What Parents Need to Know About Amwell Online Therapy

This full-service general and mental telehealth service provides online therapy for people aged 10 and up.

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Amwell
Photo: Amwell

Amwell is a well-known, leading telehealth company offering general health and mental health services to people in all 50 states. It offers psychiatry and individual therapy, accepts many major insurance carriers, and offers a flat rate for people who are uninsured. However, while Amwell excels in same-day general practitioner visits, the number of available mental health providers, especially for children, may be limited to one (or none) for those living in certain areas. This can delay your appointment by two weeks or more.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Accepts health insurance
  • Provides telehealth and mental health services
  • Relatively affordable out-of-pocket
  • Offers medication management and psychiatry
  • No monthly subscription
  • You choose your therapist

Cons

  • Therapist availability varies widely by location
  • No way to restart session if technical issues occur
  • Basic search filters make it difficult to search for therapists with specific expertise 
  • Website is not very user-friendly 
  • Same-day appointments not always available

In the U.S., 60% of youth with depression do not receive mental health treatment, even in states with the greatest access. Among those youth who do receive mental health care, only 27% receive consistent care. The fact that 70% of counties in the U.S. don’t have a child psychiatrist isn’t helping the situation. Our youth are struggling and deserve access to mental health care. 

One industry helping to fill this gap is telehealth providers. These companies make child and teen therapy not only easily accessible but affordable by accepting insurance or offering a flat or sliding-scale fee or subscription rate. Many telehealth companies that traditionally only provided general health care, such as Amwell, have also expanded into the online therapy space, offering accessible, relatively affordable, insurance-covered therapy and psychiatry in all 50 states. 

To fully evaluate how well Amwell is providing online therapy and psychiatry, specifically to kids, I signed up for its services with my 11-year-old child. We also tasked our research team with surveying 105 users at 55 companies, including Amwell, and discussed the findings with industry experts. Here’s what we found Amwell does well (and not so well) with its mental health services for adolescents.

What Is Amwell?

Amwell is a Boston-based telehealth company that was founded in 2006 by brothers Ido Schoenberg, M.D., and Roy Schoenberg, M.D. They grew up and attended medical school in Israel. After the pair worked together at two other healthcare technology firms, they decided to establish a company of their own. The brothers wanted to provide an affordable, accessible telehealth option for everyone, so they created a company that offered same-day general health visits that were covered by most major health insurance carriers. Patients can seek help for non-emergency urgent care concerns such as cold symptoms, flu, pink eye, rashes, gastrointestinal issues, ear infections, strep throat, and even any new parent fears that crop up in the middle of the night (like croup and RSV). 

In fact, my first experience with Amwell came as a new mom, except it was me with a fever and cold, and in no shape to drag my newborn to my doctor’s office. I was able to sign up and get a same-day appointment—I believe it was almost immediate—with a general practitioner, who prescribed medicine my husband picked up on his way home. Amwell has done very well in both the general and mental health space, and the proof is in its ability to avoid many of the controversies that its competitors have faced, such as sharing patient data and unethical prescribing practices.

What Services Does Amwell Offer?

In addition to medical care, Amwell provides specialty services like lactation consulting and nutrition coaching. In May 2022, Amwell expanded to add mental health services.  

Amwell’s mental health services include:

  • Talk therapy for individuals over the age of 10
  • Couples therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Psychiatry and medication management

It is important to note that while Amwell provides psychiatric medication management, controlled substances like Valium and ADHD stimulants cannot be prescribed.

Who Is Amwell For?

As noted above, Amwell is a full-service telehealth company serving kids, adults, couples, and families.  

