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- Best availability: Talkspace
- Best for teen specialists: Teen Counseling
- Best for younger kids: Amwell
- Best for a free consultation: Synergy eTherapy
- Best for psychiatry: Doctor on Demand
- Best for free and anonymous social support: 7 Cups
- Best for in-network care: Thriveworks
adolescence is a good time to form lifelong healthy behaviors. Mental health conditions are on the rise among teens.
According to Mental Health America, in the United States in 2021, 13.84 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds reported experiencing at least 1 major depressive episode. Yet 59.6 percent of them didn’t receive treatment.
Globally, an estimated 14 percent of adolescents experience a mental health condition, and many of them receive neither a diagnosis nor mental health treatment, according to the
Research shows that early diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions is key in preventing more severe and long-lasting problems.
Online counseling is making mental health treatment more accessible for some teens. Increased access to mental health treatment can help teens navigate some of the unique life circumstances that affect them — such as social media; bullying; and physical, social, and emotional changes.
If you are a teen wondering if online counseling may be beneficial, read on to learn more about it and which services pass our criteria.
Online counseling is also called telemental health, virtual therapy, e-therapy, or teletherapy. The
You and your therapist can do online counseling without being in the same physical space. Some services offer chat services. Video chats and phone calls are for more structured sessions, whereas these are for more casual conversations.
Think about what your schedule is like and what services you are looking for so you and your therapist can coordinate.
If you are a teen with distressing behavioral or emotional symptoms that interfere with your daily life at home or school, it is time to seek help from a mental health professional.
Online counseling allows you to meet with your therapist where you are. Therapists can communicate over text, video, phone, or a mobile app.
According to the
- Changes in sleep patterns include sleeping too much or too little.
- They lost interest in things they used to enjoy.
- low energy
- “It’s a form of isolation and avoidance of time with friends or family.”
- Changes in appetite.
- A decline in grades or school performance.
- Irritability increased.
- Symptoms of anxiety include stomach ache, muscle tension, and restless legs.
If teens are interested in online counseling, it might not be a good idea.
- Drug and alcohol use are high risk behaviors.
- Self- harm behaviors are being performed.
- Having thoughts of suicide. — if you or someone you know needs immediate help, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255
- It is necessary for a person living with a mental health condition to have psychological supervision.
- The internet connection is unreliable.
- Symptoms of an eating disorder include excessive diet or exercise, fear of gaining weight, and expressing symptoms.
The above conditions and situations are not suited for online therapy because they require in-person treatment and care that goes beyond what virtual sessions can offer.
In these cases, the use of telehealth counseling could be used to help manage a condition in the future.
If you know a teen who is dealing with these issues, or you are a teen going through them, you should reach out to a doctor or school counselor to find out if there are any in-person treatment options in your area.
A note about minors using online counseling
Teens may need consent from a parent to begin online counseling. However, parents usually won’t have access to information discussed throughout appointments due to therapist-client privilege.
Our medical reviewer Akilah Reynolds, PhD, mentions that parent access to information can vary from state to state.
Each state has their own laws regarding therapy and confidentiality. Most information is kept private, except for situations of safety risks. Parents have access to the information if they want it.
If someone is expressing abusive, suicidal, violent, or homicidal behaviors or thoughts, their counselor will have to alert a parent, guardian, or the police.
Many young people with mental health conditions may benefit from online counseling, which is a viable alternative to in-person therapy.
Online counseling and in-person therapy are different.
- Convenience. Online counseling may occur anywhere between you and your therapist. All you need is access to a stable network connection and your device to communicate. With in-person therapy, both of you have to be in the same physical space at the same time for therapy to take place. Depending on the platform, online counseling can sometimes be available on call or in an emergency.
- Accessibility. Finding and connecting with a therapist and starting therapy is simple, and more hassle-free than in-person therapy. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about transportation or commuting to an office.
- Cost-effectiveness. Online counseling can be an inexpensive option compared to in-person therapy when it comes to paying for therapy and saving on transportation costs.
