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The 8 Best Online Therapy Providers of 2022

Sep 30, 2022

By Savannah Bacon
Medically Reviewed by Marni Amsellem, PhD
Reviewed by Susan Stiles, PhD, Senior Director of Healthy Aging Innovations at NCOA
Fact Checked

Best Online Therapy: Key Takeaways

  • Online therapy can be a convenient and effective alternative to in-person therapy.
  • You need a laptop, tablet, or phone with high-speed internet to use online therapy.
  • Medicare covers mental health services via online therapy, while Medicaid coverage varies by state.

Online therapy can be a good option to address your mental health concerns in a convenient way. It can help eliminate barriers to mental health care, like transportation issues, limited mental health professionals in your area, mobility issues, and cost.

Our Reviews Team looked at the different online therapy platforms currently on the market to identify the best options. Our team mystery shopped each platform, which included signing up, trying to schedule appointments, and browsing potential therapists in different states. While our Reviews Team tested each site, we looked at whether each platform was intuitive and easy to use.

We also considered each service’s cost and looked for hidden fees, talked with customer service about questions its website didn’t answer, confirmed potential insurance coverage, including both Medicare and Medicaid, and read reviews from actual users to compare positive and negative experiences with each platform.

Here are our eight picks for the best online therapy providers in 2022.

The best online therapy platforms of 2022

  • Editor’s Pick for Best Online Therapy Overall: BetterHelp
  • Best Online Therapy with Medication Management: Brightside
  • Best for Chat Therapy: Calmerry
  • Best Online Couples Counseling: ReGain
  • Best for LGBTQ+ Therapy: Pride Counseling
  • Best Online Therapy that Takes Insurance: ZocDoc
  • Best for Online Alcohol Treatment: Monument
  • Best for Pay-as-You-Go Online Therapy Sessions: Sesame

Why you can trust our Reviews Team’s online therapy reviews

Our Reviews Team recommends products and services we believe provide value in the lives of our readers. We spent more than 1,000 hours carrying out in-depth research on mental health and online therapy to give you the most accurate review. To make our selections, we:

  • Consulted with mental health experts to understand online and in-person therapy best practices
  • Reviewed and mystery shopped more than 40 online therapy platforms
  • Read verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot to understand users’ experiences
  • Kept up to date on the latest academic research on therapy and mental health
  • Surveyed 1,000 online therapy users about their experiences with different online therapy platforms

Read more about our online therapy review methodology.

Compare the best online therapy platforms of 2022

Online Therapy Comparison Table

Therapy platform

Types of therapy

Cost
per month

Accepts insurance

Offers
financial
aid

Offers a first-time
discount

BetterHelp

Video,
audio,
chat

$240$360
per month

No

Yes

Yes

Brightside

Video

$299$349
per month

Yes

No

Yes

Calmerry

Video,
chat

$228$360
per month

No

No

Yes

ReGain

Video,
audio,
chat

$240$360
per month

No

Yes

No

Pride Counseling

Video,
audio,
chat

$240$360
per month

No

Yes

No

ZocDoc

Video

Varies

Yes

No

No

Monument

Video

$0$249
per month

Yes,
including
Medicare

No

Yes

Sesame

Video

Varies

No

No

Yes

Editor’s Pick for Overall Best Online Therapy: BetterHelp

Pros Offers ongoing financial aid Accepts HSA or FSA dollars Includes group therapy sessions that don’t count toward your membership sessions Offers 20% off your first month with the coupon code “NCOA”
Cons Doesn’t accept insurance, including Medicaid or Medicare

Cost: $240$360 per month
Payment options: Visa, Discover, Mastercard, and American Express s; Google Pay; HSA/FSA cards
Accepts insurance: No
Accepts Medicaid: No
Accepts Medicare: No
Offers financial aid: Yes
Customer service options:

Session format options: Live video, phone, or chat; unlimited messaging between appointments
Session length: 3045 minutes
Extras: Group therapy sessions, free webinars on mental health topics, online journal

BetterHelp offers weekly online therapy that costs between $60$90 per week. You can also attend free group therapy sessions and online, therapist-led webinars on topics like setting boundaries or understanding different attachment styles. Betterhelp also offers financial aid, which applies to the first three months of your membership. After this period, you can reapply for financial aid for the following three months and continue this process for as long as you need. The combination of therapy options, ongoing financial aid, and other additional resources makes Betterhelp our Reviews Team’s top pick for online therapy. 

