Where To Find The Best Free Online Therapy

Updated June 17, 2024by MyTherapist Editorial Team
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You deserve support and online mental healthcare is available

Are you struggling to find relief from the symptoms of a chronic mental health disorder like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? If you’re experiencing chronic mental health issues like the ones listed above, you may find yourself looking up "best therapist for me" online. Know you’re not alone in your search to find relief; in fact, it is estimated that more than 20% of U.S. adults live with a mental illness (57.8 million as of 2021). As the stigma surrounding mental health begins to change, many people are taking meaningful steps to prioritize their mental wellbeing. 

Your mental illness does not have to define you, and in most cases, there are strategies you can practice to mitigate the impact of negative symptoms. Ahead, we describe the benefits of online therapy, an overview of its efficacy in treating various mental health conditions, and the best sites where you can find free or affordable online counseling.

What is online therapy and does it really work?

Put simply, online therapy allows people to access mental healthcare through digital means, i.e., videoconferencing, phone calling, and direct messaging/texting. Online therapy is carried out by licensed therapists who are experienced in treating a variety of conditions. Through online counseling, people who struggle with depression, anxiety, addiction, and relationship conflict can access mental health services from the comfort of their home. You do not, after all, have to be diagnosed with a mental disorder to enjoy the benefits of therapy. Online therapy is for anyone who wants to make positive changes to their lives or gain insight into human behavior.

People can access therapy through popular online counseling sites, like BetterHelp or MyTherapist; in many cases, local, regional, or national practitioners will offer telehealth options. Clients collaborate with their therapists to set goals based on identified challenges, just like they do in traditional face-to-face therapy. And yes, online therapy works, as affirmed by more and more studies. 

Many researchers have sought to examine online therapy’s efficacy in treating a range of conditions, including depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders. In many cases, online counselors will utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as a treatment approach, which is a kind of talk therapy aimed at helping people reframe negative thought patterns. A literature review of 17 pertinent studies found that online CBT for depression was more effective than face-to-face counseling, while a separate review identified online CBT as more efficacious than in-person therapy in reducing the symptoms of PTSD, panic disorder, and specific phobias.

Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic compelled many practitioners to offer telehealth services, more and more research is being conducted regarding online therapy’s effectiveness in treating more severe forms of mental illness. Currently, online CBT has been most successful in treating mild to moderate forms of mental disorders.

If you or someone you care for has been experiencing concerning symptoms lately, you can certainly conduct an online search to find studies examining online therapy’s effectiveness in treating what you believe your condition may be. It is highly recommended to share any physical or mental health concerns with your primary care physician, who can provide additional insight. That said, online counselors can point you toward studies and useful resources that can help you decide if online therapy is a good option for a primary or supplemental treatment.

What are the best online therapy sites?

What’s best for one person may not be ideal for someone else, especially when it comes to mental healthcare. We all come from different backgrounds, cultures, and relationships, and our minds will be more or less receptive to different treatment approaches. Open-mindedness is key to receiving the best counseling, and you can find compassionate, licensed therapists online at several prominent counseling sites.

Before we discuss each provider, it’s important to note the distinction between licensed and board-certified therapists who provide therapeutic care – and experts who have been trained in the art of providing general advice. Chronic mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and bipolar disorder require trauma-informed care with licensed and trained professionals who can recognize the appropriate treatments, medications, and resources to provide based on their client’s condition. 

Practitioners who are unlicensed may not have the necessary background and training to effectively or safely perform treatments, though they may be highly beneficial for people seeking relationship counseling or family therapy. The sites ahead use licensed therapists who can both treat mental disorders and support people in navigating various issues like family conflict, parenting skills, developing assertiveness in the workplace, and moving on from a breakup. 


The therapists at BetterHelp are psychologists, licensed professional counselors, dating coaches, marriage and family therapists, and licensed clinical social workers. This platform’s therapists can provide a wide variety of counseling services including services for individuals, couples, and families. With a wide range of professionals at their disposal, clients can easily select licensed therapists that would suit their mental health needs, such as an anxiety therapist. If overcoming an addiction is the goal, the BetterHelp counselor can help.

BetterHelp is known as one of the leading therapy platforms due to its’ ease of use, affordability, and live video chat features. BetterHelp pricing ranges from $65 to $90 per week (billed every 4 weeks) for one weekly live session and messaging sessions with a therapist. Not satisfied with your first match? That’s okay – BetterHelp will allow you to switch online counselors at no additional fee.


