — very much like a traditional, in-person session.
  4. Most of the online therapy sites offer an option for unlimited email or text communications, to account for unexpected events that arise, or questions or concerns that come up between regular sessions.

How and why to have an amicable divorce

Is online counseling safe?

One of the benefits of online therapy is that a quality site makes counseling safe and anonymous — after all, there is no risk of bumping into your neighbor like you might with traditional, in-person sessions.

Some things to look for in an online therapy site if security is a concern:

  • Is the site secure (with an https in the URL)?
  • Up-to-date encryption
  • Compliance with HIPAA requirements
  • Compliance with recommendations for therapists to use secure devices and connections. The National Board for Certified Counselors adheres to strict distance services policies for therapists.

What do you need for teletherapy?

Most telecounseling platforms give you the option to communicate by audio or video — typically a smartphone is enough for either. BetterHelp also gives you the option to connect by laptop or desktop, which not all companies do.

Is online therapy legit? Is teletherapy as effective as in-person therapy?

Online therapy includes a local therapist who offers telephone or Zoom.

While multiple studies find that therapy helps clients improve depression, relationships, and quality of life, one study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that online therapy is just as effective as in-person traditional therapy:

is online therapy effective? research and studies show yes

If you are researching online therapy platforms, check their Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot ratings, and read review websites for the pros and cons of the different apps.

Does online therapy work? Is online therapy any good?

Again, online therapy, when done well, is just as effective as in-person therapy, studies find.

Advantages of online therapy include:

  • Affordable pricing
  • Access to a wide variety of specialists which may not be available in your area
  • Option to easily switch counselors if the first one is not a match.
  • Convenient — no need to drive anywhere

What are the benefits of teletherapy or online therapy?

Therapy is increasingly acceptable, in part, because the benefits can be so great. There are many reasons why therapy is right for you. These include:

  • You are depressed and don't know how to stop being depressed
  • You find yourself stuck in your career, relationships, or life challenges, and can't get unstuck
  • There is turmoil in your relationships, and you want help finding resolve
  • You feel overwhelmed and don't know how to get a grip
  • Rage. You are angry all the time, for reasons that do not equate with the issues at hand
  • General apathy and fatigue (signs of depression)
  • A sense of guilt or shame colors your life
  • General apathy, sense of unfulfilling relationships, loneliness

Parents can also seek out in-person for children and teens, as well as online therapy for teens aged 13 and older.

Phebe Brako-Owusu, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Tacoma, Wa., says that teens can benefit from therapy for both specific traumas, as well as a vehicle for helping a teen express themselves. “A teen or child could benefit from therapy if they have experienced a change or trauma in their life and there are noticeable behavioral or emotional changes observed by the parent,” Brako-Owusu continues. “Or, if the parent is noticing the child is not being themselves and they're reluctant to talk to them about it, they could use a session.”

The only difference between online therapy and traditional, in-person counseling, is that with online counseling, you communicate with your therapist by phone, text or video, depending on your preference.

Differences between face-to-face therapy and online therapy

Online psychotherapy is fast becoming a solid alternative to face-to-face therapy. A study by the Berkeley Well-Being Institute determined that online therapy for adult depression from online therapy leader BetterHelp was as effective as face-to-face counseling.

Online therapy sites hire a variety of mental health professionals who are rigorously vetted, but certain professionals are better suited to help you than others.

For instance, do you need a psychiatrist (an M.D. or D.O.), who can prescribe medication? Maybe you only need talk therapy through a licensed psychologist (Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D.), licensed psychological associate or (L.P.A.) licensed professional therapist (L.P.C.). For specific issues and specialized family or relationship help, licensed clinical social workers (L.C.S.W.), or licensed marriage and family therapists (L.M.F.T.) may work best.

CallonDoc is a secure online psychiatry service that connects you to a psychiatrist by phone, where you can get the prescriptions and other care you need for issues including depression, anxiety and panic disorder. Virtual sessions and prescription refills start at $39.99.