BetterHelp asks for your therapist preferences, such as age or religion.

You can request certain preferences for your BetterHelp therapist, like age or religion.

Customer service

If you have any questions for BetterHelp, or if you’re a current member with issues related to your account, you can contact customer service by phone, available 24 hours a day, by email at contact@betterhelp.com, or by filling out a contact form online.

In our Reviews Team’s survey of 1,000 online therapy users, 81% of people using BetterHelp had a mostly positive or positive experience with BetterHelp’s customer service.

Subscriptions offered

BetterHelp only offers monthly subscriptions. You will pay between $240$360 per month, depending on factors like your location and therapist preferences.

Payment options

BetterHelp accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express credit cards. It also accepts Google Pay and HSA/FSA cards. It does not accept insurance, including both Medicare and Medicaid.

Once you’ve completed the sign-up form, be sure to check your eligibility for financial aid. Betterhelp offers a variety of discounts for veterans, students, and those on limited incomes. You can check to see if you qualify for financial aid during the sign-up process.

For example, we found that a veteran living in Kentucky may pay $260 per month for therapy with BetterHelp. Once you create an account, you can also access BetterHelp’s financial aid eligibility form.

You can also receive 20% off your first month of BetterHelp with the coupon code “NCOA” when you sign up.

Customer reviews

BetterHelp is a BBB accredited business. It has more than 400 reviews with an average rating of 4.08 out of 5 stars. On Trustpilot, BetterHelp has an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars with more than 4,700 reviews.

BetterHelp also has a phone app. On the Apple App Store, it’s rated 4.8 out of 5 stars based on more than 81,000 reviews. On the Google Play Store, BetterHelp is rated 4.6 out of 5 stars with more than 31,000 reviews.

Positive reviews mention BetterHelp’s affordability and accessibility, while poor reviews cite negative experiences with certain therapists and issues scheduling appointments.

Best Online Therapy with Medication Management: Brightside

Pros Accepts insurance Offers both medication and therapy Can use HSA or FSA dollars Offers $60 off your first month with code “NCOA60” if you do not use insurance
Cons Doesn’t accept Medicare or Medicaid May not be able to switch therapists

Cost: $299–$349 per month
Payment options: Visa and Mastercard; HSA/FSA cards
Accepts insurance: Yes
Accepts Medicaid: No
Accepts Medicare: No
Offers financial aid: No
Customer service options:

Session format options: Live video; unlimited messaging between appointments
Session length: 30 minutes
Extras: Mood tracking chart for anxiety and depression symptoms; free self-help videos on self-care

Brightside is a full-service mental health care company that can provide both medication management and therapy. It specializes in treatment for anxiety and depression, and also accepts insurance. Every Brightside medication costs $15 and is shipped to your door for free. You can also opt for local pharmacy pick up.

All Brightside therapists use a cognitive behavioral approach in therapy, which has been shown to help with depression, anxiety, substance use issues, and other mental health issues, according to the American Psychological Association.1 Our Reviews Team was also able to find an available appointment two days away, which indicated short wait times for therapy.

Brightside’s lesson on gratitude emphasizes daily reflection on the things you’re grateful for.

Your Brightside membership includes 10 self-care video lessons.

Customer service

If you have questions about Brightside or are a member with account issues, you can reach customer service by phone, at 1-415-360-3348, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday, by email at support@brightside.com, or, if you’re a member, you can navigate to the ‘Help’ section of your account to get in touch with customer service.

