May 22, 2024
Best Low Cost or Free Online Therapy Options in 2024

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Free online therapy services are often volunteer-based. However, there are low cost options and free resources available that provide professional help. See which option is best for you.

Best free services

Best low cost services

Online therapy is a great option for people who do not want to or are unable to leave their homes to access therapy. It’s also a great solution for those juggling multiple responsibilities, such as parenting, teaching, and remote work.

Since the cost of therapy can still be steep, even through online platforms, knowing about the most affordable — or even free — therapy options is important for ensuring that mental health services are more equitable.

You may not even realize that your current health insurance could cover online therapy. Many health insurance companies now cover online therapy sessions, which can make talking with a professional low cost and even free.

There are also various free mental health platforms online that can connect you to licensed professionals or provide peer support groups where you can get help through various platforms, from chat and text messaging to video.

Some online platforms also offer sliding scale pricing, financial aid, or both to make therapy more accessible for all.

Free online therapy services

Best low cost services

We selected each free or low cost online therapy service based on key features to ensure that the mental health support offered is secure, budget conscious, reliable, and appropriately credentialed.

We also considered how long you need to wait for an appointment, whether the service offers 24/7 support, and whether the service offers video and phone chat, live chat, and text messaging.

Each online therapy service also went through our vigorous vetting process after we selected the services based on the features listed above.

Finding free online therapists is typically not very easy. If you have insurance, a good first step is to call your benefits center or do a quick search online.

Here are a few places that might help you find free or low cost online therapy:

  • Your health insurance company: Most health insurance companies have started to cover the cost of some online therapy platforms. If you have insurance, check with your provider before choosing a program.
  • EAPs: Some employers offer free counseling sessions with the platform of their choice through an EAP. If your employer has one, you can contact your human resources representative to ask whether they offer any services.
  • Your local college or university: If you’re a student or professor, your campus most likely has a counseling center or social worker that can help you find resources for support. If the university has a psychology department, they may host free clinics where students can put their skills to the test and help the public.
  • Mental health organizations: Several national organizations, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), can help you find free or low cost online therapists or resources. These organizations usually recommend resources they have worked with before and that they know can help you with your situation.

Some other factors to keep in mind while you’re looking for an online therapy platform are:

  • Appointment types offered: Different methods of communication, such as chat, video, or phone call, may help you feel more comfortable with a therapist and give you more flexibility to meet with them.
  • Access to your therapist: With some services, therapists are not available 24/7. However, you may be able to message them a note at any time and they can respond when available.
  • Scope of your mental health goals and needs: If you take medications or want a more comprehensive treatment plan, be sure to discuss with a mental health professional or primary care health professional what other options are available to you. Online therapy may not be best if you want more comprehensive care.

If you prefer a more personal environment or are dealing with serious issues that require exposure therapy, many in-depth discussions, or more comprehensive care (such as those relating to addiction, eating disorders, or severe depression), you may want to think about seeing a therapist in person.

But everyone is different, and this will be a matter of personal preference. If you have quicker access to an online therapist, you might want to start that way and then switch to in-person if it suits you better overall.

A number of online services offer free or reduced-cost therapy. Some of these free services may be run by peer counselors or coaches and require payment to work directly with licensed mental health professionals. Additionally, certain online services may be covered by some insurance plans or EAPs.

Also, a number of mental health organizations, including SAMHSA and NAMI, can provide free peer counseling over their hotlines or connect you with a free or low cost online therapist.

  • Accessibility: Anyone with an internet connection can participate in online therapy.
  • Time efficiency: Online therapy and counseling eliminates travel time to appointments or support group meetings. You can also mold it to your schedule and don’t have to call out sick from work to make it to your appointment.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Online therapy can be cheaper than in-person visits, and many health insurance plans will cover part of the cost.
  • Lack of geographical barriers: If your ideal therapist lives in another state or country, you can still get treatment with them as long as they’re licensed in the state you live in.
  • Comfort: Some people might find it easier to open up to a therapist when they’re in the privacy and comfort of their home.
  • Safety: With COVID-19 an ongoing concern, telehealth eliminates the risk of potential exposure.

Anyone who is willing to listen, focus, and commit to bettering their mental health may benefit from online therapy. However, online therapy is not useful for helping to manage all conditions.

A 2013 reviewTrusted Source suggests that people with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorders can thrive in online therapy. Online therapy is also a great option if you are having trouble finding a therapist near you who suits your needs.

However, someone with a mental health condition that needs more direct management, such as schizophrenia or psychosis, might need immediate, face-to-face intervention.

Additionally, if you or someone you know is experiencing significant suicidal ideation, in-person therapy might be a better choice.

The main difference between free online therapy and paid therapy is the access to industry professionals and the type of care you receive in a session.

Free online therapy services are usually run by peers or volunteers who have had some training, while paid online therapists have credentials, a degree, and more. Having someone to talk to could be beneficial for some folks, but others may need more concentrated and practiced care.

If you have a limited budget for mental health care, if your insurance doesn’t cover therapy, or if you don’t have easy access to care, free online therapy platforms can be an effective option. But keep in mind that the people you talk with when using these services may not be licensed professionals.

Managing your mental health doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive.

Various online therapy platforms can help you find support groups or licensed therapists who can help you manage anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health conditions for free or a very low cost.

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