Its mental health services can help address:

  • Anxiety
  • Social anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • LGBTQ issues
  • Bereavement/grief
  • OCD
  • PTSD/trauma
  • Relationship conflicts
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Life transitions

Amwell is not for people suffering from serious or life-threatening conditions, such as:

  • Seizures
  • Chest pain
  • Neurological symptoms, suggesting a stroke
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness or loss of consciousness
  • Sudden bleeding
  • Choking or gagging
  • Severe hypertension or hemorrhoids
  • Head injury
  • Possible broken bones
  • Cancer
  • Patients who want to hurt themselves (suicidality)
  • Patients who want to hurt others (homicidality)
  • Schizophrenia or hallucinations

If you have any of the above symptoms or any other serious medical concerns, please call 911 or proceed to the nearest emergency department. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call the suicide and crisis helpline at 988, or go to your nearest emergency room.

How Much Does Amwell Cost?

Unlike some prominent online therapy providers, such as Talkspace and BetterHelp, Amwell is not subscription-based, but rather pay-per-session. This means that you pay for each therapy session once you have it. The amount you pay depends on your provider’s expertise:

  • Therapists with a master’s degree: $109 per session 
  • Therapists with a doctoral degree: $129 per session
  • Psychiatrists: $275 for the first session and $109 per follow-up

These rates are more affordable than the average cost of in-person talk therapy in the U.S., which ranges between $60 to $200 or more per session; however, it is generally higher than most therapy subscription service plans. Without insurance, psychiatry appointments typically fall between $100 to $300, with initial diagnosis appointments often costing more. This puts Amwell on the more affordable end of the scale. Of the users we surveyed, 66% of clients felt that Amwell was either affordable or very affordable.

Does Amwell Take Insurance?

Yes, Amwell does accept health insurance, which means you could pay a lot less per visit depending on your plan’s copays or coinsurance rates. As of November 2022, Amwell accepts more than 50 health insurance providers, including Anthem, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare. This is a plus for Amwell as many of its competitors either accept no insurance (like BetterHelp) or accept fewer insurance plans. Competitor Teladoc says it accepts 60 different insurance plans, while MDLive says it accepts "most" insurance plans.

Still, some major carriers, such as Centene and Kaiser, are not in-network with Amwell. 

That said, 91% of Amwell survey respondents stated they had health insurance, and 61% had insurance plans that covered some or all of their therapy sessions at the company.

Does Amwell Offer Discounts?

As of writing this review, Amwell is not currently offering any standard discounts, but special offers are sometimes available throughout the year. For example, from December 2021 to February 2022, Amwell ran a “Mind Your Mind” special, giving first-time platform users a first therapy session for $10.

Navigating the Amwell Website

I found the Amwell website to be confusing at first since its homepage appears to be more of a corporate newsletter touting fundraising, new services, and awards won. 

Amwell Bussiness page

After a minute or two of scrolling through the homepage, I noticed two buttons in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage: "For Patients” and “For Providers.” After clicking on the button for patients, I was redirected to what I feel should be the homepage; a stock photo of a doctor using a tongue depressor to check a child’s throat with the statement, “Online doctor visits, 24/7” and just below that, the message “See a doctor or therapist from home, using your phone, tablet or computer."

Amwell

Amwell

Below the initial image and statements is a section that shows a few glowing user reviews, followed by a few icons noting some of Amwell’s benefits: “Visits anywhere,” “Open 24 hours,” “No appointments,” and “Prescriptions.” 

How Amwell Works

Scrolling further down, I found a complete outline of the cost for general doctor visits ($79) and then a further breakdown of online therapy and psychiatry costs. Then there is an inclusive list of accepted insurance carriers. 

Sign up

The remaining content on the homepage features a few providers, further statements on the ease of telehealth, and privacy information.

There are three options in the navigation bar at the top of the page: “How It Works,” “Conditions,” and “Services.” Each offered a dropdown menu with further options; How it works covers the About Amwell sections, FAQs, and resources like the patient blog. The Conditions tab allows you to search for specific conditions the doctors and therapists can address. Lastly, the Services tab offers links to online urgent care, therapy, psychiatry, breastfeeding support, nutritional coaching, and more. 

Amwell

Amwell

Since I was there for online therapy, I bypassed the resources on general health and chose the Online Therapy option from the Services dropdown menu. 