Our Reviews Team struggled to get someone on the phone during business hours. While we were on hold, the call ended. You may need to call back the next day or at different times to speak with a customer service representative. Our team did receive prompt responses via email within 48 hours about other questions.

Of our Reviews Team’s survey respondents, 71% of people using Brightside reported a mostly positive to positive experience with Brightside’s customer service.

Subscriptions offered

Medication: $95 per month

  • Includes unlimited messaging about your prescriptions, free medication delivery, and an initial video consultation 
  • Flat $15 charge for all medication if delivered to your home

Therapy: $299 per month

  • Includes four 30-minute video therapy sessions per month and unlimited messaging to your therapist
  • Can purchase additional sessions for $59

Medication + Therapy: $349 per month

  • Includes four 30-minute video therapy sessions per month, unlimited messaging to your therapist and psychiatric provider, free medication delivery, and an initial video consultation
  • Flat $15 charge for all medication if delivered to your home
  • Can purchase additional sessions for $59

The total cost for a Brightside subscription will depend on whether you use insurance or not. The prices listed are what you will pay without insurance.

Payment options

Brightside Health accepts Aetna, Cigna, Anthem California, Allegiance, and, in California and Nevada, Optum/United Healthcare insurance. If you want to use insurance, you can call your insurance company to determine how much you’re expected to pay.

Brightside Health also accepts Visa, Mastercard, and HSA/FSA cards.

You can also receive $60 off your first month with the coupon code “NCOA60” if you do not use insurance for your Brightside plan.

Customer reviews

Brightside is not BBB accredited. On the BBB site, it’s rated 1.71 out of 5 stars based on seven customer reviews. On Trustpilot, Brightside has 2.2 out of 5 stars based on eight reviews. Brightside does not have an app.

A positive review mentions a good individual experience with a provider and good experience with the medication only plan. Poor reviews cite glitchy experiences on Brightside’s patient portal and trouble finding appointment times that fit their schedule.

Best for Chat Therapy: Calmerry

Pros More affordable than other messaging therapy options Can upgrade your membership to include video sessions Can ask your therapist to log on at a certain time for a live session Offers 40% off your first month with code “NCOA”
Cons Can’t send video messages Messaging is not in real-time, so there will be delays in therapist response times

Cost: $228$360 per month
Payment options: All debit and credit cards
Accepts insurance: No
Accepts Medicaid: No
Accepts Medicare: No
Offers financial aid: No
Customer service options:

Session format options: Live video; unlimited messaging
Session length: 30 minutes (video)
Extras: Free online journal, free tool to help you reflect and learn from your feelings

With Calmerry, you can send unlimited audio and chat messages to your therapist, who will normally reply Monday to Friday, about two to three times per day. You can also ask your therapist to log on at a specific time for a live chat, where you can quickly message each other back and forth. If you want to meet with your therapist over a video call, you can upgrade your membership to include one to four video sessions per month.

Calmerry is the most affordable chat therapy program we could find, and you can also request a receipt for your services to submit to your insurance for potential reimbursement. 

Calmerry’s reflection tool asks you how you’re feeling in your body and mind.

Calmerry’s reflection tool helps you understand how you feel in your body and mind and asks you to reflect on these feelings.

Customer service

You can contact Calmery by phone, at 1-855-954-5344, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday, by email at team@calmerry.com, or using the 24/7 chat line found on the Calmerry website. To use this, simply click the blue and white message icon in the bottom right of your screen. Calmerry’s agents are available 24/7, and our Reviews Team received answers to questions within minutes.

Subscriptions offered

Chat therapy plan: $227.96 per month

  • Includes unlimited messaging to your therapist
  • Therapists respond to messages five days a week

Chat therapy and one live session: $297.96 per month

  • Includes unlimited messaging and one live video session
  • Therapists respond to messages five days a week

Chat therapy and four live sessions: $359.96 per month

  • Includes unlimited messaging to your therapist and four live video sessions
  • Therapists respond to messages five days a week

Payment options

Calmerry doesn’t accept insurance, but you can ask the company to give you a receipt you can submit to your insurance for potential reimbursement. You can take 40% off your first month when you use the coupon code “NCOA” during sign up.

