Getting Therapy Online: Different Types + Options
Editor’s Note: If you are having suicidal thoughts and need immediate help, text the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) helpline by texting “NAMI” to 741741.
Thank you to BetterHelp for offering everyone in our community two free weeks of professional online therapy. Learn more at BetterHelp.com/BeyondType1.
Online therapy services often save people money and time commuting. They also tend to offer more flexibility for people with busy schedules. If you have employer-sponsored health insurance, you can also guarantee that any connected mental health service portal will be covered.
In this guide, we compare some of the top online therapy options to save you time and money and get one step closer to getting the help you deserve.
Getting online therapy through your health insurance
As many people who have navigated insurance before know—finding a mental health provider in-network can get tricky! The best way to determine if your health insurance offers connected online therapy services is to visit your health insurance website. If the website doesn’t make it clear, call customer service.
How to find your health insurance’s connected online therapy portal
Often, health insurance websites list several categories of coverage:
You will typically find a “mental health” coverage category under “medical,” but not always. This search function will show you what mental health services are covered and likely connect you to a service portal—often called teletherapy or telehealth.
Using your health insurance website’s search tool may help you connect to a portal even quicker. If there is a “Find a Doctor” category, this may also be a good place to check.
For example, with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California, if you click on “Find a Doctor,” you will see several categories.
- Click on “Mental Health.”
- You will see options to see a provider virtually or in-person—click “virtually.”
- Click “Continue” in the pop-up window that appears.
- You will see Blue Shield’s connected TelaDoc services in your new browser.
- By clicking on “Request a Visit,” you can fill out your patient information and select the type of doctor you need to see who is in your insurance network of covered professionals.
Note: This isn’t the same process for every insurance plan but this example may help you figure out your health insurance website. Call your health insurance if you still have trouble finding a connected telehealth or teletherapy services portal.
If you don’t have employer-sponsored health insurance that offers connected services, there are many other online therapy platforms you can explore. When you search for online therapy options, services like BetterHelp and TalkSpace usually top a search engine list! They are two of the most commonly used online therapy services.
BetterHelp is currently the largest online therapy platform and it strives to make therapy more accessible and affordable for those who need it. Founded in 2013, its team consists of dozens and dozens of counselors from all walks of life.
- What communication types are offered? BetterHelp has four different communication options: exchange messages, chat live, speak over the phone or video conference with your therapist. BetterHelp focuses on “talk therapy.” You can select your communication preference during the sign-up process and can change it at any time during your membership if your needs evolve.
- How will I be matched with a therapist? When you sign up, you take a quiz that matches you with a therapist who can best help you meet your goals and needs. Once you complete the quiz, your results are calculated, and you can finish the signup process. After you start communicating with your therapist, if you find that they aren’t a fit, you can always choose to be rematched!
- Does BetterHelp accept insurance? BetterHelp and its licensed therapists do not submit claims to Medicare, Medicaid or other health insurers. Coverage and benefits differ among health insurance plans. You may be able to submit claims to your insurance after you sign up and have your sessions, but there is no guarantee that BetterHelp services will be covered. The best way to determine if an online therapy service like BetterHelp is covered through your health insurance is to call your insurance’s customer service support line.
- What will it cost me? Because insurance claims are not directly submitted, BetterHelp focuses on making its services affordable. Sessions cost $60 to $90 per appointment, depending on your location, therapy communication preferences and the availability of your therapist. GoodTherapy.org says, across the U.S., patients typically pay anywhere from $100 to $200 for therapy. So, if you find this price range is true for you, BetterHelp can be a more cost-effective option!
- Can I cancel? Yes! You can cancel your BetterHelp membership at any time.
TalkSpace is another one of the most well-known online therapy services today. Founded in 2012, it also strives to make therapy more convenient and affordable for those who need it.
- What communication types are offered? You can talk to your therapist in real-time via video, audio or chat during your scheduled sessions. TalkSpace has “rooms” that allow you to message your therapist anytime you want to share a thought. That doesn’t mean your therapist will respond right away, but this functionality can help the discussion stay on track when you can converse with them at the same time.
- How will I be matched with a therapist? Much like BetterHelp, you take an assessment to find your therapist match. Then, your results are calculated, and you can complete the signup process. With TalkSpace, you can also choose to get a new therapist at any time.
- Does TalkSpace accept insurance? TalkSpace accepts some health insurance plans. Cigna, Humana and Resources for Living are displayed on the website, but if none of these are your insurance, this doesn’t mean yours won’t cover TalkSpace. Eligibility varies among providers.
- How much does TalkSpace cost? TalkSpace is a subscription service that includes messages and live sessions with your therapist. Plans start at $65/week.
- Can I cancel? Yes! You can cancel or pause your subscription whenever you want. However, you don’t get an automatic partial refund if you cancel midway through your subscription. But you can use the services until your subscription ends. You can still request a refund, but this is not a guarantee that you will be partially refunded. TalkSpace evaluates refund requests case-by-case.
More online therapy services
Here are a variety of other online therapy options that can accommodate different needs, experiences, cultures and demographics:
- Pride Counseling
- Teladoc Health
- Faithful Counseling
- Teen Counseling
- E-Therapy Cafe
- Cohen Veterans Network
- Therapy for Black Girls Sister Circle
- Black Men Heal: Kings Corner
- Therapy for Latinx
- American Diabetes Association (ADA) Mental Health Provider Directory (may include online and in-person therapists)
The list goes on, so don’t be afraid to explore if you don’t love the first online therapy service you try!
Editor’s note: This list is not an official recommendation, as different therapy services work for different individuals.
Online therapy is great, but it’s not for everyone—and that’s okay!
Most online therapists offer talk therapy (otherwise known as psychotherapy), but some mental health needs cannot be met with online therapy services alone.
For example, a licensed counselor or psychologist can help you work through your mental health challenges, behavior, emotions and how you respond to stressful situations. They cannot prescribe medication. Whereas, a psychiatrist is a licensed medical doctor who can diagnose mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.) and prescribe medication.
A wide variety of therapy types exist today, ranging in controversialness and accessibility. Medical News Today lists 14 different types:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR)
- Exposure therapy
- Interpersonal therapy
- Mentalization-based therapy
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Animal-assisted therapy
- Emotion-focused therapy
- Family therapy
- Group therapy
- Mindfulness-based therapy
- Creative arts therapy
- Play therapy
Online therapy isn’t suitable for everyone, but it’s worth a shot if you’re curious and think it could help. You may hate it, think it’s the best thing ever or be inspired to seek in-person therapy instead. Finding the right therapist match is also a key factor for successful therapy!
With therapy, it’s okay to start, stop and pick up again at any point in your life. As you grow, your mental health concerns and needs change too!
Educational content related to mental health therapy is made possible with support from BetterHelp. Thank you to BetterHelp for offering everyone in our community two free therapy sessions. Learn more at BetterHelp.com/BeyondType1.
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