Talk to a therapist online: A guide to the best online psychotherapy and counseling

Maud Geesen
By Maud Geesen
Talk to a therapist online A guide to the best online psychotherapy and counseling

Online therapy has become very popular, but is it right for you? If you’re struggling with some area of your life, it’s useful to talk to a neutral counselor. We can all use help with our coping skills, and online counseling is an easy way to get that help right from your home.

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Do you need help?

Is something preventing you from living your life to the fullest? Problems like depression, social anxiety and insomnia can make you feel you can’t enjoy life. Troubles at work, in your relationship or with family members can affect the rest of your life in negative ways. Talking with an online therapist is one way to manage your struggles and start living a happier, more confident life.

There are many types of therapy, and you can find an approach that works for you. When you register for online psychotherapy, you can find someone whose style and approach connect with you. Online therapy is quick. You can start talking to a counselor right away who can give you expert guidance.

Who is using online therapy?

There’s no question that online therapy has become a widely used way to find a qualified therapist. It’s available for individuals, but it's also a way for couples and families to find help. Many people have found they enjoy the convenience and ease of online counseling.

  • Over 500,000 people are currently registered on online therapy sites in the U.S.
  • People of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and sexual orientations use online counseling.
  • A 2014 study found that online treatment was just as effective as in-person treatment for depression.
  • Other studies have found that online therapy works for panic disorders, social disorders and anxiety disorders.
  • More than 90% of people who use online therapy say they’re happy with the quality of their therapists.

Advantages of online therapy

Online therapy has many advantages over traditional, face-to-face therapy.

Accessible to everyone. Anyone with an internet connection can go online and find help. This is a big advantage to people in rural areas, those who don’t have transportation, people with disabilities and those with social anxieties.

Affordable. Online therapy costs a fraction of traditional therapy. The cost of a weekly subscription at most sites is less than the hourly rate of most traditional therapists.

Private. You can talk to a therapist from the comfort and privacy of your own home.

Convenient. You don’t have to drive anywhere, and you can schedule appointments at times that are convenient for you.

How to find an online therapist

How to find an online therapist

There are dozens of online sites where you can find counselors. We’ve focused on the sites that only hire qualified, experienced therapists. These counselors have advanced degrees and years of experience working with clients. The sites we list here all perform extensive background checks to make sure the therapists in their network have the right qualifications.

Trusted online resources for therapists

Where can you find a qualified, experienced online therapist? Here are the top resources and more details on each one.

  • Findyourtherapy
  • BetterHelp
  • ReGain
  • FaithfulCounseling
  • TeenCounseling
  • PrideCounseling

Findyourtherapy: This site gathers the latest, most informative articles about online therapy. It also reviews online therapy sites. If you want to stay updated about news and trends in counseling, you will find many helpful articles here.

BetterHelp: With the largest network of available counselors anywhere, BetterHelp has quickly proven itself an industry leader. This site offers therapy, coaching and specialized counseling for many common health issues.

ReGain: If you want relationship counseling, this should be one of your top choices. ReGain is the first online counseling site dedicated exclusively to couples and marriage counseling. You can join as an individual or as a couple. You will also find informative articles about relationship issues and counseling. The site is open to all couples of any sexual orientation.

FaithfulCounseling: The first online counseling site for practicing Christians, FaithfulCounseling provides help for individuals and couples. The site’s network includes qualified, experienced therapists who have signed a statement of faith. You can get help from someone who shares your spiritual beliefs.

TeenCounseling: If your child needs therapy, it’s just a click away at TeenCounseling. This site is focused on children suffering from depression, anxiety, eating disorders and many other mental health issues. Parents whose children need help can also sign up.

PrideCounseling: Are you looking for a therapist who is part of the LGBTQ community? All the counselors at PrideCounseling specialize in working with gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans individuals. Find the help you need in a safe, supportive environment.

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Using online counseling sites

An online counseling site is a subscription-based service. You register for a weekly or a monthly subscription. You can pay automatically with a debit card or your PayPal account.

When you sign up at a counseling site, you get access to the full network of therapists. In most cases, you begin by answering a brief questionnaire. The site uses the information you entered to find a therapist in your area who matches your requirements.

