Mental health awareness campaigns have significantly helped reduce the stigma around mental illness across communities and cultures. Evidence shows that they are slowly pushing more and more people to prioritize their mental health and seek proper care.
Despite this progress, people still face the traditional barriers to access to mental health services. For instance, they struggle with getting an in-person appointment. Sometimes, the cost can be prohibitive. Some people may also want to handle their mental health problems discretely. This is not possible with in-person therapy because they have to go to the therapist’s office.
However, technology has helped bridge this gap and made things easier for both clients and therapists. It has brought mental health services closer to the people who need them in the form of teletherapy. But again, people may ask what is teletherapy. Simply put, teletherapy is therapy offered virtually or remotely via video calls, apps, chat rooms, telephone, email, text messages, or web platforms. Many people just call it online therapy.
Despite the many options, therapy apps serve as one of the most preferred methods of accessing online mental health services. The trend is consistent with the growing smartphone use. Smartphone apps are far more convenient and easy to use than web platforms. It is the same case with therapy apps. They allow people to talk to a therapist anytime and anywhere.
The Best Free Therapy Apps for Your Use Today
Cost is a concern for most people. Not everyone can afford paid therapy. Therefore, it is prudent to take care of everyone and highlight a few free options. Even so, these apps do not offer all services for free. They restrict access to some features. Nevertheless, they are much better alternatives to paid therapy apps that do not provide any free services or trials.
The 7 cups app is one of its kind. It offers access to thousands of trained active listeners who volunteer to listen and provide emotional support through an online chat. This part of the service is completely free. It is also anonymized to ensure privacy, given that mental health is a sensitive matter.
The app allows interactions with listeners with similar mental health issues or life experiences in a kind of peer-to-peer support. It does not matter the type of problem. Thus, the platform enables users to get tips on the best way to deal with their current predicaments.
The therapy app is endorsed by peer-reviewed journals. In 2016, it won the Stanford Medicine X Prize for Health Care Systems Design award for its positive impact on access to mental health services. Today, the 7 cups app is available to millions of Android and iOS users.
Android users can download this app on Google Play Store. Those with Apple devices can download the same on Apple App Store. On Google Play Store, the app has a rating of 3.8/5. However, the rating is much higher on Apple App Store at 4.7/5.
Usually, all listeners on the platform take an Active Listening Training Course. However, some listeners are licensed therapists and counselors. Sometimes, the trained active listeners refer users to a licensed practitioner depending on the severity of their problem.
Speaking to a licensed counselor or therapist is not free. It costs you $150 monthly to talk to a therapist on the 7 cups app. The interactions happen exclusively via text. On this note, there is no option for Zoom or phone-based therapy sessions.
Sanvello is one of the best multifunctional therapy apps available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. This app is free. Users get access to a few tools with the free version. It allows you access to health habit tracking, journaling prompts, guided meditations, and goal setting and tracking. However, one may need to pay a subscription fee to access more services and tools.
The app helps manage stress, anxiety, and depression. It relies on cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness to assist users in meeting their mental health goals. Sanvello is appropriate for people with mild to moderate disease. Therefore, if you have severe depression or anxiety, you should talk to a therapist in person.
The paid self-care package costs $8.99 monthly or $53.99 for those who prefer the annual plan. This option provides access to all self-care tools, including peer support. If you want to access live sessions and chats with mental health coaches, you need to pay $50 every month. However, you should know that these coaches are not licensed therapists but rather trained professionals. Accessing licensed therapists usually requires you to pay $140 for the first appointment and $85 for subsequent therapy sessions.
Unlike most therapy apps, Sanvello offers you a chance to pay using health insurance. Some employers also cover services on the Sanvello app. Your insurance provider may cover a few or all services with or without out-of-pocket costs. One can directly contact the insurance provider or employer for more details. Alternatively, you can search for them on the app.