If you aren't sure which professional is a good fit, learn more about online doctor apps that often also include a therapy component.

Make sure any site you choose is HIPAA compliant, meaning they abide by federally mandated health care privacy standards.

This safeguards your information and transcripts of your sessions against any data breaches, hackers, etc.

Top therapy sites BetterHelp, Talkspace, and MDLive therapy all boast HIPAA compliance in easy-to-find spots on their sites, so finding out whether your site is covered shouldn't be difficult. 

Once you've figured out whether online or face-to-face therapy is right for you, how you'd like to communicate with them, and whether or not they're qualified, it's time to sign up!

Our choice for online therapy is BetterHelp, which lets you choose from thousands of licensed, certified counselors, starting at $65/week for unlimited text, voice, video or email sessions. Better Business Bureau A+ rating. Financial aid available Learn more about low-cost online therapy with BetterHelp >>

Advantages of face-to-face therapy

Face-to-face therapy provides a personal experience and additional benefits such as:

  • Predictability – An office visit secures a designated time and place to receive therapy and may help with establishing a routine for care. 
  • Visual cues – Clients experience the therapist’s body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. If you lean toward sensory interaction or are extroverted, this may help.
  • Safety – Mental health conditions in which a person may be in crisis or a danger to themselves or others may benefit from face-to-face counseling.
  • Variety – Some therapeutic approaches require in-person meetings such as animal-assisted therapy, expressive arts therapy and music therapy. 

Disadvantages of face-to-face therapy

Therapists must protect your privacy, but there is the very real possibility that you could run into someone you know while walking into, or out of your appointment. This may be especially troubling when dealing with custody issues if your ex-spouse is looking for fuel to deny or limit access to your child.

Other disadvantages include:

  • Expense – According to GoodTherapy, an online therapy resource site, an in-person session can cost $65 – $250 per hour. Online options tend to be much more affordable. 
  • Waiting – Instead of getting therapy right away, you must wait until your scheduled appointment time. Depending on the client load of a therapist, that could be weeks or even months in the future.
  • Scheduling – Typically in-person counseling requires scheduling an appointment during business hours, or otherwise working around the counselor’s availability. This may mean taking off work early, or otherwise creating inconvenience for you.
  • Travel time – Traditional therapy requires you commute to the appointment, which adds time on either end of the session. Most of us are busy! 

Is counseling online as good as face-to-face therapy? Which one is better?

Online therapy is great for moms because it provides coveted flexibility, is very affordable, and has all the other benefits that come with traditional, face-to-face, in-person counseling.

Your comfort level with technology, individual needs and session expectations will play a huge part in determining if online therapy fits.

Technology gives us more options to heal. The flexibility of online therapy, stability of face-to-face counseling or a carefully timed mix may be the answer. 

But sometimes you prefer face-to-face, in-person interaction, and that is great, too!

If you are unsure, thankfully online therapy is very affordable, and our partner BetterHelp offers a 20% discount for new clients.

Frequently asked questions about online therapists

Are online therapists legit?

Each platform has its own criteria, but check to see whether an online therapy site requires of its therapists:

  • Advanced, relevant degree such as a master's or doctorate
  • Licensure in their state
  • Advanced hours of practice (BetterHelp requires a minimum of 2,000 hours)
  • An internal review process — and not just automatic enrollment

Often, a therapist promotes that their services are available via phone or Zoom, which may be fine — but check to make sure the person is certified and credentialed in their state, and has relevant education and training.

How to choose an online therapist

If you’re looking into online therapy, grappling with your personal preferences is the first step. Being confident in your choice is crucial to establish trust and build a positive relationship with a professional counselor.

Can't afford a therapist right now? Here are workbooks you could try to DIY:

The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook

Retrain Your Brain (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks: A Workbook for Managing Depression and Anxiety)

Share in the comments:  Have you used online therapy sites? What has been your experience?

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.

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