Calmerry accepts all debit and credit cards.

Customer reviews

Calmerry is rated 3.9 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot based on 72 reviews, but does not have a profile with the BBB.

On the Apple App Store, Calmerry has 2.5 out of 5 stars based on 21 reviews. On the Google Play Store, it is rated 2.0 out of 5 stars based on 44 reviews. 

Positive reviews mention good individual experiences with therapists, both on chat and on video, and attentive customer service. Negative reviews cite dissatisfaction with the frequency of their therapist’s responses and a poor experience on Calmerry’s app.

Best Online Couples Counseling: ReGain

Pros Therapists have an active interest in couples therapy Can be more affordable than private practice relationship therapy Financial aid offered
Cons Doesn’t accept insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare

Cost: $240$360 per month
Payment options: Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express credit cards; Google Pay; PayPal
Accepts insurance: No
Accepts Medicaid: No
Accepts Medicare: No
Offers financial aid: Yes
Customer service options:

Session format options: Live video, phone, or chat; unlimited messaging between appointments
Session length: 3045 minutes
Extras: Three-way calling, worksheets for each partner, individual therapy 

ReGain is a BetterHelp specialty site that focuses on relationships. It can be more affordable for weekly relationship therapy than some private providers, especially with its ongoing financial aid program. ReGain also offers three-way calling, so you and your partner can join from different rooms or locations. All of BetterHelp’s therapy platforms, including ReGain, offer appointment times outside of work hours and on weekends. In our Review Team’s survey of 1,000 online therapy users, 49% of people using ReGain chose it for these flexible scheduling options. 

ReGain asks what issues you want to focus on, like communication and intimacy problems.

Be sure to highlight the exact issues you want help with in your ReGain questionnaire.

Customer service

If you have questions about ReGain or are a current member with issues, you can reach customer service by phone, at 1-844-518-9559, available 24 hours a day, by email at contact@regain.us, or through the contact form available on the ReGain website.

Subscriptions offered

ReGain is a monthly therapy subscription service. You can expect to pay between $240$360 per month, depending on factors like your therapist preferences and location.

Payment options

ReGain accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express credit cards. It also accepts Google Pay and PayPal.

Once you’ve completed the sign-up form, be sure to check your eligibility for financial aid. You need a ReGain account to view this page.

Customer reviews

ReGain is not accredited by the BBB, but it is rated 3.29 out of 5 stars based on 17 reviews. On Trustpilot, ReGain has 3.1 out of 5 stars based on 67 reviews.

ReGain also has a mobile app. On the Apple App Store, ReGain is rated 4.8 out of 5 stars based on over 6,200 reviews. On the Google Play Store, ReGain is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars based on over 1,900 reviews.

Positive reviews mention good experiences with counselors and the benefits of evening and weekend appointments. Negative reviews cite poor experiences on the ReGain app and trouble scheduling appointments.

Best for LGBTQ+ Therapy: Pride Counseling

Pros All therapists specialize in working with LGBTQ+ individuals Offers a discreet billing option Offers ongoing financial aid
Cons Doesn’t accept insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare

Cost: $240$360 per month
Payment options: Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express; Google Pay; HSA/FSA cards
Accepts insurance: No
Accepts Medicaid: No
Accepts Medicare: No
Offers financial aid: Yes
Customer service options:

Session format options: Live video, phone, or chat; unlimited messaging between appointments
Session length: 3045 minutes
Extras: Free webinars on mental health care related topics, online journal

All therapists on Pride Counseling are part of the BetterHelp network of therapists and have a particular interest and specialization in working with LGBTQ+ people. You can also request a therapist who is LGBTQ+ themselves during the signup process though it isn’t guaranteed you will be paired with them. In our Review Team’s survey of 1,000 online therapy users, the top three reasons people chose Pride Counseling were because it was in their budget, offered financial aid, and had LGBTQ+ affirming counselors.

