Discover the top online counseling services for children, teens, and adults, including Talkspace, which can provide valuable support and guidance for you and your family in times of need.
It is fairly uncommon for parents to struggle to balance their familial, social, and professional lives and their health. While discussing what’s going on and how you’re feeling with a buddy is wonderful, sometimes it’s best to speak with a qualified expert. And if you’re thinking, “I don’t have the time to see a therapist every week,” you might want to investigate internet therapy.
Even with some treatment modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), studies have demonstrated that online counseling can be just as beneficial as in-person sessions.
You have access to some of the finest online treatment services, typically at a fraction of the cost of traditional in-person programs. We investigated 55 available online services (and 25 directories) and polled over 105 users regarding their experiences with them. Continue reading to learn about the top online counseling choices we’ve discovered and see if any of them fit you.
Talkspace includes choices for individuals, couples (including parents), and adolescent therapy, so it can accommodate practically everyone. Talkspace also allows you to choose your own therapist by browsing a list of clinicians based on state, treatment modality, and specialty or to be matched with a therapist based on a brief survey that questions your current health habits, therapy goals, and preferred payment method.
Talkspace is well-known for its text messaging service that allows clients to contact their therapist anytime and anywhere, which is particularly handy for adolescents who are accustomed to texting. While you may not receive an immediate answer, texting allows you to share your ideas, feelings, and emotions when you need to, with the assurance that your therapist will react as soon as possible. Talkspace also provides psychiatric care and medication management, allowing you to have the best of both worlds if these services are part of your therapy.
Talkspace may be the greatest virtual treatment service on this list, but there are a few disadvantages. For example, you may be charged for the entire month if you cancel your subscription in the middle of the month. Additionally, Medicare and Medicaid do not cover mental health services given through Talkspace, so if you are not paying out of pocket, ensure that your provider is covered.
Overall, ninety percent of our poll users ranked Talkspace as good or exceptional. Nevertheless, 78% of users reported that their providers met most of their needs. 82% of users considered Talkspace’s website easy or very easy to browse.
The tiered plans of Talkspace’s pricing are as follows:
- Messaging Therapy: Offers private chat rooms where you can send asynchronous messages to your therapist Monday through Friday; $276 per month
- Live Virtual Sessions and Text Messaging: Covers four 45-minute for a monthly cost of $396.
- Live Messaging plus Therapy: $516 per month, which includes everything above.
- Couples Therapy: $436 per month per couple.
- Psychiatry: $249 for the initial consultation and $125 for subsequent appointments.
Little Otter is one of the few online therapy choices for children; most companies require children to be at least 12 years old and have parental authorization to get treatment. The therapists at Little Otter are trained to address a variety of issues that typically affect children under the age of 14, including, but not limited to, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), trauma, anger, anxiety, and attention challenges.
To begin utilizing Little Otter, you will complete a brief quiz to provide insight into your therapy goals. The questionnaire also includes advice that can be implemented immediately with your family. The initial session will be a welcome session, also known as an intake, during which the therapist will discuss the scope of therapy, goals, treatment plans, etc. After the initial consultation, you can arrange recurring appointments.
It is essential to understand that Little Otter caters to the entire family, not just the youngster. In addition to providing therapy or psychiatry for your child, the service also provides parent coaching and support, couples therapy (with a focus on parenting), and family counseling (but only for couples and families whose kids are Little Otter patients).
75% of users rated their entire experience with Little Otter as good, very good, or outstanding, and 70% stated their therapist satisfied all or most of their needs. Moreover, 58 percent of users stated they would suggest the company to a friend.
Below is how Little Otter’s price system works.
- A 30-minute appointment with your care lead, the clinician managing your Little Otter care team, for $90.00.
- One 45-minute appointment with your designated therapist costs $200.
- A package of four 45-minute sessions costs $680.
- A package of 12 45-minute sessions costs $1,920.
- $500 for an initial evaluation of child psychiatry.
In addition, for $30 a month, users can sign up for the Kelp on-demand chatline with mental health experts, which provides emotional and behavioral guidance and support during business hours.
BetterHelp owns and operates Teen Counseling, which delivers the greatest counseling services for adolescents. Teens can work with psychologists, professional social workers, and marital and family therapists on various difficulties, including anxiety, depression, bullying, and friendship or relationship conflicts. Outside of the four meetings per month, members can message their therapist around the clock. This could be especially beneficial for adolescents who are accustomed to texting about their difficulties.
Also, parents can book appointments with the therapist separately or with their adolescent. If an adolescent or parent doesn’t like the therapist they’ve been matched with, there is a “switch therapist” button that allows them to simply choose a different therapist based on age, gender, etc.
