Best Online Therapy Apps - September 2019
“There’s an app for that!” This statement is often the answer to questions on how to solve problems that seem to be out of sync with today’s high-tech world. It just so happens that mental health treatment has a gigantic problem. Millions of people who suffer from mental health disorders do not have the time, access or funds to see a local licensed psychologist. This issue has now been rectified, as several therapy apps are available for download, and at a low cost to boot. The apps listed below all connect you with licensed counselors who have the necessary professional credentials to help resolve your mental health woes. Below our experts have evaluated the most popular and best therapy apps today.
Notes and disclaimers:The information presented on this has been compiled by our editorial team, and although we make every effort to keep it up-to-date, misrepresentations and inaccuracies in the data are possible. We recommend that you contact the providers listed below directly to verify any information that may be of interest to you. The ratings in our listings are based on our research. Some of the providers listed pay referral fees to this website and even provide us with additional access to their platforms, which may at times impact the order and manner in which they are presented. We take no responsibility for the accuracy of information listed below, though we do update it regularly. This information is subject to change at any time.
|Avg Weekly Cost||Therapists||Features||Rating||Learn More|
$65 average weekly cost
|Visit BetterHelp |
Best for Couples Therapy
$65 average weekly cost
|Visit ReGain Counseling |
$79 average weekly cost
|Visit Talkspace |
$140 average weekly cost
|Visit Breakthrough |
What Is A Therapy App?
According to the DSMV-5, there are over 400 mental health disorders. Obviously, the mental health world is extremely complex. Ironically, one of the solutions is so simple: a mobile app in which you can speak to a licensed professional in a private setting via text, phone or video chat. If you think about it, this is an excellent solution as ‘mobile’ is currently the preferred method of communication nowadays. Mobile users, tablet users and people with other kinds of mobile devices can reap the benefits with a therapy app. These applications, specifically the major ones listed here, are available for download on virtually all platforms – iOS, Android, Windows, etc.
Is It Easy to Use?
While the technical development of these apps is definitely a difficult undertaking, the actual users of these apps have a different experience. If a therapy app was difficult to use, most people would abandon it, no matter how much mental health support they need. If you’re already dealing with anxiety for example, the last thing you need is a complicated app. Intuitiveness is important and the developers of these therapy apps understood this from the get-go. Thus, virtually all mobile therapy apps are straightforward and easy to use. As already noted, there are three ways to speak to your therapist within the app: via text, voice, or video calls, all of which are completed through the app itself. Let’s take a brief look at how each method works.
- Text Therapy: think WhatsApp or Skype. The therapy app is designed like a virtual chat room whereby you send and receive messages from your counselor. You can read previous messages as well as attached files to send (or receive from) your therapist.
- Voice/Phone Therapy: you may be wondering how this type of therapy works through the app. Simple. As long as you have an internet connection, you are good to go. Think WhatsApp voice. All calls are made over VoIP (Voice Over IP).
- Video Therapy: ever used Skype video (or even WhatsApp video)? It’s essentially the same idea. Only you and your therapist will have access to the video chat.
As you can see, the concept is very straightforward. However, there are several minor differences in the different methods of communication. With text therapy, you can chat whenever you want. But, the chats are mostly not in real time. You will need to wait anywhere between a few minutes and a few hours for a reply. However, there is no need to schedule a time to communicate with your mobile therapist. On the other hand, you will need to schedule a date and time for voice or video therapy. This is done through the easy to use scheduling system within the app itself.
How Effective Are These Apps?
To be frank: there is no clear-cut answer. Therapy is highly personalized and varies by individual. While some people claim that the only way to truly deal with mental health problems is to talk with a counselor face-to-face, this simply isn’t the case. Many people have experienced immense positive improvements from using online therapy and their respective apps. Research has shown it to be at least as effective as traditional counseling. This isn’t surprising given all of the benefits of using an online service or app. This includes better accessibility, the incognito nature of this type of therapy, improved privacy, the elimination of stigma, more communication options, among many other positives. Yes, there are drawbacks such as technological complications and regulatory concerns, but many of these are overblown. We have found insignificant evidence to suggest that these drawbacks are of serious concern.
Moreover, the proof is in the pudding. The best indicator of effectiveness is to simply look at the millions of people who continue to use telehealth as their primary source of mental health care on an ongoing basis. There are hundreds of reviews on this site by individuals who have used these therapy apps. Customer reviews are likely one of the most reliable ways to find out how beneficial an app will be. Make sure to read both our expert reviews and customer testimonials prior to downloading your preferred choice.
Which Therapy App Should You Choose?
Ultimately, you need to evaluate what’s important to you in a therapy app. There are a lot of different choices available. And while they all offer the same service, there are several minor differentiating factors between them. Before deciding on which app you’re going to use, you should identify what you’re hoping to get out of counseling and what issues are vital to you. Here are a list of things you should look at before making a decision:
- Treatment. While most quality therapy apps will have therapists that can help you manage a wide variety of mental illnesses, it’s still crucial to check which ones are best suited for you. In fact, this is likely the most critical factor to look at before downloading one. Most of these apps work with therapists with certain specializations or areas of expertise. Some apps only offer therapists who focus on providing therapy for depression and anxiety, and not PTSD for example, which is what you may be looking for. Make sure the app you use works with a large range of therapists who cover all areas of mental health.