Customer service

If you have questions about Pride Counseling or are a current member with issues, you can reach customer service by phone, at 1-646-960-3553, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, by email at contact@pridecounseling.com, or through the contact form found on the Pride Counseling website.

Subscriptions offered

Pride Counseling only offers monthly online therapy memberships. Your total will be between $240$360 per month, depending on factors like your therapist’s availability and your location.

Payment options

Pride Counseling accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express credit cards. It also accepts Google Pay and HSA/FSA cards.

Once you’ve completed the sign-up form, be sure to check your eligibility for financial aid. You will need to have a Pride Counseling account to view this page.

Pride Counseling’s financial aid form asks questions on your veteran status and dependents.

Pride Counseling’s financial aid form accounts for veteran status, income, and other factors.

Pride Counseling also allows you to be billed “discreetly.” With this option, “BetterHelp” will appear on your credit card statement instead of “Pride Counseling.” This may be a good option if you want to explore the benefits of Pride Counseling privately, especially if you share a bank account.

Customer reviews

Pride Counseling is not accredited on the BBB, but it is rated 5 out of 5 stars based on two customer reviews. On Trustpilot, Pride Counseling is rated 3.8 out of 5 stars based on two reviews.

Pride Counseling has over 1,200 reviews on the Apple App Store, with an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars. On the Google Play Store, Pride Counseling is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars based on over 600 reviews.

Positive Pride Counseling reviews mention great experiences with counselors and an easy to use site, while poor reviews mention problems with therapist availability and some technical issues with video sessions freezing up or glitching.

Best Online Therapy that Takes Insurance: Zocdoc

Pros Can search for a provider who accepts your insurance, including Medicaid or Medicare Can schedule appointments with therapists and psychiatrists
Cons Not a platform that hosts online therapy itself Our Reviews Team had trouble finding a therapist who accepts Medicaid or Medicare Does not provide cost estimates for care

Cost: Varies
Payment options: Varies
Accepts insurance: Yes
Accepts Medicaid: Depends on the provider
Accepts Medicare: Depends on the provider
Offers financial aid: Yes, sliding scale payment from select providers
Customer service options:

Session format options: Live video
Session length: Varies

Zocdoc is not a platform that hosts online therapy, but is instead an online directory for different types of medical providers, including therapists. Zocdoc uses your location and insurance to find reputable therapists who accept your plan. You can use Zocdoc to locate and book online therapy appointments, sometimes on the same day. While our Reviews Team struggled to find therapists who accepted Medicare or Medicaid, they were able to find plenty of providers who worked with other insurance plans.

Zocdoc search query for therapists in Alabama that accepts Medicaid yielded 0 in-network results.

On Zocdoc, you can search for therapists by treatment approach, gender, and ethnicity, too.

Customer service

If you have questions for Zocdoc, you can reach customer service by phone, at 1-855-962-3621, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, weekends and holidays, by email at service@zocdoc.com, or by messaging the Zocdoc service team by filling out its online form.

Payment options

Zocdoc is only responsible for booking your appointment. All billing information will come from your therapist’s office. Your exact cost will depend on your insurance, and your payment options will depend on what the therapist’s office accepts.

Some providers on Zocdoc offer sliding scale payments, meaning your income will determine how much you pay per session.

Customer reviews

Since Zocdoc is a telehealth platform, its reviews are based on all experiences using its services, not just for mental health.

Zocdoc is not accredited by the BBB. It is rated 2.52 out of 5 stars based on 91 reviews. Zocdoc has 4.1 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot based on more than 4,000 reviews.

Zocdoc has a 4.6 out of 5 star rating on the Apple App Store based on more than 10,000 reviews. On the Google Play Store, Zocdoc is rated 4.4 out of 5 stars based on more than 10,000 reviews.