Once on the Online Therapy homepage, the aesthetic was similar to the general homepage, but with an image of a girl holding a tablet and presumably engaging in an online therapy session with the female therapist shown on the screen. 

There were also messages like, “Save time and money with highly effective online therapy,” scattered around the page, along with a list of conditions treated and information about the Amwell app. 

Amwell

The bottom of the page features a short list of frequently asked questions and a button to get started. 

While I wish the link to the page for patients was easier to navigate to from the main Amwell page, once found, the page is well laid out. Of the Amwell users we surveyed, 73% found the Amwell website easy or very easy to navigate. However, I have a feeling this number is related to the actual patient homepage, not the corporate landing page you go to initially.

Does Amwell Have an App?

Yes, Amwell has an app that can be used for both doctor and therapist visits as well as access to the private portal where your account information, scheduling, and messaging options can be found. The app closely mirrors the Amwell website and portal, and is easy to use. When you open the app you are immediately prompted with a “get started” button for scheduling an urgent care appointment with the option to schedule either a video or phone visit. If you scroll down you can easily choose from the many telehealth options Amwell offers: Urgent Care; Behavioral Health; Specialty Care; Hospital Care; Healthy Living.

Amwell Medical App

The bottom navigation allows for easy access to services, your calendar, messages, and then a “more” button that opens to a long list of account options, such as insurance, payment information, FAQs, and About Us.

How Do You Sign Up for Therapy at Amwell?

I found signing up for therapy at Amwell to be very quick and easy—and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Seventy-nine percent of our user survey respondents found the sign-up process to be very easy or easy. 

To sign up for therapy services, you’ll scroll down to the bottom of the home page and click the “Continue” button within the boxes labeled Online Therapy or Online Psychiatry. 

You will immediately be prompted to choose your insurance from a drop-down menu or choose no provider. I chose my provider and was directed to a new page with “Good News” in large letters letting me know that my insurance was accepted. 

Sign up

I clicked the arrow that led me to the actual sign-up screen where I entered my basic information (first and last name and email address), and then chose a password. I quickly verified my email address via an email Amwell sent me that ultimately led to my personal online portal. There, I could schedule not only therapy sessions but general health and urgent care appointments as well.

Amwell

Amwell

My only gripe with the sign-up process at Amwell is that you have to create an account to be able to access the therapist bios and scheduling options. “For many, it’s important to be able to choose your own therapist as opposed to having one assigned,” explains Hannah Owens, LMSW, and subject matter expert, “because this often increases the likelihood of finding an identity-affirming therapist who can address your specific needs. You might know what you’re looking for better than an algorithm or an intake coordinator, even after filling out a questionnaire or having a brief conversation about what you want.”

Amwell

Amwell

It also means that while the website touts same-day visits, you don’t know if that’s the case until you’ve created an account—and let me tell you, in my case, I did not have an option for a same-day therapy visit—far from it, in fact. Another tester said she was able to book in “less than a week,” while one of our testers in Los Angeles was able to book an appointment for the next day after sign-up. Availability clearly hinges on how many providers are available in your area.

Matching With or Choosing a Therapist at Amwell 

After creating an account, you’ll be directed to a page outlining the various therapy options, including adult and adolescent. Since I was interested in having my son start therapy, I opted for the behavioral health portal and then chose the adolescent therapy option. 

From there, I was given the option of choosing a therapist based on my preferred appointment date or my preferred provider. I chose the provider option because I wanted to read through a few bios to find a therapist I felt would be a match for my son. 

I also expected to have multiple provider options; turns out I was wrong. There was only one provider available to me with a banner across his bio photo that said “Treats ages 10+.” His profile highlighted his 31 years as a licensed clinical psychologist working with individuals, families, and couples, and a short blurb about his experience. While his bio did not mention anything about children specifically (it was three sentences in total), it did say, “I am a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with experience working with Individuals, Families, and Couples as they work to improve their lives during highly stressful times, experiences and events.” Based on the minimal information available on his bio, I can’t say I was very excited about my son working with him, especially with no mention of experience with children.  

