These Are the Best Online Therapy Services for Kids, Teens, and Adults

Talkspace, along with the rest of these online therapy companies, is our top pick for you and your family.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Mother having a therapy session for her daughter with male psychologist
Photo:

mixetto / Getty Images

It’s not uncommon for parents to have difficulty balancing family life, social life, work, and health. While it’s nice to vent to a friend about what’s going on and how you’re feeling, sometimes it’s best to turn to a trained professional. And if you’re thinking, “Well, I don’t have time to go see a therapist every week,” then you may want to consider online therapy

Studies have even shown that with some treatment modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), online therapy can be just as effective as in-person sessions. Some of the best online therapy services are available right at your fingertips, and often at a fraction of the cost of traditional in-person services. We researched 55 online services out there (and 25 directories) and surveyed over 105 users about their experience using them. Keep reading to learn about the best online therapy options we came across and see if there’s a good fit for you.

Best Online Therapy of 2022 

01 of 09

Best Overall: Talkspace

Talkspace logo

Key Specs

Cost: $276–$516 per month 

Types of Therapy Offered: Individual therapy, couples therapy, teen therapy, psychiatry

Insurance Accepted? Yes 

Why We Chose It


Talkspace makes it easy and affordable for families to connect with a licensed mental health professional via text, audio, live chat, and text message whether you have insurance or are paying out of pocket. 

Pros & Cons 

Pros
  • Text-based therapy available

  • Accepts a variety of insurance plans

  • Search for therapists based on state, specialty, and insurance

Cons
  • Recent issues with patient privacy

  • Some well-known insurance plans not accepted

Overview 


With options for individual, couples (including parents), and teen therapy, Talkspace has services available that cater to nearly everyone. Talkspace also gives you the option to choose your own therapist by browsing a directory of clinicians based on state, treatment modality, and specialty, or to be matched with a therapist based on a short survey that asks about current health habits, therapy goals, and how you’re interested in paying. 

Talkspace is known for its text messaging service that lets clients get in touch with their therapist at any time, from anywhere—which is especially useful for teens who are used to that type of communication. While you may not receive an instant response, texting helps you express thoughts, feelings, and emotions at times when you need to get them out, and have the comfort of knowing the therapist will respond when they are able. Talkspace also offers psychiatric care and medication management so you can get the best of both worlds if that’s part of your treatment plan. 

While Talkspace may be the best virtual therapy service on this list, there are some drawbacks worth noting. For example, if you cancel your subscription during the middle of the month, you may be charged for the entire month. Also, certain insurance plans like Medicare and Medicaid don’t cover mental health services provided through Talkspace, so make sure your provider is covered if you’re not paying out of pocket.

Overall, 90% of the users we surveyed rated Talkspace as good to excellent. In addition, 78% of users said their providers met all or most of their needs. As for Talkspace’s website, 82% of users found it easy or very easy to navigate. 

Talkspace’s tiered plans break down as follows: 

Messaging Therapy: Includes private chat rooms where you can message your therapist asynchronously during the week from Monday through Friday; $276 per month

Live Therapy: Includes four 45-minute live virtual sessions and text messaging capability; $396 per month

Live Messaging + Therapy: Includes all of the above; $516 per month

Couples Therapy: $436 per month for both people

Psychiatry: $249 for an initial evaluation and $125 for follow-up sessions

02 of 09

Best for Kids Under 12: Little Otter

Little Otter

Key Specs

Cost: $200 per session

Types of Therapy Offered: Teletherapy for children aged 0 to 14, parent training and support, parent coaching sessions, couples therapy, individual adult therapy, family therapy, psychiatric care

Insurance Accepted? Yes 

Why We Chose It

Little Otter provides evidence-based treatments to children under 14 years old. There’s also the option to see a child psychiatrist if medication is a part of the treatment plan. 

