7 Best Online Therapy Platforms and Virtual Counseling Services for 2022

Finding an online or virtual provider of talk therapy that works for you takes some time but is totally worth the effort.
Finding an online or virtual provider of talk therapy that works for you takes some time but is totally worth the effort. [ Stock. ]
Published Dec. 2, 2021|Updated Dec. 2, 2021

If you’re struggling with mental health, there are a variety of online therapy platforms to choose from. The best online therapy sites provide access to licensed counselors that can offer live therapy sessions via phone, video, or text message.

Not only is online therapy more convenient than in-person therapy, but it’s also more affordable as well! But when it comes to choosing the best online counseling service, the number of platforms available can be overwhelming.

To help you decide, we’ve reviewed the most popular online counseling platforms and evaluated them on a variety of factors to help you find the right therapy service for your needs.

Whether you’re suffering from anxiety, depression, or another mental health issue, here are the best online therapy services to try.

The 7 Best Online Therapy Platforms for Virtual Counseling

#1. BetterHelp: Best Online Therapy Platform Overall

BetterHelp is our top pick for the best online therapy services of 2022. BetterHelp is one of the world’s largest online therapy services, with over 22,000 licensed therapists in their network. They’ve helped over 2.5 million people get professional help with a range of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, relationships, grief, trauma, and more.

For your convenience, BetterHelp allows you to communicate with an online therapist in one of four ways: instant messenger, online chat, phone, and video therapy.

All of the therapists on BetterHelp are trained, licensed, and accredited. All of them have a Master’s Degree or a Doctorate Degree in their field. They have everything from psychologists, licensed professional counselors, family therapists, and clinical social workers.

Within 24 hours of signing up, BetterHelp will match you with an available therapist who fits your needs, preferences, and objectives. Every therapist has a different approach, which is why it’s important to match you with a therapist or counselor based on your unique needs.

BetterHelp offers excellent value, as it’s up to 50% cheaper than an in-person therapy session. In-person therapy typically costs between $150-200 per session. With BetterHelp, you can get 4 monthly sessions and unlimited texting with your therapist for less than the cost of a couple in-person sessions.

Here’s what we like most about BetterHelp:

Easy to switch providers - If you’re unhappy with your therapist, you can click a button and get matched with another provider at no additional cost.

Easy scheduling - You can have a full look at your therapist’s schedule and pick a time that works for you. Live therapy sessions can be done via chat, phone, or video from any device.

Messaging any time - One of our favorite features of BetterHelp is the ability to text your therapist whenever you want without scheduling. This is a great way to express how you feel in the moment.

Get help from anywhere - With BetterHelp, you can connect to your therapist from your computer, tablet, or phone, wherever you are.

Journaling feature - BetterHelp offers a convenient journal feature that allows you to record your thoughts and emotions and share them with your therapist when helpful.

Group webinars - With a BetterHelp membership, you also get access to helpful group webinars on a variety of subjects including depression, anxiety, self-esteem, etc... These webinars also include live Q&A.

Digital Worksheets - Get access to over 150+ digital worksheets and modules that help support the therapy process.

If you’re looking for an excellent online therapy platform with affordable prices, you can’t go wrong with BetterHelp.

Click Here to Learn More About BetterHelp

#2. ReGain: Best for Couples and Relationships

ReGain focuses on relationships and offers individual and couples therapy. The site has many licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed social workers, and professional counselors.

Not only does ReGain provide unlimited messaging therapy, but it also has an extensive knowledge base and relationship resources. There are plenty of evidence-based articles and blog posts about improving or strengthening relationships, and the FAQ addresses most of the concerns you’ll have about the online therapy provider.

ReGain’s pricing model is reasonable, ranging from $240 to $360 per month, depending on your location and chosen therapist. The platform does have the disadvantage of not letting you choose your therapist and doesn’t offer medication management services.

Also, while couples therapy is the site’s focus, it doesn’t offer family therapy. Neither does the site have a list of therapist bios, meaning that you won’t have any sense of your therapist before you’ve signed up.

