The 4 Best Online Therapy Platforms in 2023 | First-Hand Experience Meets Comprehensive Analysis

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on January 1, 2023
Our team evaluates mental health products, services and platforms like BetterHelp. If you click a link below and make a purchase, we will receive an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Our team has bought and documented our experience using 3 of the 4 best online therapy platforms.

You may learn about each service via our reviews (see purple buttons). Our review articles showcase our hands-on experience and give vital information you might want to consider.

But, you might wonder about the word ‘best.’ What makes therapy from 4 services the best online?

Keep reading to find out! If you want to watch us try each platform, read the corresponding review.

1. BetterHelp

Overall Best For Online Therapy If Self Paying | Most Affordable, Best Value & Review Ratings Overall Best For Online Therapy If Self Paying | Most Affordable, Best Value & Review Ratings
4.5
$60-$90 / Week

Overall, BetterHelp conveniently provides busy professionals with various live therapy options to make it the best online therapy in terms of value per dollar.

Pros:
  • Best out-of-pocket online therapy prices
  • Unlimited messaging
  • Includes 45 min weekly phone or video therapy session
  • Additional 1 group therapy per week included
  • Additional 1 live mental health workshop per week included
  • Specialized counselors available
  • Choose from largest pool of licensed therapists
  • Financial assistance frequently given
  • No long-term contracts required
  • Global accessibility
Cons:
  • Does not accept insurance
  • Does not dispense medications
  • Messaging is around 1~ response per weekday
  • Has faced privacy policy issues
Features:
  • Most affordable self-paying online therapy
  • Simple pricing with financial aid
  • All therapists are at least state licensed
  • Up to 3 live therapy sessions per week included in base rate
  • #1 app for online therapy on both Google Play and Apple Store

However, it’s essential to know that BetterHelp has faced criticism regarding handling user data privacy. They were involved in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for $7.8 million over charges of improperly sharing customer data. Moreover, its privacy policy does not explicitly state that it does not sell user data, which should ideally be clearly stated.

Nonetheless, while BetterHelp has faced some challenges with privacy issues, their commitment to providing diverse therapy options and their high user review scores make them a strong contender in the online therapy market, particularly for those paying out of pocket.

BetterHelp captures the essence of the current online mental health technology debate. It offers fantastic service at low costs, but data sharing is a genuine concern.

From an economic perspective, we believe the value BetterHelp provides through its accessible and cost-leading therapy programs, outweighs the potential harm of data sharing.

Either way, BetterHelp’s out-of-pocket expenses are the lowest / best if you do not use insurance.

Best For Self-Paying Live Online Therapy

If Self-Paying (No Insurance)

Weekly Online Therapy Cost

Minutes Per Session

BetterHelp

$60 - $90

30-45 Mins

Talkspace

$99 

30-45 Mins

Teladoc

$75

45 Mins

Amwell

$109 – $129

45 Mins

Brightside Health

~$75

30-45 Mins

2. Thriveworks

Best for Insurance | 180 Million Americans Covered | Pay $0-$50 Per Online or Psychiatry Session Best for Insurance | 180 Million Americans Covered | Pay $0-$50 Per Online or Psychiatry Session
4.2
$0 - $50 Per Session With Insurance

Thriveworks is an online therapy and psychiatry platform for anyone seeking mental health support. Offering individual, family, and addiction counseling services, it stands out with its flexible scheduling and insurance acceptance (180 million Americans covered!). Furthermore, Thriveworks offers 380 physical locations across the United States. However, at Thriveworks you pay per session which may increase your expenses in the long run, and potential privacy concerns may be downsides. While it's an excellent choice for those needing therapy options covered by insurance, alternatives might suit those preferring more comprehensive plans.

Pros:
  • Pay $0-50 per session with insurance
  • Quick appointment scheduling
  • Online and in-person therapy options
  • Evening and weekend hours available
  • Accepts most health insurance plans
  • Wide range of mental health services
  • Responsive customer service
Cons:
  • May lack comprehensive treatment
  • Limited information about therapists
  • No specialized therapist filtering options
  • Steep cancellation fee
  • Not easy to switch therapists
  • Concerns regarding data collection

While Thriveworks is known for its impressive reach in insurance coverage, it’s important to note that this might come with higher co-pays per session.

This could impact the affordability of their services for some individuals, who might get $0 co-pays if their insurance is accepted elsewhere.

Nevertheless, when considering the panorama of telehealth and online therapy options, Thriveworks is the highest in insurance coverage.

So, if insurance coverage is your primary concern, Thriveworks could be the best choice for you or at least one of your primary backup choices.