- Time saving. Online counseling saves you the time of commuting to an office. You can also make appointments that are at more convenient times for your day-to-day.
- Communication limitations. To build a deeper connection between you and your therapist, in-person therapy may be a better choice. Both of you can also rely on nonverbal cues when communicating. During online counseling, you may have challenges with internet or phone activity that limit communication.
- Less stigma. Online counseling may reduce the stigma associated with having a mental health condition and receiving treatment. Certain services may allow you to remain anonymous while in therapy.
- Emergencies. Online counseling is not as well suited for handling emergencies and urgent crises as in-person therapy is.
- Receiving proper diagnosis and medication. Unlike in-person therapy, some online counseling platforms cannot provide diagnoses and prescribe medications to their clients.
- Fulfilling a court order. Online counseling cannot fulfill a court order to receive mental health treatment.
- Intense psychological treatment. Therapy in person is more appropriate for treating more severe mental health conditions like psychotic disorders and bipolar disorder.
We only considered online services that provide therapy to people under the age of 18. We chose services that employ licensed mental health professionals, including counselors, social workers, psychotherapists, psychologists, and A doctor.s.
These professionals can help with a range of concerns, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and self-esteem. Asking your professional about their experience is a good way to make sure they are up to date with your needs.
We looked at factors like that.
- affordability or insurance eligibility
- A commitment to privacy.
- Expertise in issues of teens.
- Customer reviews are good.
- Useful communication methods.
All services have a simple sign-up and payment process, and they all offer a variety of services.
We only recommend companies we stand behind as being credible and ethical (learn more about our vetting process here). Healthline’s Medical Network is made of a diverse group of mental health professionals who bring experience from a variety of specialty areas. These experts review all our recommendations for mental health-related products.
- Cost: $65 per week, billed monthly for $260; teens can add live video sessions for $65 per 30-minute session
- Insurance accepted: yes; Talkspace accepts health insurance., including Premera, Cigna, Optum, Gatorcare, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and more
- Who it’s best for: teens who would benefit from 24/7 access to a professional listening ear
Talkspace is one of the most well known online counseling sites. They began providing treatment for teens in September 2018.
The Talkspace network includes thousands of licensed therapists in all 50 U.S. states and Canada. On average, therapists have 9 years of experience as mental health professionals. They may be covered by select insurance plans.
Talkspace matches teens with a licensed counselor who has worked with adolescents before. Talkspace therapists can specialize in certain areas.
Teens have access to help 24/7. You can send your therapist unlimited text, video, photo, and audio messages through the website or mobile app, conducted in a private virtual chat room with a secure internet connection.
- They offer different subscription options to choose from.
- You can communicate with your therapist through various digital channels.
- You can send a message to your therapist at any time of the day.
- Talkspace accepts health insurance.
- You can change your therapist and subscription plan at any time.
- They offer a variety of services.
- “Talkspace can’t fulfill a court order.”
- “You can’t see their pricing until you sign up.”
- “You can’t have conversations with your therapist.”
You can get $100 off your first subscription with code “SPACE”.
Best for teen specialists
- Cost: $60–$90 per week, depending on the plan; billed monthly
- Insurance accepted: no
- Who it’s best for: teens who want a range of communication options
Teen Counseling is part of the popular therapy site BetterHelp. The service matches people between the ages of 13 and 19 with licensed counselors who specialize in working with teens on a wide range of issues, including coping skills, self-esteem, anxiety, depression, bullying, and anger.
Teen Counseling does not accept insurance.
Teens can communicate with their counselor through virtual therapy rooms. Teens communicate with counselors through a variety of methods. You can access services on a computer, phone, or tablet. Telephone calls may be made on a phone line.
- You can have access to your therapist through the chat room.
- They provide a variety of communication methods.
- If you tell your therapist that you are being abused, or if you contemplate suicide, you will lose your privacy.
- You can cancel your subscription at any time.