Types of Specialties Offered

The site focuses on couples therapy, offering both individual and couples sessions. Common aspects of therapy include:

  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Infidelity recovery
  • Improving communication
  • Separation mediation

How the Process Works

When you start the application process, you’ll need to fill in a questionnaire that outlines your expectations, current circumstances, and what issues you’re experiencing. You can also provide preferences for your therapist.

Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, provided your email, and paid for the service, you’ll get a link to a private room. You can take advantage of this room as an individual or invite your partner at any point. You have unlimited access to this room and can access your therapist at any time.

The service also offers weekly live video or phone sessions for a personal touch.

Key Features

ReGain has discount pricing for students and veterans and financial assistance options for people in financial hardship. The service provides unlimited messaging for relationship counseling as well as weekly live sessions.

Click Here to Learn More About ReGain

#3. Pride Counseling: Best for LGBTQ

Pride Counseling is an offshoot of BetterHelp that aims to address the particular mental health concerns facing LGBTQIA+ communities. While the online therapy platform will not turn anyone away, its main audience remains LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Though the platform aims to pair individuals with like-minded therapists, many of the licensed mental health professionals on Pride Counseling are not themselves part of the LGBT community. Since the platform uses an algorithm to pair patients with counselors, you may need to switch therapists several times before you find the right one for you.

Pride Counseling is one of the many online therapy programs offering monthly billing that changes based on your location and therapist choice. Charges vary from $60-$90 per week, including unlimited messaging and one live virtual session per week.

Once you’ve completed the sign-up process, you’ll receive a link to a secure chat room. The chat room works on both desktop and mobile devices, and you can also use the program to schedule your weekly session.

Every one of Pride Counseling’s therapists is licensed, accredited, and trained in online therapy. Every therapist also has extensive experience dealing with issues concerning LGBTQIA+ individuals and has the necessary skills to help guide you through your concerns.

Types of Specialties Offered

Pride Counseling is the best online therapy platform for LGBTQIA+ individuals who are dealing with a wide range of mental health concerns, including but not limited to:

  • Addictions
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Chronic impulsivity
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Educational assessments
  • Grief
  • Intimacy
  • Relationships
  • Self-esteem
  • Stress
  • Trauma and abuse

How the Process Works

The sign-up process is relatively simple and starts with a questionnaire. The questions help the platform discover your identity, orientation, state of mind, and current circumstances. Once you’ve completed the questionnaire, you’ll get the option to provide an alias and email, after which you’ll specify your counselor preferences.

Key Features

In addition to unlimited messaging with your therapist, you get access to live therapy sessions once a week. The platform focuses heavily on privacy, which is why you can use an alias and don’t need to provide a photo when using the service.

Click Here to Learn More About Pride Counseling

#4. Teen Counseling: Virtual Therapy for Teens and Parents

Teen therapy is a specialized branch of mental health care that addresses the specific challenges that teenagers face and helps them cope with daily life. Teen Counseling is an online therapy company that aims to provide teens and parents the support they need during this challenging time. It’s part of the BetterHelp family of online therapy platforms, which operate relatively similarly but have different focuses.

One drawback of the initial process is that the online teen counseling platform only gives you the cost of the subscription after matching you with a therapist. This sometimes results in the price being unaffordable due to high therapist costs.

The Teen Counseling subscription includes two dedicated chat rooms: one for the parent and one for the teen. These rooms remain separate and private at all times. In addition to unlimited messaging therapy, premium subscription members get a weekly 30-minute live session via either phone or video call.

Types of Specialties Offered

The online platform focuses on teens or their parents. The site has specialized accredited psychologists and counselors who know how to communicate with teens and help them deal with their concerns, which may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Bullying
  • Gender identity issues
  • Anger management
  • Sleep issues
  • Relationship issues

How the Process Works

Signing up for Teen Counseling is very similar to other BetterHelp platforms. The platform has two different options—one for teens and one for parents—but the process remains relatively the same for both groups.

Sign-up starts with a questionnaire that identifies the mental health concern and the necessary information to find the best therapist match.

The site then matches you with a licensed therapist and provides you with subscription information afterward. Once you’ve signed up and paid the first month, you’ll receive access to a private chat room, where the therapist will start communicating within a few days.

