Online therapy via text, phone and video is used by millions. Low-cost and free options for therapy.

Today millions of people receive the benefit of therapy online. There are several quality online therapy platforms, including free online therapy apps, as well as online therapy paid for by your insurance.

The best online therapy apps help individuals, couples, teens and families with anxiety, depression, addiction, mommy issues, daddy issues, trauma, grief, divorce, parenting, loneliness, career, family, mental health, relationship and dating challenges — and are low-cost, convenient, and private.

How we analyzed the best online therapy sites:

There are several important factors we used to vet the top online therapy sites to make our recommendations:

Rating and reviewsHow does this business rate with Better Business Bureau, Trustpilot, and client reviews?
Ease of useIs the technology up-to-date with a great app, multiple modes of communication and otherwise great user experience?
Price Which 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?

Our #1 online therapy platform choice is BetterHelp, the most widely used online therapy apps that offers therapy via phone, text and video, for fees starting at $35/week. A+ BBB rating. 10% discount for Wealthy Single Mommy readers, plus financial aid for those who qualify.

Unlike other top sites like TalkSpace, 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 is also very open 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.

If you are considering online therapy, here are some things you should know:

Reviews of the best online therapy sites and apps

The similarities between traditional therapy and e-therapy end right here.

Because the rest of the sign-up process – the time actually spent on the platforms and in your sessions – is all designed to be as convenient and hassle-free as possible from this point on, starting with meeting your therapist, the cost structure, and changing therapists or canceling.

1. BetterHelp

One of the features that many users like about BetterHelp is how much control you have over choosing a therapist, and how 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 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.

BetterHelp members also have access to group therapy sessions for 20 specialty topics — included in your fee.

BetterHelp is less expensive than its competitors with prices starting at $35/week, and a 10% discount for Wealthysinglemommy.com readers. Financial assistance is available.

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 >>

BetterHelp: Online therapy review

BetterHelp offers a large database of more than 8,000 online therapy 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. 

BetterHelp worked with Berkley 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

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:

Does BetterHelp offer free online therapy?

BetterHelp does not offer free therapy, but does offer a 10% discount for Wealthy Single Mommy readers — as well as financial assistance to those who cannot otherwise afford counseling.

How much does online therapy cost with BetterHelp?

Online therapy offered through BetterHelp costs between $35 to $70 per week for unlimited messaging with your therapist, as well as weekly phone or video live therapy sessions, although the cost of counseling is billed monthly, quarterly or annually.

You can cancel your BetterHelp subscription at any time, and canceling is easy and straight-forward.

Does my insurance cover online therapy with BetterHelp?

BetterHelp states that their online therapy services are typically not covered through insurance. However, you may receive some coverage depending on the plan you have.

Specifically, BetterHelp shares that you may have to be diagnosed by your therapist with an issue before you can expect reimbursement from your insurance company. Your therapist may also have to send proof of your disorder to your insurance company, including your copies of your medical records.

Does BetterHelp have an app for online therapy?

BetterHelp works equally on its desktop site, as well as apps for Android and iOS/Apple products. You can choose a therapist (or switch therapists), manage your account, schedule and engage in live video, phone, message or chat sessions with your therapist through BetterHelp's secure website or app. Your choice!

How to find a therapist with BetterHelp

To get started with BetterHelp, you can browse the online directory, or start by:

  1. Go to BetterHelp.com, create a profile, and fill out your preferences and needs.
  2. You will be matched with a therapist within 24 hours.
  3. Start messaging with your therapist immediately.

BetterHelp has an A+ Better Business Bureau rating.

Start counseling with BetterHelp now >>

2. Online-Therapy.com

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.

Unlike other online therapy apps that are really traditional therapy, but online, Online-therapy.com is an online worksheet and video tutorial program, with therapist support and sessions offered on a tiered-basis.

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

Online-Therapy.com: Online therapy review

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

You will have full access to 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 website is easy to navigate, and with prices that start at $39.95/week.

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

Does Online-Therapy.com offer free online therapy?

No, Online-Therapy.com does not offer free online therapy, but the app does have a 14-day money-back guarantee.

Does Online-therapy.com have an app for online therapy?

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.

How much does online therapy cost with Online-Therapy.com?    

Therapy offered through Online-Therapy.com starts at just $31.96 per week when you factor in the initial 20% discount you get the first month. This monthly payment includes access to the firm’s online therapy program plus daily contact with your therapist — but no live chats or video sessions. (BetterHelp's fees are similar, but with all live phone, video, messaging or chat sessions, more like traditional therapy.)

