Best Online Therapy for Teens

Teen Counseling is the best online therapy for teens.

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teenager looks away while talking to therapist
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Anyone can find themselves struggling with their mental health, no matter their age, but given all of the physical, emotional, and life changes we experience during the teen years, it’s no wonder there is a need for mental health support for this age group. Between school, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and social lives, many teenagers lack the time and flexibility to attend regular in-person appointments with counselors, which is why the best online therapy for teens will offer flexible scheduling and remote access from anywhere. 

Since overwhelmed teenagers have more than enough to manage on their own, research for finding an appropriate online therapy platform tends to fall on caregivers. Thankfully, there are many options to choose from, including therapists who specialize in various teen issues, such as LGBTQIA+ affirming, ADHD, medication management, anxiety, and more. To help you narrow down your list and find the right fit for your teenager, we vetted 55 online therapy companies and 25 surveyed over 100 users from each provider. Below we have rounded up the best of the best online therapy for teens for various needs.

Best Online Therapy for Teens of 2023

01 of 08

Best Overall: Teen Counseling

Teen Counseling Review

Why We Chose It

We love Teen Counseling because it offers patients multiple ways to get in touch with their therapist, whether it’s during a session or outside standard office hours. Additionally, we like that therapist and teen conversations are kept confidential, but that parents will always be alerted if there is a major concern.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Offers video, phone, and chat sessions plus messaging

  • Two separate spaces for communication (with parents and without)

  • Support is available for a wide range of concerns

Cons
  • Insurance is not accepted

  • Pricing is based on preferences, not a flat rate

  • Not all therapists are LGBTQ+ affirming

Overview 

We ranked Teen Counseling as our best overall option for online therapy for teens because of its versatility, low cost, and balancing of patient confidentiality and parental concern. Users have the option to connect with their therapist over video, call, or live chat sessions, and can safely and securely message their provider 24/7. Additionally, there is a separate space for parents to connect with therapists, which keeps teens’ conversations with their therapists confidential. However, parents can feel assured knowing that if anything concerning comes up in their child’s therapy session, the provider will alert them and collaborate on a plan moving forward. 

The providers at Teen Counseling include psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, and licensed professional therapists. All providers have a master's or doctoral degree and at least three years of professional experience. Areas of treatment include anxiety, depression, stress, bullying, eating disorders, self-esteem, anger, and more. Teen Counseling is designed to work with anyone between 13 and 19 years old and can be accessed from smartphones, tablets, and computers. We do want to point out that BetterHelp (Teen Counseling's parent company) recently came under fire in a Wall Street Journal investigation into online therapy when a therapist recommended to a patient that they “stop being gay” to please their parents. We in no way support this atrocious recommendation and fully support and celebrate the LQBTQIA+ community.

In a survey of 105 users, 84% rated their overall experience with Teen Counseling as good, very good, or excellent. Additionally, on the Teen Counseling website, there are numerous positive reviews from both patients (teens) and parents.

Plans & Pricing

Teen Counseling is a membership platform that charges between $60 and $90 per week, billed every four weeks (totaling $240 to $360 per cycle). It can be canceled at any time. Unlike many online therapy platforms, Teen Counseling does not offer multiple membership tiers or plans. The cost of membership depends on your location, therapist availability, and preferences. Currently, Teen Counseling does not partner with any insurance carriers and will not file claims for reimbursement. Still, it is committed to keeping costs low to minimize out-of-pocket investments.

02 of 08

Best for Psychiatry: Talkiatry

Talkiatry

Why We Chose It 

We love Talkiatry for teens seeking psychiatric and medication management services because the platform is easy to navigate, the company partners with all major insurance carriers, and the practice’s focus is on psychiatry, so parents will feel confident their child is not being overprescribed medications.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Focused on treatment and medication management

  • In-network with all major insurance companies

  • Extended appointment hours

Cons
  • Only available to patients in 30 states

  • No standalone therapy available

Overview 

While there are numerous online therapy platforms available, there are not many psychiatry platforms that will treat teenagers. Talkiatry is one of the few online psychiatry practices equipped to treat and provide medication management to teens, and it does it so well that we picked it as the best option for teenagers seeking psychiatric services. 