- Usability. As we covered above, one of the best things about these apps is the fact that they’re extremely user friendly. Instead of having to search around for a therapist, make your way to their office and set up appointments in person or over the phone, you can do everything within one platform.
- Pricing.Whether we like it or not, pricing continues to be a key deciding factor for many people before the purchase or use a product/service. This is true for all things in life, not just therapy alone. Some apps charge more for added conveniences like easy scheduling and quick contact with their therapists. Other apps are more affordable. It’s important to remember that the quality of service often reflects the price that you pay. Cheaper apps may provide you with counselors who are less qualified than others.
- Device Accessibility. Another thing to consider is the fact that not all devices support every therapy app. Depending on whether you’re using an iPhone, an Android, or some other form of smart or mobile device, you should double check to see if the app that you’re interested in is supported by the mobile device that you’re using. The good news, though, is that the apps listed above all work with the major operating systems.
Our Evaluation Process
It’s no easy process cataloging the different apps available and putting them together in a coherent list that allows people to determine which one is best suited for them. Our apps have been reviewed following our own personal experience using the apps and also through the painstaking collection of data from hundreds of users. That said, we understand the nature of this area – the combination of mental health and technology. As such, some factors weighed more heavily on our decision process than others. Usability was a major factor for us. The type of treatments the app offers was also a large component. As was pricing, privacy and of course OS compatibility, among several other factors which are covered in our reviews.
When we started our research, we understood from the outset that every person is different and requires a different approach to therapy. Nevertheless, we also understood the importance of having all this information available in one place, as it’s a great way to cross-check the general differences between various apps. It is our hope that you find this information useful and that you read through both expert and customer reviews prior to downloading your ideal therapy app. That said, here is a short breakdown of the results from our evaluation:
- Betterhelp: Betterhelp is often revered as one of the best therapy services that you can find today. While many services have one or two features that are their calling cards, Betterhelp is loaded to the brim with high-quality content. It’s easy to sign up, it’s easy to use, and the quality of counseling is extremely high. Both their mobile and desktop apps are extremely convenient for users. They are designed in a similar manner as other popular apps like Skype; the difference being that you can also easily organize your therapy sessions, check your calendar, and perform other tasks in the app itself. The counselors and customer reports have both been exceedingly positive and it seems that Betterhelp is only continuing to improve. If you’re looking for a simple and effective way to start off your counseling session, the Betterhelp app might be the place to start.
- Regain: If you’re looking for help with your relationship, then Regain is probably the place to go for people looking for an app to help with their counseling. The company has nearly a thousand counselors and psychologists who are trained and licensed to help couples manage their relationship problems. One of the selling features about Regain is that they don’t require both members of the relationship to be present in the therapy session. They recognize that in many cases, one partner is the first to initiate therapy. They allow this to happen and encourage the other partner to join whenever they feel comfortable doing so. The majority of the counselors who are working through the Regain app are also qualified to help treat other mental health problems. This is ideal because many people who are struggling in their relationships are going through personal issues outside of their relationship. The combination of relationship and mental health counseling has resulted in the Regain app seeing a very high rate of success.
- Talkspace: If you’ve been following this area of mental health, then you’ve certainly heard of Talkspace. Most people have seen their ads on TV and online, as they have millions in funding and partnerships with major celebrities such as Michael Phelps. However, even this is not their biggest eye catcher. Talkspace has a world-renowned mobile therapy app that rivals industry-leading Betterhelp’s app. Furthermore, their proprietary algorithm is known to match people to the right matching therapist at a high success rate. This is no easy feat considering the difficulty of a bot needing to understand the uniqueness of a person’s situation, all the while connecting that person with one therapist in a sea of over 3,000 therapists. In addition to this, their app usability is frequently cited as a standout feature, ultimately propelling them to within the top therapy destinations on the market.
- Breakthrough: Breakthrough is the brainchild of another telehealth company known as MDLIVE. This means that the owners of this company have a lot of experience in the mental health field, and this shows in the quality of their app and the services that they offer. They have been rated for having the best on-screen scheduling system. This is important because this allows users the convenience of choosing their appointments via the app, without having to wait for a lengthy email response or having to contact anyone by phone or text. While some other companies do offer scheduling apps, very few have managed to successfully integrate these platforms into their apps. Another reason that Breakthrough is so popular is because they’re currently the only therapy company that accepts insurance from major insurance plans. The main issue with Breakthrough is the fact that their services are quite expensive. This is likely one of the reasons that they decided to accept health insurance. Most people wouldn’t be able to afford the high prices of Breakthrough’s therapy on their own. Breakthrough also requires that the therapists working on their site cover at least 5 sessions on a monthly basis to remain active. This ensures that only quality therapists who are effective will remain on the site.
Downloading an app isn’t such a big deal. The average person has between 60-90 mobile apps installed on their device and spends well over 2 hours a day using these apps. Clearly, mobile is the wave of the future and has been leading the technological revolution for over a decade already. However, therapy is a big choice. And while the rise of mobile therapy apps has been nothing short of astonishing, impulsively downloading a therapy app is something we advocate against. Please consider all of the above information prior to making your decision.
Eric Silver has been helping a close family member learn to cope with depression for nearly twenty years. Over the years, he’s developed a passion for mental health awareness. Mr. Silver has researched and written extensively within the mental health area, specifically in regard to bi-polar, depression, stress, and anxiety issues.
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.