Best Online Therapy Services Compared – August 2017
Not sure about which online therapy service to use? Browse below and read our reviews for more detailed information. Our experts have tested the leading online counseling services based on a range of factors, including support and effectiveness, confidentiality and privacy, counselor qualifications, areas of expertise, usability and pricing.
BetterHelp is geared towards those exact people who online therapy was made for – people on the go. Those too busy to take the time to travel and go to a therapist, get the same benefits from the convenience of their smartphone. Therapists are available for you 24/7 with the option to also have a live phone session. BetterHelp allows each patient to participate anonymously. Privacy standards are used on the same level as financial institutions using military grade 256-bit encryption. BetterHelp offers you a 7 day trial period, after, billing you weekly with no limit on the amount of sessions. BetterHelp provides the top therapists to fit everyone’s needs.
- 2,000 Licensed Therapists
- 500,000 Users
- Best In Class Privacy
- Lowest Priced Service
Presto Experts provide a wide range of professional help from technology and education to health, design, and business. Presto listens to your needs and matches you with the best fit therapist. Then you are given the opportunity to have a trial session with the therapist before committing. This allows users to explore and truly get the therapist that is right for them. All of the therapists are legally licensed and have signed an agreement to keep your information private through SSL encryption. Presto Experts also allows you to read reviews of your therapist online so you can get a feel for therapy session before it even begins!
Breakthrough’s success rate is comparable with other sites and they work to make sure you are taken care of professionally. They are bound by federal laws (HIPAA, etc.) to keep their privacy to the highest standards. A major benefit to using Breakthrough is that unlike other online counseling sites, that they accept most major insurances.
Talkspace is similar to most other online therapy platforms, except for their free chat room feature. This is an initial secured consultation with a therapist without the commitment or forced pay. Talkspace uses only professional therapists from PhDs, PsyDs, LICSWs, LMFTs, to LMHCs, MSs, and LPCs. All therapists have at least 3,000 hours of experience before being accepted. With three different therapy plans, you can get the one that fits your budget.
7 Cups of Tea’s counselors are not licensed therapists and are therefore listed as ‘listeners’ on the site. However, we found that their counselors truly care about their clients because they are doing it on a volunteer basis. 7 Cups of Tea creates a community feel for their users allowing them to get stable emotional support, which is said to be the best medicine for someone just looking to vent.
This website strives to maintain the most up to date and accurate data with regard to the above online therapy services. These reviews have been compiled by our team of experts to assist our visitors in making more informed decisions. Please note that some of the companies listed here pay us referral fees to help offset of the costs of producing the content on this site. Since there are many components to online counseling, we have analyzed each area to help users understand the ins and outs of how the service works. While our reviews take into account several factors about each service, it is important for readers to fact check pricing and other terms prior to signing up.
An Overview of Online Therapy
Online therapy, the digital-age version of counseling services is a more affordable, convenient and discrete method of receiving therapy. Several years ago, a few pioneers saw a large opportunity in the mental health industry. They noticed that millions of people were living without access to professional help. They also understood that more and more physical services were being replaced with digital alternatives that can save time for customers. So, these innovators decided to create online therapy platforms, which essentially connect certified psychologists and people suffering from mental health issues such as depression, stress and anxiety, among dozens of other clinically defined disorders.
While the online therapy industry is still in its early years, as it currently stands, there is no shortage of online therapy providers available to people looking for professional help. There are close to a dozen services, each offering it’s own unique set of features that appeal to the needs of different types of patients. The number of providers will only grow as the demand increases over time. Therefore, we have evaluated each of the major online therapy brands, outlining all of the pertinent information one needs to make an informed decision.
Understanding our Online Therapy Reviews
The research on this site has been conducted by a team of expert reviewers. They understand the ins and outs of the online therapy industry, and are therefore equipped to properly evaluate what each online therapy service offers. This includes the individual benefits of each provider, in addition to the effectiveness and drawbacks. Additionally, these reviews take a deep dive into the various areas of what the service offers including the features, sign-up process, pricing, usability, counselor support, confidentiality/privacy, counselor qualifications, and each service’s areas of strength and weakness. It’s important to note that our reviews and rankings are based on of our knowledge and experience of using each service. Success can vary from person to person and thus it’s imperative to find the service that’s tailored to best suit your specific needs.
Main Benefits of Using Online Therapy and Counseling Services
Many believe that online therapy should not replace in-office therapy. Rather, it should complement your traditional therapy sessions, as online therapy offers a range of benefits to users. Others however, including thousands of satisfied customers already using online counseling services, boast that that level of connection they are able to make with their therapists online make in-person therapy unnecessary. Some of the most common benefits associated with online therapy are:
- No Boundaries: With online counseling, there is no longer a need to seek out help within your city limits. You have the ability to connect with a psychologist that’s not in your area. Best of all, should you not click with your therapist, you have the option to change therapists.
- Efficiency: If you’re working full-time, chances are you have very little personal time set aside. With online therapy, you can receive help 24/7, or while you are on-the-go.
- Communication Channels: Gone are the days of having to set pre-arranged appointments and then receiving therapy in person. Online therapy enables you to open your therapy app and get help right away. This includes SMS/chat, video, and phone therapy options.
- Stigmas: Oftentimes people don’t set therapy appointments due to the stigma surrounding therapy. In fact, some people who do in fact set appointments won’t show up for their session due to this unfortunate stigmatization of therapy. With online therapy, that stigma is gone.
- Privacy/Confidentiality: Using online therapy provides users with complete privacy and confidentiality. For starters, therapists on the platforms are bound by strict local and federal laws, as is the case with their brick and mortar business. Your therapy sessions are protected by HIPAA. Furthermore, your chat sessions are also secured by various bank-grade encryption levels, which only you and your therapist can access. Lastly, should you still not feel comfortable with therapy, even online therapy, you have the ability to sign up using an alias and dummy e-mail account.
- Pricing: Did you know that it generally costs someone roughly $200 for one therapy session? Even if you are covered by premium insurance, the co-pay on each session can be as high as $50. If you’re going in to therapy once a week, that’s $200 per month on therapy. On the other hand, some of the best online therapy services provide users with incredible pricing, starting as low as $32 per week ($128 per month). Moreover, some online therapy services even work with major insurance companies, which further reduce your costs.
But is it Effective?
As is the case with any service or product, there have been people who question the effectiveness of online therapy. Such concerns include:
- The absence of verbal cues
- Effectiveness in treating clinical disorders
- Technological complications
- Regulatory concerns
Though many of these concerns are valid, they vary on a case to case basis. Some have suggested that human/face to face contact is the only way a therapist can truly identify the feelings and behavior of their client. This may be true in some instances over chat therapy, however video therapy eliminates this issue, which in turn eliminates many of the ‘limits of effectiveness’ claim as well. Moreover, people living in rural areas may have spotty Internet connection. There are also some who point to transmission and server problems, and issue we found very little evidence of in our research.
Overall, the best measure of effectiveness is hearing from the thousands of existing customers already using these services. Most of them post testimonials and reviews on their websites. While they likely leave negative reviews, the fact that so many have had positive experiences is very telling. It means that at least to some extent, this is working. It’s just a matter of trying it out oneself to make an individual determination.