It’s tricky being a person. Talk therapy can help.
Online therapy can make finding the right therapist (and continuing to work with them) a bit easier, especially for people with transportation issues or time constraints. It also makes the process simpler for those who live in an area with little variety in the type of therapy or therapist offered, or somewhere without many licensed mental-health professionals at all.
After putting in more than 100 hours of research over five years and trying appointments on eight video-therapy platforms, we recommend starting your online-therapist search with MDLive.
If you’re seeking a specific type of therapist licensed to practice in your state, we’ve also compiled a list of free or low-cost therapist-finding services, which you may find helpful as you search for the best talk-therapy option for you.
The number of therapists available on MDLive is greater than on any other platform we considered, in all but one of our four test states. So with this service, it’s more likely you’ll find what you’re looking for and be able to easily and quickly book an appointment. And if you are interested in seeing an MDLive provider, but their available times do not work for your schedule, you can press a “request appointment” button to ask for other possible times; MDLive is the only one of our picks to allow that.
This platform is accredited by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). This recognition provides assurance that the company follows best practices for providing high-quality care. MDLive also has a certificate from the Hitrust Alliance, an independent organization that evaluates data security; this means it’s more likely that the company makes every effort to ensure your information is safe and your sessions are truly private. MDLive takes some insurance. And the platform has a maximum of $108 in out-of-pocket costs per 45- to 60-minute session (whether the therapist has a doctorate degree or not), making it the lowest-priced of our picks (by as much as $76, depending on therapist and appointment type).
Amwell is accredited by the NCQA, as well as by the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission (URAC). It’s also Hitrust-certified. But it had far fewer therapists to choose from in almost every state we considered. At $109 for a 45-minute session, the maximum out-of-pocket costs are only a dollar more than MDLive’s—unless you want to see a therapist with a doctorate degree (versus a master’s), which adds another $21 to the session cost. Amwell accepts some insurance. And the platform offers a surprisingly unique feature that some people may find especially appealing: You can hide the view of your face on your own screen during the appointment.
Doctor On Demand by Included Health is also NCQA- and URAC-accredited and Hitrust-certified. It’s the only one of our picks that sees children of all ages. But at $184 per 50-minute session, it’s the priciest service we tested; like our other picks, Doctor On Demand accepts some insurance, which may help reduce your total out-of-pocket cost. It almost always offered far fewer therapist choices than MDLive, in the four states where we tested. And it uses your computer’s location to determine therapist availability, thus limiting your scheduling options if you’re a plan-ahead frequent traveler. But if you find a therapist you like through Doctor On Demand, it’s a safe and secure platform.