Online-Therapy.com Review: An In-depth Analysis
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Online-Therapy.com was founded in 2009 by investment banker Carl Nordstrom. After discovering studies demonstrating that web-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) had similar benefits to in-person sessions, Carl decided to invest in creating a platform that made therapy accessible to anyone.
With the assistance of mental health specialists, Carl assembled a team of licensed therapists to begin offering web-based CBT sessions to clients in need. To date, they have helped thousands of clients. In addition to therapy sessions, the company also offers supplementary yoga and meditation instruction. They also provide many instructional videos, journals, and extensive worksheets.
Online-Therapy.com prides itself on being the best online resource for people seeking therapists trained specifically in CBT methods.
Overview: How Does Online-Therapy.com Work?
Online-Therapy.com operates as a subscription service providing users with ongoing access to therapy from licensed therapists. You can access the platform via their interactive website via smartphone, tablet, or desktop. Individuals have 24/7 access to a therapy program that includes worksheets, tests, diary, activity planner, yoga/meditation classes, and messaging with their assigned therapist through text. Additionally, users can book 30-minute video or audio sessions with their therapist up to twice a week, depending on their package.
Plans and Pricing
Online-Therapy.com offers three different subscription plans for therapy. Users select their desired plan when signing up, but can change it at any time. They give all subscribers a discount of 20% off for the first month, meaning you can get started for just $32 per week.
Their three subscription plans include:
- Free Plan: This introductory plan is a great option for those that want to sample the platform without committing to payment. Although it does not provide direct communication with a therapist, it does allow access to the same useful tools and resources as the other packages.
- Basic: Access to worksheets, yoga and meditation videos, journal, activity plan, and tests. Includes daily therapist worksheet replies from Monday to Friday. Price: $39.95/week.
- Standard: Access to worksheets, yoga and meditation videos, journal, activity plan, and tests. Includes daily therapist worksheet replies from Monday to Friday, unlimited messaging with therapist, and one live 30-minute audio or video chat per week. Price: $59.95/week.
- Premium: Access to worksheets, yoga and meditation videos, journal, activity plan, and tests. Includes daily therapist worksheet replies from Monday to Friday, unlimited messaging with therapist with express replies, and two live 30-minute audio or video chat per week. Price: $79.95/week.
They recommend the standard plan for most users who sign up as it includes direct messaging with your therapist and one live session per week. The plans are each charged for a minimum of one month at a time, meaning that even if you cancel after a few days you’ll still be charged for the whole month.
Ease of Use
Getting started with Online-Therapy.com is as simple as signing up. The site will prompt you to sign up and is designed so that anyone can use their services, no matter what their computer skills may be. There is also a “live chat” button at the bottom of the screen for anyone who has questions about navigating the site. The platform is also mobile-friendly.
You can sign up for Online-Therapy.com on desktop or mobile. The process begins by asking you to select your presenting problems from an extensive list. You will then be asked to select the preferred gender of your therapist, type of sessions, and how you found their site. You’ll then provide a nickname, location, date of birth, password, and email address.
You are immediately matched with a therapist who will give you support through worksheets, live sessions and messaging, depending on your package. You can access a comprehensive therapist profile which includes information about their approach, expertise, credentials, and reviews from users. You can choose to keep the assigned therapist or request a new one at this point or any time afterwards.
Once you are happy with your selected therapist you can proceed to the payment page where you will select your preferred plan and process your payment. Before proceeding with therapy, you will also be asked to provide an emergency contact.
All packages include access to your own dashboard, which contains your therapy toolbox. Within your therapy toolbox, you have the following sections:
Sections and worksheets: This includes educational information and worksheets that are tailored to help you better understand the CBT approach, and to identify and overcome certain areas of struggle. As you complete your worksheets, your therapist will reply to sections to help you better understand where you’re having problems and offer suggestions on how to get unstuck. Your therapist may also use some of the topics as focus areas in therapy sessions.
The worksheets included are centered around happiness, anxiety, problematic behavior, unhealthy emotions, and unhelpful thoughts. You will also find sections that help you work on your self-esteem and future goals. The worksheets are not mandatory, but they are designed to help boost your progress in the therapy program. Worksheets are commonly used as a tool in traditional CBT, making this platform more similar to in-person CBT than many other apps.
Live sessions: In this section, you can view previous live sessions, book or cancel a session, or even switch your therapist.
Messages: You can message your therapist at any time and they will usually respond within a couple of hours. Therapists only respond from Monday to Friday. You can view all previous messages in this section of your toolbox.
Your Journal: The journal feature allows you to actually build an online journal within your dashboard. Unlike worksheets, your therapist does not have access to your journal. It is merely an element of your wellness plan that is made easier through your account.
