Online therapy has broken new mental health ground in recent years, with 2019 alone seeing an outpouring of press and support for the web-based model.
While traditional in-office therapy is still the norm, many are turning to its online counterpart for a number of reasons, namely time constraints, transportation challenges, limited funds, and the desire for discretion.
For the uninitiated, online therapy refers to professional therapy obtained via a website or app, with sessions conducted through one’s computer, tablet, or phone and typically using chat messenger and/or video conference.
Reputable services only enlist fully licensed and experienced professionals, and typically charge much lower fees than an onsite therapist. Many online therapy services alternately charge a reoccurring monthly fee.
As of today, it is estimated that roughly 20% of psychotherapists offer some form of online care.
Ideal for those with scheduling complications, unreliable transportation, or nebulous insurance policies that won’t cover the full cost of visiting a brick-and-mortar establishment, online therapy has allowed thousands of Americans (and countless more around the globe) to finally get the help they need.
Depression, anxiety, trauma, and addiction are just some of the issues addressed through online therapy, with additional couples, teen, and LGBTQ counseling available.
However, not all online therapy services are created equally, and it’s important that you know you can trust your chosen platform to deliver the same quality of care as an in-office therapist.
If you’re considering going the online therapy route for the new year, here are some of the best online therapy service to help you take that triumphant first step.
Let’s get into it!
The Top 5 Online Therapy Services Compared
The following services are the top online therapy sites for 2020. Each service offers professional and certified online therapists on easy-to-use platforms.
One of the most popular online therapy platforms today, BetterHelp offers affordable and accessible counseling for individuals, couples, and teens, with users and therapists being matched within 24 hours of signing up.
From thereon, sessions are booked at the user’s convenience and conducted over instant messaging, phone, or video call. Ranging from around $35 to $70 per week, all BetterHelp services are included in the membership.
This website and app boasts the convenience of a virtual-based platform with the security of a licensed therapist.
Upon signing up, users speak with an introductory therapist to identify their needs, after which they’re matched with a long-term therapist who can be reached outside of traditional 9-5 office hours, and through several different messaging options.
Basic messaging plans start at around $32 week, and allow one check-in per day.
HealthSapians’ mission is to correct the worldwide mental healthcare crisis by offering affordable 24/7 access to their platform and resources, including fully licensed and experienced therapists.
After signing up, users speak to a Care Coordinator who will create an in-depth electronic “health record” that will be safely stored on the platform’s database and updated as your referred treatment plan evolves.
Users can reach out to professionals at any hour, as well as receive necessary prescriptions.
HealthSapiens offers full nationwide coverage, with costs calculated according to financial history and recommended plan.
Teledoc is one of the largest online healthcare conglomerates today, having gone on to acquire BetterHelp (2015), Best Doctors in (2017), and Advance Medical (2018).
One of the earliest leaders in phone and web-based therapy, the Teledoc mobile app allows you to speak directly with a certified professional via text or call.
User pay a flat monthly fee that includes immediate access to a healthcare provider, with the Doctor on Demand option charging about $49 per visit.
5. Online CBT Therapy
Championing the methods of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Online CBT Therapy’s simple but effective structure and equally convenient payment options have made it a popular go-to in online therapy.
Plans start at around $35 a week (with a 20% discount for the first month), and include online access to your appointed therapist, with several subscription alternatives curated according to the user’s individual needs.
Bonus: Apps for Mood-Boosting, Meditation, and Relaxation
If you’re not quite ready to commit to therapy–in-office or online–but would still like to enjoy the benefits, there are a number of free to low-cost apps and websites that offer peer support chats, guided meditations and relaxation techniques, life advice, downloadable materials, and even one-on-one sessions with a trained listener.
Highly recommended sites include:
7 Cups of Tea
100% free, this instant messaging app allows you to reach out to trained volunteer “active listeners” without an appointment, or alternately select from their listed counselors for a small fee.
Users can join virtual support groups, guided discussions, or open forums, and even volunteer as trained listeners themselves.
A combined website and app, Basis offers scheduled 45-minute specialist sessions for $35.
While said persons aren’t licensed medical practitioners or therapists, they are required to undergo an extensive training program developed by former Stanford psychologists, among them Basis co-founder Lindsay Trent, Ph.D.
This fun and stress-free app aims to boost one’s overall mood and mental mindset through science-based games designed to relieve anxiety and overcome negative thought patterns.
Developed by positive psychology experts, Happify’s roots are founded in evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy intervention, with users choosing their preferred goal or “track” for the day, such as coping with stress, improving one’s career, or building self confidence.
Happify creators have stated that 86% of users reported feeling better about their lives after two months of use.
Happify offers a free version or, for full access, plans starting at $11.67 a month.