Best for Online Alcohol Treatment: Monument

Pros Offers both medication and therapy to help curb or stop alcohol use Accepts insurance Free online forum and support group
Cons Can’t choose your own therapist Not available in all states

Cost: $0$249 per month, depending on your plan
Payment options: Debit or credit card
Accepts insurance: Yes
Accepts Medicaid: Yes, in Virginia and New York
Accepts Medicare: Yes, depending on the state
Offers financial aid: No
Customer service options:

Session format options: Live video; unlimited messaging about medication
Session length: 45 minutes
Extras: Group therapy sessions, free online alcohol support forum 

Monument is an online platform that can help you curb or eliminate your alcohol use. It uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), an approach proven to help those with substance use disorders.2 Monument can also prescribe naltrexone and disulfiram, two medications used to treat alcohol use disorders.3 Monument also offers support groups for a variety of different topics related to drinking, including anxiety, chronic pain, and support for the adult children of parents with alcohol use disorder.

Monument hosts support groups for different health and relationship topics related to your drinking.

Monument’s support group topics include anxiety and drinking, managing chronic pain while drinking, and groups for adult children of parents with alcohol use disorder.

Customer service

If you have questions about Monument online alcohol therapy and medication, or are an existing customer with problems, you can reach customer service by phone at 1-646-960-3553, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. You must leave a message, and customer service will call you back in one to two business days. You can also email Monument, at support@joinmonument.com, and expect a response within 2448 hours, or you can log on to Monument’s help desk and click on the “Help” button in the bottom right of the screen to submit questions. This online form is available between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Subscriptions offered

Community Membership: Free

  • Includes access to support groups moderated by a licensed therapist and a community forum

Physician Care: $45 startup fee and $9.99 per month

  • Includes one introductory appointment (every additional appointment is $45 each)
  • Includes access to support groups moderated by a licensed therapist and a community forum
  • Can send unlimited messages to your provider if prescribed medication
  • Does not include therapy

Total Care (Biweekly): $149 per month

  • Two therapy sessions per month with a therapist specialized in helping with problems related to alcohol
  • Unlimited appointments with licensed physicians
  • Can send unlimited messages to your provider if prescribed medication
  • Includes access to support groups moderated by a licensed therapist and a community forum

Total Care (Weekly): $249 per month

  • Four therapy sessions per month with a therapist specialized in helping with problems related to alcohol
  • Unlimited appointments with licensed physicians
  • Can send unlimited messages to your provider if prescribed medication
  • Includes access to support groups moderated by a licensed therapist and a community forum

Payment options

Monument accepts insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare, though coverage differs by state. You can check your eligibility on Monument’s website. You can also submit your information to Monument to see if your insurance covers the service.

Monument is only covered by Medicaid in New York and Virginia. You can pay for your membership using a debit or credit card.

Customer reviews

Monument is not accredited by the BBB. It has 1 out of 5 stars on BBB based on 1 review.

Monument does not have any reviews on Trustpilot and does not have an app.

Best for Pay-As-You-Go Online Therapy Sessions: Sesame

Pros Can see a psychiatrist on the platform Offers individual and couples therapy Some medications available for $5 after signing up for a free membership Offers 20% off your first session with code SESAME20 after signing up for a free membership
Cons Prices vary depending on your location Doesn’t accept insurance, including or Medicare or Medicaid

Cost: Varies
Payment options: Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express, HSA/FSA cards
Accepts insurance: No
Accepts Medicaid: No
Accepts Medicare: No
Offers financial aid: No
Customer service options:

Session format options: Live video
Session length: Varies

Sesame is a telehealth platform that includes care for both mental and physical ailments. You don’t need insurance to use its services. Our Reviews Team was able to find an initial mental health consult for as low as $39. In fact, in our Review Team’s survey of 1,000 online therapy users, 40% of people using Sesame chose it because it was in their budget.

Sesame offers many appointment slots after 5 p.m. ET and on weekends, too. You can cancel your appointment for free up to three hours before the scheduled time for a full refund.