Even more disappointing was the fact that he didn’t have available session time for two weeks. If I wasn’t specifically reviewing Amwell, I would have immediately left the website to start a new search for a child therapist.

Still, with no one else to choose from, I went ahead and booked that appointment—which required I provide my payment information so I could pay for the session in full. This surprised me—during sign-up, I’d entered our health insurance information and had been told I was pre-verified and that Amwell accepted my plan. So I called customer service and asked for clarification. The representative was equally as confused by the prompt to pay the full amount, yet offered no other solution than pay the fee and attempt to be reimbursed through my insurance provider. Reluctantly, I paid the fee and signed my son up for a therapy session. 

This whole sign-up and scheduling experience didn’t make me feel all that confident about choosing Amwell for my son’s therapy, but perhaps I am an anomaly because I was looking for therapy for my child. Of the users we surveyed, 87% of our survey respondents found a therapist on Amwell who met all or most of their needs. That said, only 4% were using Amwell for child and teen therapy like I was. I’m also in Kentucky which has many pockets of therapy deserts. I did, however, look into adult therapy options to see if I could book a sooner appointment. There were four therapists available, two of which had appointments available for the next day,

How Do Therapy Sessions Work at Amwell?

Therapy sessions at Amwell are entirely online and can take place either by phone or video. Unlike some of the other companies we reviewed, chat and message-based therapy are not available. During the appointment sign-up, I opted for video sessions since I felt the live face-to-face session would allow my son to open up more freely, as opposed to talking on the phone with a stranger.

The day of my son’s session, I was sent a reminder email that morning. Then, 15 minutes before the session, I received a second email with a link to join the session. 

We clicked the link provided, which led us to a virtual waiting room. While in the waiting room, there were prompts asking questions about my son’s mood and if he’s had thoughts of harming himself. After a few more minutes, the session started.

Video Sessions

Since we opted for the video session, I cleared my desk of everything that could distract my son from the therapist. This was my son’s first-ever therapy session, and I wanted him to be as attentive as possible. 

When the session began, the therapist was animated and did connect well with my son and me by asking a series of questions about his age, as well as his likes and dislikes. He would do his best to keep the conversation with my son going whenever possible in an effort to connect with him and help him to open up. 

Since this was technically an intake session, it was mostly a standard set of assessment questions, but toward the end, we did touch on what we would like to address as well as our goals in therapy. 

When the session ended, my son and I were generally left feeling okay about the therapy and therapist, so we decided to give the therapist another shot and schedule a further session. This time, though, I decided to leave my son alone for the session so he could discuss his thoughts freely without his mom hovering. While the therapist never specifically asked for me to leave, the first session was the intake session where both of us needed to answer questions. During this session I expected them to get down to business and I wanted my son to not worry about me hearing anything. 

However, when it came time for this second session, we ran into a problem. Like the previous time, we clicked the link in the email we got 15 minutes before the session and joined the waiting room. We were then asked the same round of mental health check-in questions as the time before, but about halfway through, the browser suddenly closed due to a technical issue. 

Initially, I wasn’t concerned—we were still five minutes early for our session—so I logged back into Amwell only to find the link was not only gone, but my private portal was also showing that the session had happened and that I had been charged for it. 

I immediately called customer service hoping to quickly rectify the situation, since we only had a few minutes left before our session was set to start. But customer service was of minimal help: the rep told me nothing could be done and we would have to reschedule, even as I reiterated that our session time was not for a few more minutes and that surely a new link could be generated. My only recourse, they said, was to request a refund and reschedule. 

This left me very upset, especially since my son had told me he was looking forward to the session. Given that Amwell is a telehealth platform, it struck me as incredibly strange that they had no solution for me when a technical difficulty occurred. Surely I can’t be the only one that’s had a problem like this. One of our other Amwell testers said they ran into technical issues too, but in their case they mentioned that the therapist called them when the link failed. This was not the case for us. Maybe they just had a more proactive therapist, but the responsibility shouldn’t be on a therapist to find workarounds for their clients—Amwell should have solutions for their users.