Talkiatry has two in-person practice locations, both in New York, but provides online services to patients in 30 states (and is continuing to expand into other states). Currently, it offers diagnosis and treatment for conditions including anxiety, depression, ADHD, PTSD, and other mood disorders. Given that it is primarily a telehealth practice, it does not treat conditions better suited for in-person management, such as substance use, certain personality disorders, and suicidal ideation, among others. 

Patients can join sessions, schedule and manage upcoming appointments, and message their provider using the practice’s app, which is available on any Android or Apple device. Appointments are available between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern Time Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET on Saturdays, but patients can message their provider anytime through the app. Additionally, patients seen by the practice for psychiatric treatment can schedule therapy sessions with Talkiatry’s therapy providers. However, the company does not offer standalone therapy to anyone who is not also being seen for psychiatry.

Plans & Pricing

Talkiatry is in-network with every major insurance provider, and will help you determine your specific benefits and eligibility. There is no membership required to be seen by a provider. Self-pay is an option; however, users will need to contact the practice directly to discuss their situation to find out pricing.

03 of 08

Best for Texting/Messaging: Talkspace for Teens

Talkspace logo

Why We Chose It 

Talkspace offers therapy for teens and it is our pick for any teenager who prefers texting or messaging to traditional therapy sessions. With this platform, there are no appointments; teens can simply send their therapist text, video, audio, or picture messages whenever they feel like they need to talk. So it’s essentially therapy on their own schedule.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • No appointment scheduling necessary

  • Therapists are specifically qualified to work with teenagers

  • Video messaging allows teens to see their therapist

Cons
  • Therapist response time can vary

  • Traditional therapy sessions require a more expensive plan

Overview 

Meeting with a therapist in a formal setting requires planning and scheduling, and can ultimately end up feeling incredibly awkward. For teenagers who aren’t interested in traditional therapy—but have no problem texting all day, every day—Talkspace is our pick. Unlike other platforms, all therapy through Talkspace for Teens is conducted via messaging rather than in a traditional session. 

To get started, parents need to help their child set up a profile (parental consent is required for every minor using the platform). Then, the teen needs to complete an assessment to help Talkspace for Teens determine their needs and provide them with a list of recommended therapists. Once they select a therapist, they can start messaging in their therapy “room,” which can be accessed via the web or the platform’s app (available on any Android or Apple device). 

Through their therapy room, users can send their therapist text, video, picture, or audio messages, and the therapist will respond. The pair can chat back and forth as needed until the patient feels like they’re in a better mental space. Teens can message their therapist any time of day or night (though the therapist isn’t on call 24/7, so responses aren’t immediate) without waiting for an appointment. Additionally, their therapy room is secure and confidential. The only way a parent can view the conversation between their child and their therapist is if their teen willingly shows them. 

If your teen decides they are interested in traditional online therapy, it is possible to do this through Talkspace, but you’ll have to sign up for a different, more expensive plan.

Plans & Pricing

Talkspace offers a variety of plans, including:

  • Messaging therapy: Starts at $69 per week and includes unlimited text, video, and audio messaging with guaranteed therapist responses five days a week
  • Live therapy: Starts at $99 per week and includes four live 45-minute sessions per month via live chat, phone, or video call
  • Live + messaging therapy: Includes messaging plus four live sessions and starts at $129 per week

Talkspace accepts several insurance plans, including Premera, Cigna, Optum, Gatorcare, Aetna, and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

04 of 08

Best for Families: Thriveworks

Thriveworks

Why We Chose It

Thriveworks is great for individual therapy, but we especially like it for family therapy due to its flexible scheduling, option for patients to self-pay or file a claim through insurance, and online and in-person therapy offerings.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • In-network with most major insurance carriers

  • Affordable self-pay options available

  • Flexible scheduling, including nights and weekend appointments

Cons
  • Not available for patients in New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, or West Virginia

  • No free trial period

Overview

For families looking for an online therapy platform where they can all attend sessions together, we love Thriveworks. Families have the option to self-pay per session, or Thriveworks will file a claim through in-network insurance plans (and it partners with most major carriers). Patients are matched with a therapist working in their state, and many providers give patients the option to attend sessions online or in person, which is nice for families who aren’t sure whether or not online therapy is right for them. 