Looking for a Sesame therapist in Idaho yielded four results for as low as $39 per consultation.

On Sesame, you can look for potential therapists, see who is available on the same day, and whether they prescribe $5 mental health medication.

Customer service

If you use Sesame and have issues, or are a potential customer with questions, you can reach  customer service by phone, at 1-877-947-6411, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Saturday and Sunday, or by email at support@sesamecare.com, and the Sesame care team will respond within 24 hours. You can also contact Sesame chat support on the website between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

Subscriptions offered

You have a few options with Sesame. You can always sign up for appointments without a membership.

If you create an account, which only asks for your email, you will get a coupon for $20 off your first appointment. Each account also includes access to $5 prescriptions with free delivery.

Sesame offers a loyalty program called Sesame Plus. For $10.99 per month, or $99 per year, you will receive:

  • $20 off every telehealth and primary care visit
  • $40 off every dentist and in-person specialist visit
  • 1 free lab or blood test per year 

If you find a Sesame therapist you like and see them every two weeks, Sesame Plus may be worth it. If your therapist charges $85 per session, you would ultimately pay $2,210 per year for therapy. With Sesame Plus, you would pay $65 per session, or $1,690 per year. After subtracting the monthly or annual membership fee, you could save between $400$421 per year.

Payment options

Sesame does not accept insurance, including both Medicare and Medicaid. You can pay with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express credit cards or HSA/FSA cards.

Customer reviews

Sesame is a telehealth platform, so its reviews reflect all experiences using its services, not just visits for mental health.

Sesame has 4.3 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot based on over 500 reviews. Sesame is not accredited by the BBB, but it does have an average rating of 2.33 out of 5 stars based on 12 ratings.

How does online therapy work?

While every online therapy platform is different, the types of therapy each company offers are very similar. Typically, you will log into the platform online and use the company’s software to complete each video, audio, chat, or messaging session.

Live video

With live video sessions, you and your therapist will log on at the same time for your appointment. You will both enter into a private virtual room for therapy with your camera on, similar to Zoom or Google Meet.

Phone or audio

Audio sessions are conducted similarly to video, except your video is off. You will talk to your therapist as if you were on the phone.

Live chat

With live chat, you and your therapist will log on at your appointment time to instant message each other. Your therapist will respond to each of your typed messages immediately, though there may be slight delays as they type.

Messaging

Messaging therapy works similar to email. You can send a message to your therapist, and they will respond when they can. Some may respond in a few hours, while others may respond in a few days.

What to look for in an online therapy platform

Based on our Reviews Team’s experience with virtual therapy, we recommend you consider the following factors when looking for an online therapy platform:

  1. If it fits in your budget: Many online therapy platforms advertise their services with weekly prices while charging you monthly. Be sure to look at the monthly price and determine whether it fits in with your ongoing monthly expenses.
  2. If it’s the type of therapy that works best for you: Decide what areas or issues you’d like to focus on and whether you’d feel more comfortable with video, audio, or chat therapy.
  3. If it makes sense to use insurance: Some insurance plans, including Medicare or Medicaid, cover online therapy, but if your deductible or copay is unaffordable, a pay-as-you-go service or a discounted subscription may be a good option.
  4. If the appointment times fit your schedule: Many negative online therapy reviews mention trouble finding appointment times that work with their schedule. Look for providers that offer useful appointment times.
  5. If it has responsive customer service: A good customer support line can quickly and easily resolve any problems you encounter.
  6. If the platform will provide you a receipt for services: If your chosen online therapy platform doesn’t accept insurance, you can still submit a receipt to your insurance for potential reimbursement. The exact amount will be based on your insurance plan.
  7. If it’s easy to change or cancel appointments: Make certain that you can adjust or cancel appointment times if you need to, and confirm whether you’re charged a fee when that happens.
  8. If the technology is easy to use: You can sign up for most online therapy services without paying to get a free preview of what you’ll be using. The technology should feel easy to navigate and use, or have tutorials that explain how to use the platform and how to connect with your therapist.

