Stop right there!
You landed on this page because you want help. You need it, but you can’t afford thousands of dollars for traditional therapy sessions. We’re here to tell you that you don’t have to choose between mental health and paying your mortgage.
This article has the most up-to-date information on where to find free online therapy, including recently changed prices not yet advertised online from some of the most popular online counseling platforms.
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What Is Online Therapy?
Online therapy is a mental health counseling service offered through the internet via text, video, live chat, email, or audio messaging. There’s no face-to-face time with a therapist or in-office visits necessary when doing online counseling.
Mental health professionals conduct sessions day or night and in the comfort of your home or wherever is the most comfortable and convenient.
These services use licensed therapists, professional counselors, and wellness professionals to meet the mental health needs of each client. Services can range from general mental health counseling to treat depression and anxiety to more specialized services like post-traumatic stress disorder and family therapy.
Does Online Therapy Work?
Yes! Evidence shows that online therapy platforms work just as well, if not better, than in-person traditional therapy. Both patients and providers have favorable views of telehealth services, and retention rates tend to be higher with those doing telehealth services .
More importantly, recent studies show that online therapy is more effective for those suffering from anxiety, depression, and stress .
But online therapy may not be the best option for everyone. Those with more severe mental health disorders and mental illnesses like psychosis and other mental health conditions like suicidal thoughts should attend therapy sessions, in-person with professional counselors.
How To Find Free Therapy Online
There are many ways to find free online therapy resources, from ads on television and the internet to notices at hospitals and healthcare facilities. Let’s take a look at the most common options of counseling services.
Online Support Groups
Online support groups provide a service where they link people together with similar issues, for example, abused women or those suffering from cancer. This type of therapy aims to bridge the gap between issue and isolation and show that, indeed you’re not alone.
Some of the benefits of online support groups range from assistance from clinical social workers, more frequent participation, face-to-face time with others in similar situations, or complete anonymity.
There are currently support groups for over 40 topics, including bereavement, weight loss, illness, addiction, eating disorders, LGBTQ, and domestic violence.
Online Workshops and Seminars
Mental health professionals and practitioners from around the world team with organizations to run online courses, workshops, and webinars on various topics that are the most common among their patients.
The goal is to provide information on a particular topic and give real-world solutions and coping mechanisms that may benefit those suffering from specific issues. Some online services offer free workshops by providing an email address or signing up to their website with no obligation to make any purchases.
Mental Health Organizations, Nonprofits, and Charities
There’s a growing number of organizations and nonprofit charities that provide mental health services free of charge. You’ll find counseling resources in churches, homeless shelters, YMCAs, and other community service organizations.
Most therapists and counselors donate their time and services. Others rely on donations from the public to make their services available to those in need.
Not only will mental health organizations provide counseling and therapy, but they’re also beacons of information and research. They tend to make sure the public is aware of the difficulties in the immediate area and offer needed support throughout the community.
Colleges and universities are no doubt high-stress environments. Fortunately, most have dedicated mental health support systems for their students and, to their credit, extend those services to the neighboring public.
These resources tend to be free or at least low cost. They take a variety of forms, including workshops, seminars, classes, private sessions, or even provide educational material regarding mental health conditions and other disorders.
If you want to know more about how to become a therapist, check out this article before visiting your local institution.
At Your Workplace
Now that mental health issues are becoming less taboo, employers are starting to realize the benefits of offering online therapy options to their employees. This could be in the form of in-person therapy with a mental health professional, assistance programs, group team building, and a company health insurance provider to include mental health packages.
Free Trials From Apps or Sites
Some online therapy sites and apps offer free trials to test services before committing to a more extended plan. These offers can be in the form of a week free trial or your first session free of charge. It’s important to know that there’s no obligation to commit to any service you don’t feel completely comfortable with when you do find a free online counseling trial.
Suicide Prevention Hotlines
Suicide crisis and prevention hotlines operate all over the world. They can be geared towards the general public or a more specific demographic such as teens, LGBTQ, and domestic violence. This is for anyone with severe mental health concerns, experiencing distress or crisis, witnessing a loved one’s distress, or having suicidal thoughts.
The US’s most familiar suicide prevention hotline service is the national suicide prevention lifeline, a 24/7 service receiving over 3000 calls a day.