- “They can’t give diagnoses or prescription medications.”
- Therapy done through their platform is not possible.
- The platform is not suitable for handling crises.
- “You can’t decide who your therapist is.”
- “They don’t accept insurance.”
- They are not suitable for treating mental health conditions.
10% off the first month is offered by lifelonghealth visitors.
Best for younger kids
- Cost: $109 per session for a master’s level clinician and psychotherapist, or $129 per session for a doctoral level provider; for a A doctor., initial consultation is $279, with a $109 cost for each follow-up appointment
- Insurance accepted: yes
- Who it’s best for: elementary and middle school aged children
While most online services start treating kids at 13 years or older, Amwell offers services for kids as young as 10 years old.
The Amwell network includes licensed psychologists and therapists. They have the experience and training to treat children and teens.
Parents must set up an account for their teen to access certain services. They can review biographies and photos of licensed mental health professionals.
Children can receive help with a variety of issues, from anxiety to life transitions. Live video chats are used to conduct appointments.
The video platform has an advantage that makes it feel like a face-to-face conversation, which is the ability to hide the view of yourself on screen.
Amwell accepts insurance. But, if your sessions aren’t covered under your plan, out-of-pocket costs are still below the middle value for therapy, which can be between $100 to $200 per session.
- They accept insurance. from many different providers.
- You can meet with multiple therapists.
- You can connect with your therapist through the phone or video chat.
- You can schedule sessions at any time.
- Their payment model is per session.
Best for a free consultation
- Cost: $100–$200 per session; considered out of network in most states
- Insurance accepted: yes, but Synergy is considered out of network, so sessions may not be covered by insurance
- Who it’s best for: anyone looking for a flexible, pay-as-you-go option (not a subscription plan)
Synergy eTherapy is a newer service, so they currently only offer online counseling in select states. Licensed therapists specialize in a range of mental health services online, including counseling for depression, anxiety, trauma, families, and teens.
They are currently available in some states.
- Minnesota is located in the state of Minnesota.
- New Jersey is located in the United States.
- New York.
- South Carolina.
- The state of Wisconsin.
A few of their therapists can also offer consultations to people based in states under PSYPACT, an agreement that allows psychologists to participate across state lines.
In a few states, mental health medication management is also available.
You can get free consultations with Synergy eTherapy. During the virtual visit, you will have the chance to get familiar with the video platform, ask the therapist questions, and share what you hope to work on in therapy.
The service reports that the most common teen issues they treat are anxiety, depression, family conflicts, challenges with self-esteem, and stress related to social media.
The rates of the eTherapists are set and they can offer several sessions. You will pay for sessions one at a time, because there is no subscription plan.
- You can choose a therapist.
- You can have a free first consultation with a therapist.
- They provide medication for the mentally ill.
- You can get a consultation with their counselors at a lower rate.
- “They can’t provide intensive treatment for more severe mental health disorders.”
- The cost is per session and can be different depending on your therapist and state.
- They are not suited for dealing with emergencies.
Best for psychiatry
- Cost: $129 for a 25-minute video chat with a counselor; $179 for a 50-minute video chat with a counselor; $299 for an initial 45-minute assessment for medication management with a A doctor., with follow-up visits at $129
- Insurance accepted: yes
- Who it’s best for: teens who may need prescriptions for certain medications
Licensed therapists are trained to provide therapy. Doctor On Demand A doctor.s are medical doctors who can prescribe medications.
You can schedule appointments any day of the week. Both A doctor.s and therapists can help with a variety of concerns.
Doctor on Demand can give you a free assessment if you are going through a difficult time. If you have any signs that you might be suffering from a mental health condition, you can learn about it in less than 2 minutes.
Psychiatrists can order prescriptions to your local pharmacy. However, they cannot write prescriptions for Schedule IV drugs, such as diazepam and alprazolam, and drugs that may only be prescribed through in-person visits with a A doctor..
- They accept insurance.
- They offer prescriptions and A doctor.s can send them to you.