Activity plan: In your activity plan, you can add activities to your calendar with reminders. This is an excellent tool for booking new habits, routines, or activities suggested by your therapist as a part of your wellness plan. It also offers a weekly “ta-da” list so you can see all of the progress you’ve made.
Test: This section is meant to be used as a tool to monitor your progress. It gives you a series of questions about how you are presently doing and assigns you a score. You can repeat the test every two weeks as a marker of improvement as you go through your therapy program.
Yoga: As a part of your happiness toolbox, you also have access to online yoga and meditation lessons. These videos can be accessed any time to engage in yoga practice or meditation specifically aimed at boosting mental health.
You can access direct messaging with your therapist through your therapy toolbox in your preferred web browser or on your mobile phone using the website. You can also engage in messaging with your therapist on your worksheets.
Using the messaging section of your toolbox, you can send text messages to your therapist at any time, but it does not allow voice or video messaging.
Therapists generally reply within the same day on weekdays but are not available on Saturdays or Sundays. You will receive an email notification whenever your therapist has messaged you in the message room or on worksheets.
Online-Therapy.com requires each of its therapists to be fully licensed with 2000 hours of clinical experience before joining the platform. All of their therapists must have training in CBT methods, including additional training in administering CBT online.
There are a variety of professional counselors on the platform ranging from newly licensed professional counselors to PhD level clinical psychologists. They have therapists from all over the world with various levels of expertise and approaches to therapy.
What is Online-Therapy.com Like?
After my intake interview, I was matched with a licensed mental health counselor working out of New York. Her specific approaches to therapy were listed as cognitive behavioral therapy, client-centered, interpersonal, and rational emotive behavior therapy. She had multiple positive reviews from previous clients listed on her about-me page.
Upon matching, I was asked to provide consent to working with my therapist, and to verify that I was not experiencing any suicidal ideation. It was made clear through sign-up and afterwards that if I was having suicidal thoughts, this was not the place to deal with such problems.
I immediately received a greeting message from my therapist who urged me to complete the “getting to know you” worksheet in my therapy toolbox. I proceeded to complete several worksheets and within 24 hours my therapist had left thoughtful responses to many of my responses.
I was able to book a video session with my therapist within a day of signing up. I received reminder emails immediately and on the day of booking. To attend my therapy session, I was able to easily access the chat room through my dashboard on the website.
My therapist was extremely professional and began by giving me an overview of how the session would proceed. She also went over confidentiality and reiterated the fact that if I was feeling suicidal I should seek help elsewhere.
During our session, I felt that my therapist was very warm, friendly, and professional. She was thoughtful in her questions and answers. Even though the session was only 30 minutes, she was able to help me work through a few problems I was facing and even assisted in building an action plan that would allow me to progress further during the week.
After our 30-minute session, she left me some more messages on my worksheets to help me clarify my goals, problem areas, and what to focus on during the week. Overall, I found that the combination of worksheets plus a virtual session made me feel like I had a very good support system in place.
My therapist continued to respond promptly to messages and worksheet responses throughout the week, providing me with a comprehensive support system. The worksheets were also incredibly helpful in helping me narrow down what areas of my life were giving me the most problems. This made my interactions with my therapist even more effective.
Best Way to Use Online-Therapy.com
In order to get the most out of your sessions, it would be best to show up with a mindset where you want to actively work on some changes. It is much more than “venting” and offers an entire toolbox with guided assistance on how to begin implementing change.
While the toolbox is helpful on its own, having interactions with a professional therapist as you work on your problems is invaluable. For that reason, it’s best to get a package that includes some virtual therapy sessions, at least to start.
The platform has more similarities to in-person CBT sessions than most other online platforms, but sessions are still limited due to the nature of virtual interactions. However, the feeling of 24/7 support was extremely comforting and the interactive worksheets helped me make progress every day.
Similarly to in-person therapy, the more effort you put into therapy, the more you will get out of it.
Confidentiality and Privacy
The company assures users that all communication taking place on the website is encrypted with end-to-end best-in-class 256-bit encryption. For further protection, the platform also requires you to enter using a password you create. You can add extra identity protection by communicating with your therapist using a nickname rather than your legal name. However, you do need to provide an emergency contact which will only be accessed in the case of an emergency.
All personal health information is hosted behind a 3-tiered web application, with multiple checks and controls to keep the data safe. All audio, video and text chats between clients and therapists are end-to-end encrypted. Additionally, your account and all submitted information is deleted automatically after two years. You can contact them directly if you’d like it deleted sooner.