Key Features

The key feature of this online therapy platform is its focus on teens or their parents. Even if both sign up for the platform, they will receive individual chat rooms that remain completely separate at all times. The service explicitly states that it doesn’t offer family counseling or joint parent/teen sessions.

Click Here to Learn More About Teen Counseling

#5. Calmerry: Most Affordable Online Therapists

Calmerry is a newcomer to the online therapy scene. Established in 2019 as a response to the COVID pandemic, the site has quickly grown and made its reputation as one of the best online therapy sites around.

As with many online therapy providers, the platform works on a tiered subscription-based model. All clients have 24/7 access to their licensed therapist via the messaging service. Higher-tiered plans also get up to four 30-minute live video sessions per month.

Calmerry is accessible through a desktop or mobile app, and both are interchangeable and easy to navigate. All of Calmerry’s therapists have licenses and at least 2,500 hours of clinical experience. In addition to clinical psychologists, the platform employs licensed clinical social workers and marriage and family therapists to provide couples counseling and advice on dealing with trauma and abuse.

The platform lets its licensed therapists determine their own approach to therapy, which means that you can find professionals who fit your needs and preferences. You can even search for therapists in your area that offer certain techniques, including CBT and client-centered therapy.

Types of Specialties Offered

Calmerry offers a broad range of psychiatric services and offers a mix of messaging and live sessions. The platform is a good place to start for people experiencing:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Relationship issues
  • Burnout
  • Family conflict
  • Grief

Calmerry is also one of the best online therapy programs for couples experiencing relationship concerns, as it allows for both individual and joint sessions with the same therapist.

How the Process Works

Calmerry’s interview process begins with a questionnaire about your current concerns and general information. The process also allows you to choose your therapist preferences, including gender, experience, and religion.

Once completed, Calmerry uses the questionnaire to give you a survey summary that rates your current emotional well-being and projects a future, post-therapy score.

Unlike many online therapy sites, Calmerry’s pricing doesn’t change depending on your location or therapist. Once you’ve made your plan choice and payment, you get access to a matched therapist that you can switch at any time.

Key Features

Calmerry has extensive options to help you find the right licensed therapist who suits you. Not only do all the online therapists have bios outlining their experience, but you can also filter them based on their therapeutic approach.

Click Here to Learn More About Calmerry

#6. Talkspace: Most Popular Telehealth Therapy Service

Talkspace is a general online therapy provider that offers a broad range of psychiatric services from licensed professional counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists, and even licensed clinical social workers.

The platform offers three subscription options for online mental health counseling:

  1. Unlimited Messaging Therapy Ultimate: The top-tier subscription, this service provides text, video, and audio messaging, four live video sessions per month, and a therapist response within 24 hours.
  2. Unlimited Messaging Therapy Premium: Offers unlimited messaging with a therapist response within 24 hours, as well as one 30-minute live video session per month.
  3. Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus: Unlimited messaging with daily responses from the therapist. This plan doesn’t include any video sessions.

Talkspace also offers medication management and connects patients with a prescriber in your area. The prescriber will handle the psychiatric evaluation and personalize your medication treatment.

The medication management service is a separate subscription among Talkspace’s talk therapy options, so if you need talk therapy and medication, you’ll need to subscribe to both.

Types of Specialties Offered

Talkspace is a general-purpose online therapy platform with thousands of therapists available. The platform will always attempt to pair you with the right mental health professionals to address your concerns. In addition to licensed therapists, the platform has family therapists, relationship counselors, and clinical social workers.

How the Process Works

The Talkspace process begins as a chat with a consultation expert. They will outline the various plans and features and get a sense of your expectations and needs.

The entire start-up process is relatively informal, and you can ask your consultation expert as many questions as you want before committing to a plan.

Once you’ve made your first payment, you’ll answer a short questionnaire and choose your own therapist. The consultation chat room will become the main therapy room for as long as you have your account.

Key Features

Talkspace works with several health insurance plans and also accepts payments from health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs).

