Online therapy (also referred to as e-therapy, e-counseling, teletherapy, Internet therapy, web therapy, and cyber-counseling) is the delivery of mental health services and supports via the Internet. This can occur through email, text messaging, video conferencing, online messaging or internet phone. It can occur in real-time, such as phone conversations, videoconferencing and text messaging, or in a time-delayed format, such as through email messages.
Studies have proven the efficacy of therapy via the internet to the point where it has become a viable alternative and supplement to in-office therapy. Some of the advantages of online therapy include:
- It’s a good option for people in remote areas who may not have access to other forms of mental health treatment due to limited or no mental health practices in their geographic area.
- It provides accessibility to individuals who are disabled or homebound (as mobility can be a big issue when it comes to accessing mental health care).
- It’s fairly affordable. In-office therapy is expensive (with an average of $75-150 per session), e-therapy gets as low as $35 a week, depending on the service and plan you choose. Additionally, some e-therapy providers do not require insurance.
- It’s convenient. Many people worry about the stigma of in-office therapy and are concerned about people they know seeing them enter or leave a therapist’s office. Online therapy takes away this obstacle, while also allowing clients to be more comfortable and open while at home. Another plus is that it’s easier to cancel, reschedule or change therapists without experiencing any delays in treatment.
- It can be an important educational tool that helps people learn more about psychological health. Even if you feel like your mental well-being is strong, online therapy can help you become psychologically stronger while teaching you more about health behaviors and coping strategies.
- Text or message-based therapy allows clients more time to structure their thoughts, while also providing more time for therapists to respond to clients and form better answers.
- Many feel that therapy via the internet provides greater confidentiality. It’s also a great option for people in abusive relationships who want to receive therapy without their partner knowing.
Below are some of the best online resources for help:
Talkspace matches you to a therapist (they have more than 5,000 licensed professionals to choose from) for individual sessions via desktop or mobile device. Their therapists specialize in a variety of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, addiction, sleep problems, trauma, LGBT struggles and even veteran-related difficulties. Some of their treatment approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and psychodynamic therapy so you can count on them to be a helpful resource to getting you in a better headspace.
Their online therapy is typically 80% cheaper than face-to-face therapy and they offer several payment options to choose from. One of their plans is Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus, where for $65 a week, you can exchange text, video, and audio messages with a licensed therapist who’s guaranteed to respond – whenever and wherever you are without having to schedule, travel or worry about time away from school.
Additionally, they also offer Talkspace for teens and couples’ therapy.
Similar to Talkspace, BetterHelp matches you to a counselor that fits your objectives, preferences and the type of issues you are dealing with. They have more than 4,000 licensed professionals on their site, who have at least three years and 2,000 hours of hands-on experience. Their counselors range from psychologists, family therapists, clinical social workers and licensed professional counselors that have a broad range of expertise and are specialized in specific issues (such as stress, anxiety, relationships, parenting, depression, addictions, eating, sleeping, trauma, anger, family conflicts, LGBT matters, grief, religion, self-esteem, career issues and life transitions).
After users are matched with a licensed mental health professional, they’re assigned a secure and dedicated chat room that only that person and the therapist can access. It should be noted though, that most chats are not in real-time. Instead, the user can leave a message and they’ll receive an email when the therapist responds. Users can also schedule live chats with their therapist in advance as well, but there may be an additional fee for phone and video sessions.
The cost of counseling through BetterHelp ranges from $40 to $70 per week (billed monthly).
Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) offers an anonymous peer-to-peer online anxiety and depression support group (with more than 20,000 subscribers – including individuals affected by depression or anxiety and loved ones like a parent or sibling – from around the world). It provides a friendly, safe and supportive place for individuals and their families to share information and experiences; and provides access to free educational resources such as webinars, blog posts, and podcasts.
As a member, you can connect with other people experiencing anxiety, depression and other related disorders, and share your experience while contributing to ongoing conversations via the group’s message board. It’s also possible to participate and give words of encouragement anonymously.
It’s important to note that you won’t be accessing licensed mental health professionals and that you’ll only be able to talk to peers – which is great for individuals who don’t feel comfortable talking with family and for the strengthening benefits of knowing that you’re not alone.
