Many of us would like to try therapy, or try it again, but find the process daunting. First, we have to spend hours online finding a therapist who seems like a good fit, next figure out how much it will cost and if they will take our insurance, and then work out how to fit trips to their office around our schedule. That can be a lot of stress before we even start getting our heads around revealing our problems and insecurities to a stranger. In our interview with leading laughter therapist Yasmin Butt this week, she urged the mental health industry to take a leaf from the book of Uber and make therapy more accessible for all. And here are five of the best teletherapy apps that are doing just that, making access to trained mental health professionals easier, cheaper and more in tune with our modern communication habits. It is important to add that these apps are not the best solution for everyone, and are not a like-for-like replacement for diagnosis and treatment from an in-person therapist, but they can be a good step in the right direction.
Among the current frontrunners in the space, BetterHelp has treated around two million people since its launch in 2013. You are matched with a licensed therapist after completing a questionnaire, and can then switch at any time if you are not satisfied, or just think you’d benefit from another perspective. It costs around $60 a week which includes a live video session with your counsellor, and the app is inviting and user-friendly. One benefit compared with in-person therapy is how the system facilitates constant communication with your counsellor via your personal profile page on the app, encouraging you to keep in touch between sessions.
Founded in 2012 and one of the first companies to offer online therapy, Talkspace features live video, text messaging and audio therapy, or a combination of these, with the price ranging from $56 to $99 per week, depending on how often you use it and the medium you use. Also provides specific plans for teens and couples. The onboarding process involves a real person matching you to one of their licensed therapists, who all have at least 3,000 hours of clinical experience.
Cerebral is a teletherapy and medication management app focused on those suffering from anxiety, depression and insomnia. After assessment, users are recommended a treatment plan and can choose between various options. Their basic plan is among the most affordable out there, and starts at $85-a-month and includes one monthly video session with a counselor, with weekly sessions costing $259-a-month. Your progress is then evaluated by further assessments as your treatment journey progresses.
Amwell is a slightly more traditional telehealth experience, which has gained the trust of millions of users for a variety of medical needs. One simple, but very effective feature is being able to hide the view of your face on your own screen during the appointment, which helps it feel more like an in person conversation. Therapy is $109 to $129 per 45-minute session in out-of-pocket costs, based on the experience of the counsellor, but some insurance is accepted.
Concentrating on relationship therapy, you share a virtual ‘room’ with your partner and therapist where you can all post your questions, issues and feedback. As it focusses on written communication rather than in-person sessions, it’s a good way for couples to begin the therapy process without having to overcome the scheduling and psychological barriers than come with sitting together on the same couch.