- You can take an assessment to find out if you have a mental health condition.
- You can choose a therapist. from their network of licensed therapists
- Payment is per visit.
- You can only talk to your therapist by video call.
- They are not as cost effective as other online counseling providers.
Best for free and anonymous social support
- Cost: free online chats with trained volunteers; $150 per month for ongoing support from a licensed therapist for teens ages 18 to 19
- Insurance accepted: no
- Who it’s best for: teens who are interested in receiving peer-to-peer support
Sometimes, teens just need someone to talk with; someone who understands what they’re going through. That’s why 7 Cups offers anonymous emotional support to teen users ages 13 to 17.
This support occurs through the platform’s teen support rooms, where you can listen or talk to other teens. In order to connect to a listener through the support rooms, you have to sign up for a free account.
7 Cups does offer online counseling sessions for $150 per month, but their free chat services are run by 300,000 people.
You can connect with a trained listener on their chat site or app. Trained listeners are not licensed mental health professionals.
7 Cups provides active listening training and access to coaches, support, and certification programs to boost listening capabilities.
Teens who need a little emotional support or encouragement may be suited for this service. It is not appropriate for teens with mental health conditions.
7 cups has safety protocols for this population. If issues like sexual assault or child abuse come up, or if the user expresses intent to harm themselves or others, the listener is trained to refer them to appropriate crisis resources.
- They are less expensive than other teletherapy providers.
- You have access to your therapist in a chat room who will reply a few times during the school week.
- Trained Listeners are available to listen and chat with you.
- They have a large community where you can get help.
- You can not choose your therapist.
- “They don’t accept insurance.”
- You can only talk to your therapist.
Best for in-network care
- Cost: $15–$40 copay, plus one-time enrollment fee, if your insurance is accepted; $99 per session without insurance
- Insurance accepted: yes; Thriveworks is in-network with most insurance plans
- Who it’s best for: children under (and above!) the age of 10
Teens can get help from the therapists at Thriveworks by video chat or phone.
Teens and kids are welcome from toddlers to high school. There is no age limit for accessing counseling.
All of the child counselors and psychologists at Thriveworks have experience with children. Dealing with challenges such as mental illnesses, traumatic events, loss of family members, and difficult feelings and behaviors is included.
Most insurance plans consider Thriveworks to be in-network. They will check your coverage before your first session.
- They accept insurance. from major insurance providers
- You can choose a therapist., and they may also offer recommendations
- Telephone and video call counseling sessions are done.
- You have to pay a fee.
- “They don’t offer medication management in all of their locations.”
- They don’t run on a subscription model. Payment is per visit., and it varies based on your therapist, location, payment method, and other factors
We have put together a table that will give you a quick look at some of the facts.
|Service||Best for||Accepts insurance?||Cost||Pros||Cons|
|Talkspace||availability||yes; check eligibility here||$65/week;
|+ 24/7 chat
+ can change your subscription plan
+ psychiatric evaluations available
|– no outright information about payment until you sign up
– court orders cannot be fulfilled
|Teen Counseling||teen specialists||no||$60–$90/week, billed monthly||+ have multiple methods of talking with therapists, including chat room
+ privacy guaranteed
+ can cancel whenever
|– doesn’t offer diagnoses or medication
– court orders cannot be fulfilled
– can’t choose your therapist
– not recommended for severe mental health conditions
|Amwell||young kids||yes||$109 for master’s degree–level professionals;
$129 for PhD-level professionals
|+ accepts lots of insurance plans
+ can meet with multiple professionals before deciding on your right fit
+ flexible scheduling
|– payment per session
– not subscription-based
|Synergy eTherapy||free consultation||yes; it varies||$100–$200;
$50 if you decide to consult with highly trained interns (in select states)
|+ can choose your therapist
+ free consultation without requirement for further treatment
+ offers psychiatric medicine services
|– no intensive treatment available for severe mental health conditions
– cost is per session and varies based on state and therapist
|Doctor on Demand||psychiatry||yes||$129 for 25 min.;
$179 for 50 min.;
$299 for medical assessment; $129 for follow-up appointments
|+ prescriptions are available
+ free assessments
+ able to choose your therapist
|– payment is per visit only
– video chat only
– more expensive
|7 Cups||free, anonymous support||no||$150/month; free chat services||+ low cost
+ able to talk with therapist in a chat room Mon.–Fri.