If you want a more robust online therapy program, with more one-on-one sessions with a therapist, there are also two alternate subscription services to choose from that cost $47.96 per month or $63.96 per month.

Does my insurance cover online therapy with Online-Therapy.com?

Online-Therapy.com does not accept insurance as a form of payment, although they state “it may be a good idea to reach out to your insurance company to see if they will cover online therapy.”

If your insurance company covers online therapy sessions, you may be able to submit your bill to them for reimbursement after your sessions.

How to find a therapist with Online-Therapy.com

  1. Go to Online-Therapy.com and create an account.
  2. Start working through the video and worksheet modules.
  3. Schedule your first 30-minute chat, video or call — your choice — with the therapist assigned to you. You also have 24/7 access to the video and guided meditation and yoga videos immediately.
  4. you can ask questions and interact with your therapist, who will also give feedback to the corresponding worksheets daily Monday-Friday.

Check out Online-Therapy.com now, and 20% off, no discount code needed >>

3. Talkspace

For Talkspace users, a therapist is chosen for you by a shrink matchmaker of sorts.

Like BetterHelp, TalkSpace allows you to remain anonymous with your therapist, opting for a nickname or a random username instead.

Talkspace: Online therapy review

During an initial text exchange, a vitual 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 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.”

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

Does Talkspace offer free online therapy?

TalkSpace does not offer a free trial, or any free online counseling. By comparison, BetterHelp offers similar services for fees starting at $35/week, as well as a free, one-week trial.

Does Talkspace have an app for online therapy?

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

You can use the app to connect with a licensed therapist via unlimited messaging. Live video is also an option.

The Talkspace app has a 3-star rating on Android and a 4.2-star rating on Apple.

How much does online therapy cost with TalkSpace?

TalkSpace offers several subscription therapy services that start at $49 per week or $196 per month. You can also choose a monthly plan for $236 per month or an unlimited plan with LiveTalk therapy for $316 per month.

Couples therapy is also offered for $79 per week or $316 per month. You also have the option to add on live video sessions to any plan for $49 per 30-minute session.

Does my insurance cover online therapy with TalkSpace?

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.

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).

Read: Talkspace online therapy review

How to find a therapist with Talkspace

  1. Go to TalkSpace.com and set up an account
  2. Share your preferences and needs via a chat session
  3. Get matched with a counselor within 24 hours and start communicating via chat, message, email, video or phone.

TalkSpace has an A+ Better Business Bureau rating.

Talkspace >>

FAQs 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.

What is online therapy?

Online therapy is what it sounds like: Counseling services that are delivered through digital mediums, instead of in-person, like traditional therapy. Online therapists through reputable sites, are licensed and certified, and provide sessions through video, phone calls, text or email—depending on the client's preferences.

How does online therapy work?

First, you'll need to 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:

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.

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.

From there, depending on what you agree to with your therapist, you can schedule weekly calls of 50 minutes each — very much like a traditional, in-person session. 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.

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 HIPPA 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.

Is online therapy legit?

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.

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.

Is online therapy worth it? Does online therapy work?

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 — as well as the option to easily switch counselors if the first one is not a match.

Online therapy vs traditional therapy: Is online as effective as in-person therapy?

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.

If you aren't sure which professional is a good fit, there's a good chance that the online therapy platform will help you choose.

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!

Online couples therapy

Whether you are seeking marriage counseling, couple's therapy or relationship therapy, online therapy can help. Couple's counseling is a very specialized practice, and experts disagree about how effective it can be. What they do agree on is that it takes a highly trained and experienced therapist to be effective—which can be hard to find. Online therapy sites help, since you have access to thousands of licensed professionals around the country, and are not limited to therapists near you.

How to find a good relationship therapist, and when you need couple's counseling

FAQs about the cost of online therapy

Understandably, the pricing of online counseling is often a major consideration for whether you use the service, and which one you choose.

How much does online therapy cost?

Where traditional therapy can cost hundreds of dollars each session (and God forbid you have multiple sessions in a week!), online therapy can be drastically cheaper.

Talkspace's unlimited sessions cost between $128-$396 per month, depending on the tiered program you choose.

BetterHelp charges a flat fee of $35-$70 per week for unlimited access to your counselor. It's also worth noting that BetterHelp offers Wealthy Single Mommy readers a 10% discount, as well as financial aid for those who cannot afford to pay. MDLive therapy is the priciest online provider because their network of professionals operates on a name-your-price basis according to experience and specialty.

An in-person live session with traditional therapy costs between $50 to $400, with the average session about $145.

