Best Online Therapy - 2020 Buyer's GuideUpdated June, 2020

Join the millions that have trusted to help them make smarter buying decisions. Let our independent expert reviews and data-driven shopping recommendations help you find the online therapy service that's right for you.

Best Online Therapy - 2020 Buyer's Guide

Join the millions that have trusted to help them make smarter buying decisions. Let our independent expert reviews and data-driven shopping recommendations help you find the online therapy service that's right for you.

Join the millions that have trusted to help you find the online therapy service that's right for you.


597 people chose Talkspace this month!
  • Zero per-visit charges or co-pays
  • Access by phone, text, or video appointments
  • Sessions with licensed therapists
  • 24/7 access to counselors
  • Seamlessly switch therapists at no extra cost

  • Zero per-visit charges or co-pays
  • Access by live online chat
  • Sessions with certified therapists
  • Access to counselors Monday-Friday
  • Get tailored help for specific areas of difficulty

Health Sapiens

  • Zero per-visit charges or co-pays
  • Access by phone, video, or text 
  • Sessions with licensed therapists
  • 24/7 access to counselors 
  • Multiple online sessions for less cost than one traditional session

Our Top Choice


597 people chose Talkspace this month!
  • Zero per-visit charges or co-pays
  • Access by phone, text, or video appointments
  • Sessions with licensed therapists
  • 24/7 access to counselors
  • Seamlessly switch therapists at no extra cost
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Helping Millions of Users Make Smarter Purchases Online.

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Choosing The Best Option

What goes into being the best, you may ask. The criteria we've looked at include:

Satisfaction guarantee. Satisfaction guarantee
Extra Costs. Extra costs
Selection. Selection
Potential Savings. Potential Savings
Coupon Codes. Coupon codes
Reputation. Reputation

What is Online Therapy?

Compared to traditional therapy and counseling sessions, online therapy services allow quicker, more convenient access to a certified therapist who can talk you through stressful moments. Where an in-person therapy visit can take weeks to schedule a new patient assessment, online therapy sessions get you connected and online within a matter of days.

Online therapy services is a way to get licensed therapy via your computer or phone. Completely online and virtual, you can overcome the hurdles of in-office visits by setting everything up from the safety of your keyboard. Because of this, online therapy services have started becoming a preferred alternative for busy professionals, people with odd hours, anyone who would rather be at home during therapy, or anyone who lives far from a city center who might need more convenient therapy options.

Man texts on phone

Who is Online Therapy Not For?

While online therapy is a great option for many, it's also important to understand who shouldn't turn to online therapy first. For anyone experiencing a current crisis or emergency situation, online therapy services are not recommended. In a current crisis, more pertinent emergency resources are designed to provide immediate help and relief. You can usually find emergency resources listed on the homepages of online therapy sites, or you can do a quick internet search to find more immediate help.

Online therapy is also not seen as a resolution to court-ordered therapy, as this often requires one-on-one communication with an in-office visit along with verified notes from a court-ordered therapist.

Lastly, someone without a reliable internet connection will find it difficult to maintain consistent contact with an online therapist. When you need cohesive responses from your therapist or a clear live chat to express your feelings, the last thing you'll want is a broken internet connection.


  • 24/7 messaging options
  • Cancel any time
  • More affordable than traditional therapy options
  • No office visits
  • Quicker assessments and start times
  • Therapist notes can be reviewed at later dates
  • Anonymity if preferred


  • Not for emergencies
  • Sometimes less personal interactions
  • Usually does not work with insurance
  • Won't work without reliable internet
Man looking out of rainy window

How Does Online Therapy Work?

Most online therapy services operate similarly, but key defining factors can help you differentiate the right ones for you. Typically, you start your service with an assessment, which allows the service to match a therapist to your needs, which topics you want to focus on, and your schedule.

Once you complete your assessment, you'll be paired with a certified therapist who you can then live chat, send a text message, or call, depending on the accessibility of the service.

Online therapy is not suggested for someone in an immediate crisis or emergency assistance, but most online therapy services do provide resources for you to use in these cases.

How to Pick the Right Service for You

Just like office visits with a therapist, you want to make sure that the service you choose is right for your needs.

While online therapy services are similar in that they provide distant therapy and help you avoid office visits, they have key differences that will have a hand in your decision.

Start Time

Take a look at the timeline and how long it takes to get from no therapy to talking to a therapist. Some services offer a connection with a therapist in as little as 24 hours, while others take longer to vet and screen their customers.