Click Here to Learn More About TalkSpace

#7. Best for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy started offering its services in 2009. The platform specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and offers meditation instructions. The platform also makes an extensive knowledge base available to all patients.

Science has shown that cognitive behavioral therapy is an excellent way to address many mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, and stress.

The platform has several plans, starting from a free plan that gives you access to the knowledge base without direct communication from a licensed therapist. As the plans increase in price, patients receive more frequent responses from their therapist and up to two live video sessions per week on the premium plan.

In general, the standard plan offers the best value for your money until you’ve settled in. It includes direct messaging, daily worksheet replies, and one live 30-minute video or phone call session per month.

Since a large part of CBT involves noting emotions and responses, the site has an extensive range of worksheets that you’ll complete daily. Your therapist will reply to your work and help you identify challenging areas while providing options for overcoming these difficulties.

Types of Specialties Offered specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy to address a range of concerns, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Domestic violence
  • Trauma
  • Relationship issues
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Autism
  • LGBTQIA+ issues

How the Process Works

While the process for signing up to the platform is similar to many online therapy platforms, has a few key differences. After completing the questionnaire, you’ll immediately get access to your therapist and you can review their credentials and biography before accepting them or request a new one instead.

Only once you’re satisfied with your choice will you need to note your preferred plan and pay.

Key Features

Every aspect of the site complements the CBT-based approach. Patients have a dashboard with their worksheets and recorded live sessions, activity plans, yoga and meditation lessons, and tools to monitor their progress.

Click Here to Learn More About

How Do Online Counseling Services Work?

Online therapy is an extension of telehealth services connecting therapists and patients via the internet. Many platforms will offer both messaging and video sessions, allowing individuals to make the most of their time.

Most online therapy sites use a subscription service. Some charge per month while others have a weekly rate that you have to pay at a set interval. In most cases, the moment you unsubscribe, you lose access to the platform and your therapy services.

In general, the basic outline of a virtual counseling session is the same as a traditional therapy session. Sessions range from half an hour to an hour and occur at intervals from twice per week to once per month.

The best online therapy providers have an extensive selection process to help you find the right therapist for your needs. However, as with traditional therapy, you may need to switch therapists a couple of times before finding the one that works for you.

While online therapy sessions are a great way to start improving your mental health, they’re not the only option available. Online support groups and mental health apps can also get you on the road to a better emotional and mental space.

How We Ranked the Top Online Therapy Sites

There are plenty of online therapy sites, so finding the best online therapy programs can be tricky. We looked at several criteria when evaluating platforms to ensure that their online counseling is effective and accessible to most.

Therapist-Matching Process

Almost every online therapy program starts with a questionnaire that compiles your general information, the scope of your mental health concern, your current situation, and any therapist preferences you may have.

In some instances, the site will use an algorithm to choose from a batch of licensed therapists without getting your input on the matter. Others will let you choose your therapist based on their bio and experience.

Both methods have advantages and drawbacks. Relying on an algorithm can feel impersonal, and you may not find the best match the first time around. However, this method considers the therapist’s availability, ensuring you get fast access to your online mental health services.

Choosing your therapist can give you a measure of control, but you may run into a scheduling issue where your preferred choice is overbooked or unavailable. You also still run the risk of having an unsuitable match, which you’ll only discover after a session or two.

It’s important to find online therapy platforms like BetterHelp, that allow you to change therapists without any negative consequences. Finding the right licensed counselor is always a challenge, and you should never be stuck with a professional you don’t like or don’t trust.

Communication Methods

The best online therapy platforms offer a wide range of communication methods. In general, video or live chats are the most similar to in-person therapy, but most platforms tend to limit these sessions to a couple per month.

The most common communication method offered by online therapy platforms is unlimited text or email messaging, where you use a dedicated chat room to talk to your therapist whenever you want.

The best online therapy communication method is the one that works for you. Individuals with social anxiety may be uncomfortable with video and audio messaging and will prefer a text-based approach. Others prefer the immediacy of video therapy and don’t like waiting for a response to a text or email.