To join a video session with a therapist at Thriveworks, all you have to do is click on a secure link, so any device can be used as long as it has a reliable internet connection, a camera, and a microphone. Appointments last between 50 to 60 minutes and can be scheduled online, often within three to five days of requesting the appointment (sometimes same-day appointments are available, too). Additionally, Thriveworks allows families to schedule sessions during evening hours and on weekends, so you can easily work around your teen’s sports or part-time work schedule. 

Thriveworks is available in 45 states and Washington, DC (it is not available in New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, or West Virginia). In our survey of 105 users, 95% said they found their experience with Thriveworks to be good, very good, or excellent, and 71% said the process of finding a provider through the platform was either easy or very easy.

Plans & Pricing

Thriveworks offers patients the option to self-pay or file a claim through insurance (for in-network plans). It works with most major insurance carriers, including Blue Cross, Anthem, Optum, UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Cigna, and Humana, among others (though this can vary by provider). For self-pay patients, sessions start at $99, depending on your location and the provider you choose, but you won’t be surprised by the price of any session because it is clearly listed on each provider’s bio. There is no free or reduced-rate trial period with Thriveworks.

05 of 08

Best for Phone Therapy: Teladoc

Teladoc

Why We Chose It 

We awarded Teladoc best for phone therapy because it has been working in telemedicine for two decades. While video chatting has evolved greatly during this time, phone therapy hasn’t changed much, which means Teladoc has had plenty of time to perfect this method of treatment.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Option to attend sessions via phone or video

  • In-network with a variety of insurance carriers

  • Available to patients nationwide

Cons
  • Researching self-pay pricing requires a sign-up

  • Messaging features are minimal compared to other online therapy platforms

Overview

Teladoc launched in 2002 with the novel (at the time) idea to treat patients over the phone and through video chat, making it a pioneer in the industry of telehealth. Today, the company still offers patients the option to attend sessions over the phone or by video, but since there has not been a tremendous change in phone technology over the last 20 years, it has been able to refine and perfect how it delivers services, which is why we think this is the best option for phone therapy. 

The teen-specific mental health services through Teladoc are designed for anyone between the ages of 13 and 17 years old. To get your teenager set up with a therapist, you’ll need to create an account for yourself first, then add your child as a dependent, set up a profile for them, and fill out and sign intake and consent forms. From there, you and your teen can browse through the various providers available based on where you live and your needs. Every provider on the platform is professionally trained, accredited, and licensed through their state’s professional board. In a survey of 105 users, 86% said it was either easy or very easy to navigate the website and find a therapist. 

Sessions can be accessed via the web or through Teladoc’s app (which can be downloaded onto any Apple or Android device). Even phone calls will be scheduled and set up through the website or app to ensure they are secure. Parents attend the first few minutes of their teenager’s first session to provide verbal consent for their child to be seen, but after that, caregivers are not meant to attend one-on-one therapy sessions. Appointments usually last 45 minutes, and most providers offer flexible scheduling, including evening and weekend hours. One drawback to Teladoc, however, is that, unlike many other online therapy platforms, there doesn’t appear to be an option to regularly text or message your provider outside of sessions. 

Overall, users surveyed were very happy with Teladoc. Ninety percent of people surveyed said their experience with Teladoc was either good or very good, and 87% said they were either likely or very likely to recommend the service to others.

Plans & Pricing

Patients living anywhere in the U.S. can access treatment through Teladoc. They have the option to self-pay or Teladoc will file an insurance claim on their behalf with any in-network provider. Self-pay prices start at $99 per session but may vary based on location and services. Unfortunately, researching self-pay pricing is a bit difficult because Teladoc requires you to create a user profile to learn more about appointment costs.