Notably, the site will charge you each week regardless of whether you scheduled a session. Moreover, Adolescent Therapy does not accept insurance, so you will need to pay out of pocket. Live sessions are only 30 minutes long, which is much shorter than the 45-minute average found on the vast majority of other online treatment platforms.
Overall, 85% of survey respondents reported a positive encounter with Teen Counseling. In addition, 76% of users found a therapist that met all or the majority of their criteria, and 66% were pleased with the available therapist selections. Lastly, 64% of respondents regarded Teen Counseling’s website as easy to navigate.
Teen Counseling offers only one counseling plan, which includes four live virtual sessions each month and unlimited messaging. There is no precise price point, although it often ranges from $240 to $400 each month. This varies depending on location and the demand for services in the area.
National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
It can be difficult for many BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals, especially children and adolescents, to find a therapist who understands and supports their experiences and is affirming. For this reason, the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN) directory is a vital resource.
The NQTTCN, unlike the previously stated online treatment choices, is not a firm that provides therapy services. Instead, it is a directory that can be used to locate licensed practitioners in your state. You can locate a provider online by entering a city, state, or zip code. This link will take you to a list of therapist biographies. Then, you can filter the results based on whether the therapists take new clients, offer teletherapy, or have sliding scale/low fees.
Therapist biographies contain extensive information about the therapist, including contact information, qualifications, approved payment methods, insurance coverage, therapy technique, areas of specialization, race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Also, the NQTTCN website contains information for community members and practitioners.
42% of surveyed users indicated they visited NQTTCN to locate a therapist with a similar identity or cultural background, and 74% found it simple or very simple to find a therapist who fits their criteria. Seventy-six percent of directory users continue to visit a therapist they discovered through the directory.
Access to the list is free, and the price of therapy sessions varies based on the provider chosen. A few service providers take insurance.
Therapy for Black Girls
Therapy for Black Girls is a website where Black women and girls may access a community of like-minded people and simply be themselves. While it is primarily a database for connecting with therapists of the same background, it is also a location where you can read blog posts on topics such as toxic positivity, mental fitness, and bereavement and listen to podcasts about issues affecting communities of color. These tools could be a tremendous source of solace for Black girls who feel overwhelmed by social and cultural stresses.
Similar to the NQTTCN, Therapy for Black Girls is not a platform where therapy can be conducted but rather a free directory of therapists around the United States. You can browse therapists’ biographies, payment choices, insurance providers, locations, and specialties and view a list of therapists who offer in-person and virtual services (albeit the majority are virtual). The cost per session of therapy varies by provider and insurance plan.
Seventy-six percent of those surveyed believed they would still be seeing a therapist from Therapy for Black Girls six months from now, and 83 percent were satisfied or extremely satisfied with the available therapist alternatives. Also, 76% felt that the diversity of therapists listed in the directory was good or very good.
Plans and Costs
Access to the list is free, and the price of therapy sessions varies based on the provider chosen. A few service providers take insurance.
To join the online group named Treatment for Black Girls Sister Circle, a monthly or annual fee is required. Access to expert-led Q&As, member-only events, in-depth examinations of pertinent issues, and other perks are obtainable through membership. The membership fee for the online community is $10 per month or $100 per year.
Brightside Health is intended exclusively for those seeking therapy for anxiety and depression, two frequent mental health issues among adolescents and young adults. Brightside, unlike other online counseling services, makes it plain that it does not treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), substance use disorders, bipolar disorder (BPD), or schizophrenia (or any issues for which in-person care is more appropriate). Nonetheless, psychiatric sessions for medication management are accessible (but not for controlled substances, which might be prescribed for the conditions listed previously).
Brightside has its own matching method for therapists and clients. Hence it does not provide therapist biographies and other information often seen on other online therapy sites. All treatment sessions are conducted remotely through Zoom and last 30 minutes. You can communicate with your therapist on the portal between sessions, and therapists may offer you additional information, such as worksheets. If you skip a session, a $20 fee will be assessed.
It is vital to understand that Brightside may be hesitant to deal with you if you’ve recently been hospitalized for a mental health illness. In addition, psychiatrists and physicians are unable to prescribe controlled narcotics but rather mainstream antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) (SNRIs).
90% of users rated their overall experience with Brightside as good to outstanding, and 79% stated their provider satisfied all or the majority of their demands. In addition, 86% of users assessed therapist qualifications positively, and 69% of users considered it easy or very easy to navigate the Brightside website.
Brightside has three subscription plans available:
- Medication-only plan: $95 per month; includes one 15-minute remote psychiatric evaluation per month, monthly medication delivery, and continuous professional support and care monitoring.
- The therapy-only subscription costs $299 per month and includes unlimited messaging and four video sessions with a therapist each month. Extra video appointments are available for $59 each.
- The therapy and medicine plan is $349 per month and covers everything that is included in the medication-only and treatment-only programs.