Pros & Cons 

Pros
  • Therapy catered specifically to children

  • Provides online resources for parents

  • Users receive a personalized report with tips

  • Medication management available

Cons
  • Doesn’t accept insurance (other than Kaiser Permanente)

  • Only available in 11 states

  • On the expensive side

Overview 

Little Otter is one of the few online therapy options for kids—most companies don’t allow kids to receive treatment unless they are over 12 years old and have the consent of a parent or guardian. The therapists at Little Otter are trained to tackle a variety of issues that kids under the age of 14 tend to face, including, but not limited to, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), trauma, aggression, anxiety, attention difficulties, and more. 

To start using Little Otter, you’ll fill out a short quiz to provide some insight into what you’re looking to gain from treatment. The quiz also provides some tips you can implement with your family right away. The first session will be a welcome session, or an intake, where the therapist will go over what therapy includes, goals, treatment plans, etc. After the initial appointment, you can schedule more regular sessions. 

It’s important to note that Little Otter is focused on the entire family, not just the individual child. That’s why, while you can use the service for your child to seek therapy or psychiatry, it also offers parent coaching and support, couples therapy (with a focus on parenting), and family therapy (but only for couples and families whose kids are Little Otter patients). 

Seventy-five percent of users reported a good, very good, or excellent experience overall with Little Otter, and 70% said their therapist met all or most of their needs. In addition, 65% of users were satisfied with the therapist options provided on Little Otter, and 58% said they’d recommend the company to a friend.

Here’s how the pricing structure works at Little Otter.

$90 for a 30-minute welcome session with your care lead, the clinician coordinating your Little Otter care team

$200 for one 45-minute session with your assigned therapist

$680 for a bundle of four 45-minute sessions

$1,920 for a bundle of 12 45-minute sessions

$500 for an initial child psychiatry evaluation

Additionally, users can sign up for the Kelp on-demand chatline with mental health experts for $30/month, which includes emotional and behavior guidance and support during business hours.

03 of 09

Best for Teens: Teen Counseling

Teen Counseling logo

Key Specs

Cost: $240–$400 per month 

Types of Therapy Offered: Individual counseling, teen therapy

Insurance Accepted? No 

Why We Chose It

Teen Counseling provides teenagers with a safe space to speak with a licensed mental health professional at an affordable price point. Communication is through text, phone, or video, making it even more accessible for teens. 

Pros & Cons 

Pros
  • Available in all 50 states

  • Separate chat rooms for parents and teens

  • Budget-friendly pricing

Cons
  • Doesn’t accept insurance

  • Short session length

Overview 

Teen Counseling is owned and operated by BetterHelp, and provides the best counseling services for teenagers. The platform gives teens the opportunity to work with psychologists, clinical social workers, and marriage and family therapists on issues ranging from anxiety and depression to bullying to friendship or relationship conflicts. Outside of the four monthly sessions, users can message their therapist 24/7. This could be particularly helpful for teens who are used to being on their phones and texting about their problems. 

Parents also have the ability to schedule sessions with the therapist either individually or alongside their teen. If a teen or parent doesn’t like the therapist they’ve been matched with, there is a “switch therapist” button that easily lets you pick which type of therapist you’d prefer to work with based on age, gender, etc. and make the swap.

It’s worth noting that the platform charges you each week even if you didn’t schedule a session. Also, Teen Counseling doesn’t take insurance, so you’ll be paying out of pocket. Another important thing to note is that live sessions are only 30 minutes long—significantly shorter than the typical 45 minutes found at a majority of other online therapy platforms. 

Overall, 85% of users surveyed reported a positive experience with Teen Counseling. What’s more, 76% of users found a therapist who met all or most of their needs, and 66% were satisfied with the therapist options available. Finally, 64% of users found navigating Teen Counseling’s website to be easy or very easy.

There’s only one therapy plan available at Teen Counseling and it includes four live virtual sessions a month as well as unlimited messaging. There’s no specific price point, but it usually falls somewhere between $240 and $400 per month. This has been shown to vary based on location and need for services in the area. 