Hand holding phone with coffee cup on table
"Office" Hours

One of the biggest advantages of online therapy is the ability to schedule talks outside of normal 9 to 5 office hours. However, each service looks different when they connect users with a therapist.

Some might have 24/7 text accessibility, while others have live chat open until 10:30 pm. For someone who needs online therapy but has erratic business hours, it's important to find a service that works with your availability.


Another big advantage of online therapy versus traditional care is the price. Rather than hundreds of dollars per visit, in some cases, you have the option to pay weekly for unlimited text messages. Even without insurance, online therapy services work to connect you with the support you need.


Some services offer specialized attention to topics that don't fit into a one-size-fits-all equation. You can find services for couples, teenagers, family counseling, LGTBQ focus, and more.

If you're wanting something a little more specific to the issues that are weighing on your mind, it's worth it to dig a little more into what each service specializes in. This way, they can match you with therapists that have experience talking about these areas.

Level of Care

You might be searching for a service that acts as a conversation partner to talk through a minor issue, or you could be looking for more in-depth counseling that pairs you one-on-one with a therapist.

There is a huge range of services that span from peer-to-peer counseling with text messaging to individual pairing with a licensed therapist. Depending on what you're looking to gain from your online therapy, you'll need to look for the service that best fits your needs.

Man looking at phone screen in dark room

No Contracts

The beauty behind most online therapy services is the ability to use them on a need basis. Most options don't fit you into a contract or bind you to ongoing services — most allow you to cancel at any time. You pay for the service you need, and if you don't want to continue, you can usually opt-out.

That said, pay attention to the cancellation policy on any service that you sign up for. If you feel like you just want to try online therapy, paying per week is likely the most suitable. For someone wanting to extend their therapy services, you can find subscriptions that you pay for monthly, keeping you in touch with the therapists that you want to talk to.

Privacy and Site Security

You wouldn't want your doctor to yell out your medical history via a megaphone, so why take that risk in a virtual setting? When you're at the doctor's office, you sit with your doctor in a closed room and talk about whatever you need to talk about. In an online setting, you should expect the same parallel of data privacy. Whatever information you provide for an online therapy service should be kept confidential and private, ensuring that the only audience is yourself and your therapist.

Some online services allow for complete anonymity, allowing you to change your name to a preferred nickname and giving you control over any written records of your conversations. Make sure that the service you pick has prioritized site security, whether that's through encryption methods, secure databases, and more. In the case of a site breach, you want to know that your records are safe and untouchable.

You'll see that the most popular picks use bank-grade security to protect their patients' information, assuring their users that safety is their priority. Keep this in mind as you shop for the best online therapy service for you.

Does Online Therapy Work With Insurance?

In most cases, no. Online therapy service falls outside the realm of most insurance companies. Since online therapy is not allowed as a substitution for court-ordered or doctor-prescribed therapy, insurance companies are less likely to reimburse online claims. However, online therapy service counters that with affordable services that you can pay for without breaking the bank.

Check with each service to see how they work with insurance companies — you might be able to file for reimbursement, or your insurance company might have its own recommendation for an online therapy service.

Get Started

Online therapy can help you get out of whatever rut you're stuck in, can ease worries or anxiety that you might have, or can straighten out a couples' argument that you and your partner are facing. These services offer a helping hand when you aren't able to make an in-office appointment or feel like something can be resolved with some third-party input.

With how easy it is to get started, you'll start talking to a matched therapist in a matter of days. And, with our top picks, you can narrow down the overwhelming choices and see which one is perfect for your needs.

Woman on computer on couch

Trusting Our Top Pick

Navigating the many choices for every consumer purchase can be challenging. Our team spends hours doing research, combing through forums, and reading consumer reviews on even the most basic of household items, and we summarize that information in clear, precise comparisons.

Join the millions that have trusted to help them make smarter buying decisions. We help our readers spend their money wisely and find the right product to suit their specific needs. Our independent expert reviews and data-driven shopping recommendations empower you to find the online therapy service that's right for you.

What Sets Us Apart?

We leverage user data to understand decision-making and put the best products in front of each user. We tailor our comparisons to what matters to our user's needs, specific or broad. We keep our content up to date, we are constantly looking for new merchants and products to compare, and we are quick to remove any that are outdated or no longer meeting our standards. Our rankings change day-to-day based on our proprietary algorithms that crunch data to identify top-performing products and tailor recommendations to exactly what our readers are looking for.

Have a question or want to make a recommendation? We love to hear from our readers and are always looking for new products to include on our site. Get in touch!