Certain information you provide to Online-Therapy.com may be used for research and analysis. Such information generally includes data on how users navigate the website, types of interactions, and general demographic features. This information is used to improve the platform’s usability and any identifying information is removed for data analysis.
Specialties and Areas of Expertise
There are many therapists on the platform with training in various types of therapy. The company reports that therapists are each trained specifically in online cognitive behavioral therapy.
When signing up for Online-Therapy.com, you can choose from an extensive list of issues and conditions you’d like to address, including:
- Eating & food disorders
- Domestic violence
- Weight loss
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Chronic pain
- Borderline personality
- Career issues
- Speech anxiety
- LGBTQ+ issues
Currently, only individual therapy is available on this platform, but the website states that group therapy is coming soon.
Does Online-Therapy.com Work?
Whether or not this service works for you depends on many factors. However, as far as teletherapy platforms go, it is an excellent option.
Most of the research done examining the effectiveness of online therapy has found that CBT is effective for both in-person and online settings. As such, many people can benefit from receiving this type of therapy online. The addition of worksheets makes Online-Therapy.com even closer to an in-person CBT experience and also improves the self-discovery aspect of therapy.
If you are looking for support for any of the conditions they treat, and your mental health concerns are not severe, this platform is a great choice to help you identify and overcome unhelpful thinking patterns and behaviors. If you are just looking for structured support to help you work through a difficult time, it’s also a great option.
Who Should Use Online-Therapy.com?
Online-Therapy.com may be best for people who are comfortable communicating through online platforms and fairly comfortable navigating websites. It is also better suited for people who are experiencing mental health problems that aren’t severe. Their approach makes it especially useful for people who feel stuck in unhelpful behavior or thought patterns.
Finding affordable and accessible help from a mental health professional can be challenging. Online-Therapy.com offers to meet this need by providing high quality CBT therapy at an affordable price.
While this service is a little more complicated to use than some other platforms, it does offer many valuable tools in order to set you up for success on your therapy journey. In particular, the addition of worksheets and interactive therapist responses is a huge asset. This tool allows you to work through self-discovery and implement changes all under the guidance of a mental health professional.
Additionally, the aspect of 24/7 support and access to yoga, meditation, an online journal, and activity tracker are all excellent qualities that add to the feeling of overall support. The therapists are well-trained and eager to assist clients in bettering their lives.
Overall, the platform is easy to use, offers counseling with qualified professionals, and allows you to switch therapists if you are not pleased with your match. They offer a complete therapy package from the comfort of your own home.
Online-Therapy.com is an excellent option if you are looking for a supportive network and actionable advice for your problems. The best way to know for sure is to give it a try yourself.
Does Online-Therapy.com accept insurance?
No, but they do provide itemized receipts that users can submit for reimbursement through private plans that may offer coverage.
Can Online-Therapy.com therapists prescribe medications?
No, the therapists are not qualified to prescribe medication.
Does Online-Therapy.com offer a free trial?
They offer a free plan, but it is not exactly a free trial. It allows you to see your potential therapist matches use some of the tools without actually buying a subscription.
What is the cancellation policy?
Online-Therapy.com boasts a “no contracts” policy which means you can cancel at any time. However, their payment structure is such that you have to sign up for a minimum of one month at a time. You can cancel very easily on the platform by selecting “account” on the user dashboard and then going to “subscription.” Your account will cancel at your next renewal date.
Is Online-Therapy.com anonymous?
In short, yes, it offers the option to be anonymous. You can remain completely anonymous to your own therapist if you choose to by selecting a nickname and only using text or audio chats. However, you are required to enter information for an emergency contact upon sign-up. This information is only used by the platform in case of emergency. The company does not make your contact information or location available to therapists working on their platform.
Is Online-Therapy.com HIPAA compliant?
Online-Therapy.com states that it has passed security audits and is officially compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). All chats are encrypted on their servers and they offer the option to delete information upon request.
Can you get a refund on Online-Therapy.com?
You can cancel your membership at any time, but they do not offer refunds. Refunds for unused time are not normally granted except under extenuating circumstances on a case-by-case basis. They mention circumstances such as medical, death, court, or disability as extenuating circumstances that would possibly result in a refund. You can contact them directly to request a refund in such circumstances.
In case a refund is not granted or possible, they offer other accommodations such as helping you find a new counselor, extending your subscription for free or a reduced cost, and providing credit for future counselor services.
Can people outside of the USA use Online-Therapy.com?
Yes, the platform is available to most countries.
Pros & Cons
- Unlimited communication with your therapist
- Therapy sessions via video, voice and live chat
- All counselors trained in CBT therapy
- Therapist-guided worksheets
- No mobile app