04 of 09

Best for LGTBQIA+ Affirming: National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network

nqttcn

Key Specs

Cost: Directory is free to use, therapy costs vary by provider

Types of Therapy Offered: Varies by provider

Insurance Accepted? Varies by provider

Why We Chose It

When it comes to finding a therapist that you really connect with, it can be important to have someone who is either of the same background, identity, or both. The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network is a great directory filled with therapists of varying cultures and identities so kids and parents alike will be more likely to find one who they connect with.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Easy to search directory based on qualifications and experience

  • Many therapists speak multiple languages

  • Sliding-scale fee available for some therapists

Cons
  • Not all therapists accept insurance

  • Not every state has therapists available

  • No matching service

Overview 


For many BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ people—especially kids and teens—it can be hard to find an affirming therapist who understands and validates their experiences. That’s why the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN) directory is such an important resource.

Unlike the other online therapy options mentioned so far, the NQTTCN isn’t a company that provides therapy services. Rather, it’s a directory that can be used to find practitioners licensed to practice in your state. On the website,  you find a provider by first entering in a city, state, or zip code. That will bring you to a list of therapist bios. You can then filter the results by whether the therapists are accepting new clients, provide teletherapy, or offer sliding scale/low fees. 

Therapist bios include highly detailed information about the therapist, such as their contact info, credentials, payment methods accepted, insurance coverage, therapeutic approach, areas of expertise, race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. The NQTTCN website also features resources for community members and practitioners.

Forty-two percent of surveyed users said they went to NQTTCN to find a therapist with a similar identity or cultural background to themselves, and 74% found it easy or very easy to find a therapist that met their needs. Seventy-six percent of users are still seeing a therapist they found on the directory.

The directory is free to access and the cost of therapy sessions varies depending on which provider you choose. Some providers accept insurance.

05 of 09

Best for BIPOC Communities: Therapy for Black Girls

Therapy for Black Girls

Key Specs

Cost: Directory is free; online community membership is $10 monthly or $100 annually

Types of Therapy Offered: Varies by therapist

Insurance Accepted? Varies by therapist

Why We Chose It

Therapy for Black Girls provides a community for BIPOC people, specifically young Black women, to learn and grow together, with access to a therapy directory, Q&A sessions, and deep dives into important subjects regarding mental health and well-being.

Pros & Cons 

Pros
  • Features therapists in all 50 states

  • Helps promote Black therapists and practices

  • Offers a community with a blog and podcast

Cons
  • Search functions and filters need improvement

  • Doesn’t support a broad community of users

Overview 

Therapy for Black Girls is a platform where Black women and girls can access a community of like-minded individuals and just be themselves. While it is mainly a directory to connect with therapists of the same background, it’s also a place where you can read blog articles on topics like toxic positivity, mental fitness, and grief, or listen to podcast episodes about issues impacting communities of color. Such resources might be a great comfort for Black girls who are feeling overwhelmed by social and cultural stressors. 

Similar to the NQTTCN, Therapy for Black Girls isn’t a platform where therapy can be conducted, but a free directory that lists therapists across the country. You can access a list of therapists with in-person and virtual offerings available (although most listed are virtual) and view therapists’ bios, payment options, insurance providers, locations, and specialties. Per-session therapy rates vary by provider and insurance coverage. 

Seventy-six percent of surveyed users said they thought they were likely or very likely to still be seeing a therapist from Therapy for Black Girls six months from now, and 83% said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the therapist options available. Seventy six percent also felt like the therapist diversity on the directory was good or very good. 

Plans & Pricing 

The directory is free to access and the cost of therapy sessions varies depending on which provider you choose. Some providers accept insurance.

To become a member of the online community, called Therapy for Black Girls Sister Circle, you must pay for a monthly or yearly subscription. With membership comes extra features, like access to expert-driven Q&As, member-only events, deep dives into relevant topics, and more. Membership to the online community is $10 monthly or $100 annually.