The app is very popular with over one million users on the Google Play Store and a rating of 4.8/5. It also has a rating of 4.8/5 on the Apple App Store. Thus, it is likely that most people find it helpful.
The Best Paid Therapy Apps for Your Use Today
Paid or subscription-based therapy apps usually provide value for your money. They have a broader service offering than free therapy apps and often include live sessions with licensed therapists. Clients also have more options when interacting with their therapist or psychiatrist.
Betterhelp is one of the best and most popular teletherapy apps. It costs you between $60-$90 weekly, which is more affordable than in-person therapy which requires one to pay $150 per session. However, the cost of therapy on this app might increase depending on your location, the availability of a therapist, and personal preferences.
Billing and subscription renewal happen after every four weeks (monthly). Even so, one can cancel their subscription plan if they do not like the services or for other reasons. Clients can also change their therapists if the need arises.
Betterhelp boasts of more than 20,000 master-prepared and licensed therapists who have over three years of experience in their respective fields. The app allows access to a wide range of professionals to help take care of your therapy needs. The company specializes in talk therapy and does not provide psychiatric services such as diagnosing mental health disorders.
Betterhelp usually helps with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, addiction, stress, anger management, self-esteem issues, grief, obsessive-compulsive disorder, trauma, burnout, and relationship problems. It offers couples therapy, psychotherapy, family therapy, group therapy, and cognitive behavior therapy, among others. Therapy is available to clients through live video, phone, and chat sessions.
Betterhelp does not take or accept insurance coverage. However, it provides financial aid and recommends you directly talk to the Betterhelp team to discuss the matter further and help access therapy and counseling. Usually, financial aid helps get affordable therapy sessions.
The Betterhelp app is available for Android and iOS users. It has millions of users on both platforms. It boasts a rating of 4.8/5 on the Apple App Store and 4.7/5 on the Google Play Store.
Talkspace is another popular therapy app. It provides access to online mental health services. Clients can use live chats and video sessions to interact with a therapist. The Talkspace app generally has more service offerings than Betterhelp. However, the cost goes higher with each added service. Therapists cover a wide range of areas such as depression, anxiety, trauma, stress, relationships, grief, substance abuse, eating disorders, and parenting.
The app has three subscription plans. The first tier costs $79 every week and only covers therapy using text, audio, and video messages. The second tier costs $109 weekly and covers 45-minute live therapy sessions. However, clients only get four live sessions every month. The third tier costs $139 every week and guarantees live and messaging therapy. Like the previous subscription plan, clients only access four live therapy sessions per month.
Unlike Betterhelp, Talkspace accepts insurance coverage for some plans. It works closely with Cigna, Aetna (Resources For Living program), Optum, UnitedHealthcare, GatorCare, Humana, Premera Blue Cross, and others to offer affordable mental health services. In addition, Talkspace collaborates with schools, colleges, and employers to provide free or low-cost therapy and counseling.
Talkspace also offers psychiatric services. However, it costs you more to order these services. The first session requires you to part with $199. The subsequent therapy sessions cost you $125.
The Talkspace app is available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store for Android and iOS users, respectively. It has a rating of 4.0/5 on the Google Play Store and 4.7/5 on the Apple App Store.
Doctor On Demand
Doctor On Demand is also a popular teletherapy app available to users on Android and iOS devices. It helps access a wide range of mental health services. Clients also get the opportunity to talk to licensed therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists at an affordable price. The app covers depression, PTSD, stress, anxiety, trauma, postpartum depression, relationships, grief, and loss.
Therapy consultations lasting 25 minutes cost $79 on the Doctor on Demand app, while the 50-minute therapy sessions attract a $179 charge. The app also allows access to psychiatry services. However, the first 45-minute session with a psychiatrist costs $229, with each follow-up session setting you back $129.