Selection of Therapists

Ideally, you want to work with a mental health platform with a good selection of licensed counselors, therapists, and even social workers. Having a wide selection allows the platform to pair you with someone who matches your preferences, which often makes for a better first connection.

A large selection of therapists also has another major advantage. Many online counseling platforms handle thousands of patients per day. Overworked therapists will generally be less engaged and less likely to provide high-quality mental health care. A platform that doesn’t overburden its therapists with too many live sessions or patients will often provide better quality care overall.

Mental Health Specialties

While many online therapy platforms offer a wide range of services, some focus on particular mental health issues or demographics. These platforms tend to have licensed professional counselors and therapists who understand their particular focus, making them more effective at delivering the right therapy for the issue.

Couples with relationship issues will often benefit from dedicated couples counseling with an experienced family or relationship counselor. The same applies to teenagers and LGBTQIA+ individuals, who undergo unique challenges that require finesse and experience to understand.


Unfortunately, many health insurance companies are still reluctant to fund online mental health services, which means that patients must pay out of pocket for the service.

Recently, some of the larger online therapy platforms have made a deal with health insurance providers to accept insurance or funds from HSAs and other savings plans. Others offer financial aid to provide accessible mental health services to everyone.

It’s important to note that the cheapest online therapy cost of a monthly subscription is still usually more affordable than an in-person therapist, depending on the number of video sessions per week. We looked at online counseling platforms that offered the best value for money, either by having extensive FAQs and knowledge bases in addition to online sessions or by being more affordable than their competitors.

Things to Consider When Choosing an Online Therapy Platform

In addition to the factors above, there are some customer-centric considerations to consider when looking for the best online therapy platform.

Some platforms will not prescribe medication or help you manage your medicine. In general, only medical doctors such as psychiatrists can prescribe medication. Licensed therapists will often have extensive experience in psychology but may not have the ability to prescribe medication.

For some people, the combination of live sessions, talk therapy, and medicine works more effectively than a single solution. It’s a good idea to look for certain platforms that do have prescription options if necessary.

Another consideration is the availability of the platform on your preferred device. Messaging often works better on a mobile app, while sitting at a desktop computer or laptop is more comfortable and effective for video therapy.

The best online therapy platforms offer a combination of both mobile and desktop apps, with seamless transitions between the two. However, some tend to restrict themselves to one or the other, which should impact your final decision.

Some platforms offer several ways to contact your therapist, including text, video, and audio. Make sure to choose a platform that offers your preferred communication method. For effective online therapy, you need to feel comfortable and relaxed. If you hate typing, you won’t get much out of messaging and will get more value out of video or in-person therapy.

Who Is Virtual Therapy Best For?

Online therapy may not be a complete replacement for in-person therapy, but it has many advantages that make it more accessible to more people.

Online therapy is best for anyone afraid of seeking help for their mental health conditions or people who struggle with irregular schedules. Many online therapy providers are available at all hours, unlike in-person therapy, which may require you to wait up to a month for your next appointment.

In general, online counseling is a great option for people who need support and help dealing with common mental issues such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trauma
  • Sleep issues
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Relationship issues
  • LGBTIA+ concerns
  • Bullying
  • Stress
  • Anger concerns

While online therapy is a good choice for many people, there are times when it’s not the best option. Some mental health issues require specialized, intensive therapy that doesn’t translate into the online space.

It may not be a good fit for:

  • Younger children
  • Individuals with severe mental health conditions
  • Individuals in crisis or experiencing suicidal ideation
  • Individuals who present a hazard to themselves or others
  • People who struggle with technology

How to Choose the Right Online Therapist

The main factor that makes online therapy effective is your therapist. As in traditional therapy, you need to find the right therapist—someone you trust and feel comfortable with.

While many online therapy sites will have automatic matching to find your first therapist, this choice isn’t locked in stone. If you’re unhappy with the choice, be sure to request a new professional who will better meet your needs.

Some people may feel uncomfortable about switching providers, but it’s a vital step of the process. Don’t worry that they’ll feel offended; good therapists understand that finding the right fit is more important than your feelings about them.