Medication Management/Psychiatry

While I didn’t test these services myself, online psychiatry sessions at Amwell take place via video call. I presume users get the same kinds of reminder emails prior to sessions. 

It is worth noting that while psychiatrists can prescribe mental health medication, the company does not provide prescriptions for narcotics and other controlled substances, such as Adderall, Alprazolam, Ambien, and Ativan. A whopping 91% of Amwell clients rated the psychiatry and medication management services as good, very good, or excellent.

What Happens If I Miss a Session at Amwell?

Amwell charges a $40 fee for missed therapy sessions. In order to avoid the fee, you will need to cancel your session with 24 hours' advanced notice.

Switching Therapists at Amwell

One of the benefits of Amwell is that because you choose your own therapist, you can also switch whenever you want by simply scheduling your next appointment with another provider.

However, it is possible that you won’t have other providers available in your area—I didn’t— so how easy it is to find someone new likely varies by location.

Pausing or Canceling Therapy at Amwell

Similarly, Amwell doesn’t have a subscription plan, so if you decide to discontinue therapy at Amwell—as I did after my experience—you can just not book another appointment. I know I appreciated not having to have an awkward conversation with my son’s therapist explaining why I was quitting—and was glad I wasn’t locked into a plan until the end of the month.

Quality of Care and User Satisfaction

Out of 105 surveyed clients, satisfaction with Amwell was very high: 88% rated their overall Amwell experience as good, very good, or excellent.

In addition, 91% of users rated therapist qualifications positively, and 86% felt their therapist met all or most of their needs. Finally, 78% said they would recommend the service to a friend, and 70% said they would choose Amwell for therapy again in the future. Overall, 79% of users surveyed said they’d rate Amwell’s customer service as good, very good, or excellent. That is certainly saying something about Amwell services. 

As for me, I was anything but satisfied with my Amwell experience. From the lack of therapist choices to not being able to use my insurance to the horrible technical debacle that kept us from our therapy session, I can honestly say I would never consider Amwell for my therapy needs again. 

Research has shown that having regular appointments with the same therapist is an important factor in helping adolescents to open up and trust their providers. That makes service reliability a key component of effective therapy. 

The reason for the disconnect between my experience and that of our surveyed users could be that most users were adults in individual therapy who were from more populous states: only 10% of surveyed Amwell users were under 18. Amwell might be fine for adults seeking individual therapy in areas where there are lots of therapists. It's less great for teens living in smaller states with fewer licensed therapists. 

When asked what Amwell could do better, 29% of users said they wished the company had more therapists from a similar background or culture as them, and 14% said they wished there were therapists with more experience or specialized training.

I have used Amwell on a few occasions for telehealth over the years and had a wonderful experience. I think the general health services are a great option for new parents who need a quick appointment and cannot secure a same-day appointment with their pediatrician. When my son was a baby, I used Amwell’s telehealth services in the middle of the night to discuss concerns about a possible croup issue.

Privacy Policies at Amwell

Amwell is compliant with HIPAA, the federal law which ensures all sensitive health and medical patient information is protected. The video or phone therapy sessions are not recorded. It’s also important to note that only adults 18 and older can create an account, so teens and kids will need their portal set up by a parent or guardian. “A surprising number of online therapy services are not HIPAA-compliant,” says Owens, “so the fact that Amwell is HIPAA-compliant is a big step in the right direction. However,” she notes, “it’s important to remember that nothing online is 100% safe. As long as you are sharing information, that information is available one way or another to more than just yourself and your therapist.”

As for your website activities and personal information, Amwell reserves the right to share it with third parties for marketing purposes, corporate affiliations, and research. However, in the case of research, Amwell will request a separate written authorization.

Amwell vs. Its Competitors

There are a lot of online therapy platforms to choose from today, but there are two areas where Amwell really stands out: it offers therapy and medication management and it accepts insurance, unlike BetterHelp, for example. 