Fortunately, over 100 countries worldwide have suicide prevention hotlines in some shape and form, all free of charge, which shows just how essential this service is.
In 2019, how many US adults seriously thought about suicide?
Best Free Online Therapy Apps
Even though telehealth mental services tend to be more affordable, not everyone can afford an online therapist. Let’s review some of the free online counseling services we found.
Started back in 2013 by psychologist Glen Moriarty, 7Cups is a website/app service that connects you to a trained peer listener for emotional support. This free online therapy chat service is available 24/7 to both adults and teens.
7Cups online therapy services offer anonymous chat rooms conducting free emotional support group meetings and forums catered to specific issues like LGBTQ, depression, relationship problems, and more. You have the option to ask for individual help and advice, join a scheduled support group, or share your own experiences to guide others along the way.
How Free Is It?
Chatting with a peer listener or participating in the group sessions are completely free to everyone. But, if you have other mental health conditions and need extra support, licensed professional counselors are available to tackle your specific mental health conditions for a monthly fee of $150.
Betterhelp Free Trial
Betterhelp is a popular online counseling platform boasting the largest network with over 22,000 licensed and accredited therapists. The platform offers services to adults and teens for various issues, including cognitive behavioral therapy, mental illnesses, grief counseling, and substance use disorders.
Membership gives you the option of service through unlimited texts, audio messaging, and video chat. Live sessions are available weekly for up to 45 mins per session, allowing you to communicate with one of the many licensed therapists via phone, video, or real-time chat.
If you want to dive a little deeper into this popular site, check out our Better Help Review for more information.
How Free Is It?
During our research, we came across some reviews that claim a seven-day free trial for Betterhelp services, but this is not true. Better Help does not have a seven-day free trial or free sessions at this time.
Better Help offers two options to cut the cost of their online services:
- A weekly subscription plan allows you to pay only when you use their service and pause your account when you don’t need it.
- Financial assistance programs that you can apply for once you sign up on their website.
eTherapy Pro Free Trial
eTherapy Pro is an online platform that connects adults 18 years and older to licensed therapists practicing within the US. This service is completely anonymous, as members can sign up using only a username.
The services offered through eTherapy are straightforward. After filling out a brief questionnaire, you’ll be matched with a counselor through an email messaging system that you can use 24/7. You can also schedule a live text or video chat and phone calls directly with your therapist.
How Free Is It?
eTherapy offers a free 3-day trial directly on the home page of their website. These free sessions are to ensure that you are a good candidate for online therapy. You’ll have to provide your credit card information before the free trial begins, but you will not be charged until after the three days.
You have the option to cancel at any point during your free trial, but If you wish to continue with therapy Pro services, the fee is $40 per week, billed every four weeks.
ReGain Free Trial
Regain is a counseling service geared towards relationships and marital counseling. Their platform matches couples or individuals with one of ReGains many mental health professionals, including accredited psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, and licensed marriage and family therapists.
Couples can create a joint account that’s shared between them and their counselor. Private sessions are available through individual live sessions with your therapist.
Patients can communicate with their ReGain online therapist by unlimited messaging and weekly, real-time counseling sessions via video call, live chat, or phone call.
How Free Is It
Once approved for the ReGain subscription, your first week of services is entirely free. After which, you’ll be charged anywhere between $60-$90 per week, depending on the subscription package you choose. Billing occurs monthly, but you can cancel at any time.
Started in 2020, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Therapy Aid is a unique service that connects essential workers, their families, and victims of natural disasters and crises to trained psychotherapists throughout the US.
As of today, Therapy Aid services those directly impacted by the March 22nd Table Mesa Shooting in Colorado, employed and laid off coronavirus essential workers and their families, those affected by the 2020 Colorado and California wildfires.
How Free Is It?
Therapy Aid benefits from a volunteer-based platform and works with therapists who offer their services free or at a low cost. Once you sign up on their website, you’ll be asked how much you’re willing and able to pay per session, anywhere between $0 and $50.
What Are the Benefits of Online Therapy?
Four benefits of online therapy:
- Lower costs
- Easier access
- More confidential
- Appropriate for all ages
Online therapy offers many benefits not found by attending in-office visits, which is why online therapy platforms have become so popular in recent years.