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Regain.us is a leading therapy that specializes in providing couples and relationship therapy for married and dating couples. Couples who use Regain counseling report high levels of success in the improvement of their relationships after applying the strategies and techniques learned in therapy. Couples therapy is an effective way to build emotional connection and intimacy between couples and Regain offers a unique platform to make this a reality.

The costs for Regain couples therapy are comparable to the starting costs of BetterHelp.com and range between $65.00 – $90.00 per week. You can meet virtually with your Regain counselor in the same space as your partner or from a different location. This formatting makes Regain a potentially appealing option for former couples who are working towards transitioning into amicable co-parenting after a separation or divorce, or for couples whose work requires them to maintain a long-distance relationship for an extended period (i.e., military spouses). 


Talkspace is another popular therapy provider that has become well-known for its popular celebrity spokesperson Michael Phelps. Talkspace has a staff of about 3000 therapists who provide online counseling services for individuals, couples, and families. To get started with their online services, the cost starts at $65.00 – $99.00 per week, which is slightly more costly than BetterHelp or Regain. Many people like the Talkspace platform, but it’s not necessarily the best option available online for the price.

7 Cups Of Tea

The creators of 7 Cups of Tea understand that everyone may not be able to afford traditional therapy. 7 Cups is a free peer-to-peer counseling platform that provides free online therapy sessions for people who wish to talk to someone. 7 Cups even has a separate support section that specializes in providing support for teens via age-appropriate teen listeners who have been trained to provide general advice. 

It’s important to note that these listeners are generally not licensed therapists, so when it comes to treating mental illnesses like depression or anxiety, online therapy platforms like BetterHelp may be a better option.

Which is more affordable: In-person or online therapy?

Now that you have some insight into today’s leading free and paid therapy providers, let’s discuss how the costs of online therapy generally compare to the bill when you see an in-person counselor. Keep in mind that certain factors may impact the average price of in-person counseling, such as where you live, while the online therapy costs across top platforms are generally more consistent.

In-office therapy costs

The national average for getting in-office therapy in the United States ranges between $65.00 an hour and can go up to as much as $200.00 an hour to start. Sessions with in-office therapists are often scheduled by preference, provider health care referral, or other means. Those without insurance can expect to pay the full costs of in-office visits and can also expect to incur additional costs for gasoline, auto maintenance, and other fees that apply when they make the drive to the office for therapy. Health insurance benefits can cover the costs for behavioral health care (in some cases) under the Mental Health Parity Act of 2008.

Online therapy costs

The costs of online therapy tend to be significantly lower than in-office therapy in the US. Online therapy costs range as low as a few dollars to an average of about $100.00 perweek. Remember that the $100.00 end of the online therapy spectrum is more likely the exception than the rule. 

The costs for seeing a therapist online include many benefits that visiting an in-office therapist can’t provide. People who go to therapy online save less on gas as they no longer have to attend therapy sessions in person – or have reduced the number of therapy sessions they need to attend in the office.

What are the benefits of online therapy?

You deserve support and online mental healthcare is available

We’ve already discussed one of the top benefits of seeking online therapy – the fact that it is generally a more affordable option than in-person counseling. Online therapy’s flexibility is another top factor attracting many people to platforms like BetterHelp. People with busy schedules or competing commitments may find BetterHelp’s convenient scheduling even more ideal, as the site allows you to book videoconferencing sessions with your dedicated counselor at times that work for you. 

No need to leave work early to arrive just in time for an in-person session. No need to miss your kid’s gymnastics meet or cancel socializing with friends. Through online therapy, users are empowered to seek mental healthcare on their own terms. Users like the text messaging capabilities because they sometimes just need a quick reminder of check-in, versus a 60-minute talk session. If you’re traveling on vacation or to the in-laws for a holiday stint, you can call your counselor and continue working toward your goals without having to rely on seeing each other in person.

As long as you have a secure internet connection, you can connect with your counselor. Additionally, people who live in rural areas or places where there is limited access to mental healthcare can get matched with licensed counselors who are especially qualified to treat specific, sometimes rare, conditions. Otherwise, it may have been challenging to find an experienced practitioner close to you.


By now, you have a general understanding of how online therapy works. Online counselors employ many of the same strategies as in-person therapists to help their clients achieve their objectives. While the cost of online therapy is generally more affordable than in-person therapy, cost may not be the most important factor to you. Everyone’s situation is different. If something isn’t working, you can try something else, and BetterHelp’s platform enables users to switch counselors if things just aren’t meshing well. When you’re ready to add a highly qualified, empathetic online therapist to your support network, reach out to BetterHelp, Regain, or another online therapy platform today to start moving toward your goals.

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