06 of 08

Best for Insurance: Amwell

Amwell Therapy Logo

Why We Chose It

Amwell is our winner for anyone seeking a platform that accepts insurance because it is in-network with hundreds of companies across the U.S., and is well equipped to help users determine their benefits.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • In-network with hundreds of insurance companies

  • Appointments are regularly available outside regular business hours

  • Self-pay pricing is clear and simple

Cons
  • Self-pay per-session cost is slightly higher than other platforms

  • Has strict location guidelines, so attending appointments while traveling is difficult

Overview 

One of the drawbacks with a lot of online therapy platforms is that they do not partner with insurance companies, which can drive up the cost for those who have mental health benefits they’d like to take advantage of. Amwell, however, offers telehealth services across various specialties (including mental health), allowing it to partner with insurance companies more easily than many other companies. On its website, you’ll find hundreds of insurance providers Amwell works with across the U.S., which is why it’s our top pick for families looking for online therapy for teens that accepts insurance. 

Amwell offers video therapy through its website or app (which can be downloaded on any Apple or Android device). Appointments last 45 minutes and are available throughout the day, including evenings and weekends. Every mental health provider has either a master's degree or a doctorate and is accredited and licensed through their state’s board. Treatment areas include stress, anxiety, depression, LGBTQI+ counseling, PTSD/trauma, panic attacks, life transitions, and more. 

Children between the ages of 10 and 17 can seek counseling through Amwell, as long as they are set up as a dependent under their caregiver’s profile. Parents will need to give consent for their child to be seen, but sessions are private between the teen and their provider. For families who travel a lot, it is important to know that therapists cannot see patients when they are traveling overseas, and there are strict guidelines for appointments when traveling out of state. 

Overall, Amwell has positive user reviews from our survey. Ninety-six percent said their experience was either good, very good, or excellent, and 79% said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the therapist options they were given through the platform. Additionally, 88% of respondents said their therapist met all or most of their needs, and 65% found Amwell’s prices to be either affordable or very affordable.

Plans & Pricing

Amwell is in-network with a long list of insurance providers and will work with users to determine benefits and eligibility before their appointment. For self-pay patients, the cost per session is $109 for a therapist with a master's degree or $129 for a provider with a doctoral degree.

07 of 08

Best Directory: Open Path Collective

Open Path logo

Why We Chose It

Open Path Collective provides members with a huge directory of mental health providers who offer their services at significantly reduced rates compared to most private practices. The platform is easy to navigate and has plenty of therapists and counselors who treat teenagers.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Sessions cost between $30 and $60 without insurance

  • Searching therapists is simple and quick

  • Online, phone, and in-person therapy options available

Cons
  • One-time $59 membership fee to use the platform

  • Can’t schedule appointments through the platform

Overview

Open Path Collective is a bit different from other mental health platforms in that each provider has their own private practice and simply partners with the platform. That said, it’s not like a standard therapy directory, either, because Open Path Collective only partners with therapists and counselors willing to provide their services at a reduced rate to make therapy accessible and affordable to everyone. 

To take advantage of Open Path Collective’s directory, you’ll need to apply for a membership (which does require a one-time fee). Once you’re accepted, you’ll receive an Open Path Collective ID that you will share with your therapist to alert them that you are part of this reduced pricing program. 

What we really like about this directory, aside from the pricing, is how easy it is to navigate and find therapists to meet your needs, and there are all kinds of options for teenagers specifically. You can filter options based on specialties and on appointment types, such as in-person, video, or phone, location. When you’ve found a provider who seems like a good match, you’ll follow directions for contacting them directly, as each therapist manages appointment scheduling, payment, and customer contact independently.

Plans & Pricing

In order to access the Open Path Collective directory, users have to pay a $59 lifetime membership fee. All providers in the directory charge between $30 and $60 per session (for individuals), and this price is based on factors including your income, the provider you choose, and your location. The platform is designed to make therapy affordable and accessible to everyone, and while the providers do work with insured patients, they will not accept insurance if the copay is less than $60.