Best for Insurance Coverage Being Accepted

Insurance Coverage Accepted Estimate

Thriveworks

180 million

Talkspace

100 million

Teladoc

80 million

MD Live

40 million

Brightside Health

100 million

3. Talkspace

The Best If Your Insurance or EAP Covers | Online Therapy For All Ages, Couples | Psychiatry & Prescription Medication  The Best If Your Insurance or EAP Covers | Online Therapy For All Ages, Couples | Psychiatry & Prescription Medication
4.2
$69-$109 / Per Week

Talkspace is not the best in any category, but 2nd best in many different services. Talkspace is an online therapy & prescription platform offering accessible and affordable services to individuals, teens, and couples. Accepts insurance for 40+ million Americans and connects users with licensed therapists via text or video calls. Despite concerns about data privacy and refund issues, Talkspace provides comprehensive features that give you more overall choice and value but doesn't accept as many insurance plans as Thriveworks. With over 1 million users, Talkspace is a trusted choice despite its shortcomings.

Pros:
  • Has something for every online therapy seeker
  • Offers individual, teen, couple services
  • Wide insurance coverage
  • Experienced licensed therapists
  • Convenient app for Android and Apple
Cons:
  • Data privacy concerns
  • Refund issues reported
  • Limited session length

Talkspace is a solid contender in the online therapy field. They do everything well – from accepting insurance for over 100 million people to offering prescription services and a variety of mental health resources. They also boast high ratings from users. However, they aren’t necessarily the top dog in any one category.

For instance, when it comes to prescription services, Brightside takes the cake. And if we’re talking about insurance coverage, Thriveworks beats them.

Despite this, it’s clear that Talkspace shines in its diversity of services. Whether you’re a teen, part of a couple, or looking for psychiatry or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) plans, Talkspace has got you covered.

Not many other companies offer this total package. BetterHelp doesn’t accept insurance, Thriveworks has higher co-pays, and Brightside has fewer offerings. The wide range of Talkspace options gives them a unique edge and makes them a go-to choice for many seeking online therapy.

So, while they may not be the leader in every category, the Talkspace service offerings are the most comprehensive. In this sense, Talkspace is the best choice selection.

Finally, if your insurance is accepted, Talkspace is an obvious decision because your costs may be $0, whereas Thriveworks may have a co-pay. Consider Thriveworks if your insurance isn’t accepted at Talkspace or BetterHelp for online therapy if out of pocket.

Why Talkspace Is Most Well-Balanced 

Talkspace Versus Online Therapy Alternatives

Difference

Talkspace versus BetterHelp

Talkspace more expensive but accepts insurance for 40 million and offers prescription

Talkspace versus Thriveworks

Talkspace accepts fewer insurance plans, but has lower per session costs and offers teen therapy.

Talkspace Versus Brightside Health

Talkspace more expensive, but accepts more insurance and treats more problems.

Talkspace Versus Teen Therapy

Teen Therapy does not take insurance, and does not offer prescription.

4. Brightside Health

Offers Best Insurance, Prescription and Online Therapy | Only National Telehealth Treatment for Suicidality Offers Best Insurance, Prescription and Online Therapy | Only National Telehealth Treatment for Suicidality
4.6
$0-$349 / Month

Brightside Health is a cutting-edge mental health service specializing in online therapy and medication management for adults struggling with anxiety and depression. Brightside Health is currently the first national telehealth program treating individuals with elevated suicide risk, accepting insurance plans for 50 million Americans. It offers the best choice for individuals with insurance coverage who want a prescription medication and therapy service. Offering a comprehensive approach that includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), it's an ideal choice for those seeking evidence-based treatments. However, Brightside doesn't provide a wide range of services and is not as widely known.

Pros:
  • Accepts insurance
  • Best for evidence-based treatment
  • First & only national telehealth treatment for suicidality
  • Offers best medication plus therapy package
  • Self-care videos included in all subscriptions
  • Check-in quizzes to help monitor progress and other tools to measure progress
  • Safe medication policies in place
Cons:
  • Not as widely known
  • Option to switch therapists is slow
  • Offers video therapy only; no audio-only or live chat sessions
  • No same day appointments
  • Responses from customer service can take over 24 hrs
  • Focuses on anxiety, depression, and crisis care – if you have another condition, look elsewhere
  • Only available to individuals over 18

Brightside Health accepts insurance for over 100 million people and offers prescription services. Plus, they’re the first of their kind to be covered by national telehealth insurance for suicidality. And if you’re seeking the best combo of therapy and medication through insurance, you should consider Brightside Health.

But here’s the thing: Brightside Health isn’t as well-known as some other platforms.

They have fewer reviews, making getting a feel for their services harder. Also, they don’t treat as many mental health struggles like bipolar disorder or substance abuse. And while they focus mainly on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), they don’t offer therapist selection.

So, if having various treatment options and choosing your therapist are essential to you, this might be a drawback.

However, if you’re looking for a platform that offers a solid combination of therapy and medication services covered by insurance, Brightside Health provides the best evidence-based option to explore.

We are not including a table here because our primarily undisputable claim is that Brightside Health is the best in offering a national telehealth option for elevated suicide risk covered by insurance.

Want answers to Online Therapy’s most frequently asked questions? Continue reading here.

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