Online counseling is undoubtedly cheaper than in-person therapy, averaging $320 per month, including unlimited chats, emails, and scheduled live phone and video services.
The cost of face-to-face, in-person visits with a licensed therapist can range between $60-$250 per session per hour, and specialists are upwards of $300+ per visit.
Health insurance plans may cover most of the cost of mental health services, but that will still leave the patient paying a copay and sometimes an extra $20-$50 per session.
Pricing for in-office therapy also depends on the treatment. For example, the average cost per session for individual cognitive behavioral therapy is between $70-$150, whereas marriage counseling can be as high as $250 per session.
Online therapy platforms rarely distinguish between the type of treatment needed, and patients are billed the same each month on a subscription basis.
For people living in rural and geographically isolated areas, an online therapy platform is the best option. These services provide easy and convenient access to therapists and counselors day or night from the comfort of your home.
This, in turn, will save you money on transportation and child care, reduce the need to take time off school or work, and saves time and money from traveling long distances to reach a therapist’s office.
Online therapy offers more confidentiality for those that desire it. Signing up for services is completely confidential, and therapists do not have access to your personal information. You do not need to provide your real name to the counselor once you begin your sessions.
You also don’t have to worry about awkwardly running into someone you know at a therapist’s office or bumping into your therapist outside of treatment, as most online counselors work with patients in different cities and states.
Appropriate for All Ages
Online therapy services are available to children, teens, and adults depending on the type of service you choose and the treatment desired. These companies and organizations work with licensed counselors trained to offer the most appropriate care for each patient and their unique needs.
What Are the Disadvantages of Online Therapy?
There are some downfalls to online therapy and maybe a reason why some prefer to use in-person sessions.
- Conveying thoughts and emotions into words may be challenging for some people.
- Typing speed may become a factor if engaging in group or individual chat sessions.
- Therapists cannot observe physical cues like body language, and therefore, miscommunication between therapist and client is possible.
- Counselors are not able to ethically work with patients in immediate crisis or suffering from severe psychiatric illnesses.
- Some platforms may not be as stringent in the hiring process, and you may end up with a therapist not qualified to handle some mental health conditions.
- Unreliable internet could interrupt the flow of each session and cause stress and anxiety.
- Because of the nature of online therapy, there’s a chance of private information being hacked.
- Most insurance companies do not cover the cost of online therapy.
- Online therapists do not prescribe medication.
If the need for prescription medication is a factor in choosing online therapy, take a look at this Talk Space Review for other options.
Here are a few more questions we found about free online therapy.
Can I Talk to an Online Therapist for Free?
Yes. There are online services that allow you to speak with a therapist free of charge, but these may be for a limited time only, as in with a free trial.
What Is the Best Free Online Therapy?
7Cups is our pick as the best free online therapy. They offer free, confidential services for adults and teenagers and are available 24/7.
Are There Any Free Therapy Apps?
No. We couldn’t find any free therapy apps that give regular access to a counselor or therapist. Still, several free mental health apps offer specific services for depression, deep breathing, better sleep, meditation, addiction, and more.
Is 7 Cups of Tea Free?
Yes. 7 Cups offers completely free access to trained peer listeners. If you want to speak with a licensed therapist, there is a monthly fee of $150.
Is Online Therapy Confidential?
Yes. Online therapy is completely confidential. You will have to fill out your personal information during sign-up, but your therapist will not have access to that information, and you’ll be able to chat using a fake name or a simple username.
Finding a mental health professional to help you with the daily challenges of life is no longer a taboo subject. There are dozens of online platforms available that offer a wide range of services for various mental health conditions.
If you’re serious about finding online therapy, start with services that offer free sessions to see if you’d be a good fit. If you don’t have the money to continue with paid services, wellness apps are available to help you manage your mental health needs.
- Barak, A. “A Comprehensive Review and a Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Internet-Based Psychotherapeutic Interventions.” Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-Assessed Reviews [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1970, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK76016/.
- Langarizadeh, Mostafa, et al. “Telemental Health Care, an Effective Alternative to CONVENTIONAL MENTAL Care: A Systematic Review.” Acta Informatica Medica : AIM : Journal of the Society for Medical Informatics of Bosnia & Herzegovina : Casopis Drustva Za Medicinsku Informatiku BiH, AVICENA, D.o.o., Sarajevo, Dec. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5723163/.