08 of 08

Best for Younger Teens: Little Otter

Little Otter

Why We Chose It 

We love Little Otter for tweens and teens because the platform’s providers specifically work with younger children and adolescents (Little Otter only treats patients through age 14). Additionally, parents can also access therapy and support that is tailored to helping their child.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Offers both therapy and psychiatry (including medication management)

  • No wait to be matched with a therapist and schedule an appointment

  • Care team helps streamline treatment and services

Cons
  • Limited availability

  • Teens 15+ cannot use Little Otter

Overview 

There is a huge developmental difference in where teens are at 12 or 13 years old compared to 16 or 17 years old. That’s why we like Little Otter for tweens and early teenagers: Because this platform is designed to help younger kids, the therapists know how to provide care in a developmentally appropriate way. 

Little Otter is different from most other platforms for teens, because it has a “whole family approach,” meaning parents are more involved in the process. First, parents fill out a few forms to get the sign-up process started. Then they participate in an initial welcome call where they speak to a care team member. The team member asks about what is going on with the child, what kind of support the child or the parents need, as well as other assessment inquiries. From there, the care team works with parents to determine the best course of action—whether the child needs therapy only, psychiatry treatment, or a combination of both, and/or if the parents also need counseling in order to support their child better. 

Currently, Little Otter is available in around a dozen states, but it is continuing to expand and seeks to provide services to patients nationwide soon. Therapists and psychiatrists can work with kids struggling with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, trauma/PTSD, grief and loss, ADHD, OCD, behavioral challenges, and more. There are no wait times to be seen. 

In a survey of 105 users, 75% said their overall experience with Little Otter was either good, very good, or excellent. Additionally, more than half found navigating the site to be easy or very easy, 66% said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the therapist they were matched with, and 61% said they were either likely or very likely to recommend the platform to someone else.

Plans & Pricing

While there is no free trial period, Little Otter offers parents a free informational call where they can learn more about the platform, including pricing and health insurance. Currently, Little Otter is in-network with Kaiser Permanente. The company is happy to provide users with proper documentation to file out-of-network claims with other insurance carriers. 

Pricing at Little Otter is a little different from other platforms. The welcome call costs $90 and is required to get started with therapy programs. From there, users do not have to sign up for a subscription; appointments are purchased individually or in bundles. A single 45-minute therapy session is $200. The assessment bundle is $540 and includes a 90-minute assessment appointment and one standard therapy session. After the assessment and initial appointment, users can purchase a 12-therapy session bundle for $2,040, or $170 per session. 

Psychiatry appointments are separate from therapy. A 75-minute psychiatry evaluation is $500, and a psychiatry follow-up appointment is $250.

Final Verdict

We ranked Teen Counseling as the best on this list because it offers patients flexibility when it comes to sessions and has affordable rates. It nicely balances patient confidentiality with parent trust. We also like that teens can reach their therapist outside sessions and attend appointments using just about any device. 

For patients who want a platform that will file insurance claims, Amwell is great because it’s available nationwide and partners with hundreds of insurance plans.

Compare the Best Online Therapy for Teens

Company Price  Insurance Accepted Platforms
Teen Counseling
BEST OVERALL
$60-$90 per week No Computer, tablet, or smartphone
Thriveworks
BEST FOR FAMILIES
$99+ per session (for self-pay) Yes Computer, tablet, or smartphone
Teladoc
BEST FOR PHONE THERAPY
$99+ per session (for self-pay) Yes Computer, tablet, or smartphone
Amwell
BEST FOR INSURANCE
$109 to $129 per session (for self-pay) Yes Computer, tablet, or smartphone
Talkiatry
BEST FOR PSYCHIATRY
Insurance copay (self-pay on a case-by-case basis) Yes Computer, tablet, or smartphone
Open Path Collective
BEST DIRECTORY
$30 to $60 per session (for individuals) No Computer, tablet, or smartphone
TalkSpace for Teens
BEST FOR TEXTING/MESSAGING
$69 to $109 per week (depending on the plan) Yes Computer, tablet, or smartphone
Little Otter
BEST FOR YOUNGER TEENS
$90 to $200 per session (depending on bundle) Yes Computer, tablet, or smartphone

Guide to Choosing the Best Online Therapy for Teens

Is Online Therapy For Teens Worth It?

