Online therapy was gaining momentum long before the pandemic hit. However, the combination of social distancing and a harrowing collective trauma led to a huge rise in popularity. In 2022, there are many sites providing mental health services. Finding the best online therapy can be tough, but with the right information you can make the best choice for you.
Telemedicine came into existence for a number of reasons, but the most poignant was accessibility. Health care, both physical and mental, was difficult to access for many people around the world. Mental health care, however, had a particularly powerful obstacle: stigma.
The stigma surrounding mental health care came from a perception that mental illness meant there was something “wrong” with you. It came from the idea that depression and anxiety were simply excuses used by people not strong enough to face the world. It led to the refusal of millions of people to get help when they needed it most. Even people who wanted to get help feared what would happen if they were seen at a therapist’s office.
In this context, online therapy sites intended to serve as a safe space. People reluctant to go out and find a therapist could see one in the privacy of their own home or office. It was also more convenient and affordable. In short, it provided access to a service that had been inaccessible to many for so long.
Before we get into the best online therapy sites available, it is worthwhile to look at some of the criticism initially leveled at the concept.
There were a number of criticisms leveled at online therapy, including fears of unregulated therapists slipping through the cracks. However, the main challenge brought against online therapy was the lack of an in-person connection. Traditional mental health professionals contended that real connection could not come about without the individual being in the same room as them. Body language has always been an important part of the process, as has the warmth good therapists can construe in person.
Online therapy sites contended that at the very least, online therapy was better than nothing. They also suggested that in some cases, online therapy may be preferable, especially for people who would normally struggle to share in person. Studies began to back up their claims.
The criticism was rendered moot when the pandemic hit. Suddenly, all therapy had to be performed online. Social distancing measures meant that therapists spent months seeing clients from behind a screen. It did not take long for many skeptical therapists to admit that online therapy did, in fact, work. While therapists have returned to their offices, most have been willing to continue seeing some individuals online.
For some therapists, online therapy has opened up new approaches. There is benefit to having clients describe their physical experience, rather than assuming what they experienced from their body language. And some people do indeed share more easily when they are behind a screen or on a voice call.
Now, people seeking therapy have more access than ever before. The stigma has lessened, and people who would have been too scared to go to therapy in person have found the perfect alternative. One of the biggest challenges now is deciding on which online therapy site to use.
There are many online therapy sites, some international and some very local. The latter gives you the option of going to some sessions in person, as well as meeting a therapist who has a good grasp of your local culture. We are going to discuss the best online therapy sites that are available throughout the US.
If you are looking for a great online therapist, the following top 5 online therapy sites will all provide an excellent experience.
BetterHelp is one of the largest online therapy platforms. Their prominence grew over the latter part of the 2010s, with many celebrities and YouTubers endorsing them. However, it is not their paid sponsorships that speak to the quality of the platform but the millions of satisfied users.
With BetterHelp, you have access to thousands of licensed therapists. As is true when choosing a therapist from any database, some therapists will suit you better than others. The difference is that BetterHelp has made it incredibly easy to switch therapists. You can do so without having an awkward conversation or providing any justification for doing so.
“Shopping around” for therapists is not something that should be looked down upon. You are choosing someone to help you with the most personal parts of your life, and there is no reason you have to settle for the first therapist you meet. The entire process on BetterHelp is geared towards finding the best fit for you.
Talkspace is the biggest competitor to BetterHelp. Founded about a year earlier, Talkspace has built up a massive user base. The therapy experience is, for the most part, exactly the same as with BetterHelp. The main difference is in the way Talkspace matches you with a therapist. It can take a few days, which makes it more difficult to switch. It is also frustrating if you want to speak to someone as soon as possible.
In every other way, Talkspace is an excellent platform. Many Americans choose Talkspace over BetterHelp simply because Talkspace accepts insurance whereas BetterHelp does not. If you are looking for the most widely trusted online therapy platform, you can’t go wrong with both BetterHelp and Talkspace. Have a look at both websites and decide which suits you better.
Amwell takes a different approach to online therapy, in that it only offers live sessions, whereas the previous services on this list allow you to chat with your therapist via text. Text chats are not an expectation for most people seeking online therapy, so this may not be a deterrent.
The biggest advantages to using Amwell are that they work with most insurance companies and they offer psychiatric treatment as well. If you think you are suffering from a mental illness or personality disorder, psychiatric treatment is crucial. Amwell will provide licensed psychiatrists who can supply prescriptions.
When choosing a therapist, you do not need to find someone whose life experience is similar to your own. However, it can help, and that is where Pride Counseling comes in. Pride Counseling offers professional therapy specifically for the LGBTQ community. Therapists with Pride Counseling will pick up on internalized homophobia, toxic family problems, and other issues a non-LGBTQ counselor may miss.
Finally, Teen Counseling is BetterHelp’s service designed specifically for teenagers. Therapists who routinely work with teenagers and have specialized in educational or adolescent therapy are best placed to help youths struggling with mental health issues.
The above 5 online therapy sites each provide excellent therapists at affordable prices. Ultimately, the choice comes down to which platform you are most comfortable with and any personal preferences. Online therapy has proven itself to be effective, and no longer plays second fiddle to traditional therapy.