It is also a telehealth company that has added therapy and medication management as a bonus service, which means that it offers more services to its users. This is a perk for anyone that prefers to use one company for all their healthcare needs from home. This also means that when it comes to comparing Amwell to competitors, it is easier to evaluate it against other telehealth companies that offer mental health services, such as Doctor on Demand, Teladoc, and MDLive

Eighty-eight percent of Amwell users we surveyed rated it as good, very good, or excellent, which puts it a bit behind Doctor on Demand (which 94% rated good, very good, or excellent), Teladoc (where 97% said the same), and MDLive (91%).

In further comparison, 86% of Teladoc users, 84% of MDLive users, and 79% of Doctor on Demand users said they would recommend the service to friends and family, compared to 78% of Amwell users. 

When it comes to psychiatry and medication management services, 91% of Amwell users rated the service as good, very good, or excellent, which was better than Doctor on Demand, which received a favorable rating from 81% of its users, but matched Teladoc’s 91% favorable rating for the same services (MDLive scored 73%). When it came to prescriber qualifications, the percentage of users rating them good, very good, or excellent was similar across companies: 94% for Teladoc and 90% for both MDLive and Doctor on Demand, compared to 89% for Amwell. When asked if they’d recommend Amwell’s psychiatry and medication management services to a friend or family member, 81% of users said it was likely or very likely they would, the same percentage that Doctor on Demand earned; MDLive earned 80% and Teladoc 89%. 

Overall, 88% of surveyed users said Amwell was an improvement compared to similar services they’d tried in the past.

Final Verdict

I think Amwell is a great solution for same-day medical telehealth appointments, and our user survey indicates it is a good option for individual therapy for adults. It especially stands out for its acceptance of a wide variety of insurance providers and its lack of membership fees. That means you can check to see if there are any therapists licensed in your state who you think would be a good fit for you and who have availability within the next few weeks before you pay any fees.

Although 78% of users said they were likely or very likely to recommend Amwell to a friend or someone like them, I cannot say the same when it comes to adolescent therapy. I would tell my friends and family to proceed with caution. I do think my son’s therapist could have met our needs. Unfortunately, I was so annoyed with the many issues and roadblocks I encountered with the therapy services, I had no desire to make it work. Between the lack of therapist choices in my area to the inability to have my insurance processed before my appointment to the absurd technical failings and hard-stop 45-minute sessions, I cannot see this as a great solution for those seeking therapy for their child.

Methodology

To fairly and accurately review the best online therapy programs, we sent questionnaires to 55 companies and surveyed 105 current users of each. This allowed us to directly compare services offered by gathering qualitative and quantitative data about each company and its users’ experiences.

Specifically, we evaluated each company on the following factors: website usability, the sign-up and therapist matching processes, therapist qualifications, types of therapy offered, the service's quality of care, client-therapist communication options, session length, subscription offerings, client privacy protections, average cost and value for money, whether it accepts insurance, how easy it is to change therapists, overall user satisfaction, and the likelihood that clients would recommend them.

We also signed up for the companies to get a sense of how this process worked, how easy the platform is, and how therapy takes place at the company.

Then, we contacted customer service to ask additional questions about therapy services provided and worked with three subject matter experts to get their expert analysis on how suited this company is to provide quality care to therapy seekers.

Key Specs

  • Price: $109-$279 per session  
  • Is Insurance Accepted? Yes 
  • Types of Therapy Offered: Individual, couples, family, adolescent (ages 10-17), psychiatry, medication management
  • Communication Options: Live video 
  • HIPAA Compliant: Yes 
  • Is There an App? Yes 
  • Accepts HSA or FSA? Yes 
  • Prescriptions Available? Yes with the exception of controlled substances  
  • Billing Cadence: Pay per session
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Sources
Parents uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The State of Mental Health in America 2021Mental Health America. 2021.

  2. Many U.S. counties lack child psychiatrists. UPI. HealthDay News. 2019 

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