The teenage years are notoriously difficult, between surging hormones, social pressure, academics, extracurriculars, and major life changes at every turn. Even the most seemingly well-adjusted teenager can benefit from therapy. Online therapy is great for a teenager who could use a little bit of support or who is struggling with something that seems like it can be managed through talk therapy. 

While there are tremendous logistical benefits to online therapy, like the ability to do it from anywhere and schedule appointments outside of regular office hours, there are circumstances where traditional in-person therapy may be better for teens. Caregivers should assess their child’s needs to determine what level of intervention they think is needed. Anxiety, depression, OCD, eating disorders, social anxiety, self-esteem issues, and coping with stress are all things that can be addressed in online therapy. However, teens who are in crisis, who have expressed thoughts of self-harm, or who appear to need interventions beyond talk therapy should seek traditional care first to determine the best course of treatment.

Comparing Online Therapy for Teens

Finding the right online therapy for your teenager may take some trial and error, and there are a variety of factors to consider as you narrow down your options.

  • Price, financial assistance, and health insurance: When researching your options, look at how much each platform charges, whether or not it accepts insurance (and if so, if it is in-network with your plan), and if the platform requires a subscription or membership of any kind. 
  • Therapists and specialties: If you’re able to view a list of therapist options before agreeing to join a service, then make sure there are a decent number of choices for your teen so that if their first pick isn’t a good match, there are others to try. Additionally, make sure whatever it is that your teen is struggling with (or potentially struggling with if you don’t have a diagnosis yet) is an area of specialty on the platform you’re considering. 
  • Scheduling: For your teen to show up to therapy, they need to be able to schedule appointments that fit into their lives. Check out the platform’s FAQ section to find out if appointments are offered on weekends and evenings when your teen may have more flexibility to attend. Also, the easier it is for your teen to schedule an appointment, the better. 
  • Ease of switching between therapists: Not every therapist is a good fit, and it can take a little while to connect with someone, so whatever platform you choose should make switching therapists easy and seamless to avoid disrupting care. 
  • Therapy format: If your teen absolutely hates video calls, then a platform that offers therapy through messaging or audio calls may be better for them. Or, maybe your teen wants a mix of contact and session options to choose what works best for them at any given time. Whatever it is that will work best for your child, ensure the platform you select offers that format. 
  • Cancellation policies: Look into how each platform handles appointment and membership/subscription cancellations (if applicable). Will you be charged for an appointment if your teen cancels with less than 24 hours' notice? Are you locked into a six-month membership contract, or can you cancel at any time?

What If My Teenager Is Showing Signs of Self-Harm?

If your teenager is showing signs of self-harm, you should seek emergency or crisis care. Here are some resources:

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Parents Attend Teens' Online Therapy Sessions?

While some platforms ask parents to sit in for the first few minutes of their teen’s first session to give verbal consent, parents otherwise should not attend the sessions. Your presence could prohibit your teen from opening up to their provider, which hinders their ability to provide quality care. Parents concerned about their child can reach out to the therapist separately to discuss specific concerns, but therapists will not share details of their conversations (unless they believe the teen is in danger).

When Should a Teenager See an Online Therapist?

Online therapy is good for teenagers who do not need inpatient treatment and who are not in an emergency situation. Online therapy is good for teenagers who need a safe space to talk, work through their feelings, and learn coping strategies for things like anxiety, depression, bullying, disordered eating (that does not require in-patient intervention), self-esteem issues, or other mood disorders.

What Therapy Works Best for Teenagers?

Therapy success varies by person. For some teens, online therapy is a great option because of its flexibility, while others might get more out of in-person sessions or phone appointments. It is very individual based on their personality and specific concerns.

Is Teen Online Counseling Confidential? 

Yes, every platform offers secure appointments and complies with HIPAA laws. Appointment notes and records are kept confidential, including from parents, unless an emergency or legal situation requires the platform to break that confidentiality.

Methodology 

To create this list, we researched dozens of online therapy platforms to find out which ones offer teen-specific treatment options. From there, we considered cost/insurance, ease of use, device compatibility, scheduling flexibility, provider credentials and quality, and areas of treatment. We also took user survey data into account to help us gauge patient satisfaction.

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