MDLive allows you to meet with a counselor or psychiatrist via mobile app, video or phone to talk through common issues including anxiety, grief, and loss, relationship issues, sadness, stress and sexuality.
For $99, you can have a single session with a therapist. For $259, you can have an appointment with a psychiatrist who has the ability to prescribe medication (to treat anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, insomnia, trauma, PTSD and more). However, if you are prescribed anti-depressant medication, you will need to be monitored for a while by the psychiatrist. Each follow-up appointment is $99, but your health insurance may be able to help cover the majority of the cost.
5. This Way Up
This Way Up is a self-paced online course that was created by the Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, Australia, and is funded by Australia’s Department of Health.
All of their programs – including their depression course, are based on the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy and is designed to be completed within three months with new lessons that unlock every five days. The five-day lockout period is designed to encourage students to practice and review the material, one lesson at a time.
The course creators say it is appropriate for you if you’d had more than one previous episode of depression, regardless of whether you are currently depressed.
The course consists of online questionnaires, homework activities, recovery stories, comic-based stories that teach practical skills, and an online calendar. The six lessons in the course include:
- The diagnosis
- Monitoring your thoughts and activities
- Learning how to improve your activities and thoughts
- Facing Fears
- Being assertive
- Preventing relapse
* Two independent studies completed on the course have found that the material is effective. Researchers reported that 80% of students benefited substantially and 50% of students were no longer troubled by depression after completing the course.
In Australia, the course is available to anyone who wants to take it. Students can sign up and get immediate access and they can take the course anonymously. In all other countries, clinician supervision is necessary – meaning that a physician or mental health professional will need to write you a prescription to take the course. The website offers a letter that you can print and show to your medical provider in the event your provider isn’t already familiar with the program. Once you have a prescription, you can enter the information online and register to take the course.
The course costs $59.
7 Cups of Tea offers something most sites don’t – the opportunity to speak to trained listeners for free. If you’re looking for emotional support but can’t afford counseling or you aren’t sure if you want to see a therapist, you can speak to a trained volunteer listener via an anonymous online chat.
There are also scheduled group support sessions and chat rooms that address specific issues, like depression, anxiety, relationships, and LGBTQ+. Another unique feature is that 7 Cups of Tea has listeners available especially for teens between 13 and 17. There are also teen community forums and chat rooms available too, for anyone looking for more support.
If you prefer to speak to a licensed therapist, you can pay to do so. Prices start at $33 per week, and you can get a free three-day trial to test the service and see if it works for you.
Teen counseling is an online platform specifically made for individuals between the ages of 13 and 19. The company’s professional therapists are equipped to discuss issues such as anxiety, stress, coping skills, self-esteem, bullying, depression, eating disorders, self-esteem and other mental health issues. However, they do not offer teens with an official diagnosis.
If you’re a parent interest in signing your teen up for supports via Teen Counseling, you will have to complete the sign-up paperwork. During the initial sign-up, you can discuss your child’s issues and situations with the therapist first and the therapist is connected to your child.
The counseling sessions are confidential, but therapists will alert the parents if there’s a safety issue that should be known.
Teens may exchange messages, chat live, speak over the phone or use video conferencing to chat with the counselor. It is a subscription service so there are no limits on how many sessions or messages are exchanged, and there’s no need to schedule appointments. The cost ranges between $40 and $70 each week depending on the plan.
One thing to note is that the site/app does not fulfill court orders. So, if your teen has been mandated to receive counseling by a court, Teen Counseling won’t fulfill the requirement.
Lemonaid offers online health questionnaires and video consultations with doctors/nurse practitioners who use the same guidelines and clinical tools to diagnose depression online. They’ll work with you month by month to establish your goals and help you find the antidepressant medicine that’s best for you. They also provide monthly deliveries of your prescribed FDA-approved antidepressant and monitor your progress with treatment each month.
Lemonaid does not offer psychotherapy but they will help you find CBT options that are right for you.
Online-therapy.com offers an online course that can help reduce depression.