Online therapy sites that take insurance

Talkspace and MDLive both work with major insurance plans.

Online therapy sites with free therapy

Sorry, there is no free online therapy (unless you count watching old Oprah episodes on YouTube). 7 Cups is a free peer-listening site, but its therapy sessions are fee-based.

Is therapy worth the money?

A quality therapist who is a good match for the client, and a client dedicated to growth and change can be a wonderful experience. There are never guarantees with therapy.

Is online therapy cheap?

Online counseling platform BetterHelp provides therapy for pricing at $35-70 per week for unlimited access, which is far below a typical in-person traditional therapy session, which costs $80-$200+. Other online therapy apps pricing is also typically lower than traditional therapy — though a local counselor may offer online sessions for the same price as their in-office fee.

What do I do if I can’t afford therapy?

If money prohibits you from paying full-price for therapy, consider these options:

  • Check with your insurer. Private health insurance, as well as Medicaid and Medicare sometimes cover behavioral health benefits.
  • As your therapist for a discount, or if they offer a sliding scale fee. Online therapy site BetterHelp offers financial aid.
  • Use therapist training sessions at a local university.
  • Find a support group, or group therapy. These may be free or much less expensive than one-on-one counseling.
  • Seek out community therapy services through a local Google search or the Department of Human Services.

Is there any free online therapy?

While some of the online therapy platforms mentioned in this post occasionally offer a free trial, quality therapy typically costs money.

Sliding fee scales for therapy: Do I qualify?

Each therapist, clinic, therapy or counseling center or online therapy platform has its own policy about whether it offers a sliding fee scale, and what the qualifications are.

How does a sliding scale work? How are sliding scale fees calculated?

A sliding scale for a therapist can be considered based on criteria including thresholds for income, whether you are a student or senior citizen, if you are on TANF or Medicaid, or otherwise struggle financially. Ask your behavioral health provider about whether they have a sliding fee scale, and how to qualify.

Do I qualify for a sliding scale fee?

It helps to start with your therapist's website, but don't stop there — call and ask about any discounts, sliding scale, free trial session, as well as group therapy. Again, each therapy resource has its own criteria, and often considers clients' needs on a case-by-case basis.

Online therapy platform BetterHelp typically offers a 15% discount for those who feel they otherwise cannot afford therapy.

Best online therapy site: BetterHelp

BetterHelp is our #1 best online therapy platform for these reasons:

  1. High-quality therapists. 100% of the site's 8,000+ counselors have a Master's or Doctoral degree, and minimum of 3 years and 2,000 hours of experience
  2. Better Business Bureau A+ rating
  3. Affordable prices, starting at $35/week, unlimited
  4. Lots of control for you: You choose whether you want to communicate by phone, video, messaging or chat.
  5. Financial assistance
  6. Secure: Fully secure therapy app and website, and you can choose to be anonymous to your therapist.
  7. Access to group therapy sessions for 20 specialty topics — included in your fee.

BetterHelp offers a 10% discount for WealthySingleMommy readers >>

Best online therapy app: BetterHelp

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.

Real moms review BetterHelp for online therapy

So, is online therapy worth it? I asked members of my closed Facebook group, Millionaire Single Moms, what their experiences have been:

BetterHelp helped me make big changes in my life and stop dragging my feet in my divorce. I was honest with my therapist and she helped tell me see the reality of things. I am forever grateful! As a stay at home mom, the convenience meant everything. — Ruthie, San Antonio, TX

I’m working with a therapist through BetterHelp. I love her a ton. She’s helped me out so much. It only costs me $45 a week, which is much cheaper than normal therapy. – Shawna, Salt Lake City, UT

Best online therapy platform for therapists

GlassDoor reports that BetterHelp pays its contract therapists $29-31 per hour, and is having a “hiring surge.”

The benefits of working with a site like BetterHelp as an online therapist include:

  • Work at home or any other location
  • Flexible hours
  • Built-in technology — you interact with clients via the online counseling platform, so no need to set up or troubleshoot technology
  • 100% HIPPA compliant
  • The therapy site manages billing, bookkeeping and other admin tasks, so you can focus on serving clients
  • High and increasing demand from clients around the country — no need to market your services

Learn more about becoming an online therapist with BetterHelp >>

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

About Emma Johnson

Wealthysinglemommy.com founder  Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist and author. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, MONEY, 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. A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Emma's Top Single Mom Resources.

2 Comments

  1. Kristin on November 22, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    Is the HealthSapiens discount just for the first month or every month?

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