Is online therapy safe for online privacy?

The American Psychological Association recommends looking for an online therapy platform that uses HIPAA compliant technology and one that verifies you and your therapist’s identity.4 A company should make this clear somewhere on its website.

Many privacy concerns have come up recently, seen most evidently with senators demanding that BetterHelp and Talkspace clarify their privacy policies to answer how each uses patient data.5

When looking at potential virtual therapy sites, always read each individual site’s privacy policy to see what type of data it collects on you, how the data is stored, and how it is used. This information should be clearly laid out. If it’s not, that may indicate the site is not the right choice for you.

How much does online therapy cost?

How much you pay for online therapy is based on the platform you choose, the provider you want to see, and your location. You will need to see a therapist who is licensed in your state. Some therapists and platforms also offer sliding scale payment options or financial aid, which can lower your total cost per session or per month.

How to save money on online therapy

  1. Maximize your in-network benefits: Seeing a doctor or therapist that has a contract with your insurance to provide therapy at a certain rate will be cheaper than seeing someone out-of-network.
  2. See if a platform offers financial aid or sliding scale payments: Some companies offer financial assistance or will use your financial status to determine how much you will pay per month or per session.
  3. See if your provider accepts Medicare or Medicaid: If you have coverage under either of these programs, be sure to ask the provider accepts them. Medicare covers online therapy, and certain states’ Medicaid programs do, too.

Does Medicare currently cover online therapy?

According to Medicare.gov, Original Medicare covers therapy and online counseling.6

Does Medicaid cover online therapy?

Your state determines whether Medicaid covers certain telehealth services like online therapy.7 But since the start of COVID-19, many states have expanded their coverage for telehealth services.

Who is online therapy good for?

The American Psychological Association notes that online therapy can be good for people who want convenient and accessible therapy at home, especially those starting therapy for the first time.8 Online therapy can also be a good option for those with physical limitations, transportation challenges, or who live in areas with limited access to mental health care professionals. Everyone who uses online therapy should feel comfortable using technology and interacting in an online format.

Who is online therapy not good for?

Online therapy is not appropriate for people who prefer an in-person therapeutic experience, those in crisis, and those uncomfortable using or learning new technologies. Dr. Neelima Kunam, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist who practices in the Midwest and California, also noted that

those with difficulties with attention span may need in-person focused attention to absorb and listen to what the therapist is offering.”

Bottom line

It’s important to determine the factors that are most important to you for the best online therapy experience. These could include a platform that accepts your insurance, an affordable monthly plan, and/or brands that focus on specific types of therapy. Before you pay for a service, explore the platform’s site to determine whether the technology fits your needs and make sure you are comfortable using it. Many online therapy platforms offer discounts or ongoing financial aid, so look for these options before paying for your plan, too.

Frequently asked questions

Have questions about this review? Email us at reviewsteam@ncoa.org.

Sources

  1. American Psychological Association. What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? Found on the internet at https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral.
  2. McHugh et al. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders. Found on the internet at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2897895/#.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide. Found on the internet at https://nida.nih.gov/publications/principles-adolescent-substance-use-disorder-treatment-research-based-guide/evidence-based-approaches-to-treating-adolescent-substance-use-disorders/addiction-medications
  4. American Psychological Association. What you need to know before choosing online therapy. Found on the internet at https://www.apa.org/topics/telehealth/online-therapy.
  5. Elizabeth Warren. 2022.06.22 Letter to Mental Health Apps on Data Privacy and Sharing. Found on the internet at https://www.warren.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2022.06.22%20Letter%20to%20Mental%20Health%20Apps%20on%20Data%20Privacy%20and%20Sharing1.pdf.
  6. Medicare.gov. Telehealth. Found on the internet at https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/telehealth.
  7. Medicaid.gov. Telemedicine. Found on the internet at https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/benefits/telemedicine/index.html.
  8. American Psychological Association. A growing wave of online therapy. Found on the internet at https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/02/online-therapy.

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