The 5 Best Online Therapy Services For Teens: Talk, Text & More
In This Article
The prevalence of stress and anxiety is on the rise in the United States, but it's seeing the most rapid increase in young adults.
Approximately 14% of adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 experience mental health conditions, according to the World Health Organization—and most of these go untreated.
Luckily with modern times also come a few modern solutions, such as online therapy for teens. Unfortunately, finding the best therapist for your teen isn't always a quick and speedy process.
Below, we uncover how to find the right therapist for your adolescent, as well as the best online therapy services for teens.
How to find the right therapist for your teen.
In addition to finding someone who has experience working in the correct age range, it's important to consider your child's concerns along with the therapist's specialty. To help parents determine the best way to work with their teen to find the medical practioner, mbg spoke with Sanam Hafeez, an NYC-based neuropsychologist and the director of Comprehend the Mind.
For starters, Hafeez says it's super important to make sure your child is comfortable with the general idea of therapy. "It is essential not to bring up a therapist in the middle of an argument," she explains. "This will not be productive, and your child will view going to therapy as a punishment."
Instead, you can gently note that you've taken notice of some of your child's concerning behaviors while also letting them know that you're there to support them if they want to talk.
It's best to do this when both you and your child are mentally in a good place. Dr. Hafeez explains that being empathetic opens the door to talking about therapy with your teen—during which time you can ease their minds by specifying that a therapist's job is to listen without judgment.
How do I know if therapy is working for my teen?
The best way to make sure your teen is finding the help they need from their therapist is to maintain an open line of communication. "Ask your child how they feel after their sessions and avoid questions that only require a yes or no from your child," suggests Hafeez.
Here are some questions she suggests that will help you understand how your child feels without prying into the intricacies of the sessions.
- What do you like best about the therapist?
- What do you like the least about your therapist?
- Do you feel you need more sessions per month?
- Does the therapist have a sense of humor and approachable manner, or do they seem intimidating?
What is online therapy for teens?
Much like traditional therapy, online therapy services provide users with access to board-certified psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners (NPs), or licensed clinical social workers who specialize in counseling. While some of them are available for medication management, nearly all of them offer traditional talk therapy-based services that are conducted in a similar manner to sessions in a traditional therapist's office. The only difference being that these sessions are conducted on the phone, through video chats, or through text messages.
A review of virtual therapy compared with more traditional styles of therapeutic care found no difference in patient satisfaction or session effectiveness. Since teens tend to spend more time communicating with their friends through virtual channels, virtual therapy for the teenage age group is especially relevant. One study even found that it could be a helpful method of preventing mental health problems in the future.
How we picked:
Since we were focused on services that provide therapy to teens, we looked at sites with therapists who specialize in specific age ranges.
Especially for teens, it's important to have a variety of communication methods like texting, calls and video chats.
We looked for options that were budget-friendly both with and without insurance.
We turned to the Better Business Bureau in addition to customer reviews to evaluate overall responses.
mbg's picks for the best online therapy services for teens of 2022:
Best for teens: Teen Counseling
- Different methods of communication
- Pre-set costs and easy cancellation
- Easy to switch therapists
- Don't accept insurance
- Not suitable for emergency or crisis help
- No medication prescriptions
The teen-focused arm of Betterhelp is geared to helping those between the ages of 13 and 19. Like Betterhelp, it doesn't accept insurance and instead prides itself on providing affordable mental health care even for those without insurance. With more than 13,000 therapists to choose from, this is the easiest option for those looking for a specific certification or area of expertise in a medical practitioner.
All of the therapists are licensed, and through an initial assessment the site will match you with pros who specialize in bullying, eating disorders, relationships, anger, and other concerns. It also provides separate private meeting rooms for parents and teens that allow the parents to check in while still giving the teen autonomy. They also provide 24/7 support and offer messaging options.
Cost: $60 to $90 per week
Best for speciality care: Talkspace
- Plenty of plan variety
- Audio, video, and text-based sessions available
- Parents can submit pre-recorded video providing consent
- All therapists have extensive experience treating teens
- Not upfront with pricing
Teens can choose between phone, video, or text-based communication with their therapist—and even a combination of all three with certain plans. Text-based plans even let teens describe the way they're feeling with emojis, which has proven to be an effective and creative way for kids to express their feelings.
This service specializes in teens ages 13 through 17 and even offers a comprehensive guide on their site that offers up conversation starters for sessions. Talkspace does accept insurance and offers therapists in every single state, which can make the insurance billing process easier.
Cost: $65 per week
Best for young teens or kids: Amwell
- Accepts many insurance plans
- Specialists for younger teens and kids
- Offers therapy and psychiatry
- Pay per visit only
- Only live video chats offered
It's harder to find online services for kids below 13 years old; however, Amwell offers providers for those as young as 10 years old. It offers both therapists and psychiatrists, which is great if your child needs medication management.
The service also accepts a huge range of insurance plans, which you can input before selecting your therapist. This ensures any selected medical practitioners are within your network and prevents any complications with billing. Unlike other services, Amwell only offers live video chats, which can be a turn-off for some patients who want 24/7 connection.
Cost: $109 for therapist with a master's; $129 for therapist with a Ph.D.
Best for psychiatry: Doctor on Demand
- Options for collaborative care
- Can prescribe medication
- Only allow video visits
- On the pricier side
While the entry fee of $299 is a little steep, follow-up visits come in at $129—which is still cheaper than many traditional in-office appointments. Before officially signing up, you can do a free two-minute assessment, which helps you and your child better determine the ideal course of care (and whether the service is the right fit). The company also offers doctors with quite a few different specialties, including anxiety, depression, stress, and PTSD. Plus, the company makes it easy to share medical records, which can come in handy when it comes to evaluating different kinds of medications or treatment plans.
Before matching your child with a medical practitioner, Doctor on Demand narrows its pool of therapists based on your location and needs. You'll then have full control to work with your teen to choose a therapist. If they're not feeling a connection—remember finding a therapist can be a complex process—it's easy for them to decline a follow-up and try someone new.
Cost: 45-minute initial assessments with a psychiatrist for medication management are $299
Best for community: 7 Cups
- Chat rooms are monitored and safe
- Resources like videos and worksheets are provided
- Chat rooms and listening sessions don't involve licensed pros
This service offers a range of options when it comes to teen support, including sessions with trained listeners, more traditional therapy sessions, and support rooms with other teens. The latter could act similar to group therapy, which is a type of therapy best suited for those who need interpersonal support or a sounding board to better understand themselves.
In fact, the most unique feature about this service is that they allow teens to talk with other teens. These chat rooms are monitored for safety, and the site also keeps track of the number of messages exchanged with other listeners so that it can provide little milestone messages. In addition to group support, 7 Cups offers mindfulness exercises, videos, worksheets, and even playlists that are intended to promote self-care.
Online therapy can be a great way to help your child feel more comfortable as they seek to improve their mental health. It can also make it easier to find therapists with the right specialties who will work within your budget. Don't worry, if you want to learn more, we've rounded up more information about all types of online therapy.
Brittany Loggins is a freelance writer covering health, wellness, and all things lifestyle. She spent time on staff at CBSNews.com and TODAY.com, where she wrote about everything from breaking news to the best scented candles. Brittany is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a Bachelor’s degree in consumer journalism—and you can still find her cheering on the Bulldogs every single chance she gets.