06 of 09

Best for Behavioral: Brightside Health

Brightside

Key Specs

Cost: $95–$349 per month

Types of Therapy Offered: Individual therapy, psychiatry

Insurance Accepted? Yes

Why We Chose It 

Brightside Health specializes in the treatment of anxiety and depression with online therapy and psychiatry services provided by licensed mental health professionals. Since anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health conditions in teens (and adults), it’s a service everyone in the family can benefit from. 

Pros & Cons 

Pros
  • In-depth intake for accurate assessment

  • Messaging feature to contact therapist between sessions

  • Check-in quizzes to gauge progress

Cons
  • Only treats anxiety and depression

  • Can’t choose your own therapist

  • Short session length

Overview 

Brightside Health is specifically designed for those looking for therapy to treat anxiety and depression, two mental health conditions commonly found in teens and young adults. Unlike other online counseling services, Brightside is very clear about the conditions it does not treat, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), substance use disorders, bipolar disorder (BPD), and schizophrenia (or any issues for which in-person care is more appropriate). However, psychiatric appointments are available for medication management (but not for controlled substances, which might be prescribed for the conditions listed previously).

Brightside has its own system of matching people to therapists, so it does not offer therapist bios and other information traditionally found with other online therapy services. All therapy sessions are remote, held over Zoom, and are 30 minutes long. Between sessions, you can message your therapist in the portal, and therapists may send you additional information such as worksheets there too. If you miss a session, you’ll be charged a $20 fee. 

It’s important to note that if you’ve recently been hospitalized for a mental health condition, then Brightside may be hesitant to work with you. Also, psychiatrists and doctors cannot prescribe controlled substances, but rather more standard antidepressant medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). 

Ninety percent of users reported a good to excellent experience overall with Brightside, and 79% said their provider met all or most of their needs. In addition, 86% of users rated therapist qualifications positively and 69% of users found navigating Brightside’s website to be easy or very easy.

Brightside offers three subscription plans:

Medication only plan: $95/month; includes one 15-minute remote psychiatric evaluation a month, medication delivered monthly, and ongoing provider support and monitoring of your care

Therapy only plan: $299/month; includes unlimited messaging and four monthly video sessions with a therapist. Additional video appointments can be purchased for $59 per session.

Therapy and medication plan: $349/month; includes everything in the medication-only and therapy-only plans.

07 of 09

Best for Couples Therapy: Octave

Octave

Key Specs

Cost: $170–$275 per session

Types of Therapy Offered: Couples therapy, group therapy, family therapy, individual therapy

Insurance Accepted? Yes

Why We Chose It 

Octave prides itself on providing quality care for individuals, couples, and groups, and is known for accepting employer-sponsored insurance plans to make therapy more accessible. Its couples therapy may be especially helpful for parents working through issues that can come with having kids.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Easy sign-up process to match you with a therapist

  • Diverse providers

  • Offers a variety of services

Cons
  • Only available in six states and Washington D.C.

  • On the pricier side

Overview

Octave is an online counseling service that offers a number of treatment modalities, including acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), for a wide variety of mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and self-harm. Its couples therapy is provided by therapists who specialize in relationship issues, and can help with everything from communication to parenting stress. 

For couples therapy, sessions are typically 45 minutes long and you’re matched with a therapist who specializes in relationships. Octave does typically offer in-person sessions, but right now they are all held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Seventy-one percent of users reported a good to excellent overall experience with Octave, and 82% of users said their provider met all or most of their needs. In addition, 74% of users rated therapist qualifications positively, and 54% of users found Octave’s website easy or very easy to navigate. 

Octave costs a little more than some of the other services listed here, but if you’re looking for a platform that specializes in couples therapy, then it may be worth the investment.

Octave has an a la carte model where you pay for individual sessions instead of a monthly subscription. Individual therapy ranges from $170 to $250 per session, couples or family therapy ranges from $190 to $275 per session, and group therapy averages about $75 per session. 