Octave is an online counseling service that provides a variety of treatment modalities, such as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), for a wide range of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and self-harm. Its couples therapy is administered by therapists specializing in relationship issues and can assist with everything from communication difficulties to parenting stress.
Sessions of couples therapy normally last 45 minutes, and you are paired with a therapist who specializes in relationships. Octave normally offers in-person sessions, but owing to the COVID-19 epidemic, all current sessions are virtual.
71% of users rated their entire experience with Octave as good to outstanding, and 82% stated their provider satisfied all or the majority of their demands. In addition, 74% of users rated therapist qualifications positively, and 54% regarded the navigation of Octave’s website as easy or very easy.
If you’re seeking a platform that specializes in couples counseling, Octave may be worth the additional expense.
Instead of requiring a monthly subscription, Octave’s pricing approach is a la carte, with users paying for each session. Solo treatment costs between $170 and $250 per session, couples or family therapy costs between $190 and $275 per session, and group therapy cost approximately $75 per session on average.
This structure allows you to establish a schedule that works for you and is in line with your specific treatment plan, which is particularly useful for parents with hectic schedules.
Psychiatry is an often-overlooked category of online mental health therapy. Talkiatry is working to fix this, however. Talkiatry focuses on treating children and adults with ADHD, anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This program offers a full 60-minute intake session followed by 30-minute follow-up meetings with a doctor who is familiar with you and your medical history. Yes, children may be provided medication if their psychiatrist believes it is essential.
You will be asked to complete an evaluation, which will then present you with a list of psychiatrists who best meet your requirements. The company’s digital app, Healow, allows you to communicate with your physician between sessions if you have questions or encounter undesirable side effects.
95% of respondents evaluated Talkiatry as good, very good, or outstanding, while 87% said they would suggest the service to a friend. In addition, 85 percent of consumers thought the service was superior to others they had tried, and 73 percent said the website was easy or very easy to browse.
Notably, you must pay per session (the cost depends on your insurance), and the company does not provide generic talk therapy. You must instead obtain a reference or locate a practitioner outside of Talkiatry. Talkiatry does not accept patients without insurance, thus you cannot pay for services out of pocket.
With over 5,200 practitioners, including therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and nurse practitioners, LifeStance Health is one of the top online counseling services. Family therapists are also available to assist your family in addressing mental health issues as a unit. The offered therapists are trained in multiple techniques, such as CBT, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and EMDR. LifeStance has you covered whether you require general talk therapy, group therapy, or even psychiatry and medication management.
Lifestance Health does not offer services to Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, or Connecticut residents. Wyoming, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia.
In our study, 88% of respondents rated their entire experience with LifeStance Health as good, very good, or exceptional. In addition, 73% of customers stated the therapists at Lifestance Health met all or most of their demands, and 70% said they were satisfied with the therapist selections. 60% of users found the process of finding a therapist with Lifestance Health to be easy or extremely easy, and 58% of users found the website to be easy or very easy to navigate.
The out-of-pocket cost of therapy at LifeStance Health varies by practitioner, but a 45-minute session typically costs between $75 and $300. It is essential to note that the number of sessions you can complete varies by therapist.
Talkspace is the greatest location to begin your search for the best online therapy services, especially if you have teens in need of assistance. Talkspace, unlike other telehealth organizations that exclusively serve clients in certain states, serves the entire country with therapists available in each state. Also, it offers multiple communication methods for therapy (text message, video, and audio), which makes it more accessible, and it accepts a variety of insurance policies, so customers do not have to worry about spending a great deal per session.
Check out Talkiatry if you need assistance with medication management or online psychiatry for children or adults. It enables individuals to communicate with psychiatrists and obtain prescriptions for psychiatric drugs without physically visiting a doctor’s office.
Selecting the Most Effective Online Treatment
Is Online Counseling Beneficial?
Internet counseling can enable people to see a mental health expert in situations when they would not otherwise be able to. It is advantageous for families with children since it provides greater flexibility around class schedules and may enable your child with many communication options, such as live messaging, with their therapist. If you can’t get your family to in-person sessions or can’t afford to pay hundreds of dollars per session, there are a variety of online counseling options available remotely and at a more reasonable price point, whether through subscription services or various sorts of programs.
Online Counseling Platforms: A Comparison
When deciding on an online counseling program, you will want to examine factors such as these.
The communication possibilities provided by each online therapy platform will differ according to the company. Typical offers include video and voice services, but an increasing number of businesses are pushing into the text-messaging area, allowing clients to text their therapists whenever they like. With this option, the doctor may not answer immediately, but clients can record their current thoughts and keep a record of them. There is also a live chat option where you may communicate with your therapist in real time and have a session.