You’ll get individual feedback from a therapist and you’ll also have the option to have chat sessions with a therapist. In addition to offering a course specifically for depression, the site also offers courses to address issues such as anger, anxiety, addiction, insomnia, social anxiety, weight problems, stress, and more, which sometimes can be related to depression.
The website – facilitated by psychologist, Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D. and reviewed and approved by Steven Gans, M.D., a psychiatrist and assistant clinical professor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School – offers depression course material via text, audio, or video, with eight sections that are rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy. Each section teaches you the skills you need to challenge your negative thinking patterns and replace them with healthier ways of thinking.
Throughout the course, you’ll have worksheets to complete. And an assigned therapist will respond within 24 hours Monday through Friday to give you feedback on your work. But if you prefer to have more interaction with a therapist, you can purchase a plan that allows for individual therapy sessions via live chat. You can also send messages to your therapist at other times to get support or to get answers to your questions.
The program also includes a “happiness toolbox” that includes a journal, an activity plan, and guided yoga and meditation videos that can give you an instant boost in your mood.
The website offers three different subscription levels, with the basic package starting at $31.96 per week.
10. Pride Counseling
Pride Counseling offers online therapy to individuals in the LGBTQ community, and their goal is to offer discreet, affordable, and accessible treatment.
Whether you have a mental health issue, like depression, or you are experiencing LGBTQ-related issues, their professional counselors (who are trained in specific issues, such as anxiety, stress, parenting, depression, grief, sleeping, trauma, family conflicts, religion, relations, self-esteem, and eating) can help.
Not only are the counselors on Pride Counseling licensed professionals with either a master’s or doctoral degree, but they are also all specialists in the LGBTQ community as well.
In most cases, the user will be matched with their own personal counselor within 24 hours. They can schedule sessions that work within their own time frame but can also message their counselor whenever an issue arises. The cost ranges between $40 to $70 per week (billed monthly), but the user can cancel their membership at any time for any reason.
Undoing Depression is a 4.5-hour, on-demand video course that includes 17 downloadable resources. It’s run by Randy Paterson, a Canadian psychologist and the director of Changeways Clinic.
The course is based on cognitive behavior therapy and helps students gain a better understanding of depression and teaching strategies for taking action that will break the downward spiral of depression. The course provides a structured system of behavior activation—a gradual goal setting strategy that targets the areas of life that are likely to produce the greatest payoffs in your mood. Once your mood improves (even a little), you’ll be able to challenge the negative thoughts that contribute to your depression.
The course facilitator says the course is appropriate for individuals experiencing depressed mood who wish to take concrete action to reclaim their lives and feel better. This could include individuals with clinical depression as well as those with less intense mood disturbances, including a sense of inertia, boredom, or general dissatisfaction. The instructor recommends that anyone with clinical depression only take the course after consulting with a qualified healthcare professional.
The course is not appropriate for anyone who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or are experiencing psychotic symptoms.
The course costs $149.99 and for that purchase price, you’ll get lifetime access to the material. ** The course is currently on sale for $18.99 **
12. Doctor on Demand
Doctor on Demand offers a variety of physical and mental health services, but the top issues their team of psychologists and psychiatrists treat include depression, anxiety and stress, trauma and loss, and addictions. They provide emotional support and medication management.
The best thing about this company is that they offer a free mental health assessment. This free screening tool can help determine if you should with a mental health professional for anxiety or depression and consists of two sets of questions and takes less than two minutes to complete.
Doctor on Demand is best for short-term consultation and prescriptions for emotional and mental health concerns. If you have a condition that requires close monitoring, you should see your physician.
Faithful Counseling offers online therapy with licensed therapists who have a Christian background. Counselors combine their clinical expertise in mental health with their Biblical wisdom. The goal is to help clients feel healthy mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
All counselors are licensed psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, or licensed professional counselors. They have all been certified by their state’s professional board and they all possess at least three years and 2,000 hours of hands-on experience.
The sign-up process requires you to complete a short questionnaire about the problems you are experiencing as well as your spiritual beliefs. This questionnaire helps Faithful Counseling match the user to a counselor, usually within 24 hours of signing up. The user may communicate with their counselor through scheduled video sessions and phone calls, and unlimited messaging anytime via computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Plans range between $40 and $70 per week.