With this format, you can create a schedule that works for you and is in alignment with your individualized treatment plan—especially helpful for parents with busy schedules. 

08 of 09

Best for Medication Management: Talkiatry

Talkiatry

Key Specs

Cost: Depends on insurance

Types of Therapy Offered: Medication management, psychiatry

Insurance Accepted? Yes

Why We Chose It

Talkiatry specializes in offering psychiatry and medication management for a number of conditions that aren’t often treated by online therapy services, including ADHD, OCD, and bipolar disorder. Child and adolescent psychiatrists are available who can prescribe and help treat these conditions. 

Pros & Cons 

Pros
  • Can easily switch to a new psychiatrist

  • Accepts most major health insurance

  • Prescriptions go straight to your pharmacy

Cons
  • No talk therapy offered

Overview

Psychiatry is a type of online mental health care that’s often overlooked. However, Talkiatry is working to change that. Talkiatry specializes in the treatment of ADHD, anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children and adults. Unlike traditional psychiatry appointments, this service offers a full 60-minute intake session, followed by 30-minute follow-up sessions with a doctor who knows you and your medical history. And yes, children can have medication prescribed, if their psychiatrist deems it necessary.

To find the right provider, you’ll be asked to take an assessment, which will then provide you with a list of psychiatrists who best fit your needs. The company has an accompanying digital app, Healow, where you can message your doctor between sessions if you have any questions or experience adverse side effects. 

The Talkiatry users we surveyed reported overwhelmingly positive experiences: 95% rated it good, very good, or excellent overall, and 87% said they’d recommend the service to a friend. What’s more, 85% of users said the service was better than others they’d tried, and 73% of users found Talkiatry’s website easy or very easy to navigate. 

It’s important to note that you have to pay per-session (price depends on your insurance) and the company does not offer general talk therapy. Instead you’ll need to get a referral or find a practitioner outside of Talkiatry. Talkiatry doesn’t see patients who don’t have insurance, so you are unable to pay out of pocket for services.

09 of 09

Best Directory: LifeStance Health

LifeStance Health

Key Specs

Cost: $150–$300 per session

Types of Therapy Offered: Group therapy, individual therapy, psychiatry

Insurance Accepted? Yes

Why We Chose It

Lifestance Health offers in-person and virtual sessions to people of all ages and has a directory available to search for providers based on location, insurance, treatment modality, etc. It also provides family therapy to treat mental health concerns that affect the whole household. 

Pros & Cons 

Pros
  • Can choose from a diverse range of mental health professionals

  • Access to a patient portal after signing up

  • Easy to switch therapists

Cons
  • Cannot message therapists outside of session

  • Not available in many states

Overview 

LifeStance Health is one of the best online therapy services with a wide variety of practitioners (over 5,200) including therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and nurse practitioners. It also has family therapists on staff ready to help your family work together to address mental health concerns. The therapists available are trained in various modalities including CBT, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and EMDR. So whether you need general talk therapy, group therapy, or even psychiatry and medication management, LifeStance has you covered.

Keep in mind that Lifestance Health doesn’t offer services for people in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut. Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

In our survey, users reported high satisfaction with LifeStance Health; 88% rated their overall experience as good, very good, or excellent. In addition, 73% of users said Lifestance Health’s therapists met all or most of their needs, and 70% said they were satisfied with the therapist options. Finally, 60% of users found the process of looking for a therapist easy or very easy with Lifestance Health, and 58% of users found Lifestance Health’s website easy or very easy to navigate. 

Out-of-pocket rates for therapy at LifeStance Health vary by practitioner, but between $75 and $300 is standard for a 45-minute session. It’s important to note that the number of sessions you can do varies based on each individual therapist. 

Final Verdict


If you’re looking for the best online therapy services, Talkspace is the best place to start for most people, especially if you have teens in need of support. Unlike other telehealth companies which only serve clients in specific states, Talkspace caters to the entire country with therapists available in every state. Additionally, it offers different communication modalities for therapy (text message, video, and audio) which makes it more accessible, and it takes many insurance plans, so users don’t have to worry about paying a lot out of pocket per session. 