+ free access to trained listeners 24/7
+ emotional support from other teens
|– can’t choose your own therapist
– no insurance
– therapy by chat only
|Thriveworks||in-network care||yes; check availability here||$15–$40 copay with insurance;
$99 for out-of-pocket payments
|+ can choose your therapist
+ phone and video sessions available
|– enrollment fee
– medication management not available at all locations
– pay per visit
Selecting a therapist who has expertise in the area of concern you want to focus on is important.
It is likely that a therapist with experience in helping people cope with various issues, like anxiety, depression, stress, or bullied, will be the most beneficial.
It is important to feel comfortable and connected to your therapist. You will know if this person is a good fit after your initial meeting, if you feel you can easily talk with them, and if they put you at ease.
“It may take time for you to find the right fit. If you don’t feel comfortable with a particular therapist or they aren’t helpful, it’s best to move on to someone else who can really connect with you.”
“When you talk to your therapist, be honest with yourself. If things don’t feel right, trust your gut. It will help a lot if you find someone who you feel comfortable with.”
If you’re having trouble coping on your own, it may be time to talk with a therapist. A therapist can help you understand your feelings. They can also give you helpful strategies on ways to cope with emotions like sadness, worry, or anger.
If you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition in the past, such as depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, you should talk to a therapist.
If you suspect you have one of these conditions, a mental health professional may be able to give you a diagnosis or point you in the right direction.
It is important to get help if you are having a mental health problem.
It is not the best fit for severe mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, or suicidal ideation, but online counseling can be a good first step.
It is still recommended to reach out to someone you trust about your feelings as soon as possible to make sure you are safe. Online counseling can offer initial support.
You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline to speak with a licensed professional. The number will change to a three-digit code on July 16, 2022.
Does insurance cover online counseling?
Out-of-pocket costs may be lower for online counseling than for in-person therapy, but not all insurance providers cover it.
Check with your insurance provider to see what is covered.
Can a minor sign up without parental consent?
Most states require a parent or guardian to give consent for a teen to start therapy. Before a teen can begin online counseling, they need the consent of their parents.
It is important to check the guidelines for your state because each state has its own laws.
Is the information shared confidential?
Usually, sessions are confidential. Minors have the right to privacy.
If a teen reveals that they have been sexually abused, or if they express intent to harm themselves or others, therapists are required to report it to child protective services and sometimes the police.
Can parents participate in the therapy?
Before beginning therapy, therapists may talk to parents about what to expect and how to support their teens.
Are online therapists licensed?
The online counseling services on this list offer counseling by licensed therapists. You should be able to ask your therapist about their credentials.
Professional designation include:
- LMHC is a licensed mental health counselor.
- Marriage and family therapists are licensed.
- The LPCC is a licensed professional clinical counselor.
- A licensed professional counselor.
- Clinical social worker is licensed.
- psychologist or PsyD
- A doctor.
Is online counseling the best option?
Online counseling is not appropriate for teens.
- Having thoughts of suicide.
- Substance use and self- harm are high risk behaviors.
- It requires intensive management and supervision for living with a mental health condition.
- Eating disorders are a few mental health conditions that can be found.
“Teens are more likely to have mental health conditions, but they don’t get the treatment they need.”
The more severe effects of mental health conditions can be prevented with early diagnosis and treatment. Online counseling can be a convenient, more accessible, and cost-effective way to get teens help with their issues.
Gulnaz Khan is a writer and editor covering health, science, and climate. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, Popular Science, TED Ideas, and more. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Temple University and a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.