The rise of online therapy platforms has been significant, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw a surge in demand for remote mental health services.
In light of this growing trend, a key question emerges: What is the cost of these online mental health services? The average cost of such therapy can range from $60 to $120 and depends upon many factors, like session length, therapist qualification, and geographical location.
This article explores how much online counseling costs in detail.
Factors Influencing the Cost of Online Therapy
Several factors impact the cost of online therapy:
- Type of Service: Individual sessions, group therapy, text-based counseling, or a combination can affect pricing.
- Therapist’s Qualifications: More experienced or specialized therapists may charge higher rates.
- Session Length: Typically, the longer the session, the higher the cost.
- Geographical Location: Costs can vary significantly based on the therapist’s location.
- Insurance Coverage: Some online therapy services are covered by health insurance, which can reduce out-of-pocket expenses.
The Average Cost of Online Therapy
The average cost of online therapy (without insurance) ranges from $49.45 to $77.50 per week, or around $198 to $310 monthly. This range, however, can widen or narrow depending on the factors mentioned earlier. For instance, a session with a highly specialized therapist in a metropolitan area could exceed $200, while essential counseling services in less urban regions might cost as low as $40 per session.
Comparatively, traditional in-person therapy can be more expensive, averaging between $100 to $200 per session, as reported by Psychology Today. The overhead costs of maintaining a physical office space contribute to these higher rates.
Popular Online Therapy Platforms and Their Costs
Different online therapy platforms offer different subscription plans. Some of these platforms often provide financial aid options for those who qualify.
The cost can also vary depending on specific mental health needs. For instance, couples therapy or therapy for complex mental health conditions might be priced differently than general counseling services.
The following table provides information on the cost of some of the best platforms for online therapy:
|Who It Treats
|$95/mo for psychiatry, $299/mo for therapy, $349/mo for both
|Depends on location and provider
|$228/mo for messaging, $298/mo for messaging + 1 session, $360/mo for messaging + 4 sessions
|$240-$360 per month
|Teens (ages 13 to 19)
|$240-$360 per month
|$60-$90 per week
|$260 per month
Insurance and Online Therapy
While some online therapy services are covered by health insurance, it’s not universal. Clients must verify the extent of coverage with their insurance providers and the therapy platforms.
Despite the costs, online therapy offers value in terms of convenience, accessibility, and a wider choice of therapists. For many, the ability to receive treatment from the comfort of their own home justifies the expense.
Another aspect where online therapy offers flexibility is through different discounts and cost-saving strategies. For instance, some therapy platform’s billing methods influence your average monthly cost. Opting for a six-month plan is more cost-effective than monthly payments. If you’re considering long-term therapy, paying in advance can be a financially savvy choice.
Some services also allow the use of health savings accounts (HSA) or flexible spending accounts (FSA) for payments. These accounts enable you to allocate pre-tax income for medical expenses, which benefits those with high-deductible health plans or without mental health coverage in their insurance.
This alternative can be cost-effective if the teletherapy company doesn’t accept primary medical insurance. Cerebral and Rethink My Therapy are companies that accept HSAs and FSAs.
Unanticipated Expenses to Be Aware Of in Online Therapy
When engaging in online therapy, be aware that there could be additional fees that aren’t initially obvious. Understanding these beforehand can help you manage unexpected expenses more effectively.
Some of these unanticipated fees might include:
- Cancellation and Rescheduling Fees: Similar to traditional therapy, online therapy sessions may have fees for last-minute cancellations or appointment changes. Fees can range from minor charges to the full cost of the session, based on the service provider’s policy. Many online therapy services require cancellations several hours before the appointment to avoid fees. Charges apply if cancellation does not occur within the specified timeframe.
- Automatic Renewal Fees: Online therapy subscriptions often auto-renew after the initial period. To prevent unexpected expenses, understand the contract terms and note the renewal date of your subscription.
Tips for Finding Affordable Online Therapy
Here are key methods to find affordable therapy:
- Insurance Check: Before paying, verify with your insurance if they cover therapy costs, including possible co-pays or out-of-network benefits. Ensure the reimbursement rate justifies any out-of-pocket expenses.
- Research Various Online Therapy Platforms: Dedicate time to researching and comparing different online therapy platforms. Look for reviews, user experiences, and pricing structures. Some platforms might offer a free initial consultation or have special rates for first-time users. Make sure to compare the qualifications of the therapists and the range of services offered.
- Look for Discounts and Promotions: Many online therapy platforms offer discounts, promotional rates, or reduced fees for certain groups such as students, veterans, or low-income individuals. Keep an eye out for these deals, and don’t hesitate to inquire directly with the platform about any ongoing promotions.
- Utilize Online Support Groups and Workshops: In addition to one-on-one therapy, consider online support groups or workshops. These can be more affordable and sometimes even free. They offer the benefit of community support and can be a valuable addition to individual therapy sessions.
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAP): Check if your employer offers an EAP. This might include free counseling sessions and additional wellness resources. Inquire about confidentiality policies regarding EAP programs with your HR.
- Pro-Bono Services Inquiry: Reach out to therapists about sliding scale fees or pro-bono services. Many therapists are ethically encouraged to offer pro-bono services and can provide referrals to low-cost alternatives.