Individual therapy, in which you work one-on-one with a clinician, is typically available on every platform. Depending on your preferences and needs, various types of treatment, such as couples therapy, group therapy, and family therapy, may also be beneficial.
Similar to face-to-face counseling, not all practices or therapists accept insurance. If they do, they may only be in-network with a limited number of companies or pay only a portion of the session’s cost. If the service does not accept insurance, you will likely be required to enroll in a subscription plan or pay cash. You should determine this before your first session, so you are not surprised by an unexpected bill or insurance denial.
It is crucial to emphasize that not everyone who seeks counseling requires drug management. Yet, medicine and treatment are the most effective combinations for treating the symptoms of some individuals. In this instance, you or your child should seek out an online therapy service that provides both therapy and drug management. While therapists cannot normally prescribe medicine, you can seek assistance from a physician, psychiatrist, or nurse practitioner. You should be aware that psychiatric appointments are often more expensive than regular therapy sessions.
Therapist qualifications: Depending on the platform, you will be able to browse individual therapist biographies or be matched with a clinician based on a brief survey, quiz, or phone call. Yet, you should seek a therapist who has experience in the reason you’re seeking therapy in the first place. For instance, if you intend to address unhealed trauma, you should seek out a therapist with substantial understanding and experience in trauma counseling. In addition, you will want to know their treatment techniques (CBT, DBT, EMDR, etc.), as some may be more effective for your symptoms, or you may have a preference before beginning therapy.
When Should My Kid Get Counseling?
There is no definitive answer to the question of when a youngster should see a therapist. But, if their symptoms are interfering with their ability to function on a daily basis, such as disturbed sleep, difficulty concentrating, or sobbing bouts, counseling may be the next step.
You may seek counseling for your child if you observe symptoms of generalized anxiety, sadness, OCD, and ADHD. In some situations, a therapist can provide a diagnosis, medication, and/or therapy to treat the underlying cause of the patient’s symptoms.
Counseling is also an excellent place for children to check in with an impartial third party, unravel topics that may be difficult to discuss with their parents (such as bullying and relationship abuse), and learn to set boundaries.
How Long Should My Child See A Therapist Online?
A few online counseling sessions may be sufficient to get some children back on track. Yet, it is common for individuals with certain mental health disorders, such as ADHD, to remain in therapy for months or even years. This could also rely on your family’s mental health care budget.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy,” explains therapist and subject matter expert Hannah Owens, LMSW. And different sorts of therapy necessitate distinct elements. An outcomes-based method, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), may be effective after a prescribed number of highly structured sessions, but psychoanalysis is more about inquiry and cannot be “solved” in a predetermined amount of time.
If you are using a subscription-based online counseling service, you should closely check the monthly cost. For therapists that charge per session, this may affect how frequently or for how long your child can visit one.
Are Online Therapists Willing To Accept Insurance?
This varies based on the therapist and the organization. For example, Little Otter and Teen Counseling are two of the greatest online counseling programs for adolescents and children, but neither accepts insurance (Little Otter accepts only one insurance carrier). Thus sessions must be paid for out of cash. Yet, sites such as Talkspace and Lifestance Health serve younger clients and take insurance. Some businesses may only take the most popular insurance providers (Aetna, Cigna, Anthem, etc.), whilst others may have a longer selection.
Can Online Therapists Provide a Formal Diagnosis?
This is contingent upon the platform and practitioner. For instance, internet psychiatrists can diagnose and prescribe medication for mental health concerns, but not always for youngsters. Certain teletherapy systems, such as BetterHelp, prohibit clinicians from diagnosing clients on their platform. However, practitioners at certain locations, including Little Otter, can diagnose and prescribe drugs for illnesses such as ADHD. Some online platforms include mini-assessments and quizzes as tools. They may assist in guiding your treatment, but they cannot provide a diagnosis.
Owens notes, “Only licensed professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers, can issue official diagnoses.” “A diagnosis from any of these specialists could clarify your symptoms and any questions you may have about what you’re experiencing.”
Can Online Therapists Write Prescriptions?
As therapists are not medical professionals, they cannot prescribe medications. However, psychiatrists can prescribe medication for children (although there are typically more restrictions around what they can prescribe). You should ensure that the online therapy service you select gives a comprehensive intake so that your practitioner can prescribe an effective medication to alleviate your child’s discomfort. In addition to prescribing medication, psychiatric nurse practitioners are frequently seen on internet platforms.
To be selected for this article, businesses are required to offer specialized pediatric therapy. We polled 105 users of 55 online therapy platforms and 180 users of 25 online therapy directories regarding the quality of treatment they received, the pricing of services, accessibility, the resources offered, and their overall experience with each organization. In addition to the consumers’ experiences, we researched each company’s services, privacy policies, reputation, and any specialized knowledge in treating children.
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