And if you need help with medication management or online psychiatry for kids or adults, you’ll want to check out Talkiatry. It allows people to connect with psychiatrists and receive prescriptions for psychiatric medications without actually stepping foot into a doctor's office. 

Compare the Best Online Therapy 

Company Cost Types of Therapy Offered Insurance Accepted
Talkspace Best Overall $276–$526 per month Individual therapy, couples therapy, teen therapy, psychiatry, medication management Yes
Little Otter Best for Kids Under 12 $200 per session Therapy for children aged 0 to 14, parent training and support, parent coaching, couples therapy, individual adult therapy, family therapy, psychiatry No, except for Kaiser Permanente 
Teen Counseling Best for Teens $240–$400 per month Individual counseling, teen therapy No
National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network Best LGBTQIA+ Affirming Free directory Couples therapy, family therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, medication management, peer support, teen counseling  Yes, depending on the therapist selected
Therapy For Black Girls Best BIPOC Affirming Directory is free, online community membership is $10 monthly or $100 annually Individual, couples, family therapy Yes, by some therapists
Brightside Health Best for Behavioral  $95–$349 per month Individual therapy, psychiatry Yes
Octave Best for Couples Therapy $170–$275 per session Couples therapy, group therapy, family therapy, individual therapy Yes
Talkiatry Best for Medication Management Depends on insurance Medication management, psychiatry Yes
LifeStance Health Best Directory $150–$300 per session Group therapy, individual therapy, psychiatry Yes

Guide to Choosing the Best Online Therapy

Is Online Therapy Worth It?

Online therapy can provide people with the opportunity to see a mental health professional in contexts where they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. It’s helpful for families with children because it allows for more flexibility around class schedules, and may provide your child with multiple communication options with their therapist, like live messaging. If you can’t get your family to in-person appointments or simply don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend per session, there are a plethora of online counseling services available remotely and at a more affordable price point, whether that’s through subscription services or different types of plans. 

Compare Online Therapy Platforms

When choosing an online therapy plan, you'll want to consider factors like these as you make your decision.

Communication options: The communication options offered for each online therapy platform will vary based on the individual company. Standard offerings include video and audio services, however, more companies are expanding into the text-message space where clients can text their clinicians whenever they’d like. With this option, the clinician may not respond immediately, but it allows clients to write what is on their mind at the moment, and have a record of it. There’s also a live chat option available where you can talk to your therapist in real-time and have a session in that capacity. 

Types of therapy offered: For the most part, every platform offers individual therapy where you’re one-on-one with a clinician. However, there are other types offered including couples therapy, group therapy, and family therapy that can also be useful depending on your preference and needs. 

Insurance: Similar to in-person therapy, not every practice, or therapist, takes insurance. For those that do, they might only be in-network with certain companies or cover a percentage of the cost of the session. If the service does not accept insurance, then you’ll likely be asked to sign up for a subscription plan or pay out of pocket. You’ll want to figure this out this before attending your first session so you aren’t caught off guard by an unexpected bill or a denial from your insurance company. 

Medication management: It’s important to note that not everyone who seeks therapy needs medication. However, for some people, medication and therapy are the best combinations to treat their symptoms. If that’s the case for you or your child, then you’ll want to look for an online therapy service that offers both therapy and medication management. While therapists can’t typically prescribe medication, you can search for a doctor, psychiatrist, or nurse practitioner to help you with the process. Psychiatric appointments are typically more expensive than regular therapy sessions, so you’ll want to keep that in mind.

Therapist qualifications: Depending on the platform, you’ll either have the ability to view therapists' individual bios or you’ll be matched with a clinician based on a short survey, quiz, or phone call. That said, you’ll want to find a therapist who has experience in what you’re going to therapy for in the first place. For example, if you’re going to process some unhealed trauma, then you’ll want to look for a therapist who has extensive knowledge and training in trauma work. Additionally, you’ll want to know which treatment modalities they use (CBT, DBT, EMDR, etc.) because some will work best for your symptoms or you may have a preference when starting therapy. 