Once you are matched to a therapist, your billing period starts. You can cancel any time.

How online therapy works

Online therapy works like traditional therapy. When you first meet with a counselor, you will talk about why you’re there, whether you’ve had therapy before and what you expect from online therapy. Your therapist will ask some questions, and you’ll get a chance to express your hopes and fears. You’ll agree on a time to meet for your next appointment.

Finding the right therapist

How do you find the right approach to therapy? Broadly speaking, most therapists fall into one of the following categories. You can find someone you’re comfortable with among them.

  • Brief psychodynamic: In this therapy, you talk about how your past affects your present. It focuses on solving specific problems as part of your overall mental wellbeing.
  • Hypnotherapy: Many people use hypnosis to help them focus and change their bad habits. Combined with therapy, it can be very effective. .
  • Holistic: A holistic therapist is likely to look at your physical, spiritual and emotional health as an integrated whole. They may offer meditation, breathing exercises and nature therapy.
  • Behavioral therapy: This therapy focuses on getting quick, practical results for specific conditions like depression, eating disorders or substance abuse.

The therapist’s specific approach matters far less than their ability to make an emotional connection with you.

Scheduling appointments

This is another convenience of online therapy. You can schedule appointments according to your schedule. Therapists on these networks are available 24-7, and you are sure to find one with a matching schedule.

Communicating with a therapist

Most online sites offer several ways to communicate with your counselor.

  • Live chat: If you’ve ever used a customer service live chat, you know how this works. You and your therapist communicate through an online “chat” window. The communication is text-based, and you don’t see each other.
  • Video chat: You and your therapist can set up a video chat format that’s like Zoom and other online meetings.
  • Phone call: Some people prefer to talk with a therapist on the phone, and that is a possibility on most sites.
  • Live text: For people used to texting to converse, texting with a therapist is a natural fit.

Paying for online therapy

As we noted above, one of the advantages of online therapy is its affordability. Most of the sites on our list charge between $60 and $90 a week, depending on the therapist’s qualifications and the services you use.

An easy payment process allows you to enter your preferred payment and set it up to automatically pay every week or month.

Some sites offer added services to their members, including free support forums, group therapy sessions and other benefits, as part of the subscription price.

How to get the most out of online therapy

How to get the most out of online therapy

Choose a therapist whose approach works for you. There are many approaches to therapy, and every therapist has specific techniques. If you want a therapist who focuses on short-term results, ask for that. If you would be more comfortable with a holistic approach, or a therapist who uses hypnosis, ask for that. Each online site will try to match you with a therapist who fits your needs.

Be sure you are comfortable with your therapist. Establishing a good relationship with your counselor is the key to any successful therapy. It may be difficult to speak openly at first, but you should sense that the therapist is honest and sincere. If you’re not happy with your counselor for any reason, you can request a change.

Show up for your appointments. Online therapy may feel more casual than face-to-face therapy, but it won’t work if you don’t take it seriously. Therapy is an active process, and you’ll get better results if you’re fully engaged. Be sure you are ready to talk openly and honestly with your therapist.

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What if you need to talk to a therapist now?

Are you anxious to get started right away? In most cases, you will be matched to a therapist in just a few hours. If you are feeling especially anxious to talk to someone, you can say that when you sign up.

If you are having a mental health crisis or know someone who is, call emergency services or a suicide hotline.

Online therapy can help you live a better life

Online counseling can help you cope with mental health issues that affect your life. It’s an affordable, convenient alternative to traditional therapy. The sites we’ve listed are all good places to start getting the help you need.


Amy Morin, Psychology Today: Does Online Therapy Work?
Journal of Affective Disorders: Internet-based vs. face-to-face cognitive-behavioral therapy for depression.
Behavior Research and Therapy: Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of individually tailored Internet-delivered cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety disorders in a primary care population.

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Maud Geesen
Maud Geesen

Dr Maud Geesen is a general practitioner graduated from Claude Bernard University. Passionate about psychiatry, psychology and personal development she now focuses on helping people on these levels.