You should also take advantage of the therapist preferences part of the sign-up questionnaire. Before you apply, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Would you be more comfortable with someone from a particular gender, religion, or age?
  • How important is it that your therapist shares a similar background and can understand your unique situation?
  • Do you need specialized services such as trauma counseling or relationship advice?

If you belong to a marginalized group, it can be very useful to have a therapist who shares a similar background. Not only does it make it easier to build a rapport, but you don’t have to spend time explaining why a particular situation made you uncomfortable, either. Many studies have shown that therapy targeting certain demographics or communities is much more effective than generic or culturally neutral options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Online Therapy Really Work?

Yes, research shows that online therapy can be relatively effective for certain mental health concerns. In some instances, it can be just as effective as in-person therapy, despite the limitations of the online medium.

However, it’s important to note that while online therapy offers an excellent alternative to traditional methods, it doesn’t work well for individuals with severe conditions such as suicidal ideation or psychosis.

Is Virtual Therapy Better than Seeing a Counselor Face-to-Face?

It depends. Online therapy has massive advantages, especially for people living in rural areas that lack reliable transport, people working multiple jobs, and even people who can’t afford traditional services.

However, there are challenges to conducting virtual sessions, including:

  • The requirement for technical expertise and the possibility of technical difficulties disrupting the session.
  • Therapists can miss out on body cues or language that can offer them insight into your concerns.
  • It can be tricky to form a relationship with someone you don’t meet face-to-face.

Whether online therapy is better than a face-to-face session depends on your circumstances and the therapist you work with. In general, online counseling offers the same benefits and may be the better choice for you.

How Much Do Online Counseling Services Cost?

The cost of online therapy depends on the provider. In general, most online therapy platforms use a subscription model that charges either a monthly or weekly fee. Some plans will change the number of live sessions you have per week while other platforms vary their cost depending on your location and chosen therapist.

If the platform doesn’t accept insurance, consider applying for financial aid. Most platforms offer discounts or other ways to minimize the costs to keep their services accessible.

Does Insurance Cover Online Therapy?

Some insurance providers cover online therapy while others don’t. You will need to contact your health insurance company to find out what your options are.

You may need to move to an in-network platform or one that accepts insurance, so start doing your research before committing to a particular provider.

Therapy Sessions via Phone, Chat, or Text – Which Is Best?

It depends on the style of therapy and your preferences. Some people like having their therapist always available through chat, while others find reading text messages impersonal.

In general, a mix of live and text sessions is the best way to go. This combination allows you to talk directly to your therapist once per week while still having them accessible for the rest of the time.

Individuals with social anxiety or lack of technical expertise may find phone calls or messages easier to handle. Other people find the idea of typing out long messages incredibly frustrating and prefer the convenience of video calls. Ultimately, you’ll need to find a combination that suits you and ensures your comfort throughout the session.

Most therapists will work with their clients to find the best solution. Some online therapists struggle to keep up with the number of messages they get, so they may recommend more live time per week, allowing them to give you the attention and care you need.

Does Medicare Cover Online Therapy?

Yes. Medicare recently expanded its telehealth services to include online therapy. Other health insurance providers have followed suit and will offer at least partial coverage for platforms that accept insurance.

However, as with any other medical procedure, be sure to talk to your insurance provider or Medicare liaison to find out what your options are and whether your chosen platform will accept insurance.

Final Thoughts

With no end in sight to the COVID pandemic, online therapy has become a very appealing alternative to face-to-face therapy. The sheer number of platforms offering mental health services shows that more and more people need the support and help that these services provide.

Most of the online platforms we reviewed offer like-minded services. Some focus more on certain conditions or demographics, but they function in a very similar manner.

When you start looking for the right online therapy site for your needs, you’ll need to spend some time and effort on research. Luckily, most of the platforms have streamlined their application process, so once you find a platform you like, getting in touch with a therapist is easy.

Everyone needs human connection, even if it’s only through the internet. Online therapy offers a great alternative to ordinary therapy and can provide the support you need through a tough time. Whether you appreciate the flexibility and immediate nature of online therapy or you’re struggling to find an in-person therapist you like, be sure to consider online therapy platforms to help you in your time of need.


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