Like Talkspace, Doctor on Demand accepts insurance from UnitedHealthcare, Medicare Part B, TRICARE, Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS), Regence BlueShield, CDPHP, Cigna, and Harvard Pilgrim. However, it remains unclear whether Medicaid coverage is acceptable on this platform. It is likely that Medicaid covers teletherapy services on Doctor on Demand, but this might vary depending on the state of residence. On this note, you should contact the nearest Medicaid office for more details.
With coverage, one pays little to no charge depending on the amount the insurance plan pays. Some employers also fully cover therapy costs for their employees. Others pay for a few mental health services. Either way, these options help make therapy more affordable.
The Doctor on Demand app is available on Google Play Store and boasts a 4.8/5 rating on the platform. On Apple App Store, the app has a rating of 4.9/5.
Amwell is also a highly rated therapy app. It allows clients to talk to experienced psychiatrists and licensed therapists about their mental health. The app covers depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, insomnia, stress, grief, couples therapy, LGBTQ counseling, bipolar disorder, and other conditions.
The cost depends on the qualifications and experience of the attending therapist. However, the lowest one can pay is $109 and the highest is $129. A single therapy visit on this app lasts 45 minutes. The total visits vary based on individual needs.
Like Talkspace and Doctor on Demand, Amwell provides psychiatry services for a fee. Clients part with $279 during the initial visit. The 15-minute follow-up visits usually cost $109.
However, the good news is that Amwell accepts insurance from multiple providers such as Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, and Anthem.
The Amwell app currently serves millions of users. One can download it on Google Play Store and Apple App Store. It has a rating of 4.9/5 on the Apple App Store and 4.4/5 on the Google Play Store.
MDLIVE is a well-known app that helps clients to receive online therapy services. It provides access to a network of licensed therapists and psychiatrists. As a result, it supports and facilitates treatment for people with depression, stress, PTSD, anger problems, relationship issues, bipolar disorder, addiction, postpartum depression, trauma, grief, panic disorders, and other behavioral health concerns.
A 45-60 minute therapy session on MDLIVE costs $108. The app also provides psychiatry services. An initial psychiatric visit usually costs $284, while each follow-up session requires you to pay $108. However, you will likely pay less if MDLIVE accepts coverage from your insurance provider.
Some insurers offset the full charge, while others pay a portion of this amount depending on the services they cover. MDLIVE accepts insurance from Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, Cigna, Medicare, and Aetna. It also partners with Sentara Healthcare and Optima Health to provide affordable teletherapy services to members.
The app is free on Google Play Store and Apple App Store. It has a rating of 4.7/5 on the Apple Apple Store and 4.6/5 on the Google Play Store.
Is Online Therapy (Teletherapy) as Effective as In-Person Therapy
Online therapy or teletherapy is growing popular by day as more and more people embrace virtual care. However, it is not uncommon for skeptics to question whether this form of therapy is as effective as traditional in-person therapy. Thus, it is worth exploring the existing literature and customer reviews to determine the most appropriate answer.
For instance, in a recent research investigation, the authors analyzed 17 studies to determine the effectiveness of online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) compared to in-person (face-to-face) CBT. The authors found that online CBT is as effective as in-person CBT. Another review of 14 studies in a different peer-reviewed article revealed that clients experienced a 50% improvement in their symptoms with online CBT.
Most clients on the most popular therapy apps also express satisfaction with online therapy, considering its benefits over in-person therapy. They often indicate that their mental health outcomes improved despite getting their therapy virtually. However, a few articulate their frustrations and lack of progress.
Low effectiveness may have to do with the individual level of commitment or the type of digital modality used (video, text, or audio). Marcelle et al. acknowledge that using text, video, or live chat individually poses barriers to effective treatment. On this note, the authors recommend multimodal digital psychotherapy to ensure clients can talk to their therapists via video calls, audio, text, and live chat.
Clients should also commit to therapy and follow recommendations from their therapists. Adherence to the advice can improve the effectiveness of online therapy and help individuals boost their mental health outcomes.