When Should My Child See a Therapist?

There is no right answer when it comes to when your child should see a therapist. However, if they’re experiencing symptoms that are affecting their ability to function on a daily basis—whether that’s disrupted sleep, trouble focusing, or crying spells—then looking into therapy might be a good next step. 

Other reasons to seek therapy for your child might include noticing symptoms of generalized anxiety, depression, OCD, and ADHD. A therapist can help get to the root of what’s causing their symptoms, and, in some cases, offer a diagnosis and medication and/or therapy to manage them. 

Therapy is also a great space for kids to check in with an unbiased party, unpack issues that might be difficult to discuss with parents (such as bullying and relationship abuse), and learn how to establish boundaries. 

How Long Should My Child See an Online Therapist?

For some children, just a few online therapy sessions may be all they need to get back on track. However, for those with certain mental health conditions, such as ADHD, staying in therapy for months or even years is normal. This may also depend on your family’s budget for mental health care. 

”There is no one-size-fits-all approach to therapy,” explains Hannah Owens, LMSW, a therapist and subject matter expert. “And different types of therapy require different things. For example, an outcomes-based approach like CBT might be useful after a proscribed number of highly structured sessions, whereas psychoanalysis is more about exploration and can’t be ‘resolved’ in any set period of time.

If you’re using a subscription-based online therapy service, then you’ll want to keep a watchful eye on the price as the months go by. For therapists that charge per session, that may have an impact on how often or how long your child can see a therapist. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Online Therapists Accept Insurance?

This depends on the therapist and the company. For example, Little Otter and Teen Counseling are two of the best online therapy services for teenagers and children, but neither accepts insurance (Little Otter accepts one insurance provider only), so you’ll have to pay out of pocket for sessions. However, platforms like Talkspace and Lifestance Health also treat younger clientele, and do accept insurance. Some companies may only accept the most popular insurance providers (Aetna, Cigna, Anthem, etc.) while others may have a more extensive list. 

Can Online Therapists Provide an Official Diagnosis? 

This depends on the platform and the practitioner. For example, online psychiatrists can make an official diagnosis of mental health issues and prescribe medicine, but not always for children. Some teletherapy platforms have policies against clinicians diagnosing clients on their platform, like BetterHelp. However, practitioners at some sites, such as Little Otter can diagnose and prescribe medications for conditions including ADHD. Other online platforms have resources like mini assessments and quizzes. While those may help guide your treatment, they cannot provide an official diagnosis. 

“Only licensed clinicians, like psychiatrists, psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers, can provide official diagnoses,” explains Owens. “A diagnosis from any of these clinicians might be able to answer questions you may have about what you’re experiencing and provide clarity regarding your symptoms.”

Can Online Therapists Prescribe Medication?

Therapists are unable to prescribe medication since they are not medical doctors. However, psychiatrists can prescribe medication, even for children (although there are typically more restrictions around what they can prescribe). You’ll want to make sure the online therapy service you choose offers an extensive intake so your practitioner can help prescribe a medication that can actually work to mitigate your child's symptoms. Psychiatric nurse practitioners can also prescribe medication, and are frequently found on online platforms. 

Methodology

In order to be considered for this article, companies had to offer children’s therapy specifically. We surveyed 105 users of 55 different online therapy platforms as well as 180 users of 25 online therapy directories about the quality of care they received at each company, the cost of services, accessibility, resources available, and their overall experience of the company. In addition to the users’ experience, we investigated the services provided by each company, privacy policies, each company’s reputation, and any specific expertise in treating children.

Was this page helpful?
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. Internet-based vs. face-to-face cognitive behavior therapy for psychiatric and somatic disorders: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Cognitive Behavior Therapy. 2018.

Related Articles