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Despite increased attention on and acceptance of the importance of mental wellness, studies suggest teens still struggle with feelings of stigmatization and embarrassment when it comes to seeking help. Add the fact that nearly one in seven young people currently meets diagnostic criteria for a mental health disorder, and it seems more important than ever to help adolescents and teenagers find safe spaces to talk about their lives.
Online therapy is a great option for people who may shy away from more traditional, in-person visits, whether it’s due to a fear of judgment from the outside world, health concerns or a lack of available providers. For teens and their parents or guardians, online therapy can provide a safe, convenient way to start a conversation around everything from school stress to a more serious mental health condition.
If you or your teenager are interested in options for online therapy, Forbes Health has rounded up our top picks. To determine the best online therapy for teens in 2023, our editorial team analyzed over 25 platforms, reviewing factors like insurance eligibility, cost and ease of sign-up, among others.
Here are the top picks for the best online therapy for teens. Note: Star rankings are assigned solely by the editorial team. Prices are based on the lowest option available, are accurate as of publication and are subject to change.
Whether you want to talk to a therapist or psychologist about issues like coping with grief, panic attacks, dealing with a difficult transition or general life stress, LiveHealth has an option for you. They also specifically state that individuals ages 10 to 17 can access online therapy options once they’ve been set up on the app by their parents or guardians. Sessions are 45 minutes long and individuals can book additional sessions with the same therapist if they’d like. It’s free to sign up for LiveHealth, and there are no monthly fees, meaning you only pay for the sessions you have. Without insurance, session prices range from $80 for a therapist and $95 for a psychologist.
Talkspace’s mantra of “better mental health for all” has recently expanded to teens, allowing anyone 13 to 17 years of age to sign up to use their service. Once you’ve signed up, your parent or guardian will need to upload a short video of them giving consent for your therapy. After that, you are given a few options for counselors who can help you with your specific needs, whether it’s dealing with depression, anxiety or trouble at school. Talkspace also offers the option of texting a therapist, or even uploading a short video. There are a variety of subscription and payment plans, and if one therapist isn’t meeting your needs, you can switch to another one. Without insurance, the pricing plans range from $99 for a 45-minute live weekly session with a therapist to $69 for weekly text, video and audio messaging therapy.
Therapists at Amwell specialize in a host of topics including LGBTQ issues, trauma, OCD, insomnia, life transitions and couples therapy, among others. Amwell allows you to choose a therapist or psychologist from a variety of practitioners, with ratings and fees listed. Kids and teens ages 10 to 17 can use Amwell’s services after parental consent is given. One of the most enticing aspects of Amwell’s services is that they currently partner with a wide variety of health plans, and are continually adding more. Without insurance, session prices range from $109 to $129 depending on the type of therapist you’re looking for.
MDLive’s telehealth therapy can be used by individuals as young as 9 years old. Appointments can also be scheduled as soon as a week after signing up, according to the company. Additionally, the site boasts “thousands” of licensed therapists to choose from, and you can stay with the same practitioner each week, or switch to a new one for each additional session. Depending on your insurance, therapy appointments can cost between $0 to $108 per session, according to the company.
Traditional therapy can be expensive, especially if you don’t have insurance that covers it. TeenCounseling’s teletherapy is one of the most affordable options out there, with plans ranging from $60 to $90 a week. Once a parent or guardian signs up, they are matched with a therapist, and then can invite their child (ages 13 to 19) with a code that allows them to chat privately. There are a variety of session options including messaging, speaking on the phone, connecting via video or a combination of all options. You can also choose a new therapist if you feel as though the one assigned to you isn’t the right fit. While TeenCounseling does not offer psychiatry, they do have a wide variety of therapists available, including accredited psychologists, marriage and family therapists and clinical social workers.
To determine the best online therapy for teens of 2023, the Forbes Health editorial team analyzed many different data points, including:
All star rankings are determined solely by the editorial team.
The adolescent years are a vital time to prioritize mental health. Almost half of all serious mental health conditions begin to surface by the age of 15, and three-quarters of mental health conditions begin by age 18, according to research in European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The earlier someone is diagnosed with a condition, the earlier treatment can begin, allowing for a better quality of life as time goes on.
Even if an adolescent or teen is not dealing with a serious mental health condition, learning coping strategies for issues like stress, relationship strife or big transitions can help them better navigate all sorts of situations that arise during the middle school, high school and college years—and beyond.
While therapy can be a beneficial tool for anyone who wants to learn more about themselves, there are a few signs that your teenager in particular may benefit from therapy, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Some of these signs include:
It can often be difficult to tell if certain teen behaviors are just a typical part of the maturation process, or are a sign of something more serious. If you notice that your teen is exhibiting some of the above behaviors for weeks or even months, or that these behaviors are starting to disrupt their daily lives, the NIMH recommends finding them support.
If you believe your teen is in need of serious, immediate support, online therapy is not a good option. Instead, try to connect them with the Crisis Text Line at 741741, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also call 911 if you believe you are dealing with an emergency situation.
Connect With A Counselor
If you’re in crisis or having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988 or message its live online chat service for immediate support from a trained counselor. If you’re in immediate danger, call 911.
Information provided on Forbes Health is for educational purposes only. Your health and wellness is unique to you, and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We do not offer individual medical advice, diagnosis or treatment plans. For personal advice, please consult with a medical professional.
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Jessica is a writer and editor with over a decade of experience in both lifestyle and clinical health topics. Before Forbes Health, Jessica was an editor for Healthline Media, WW and PopSugar, as well as numerous health-related startups. When she isn’t writing or editing, Jessica can be found at the gym, listening to a health or true prime podcast, or spending time outside. She also really enjoys bread (even though she’s not supposed to eat it).
Sarah is an experienced writer and editor enthusiastic about helping readers live their healthiest and happiest lives. Before joining Forbes Health, Sarah worked as a writer for various digital publications including LendingTree, theSkimm, CNBC and Bankrate. When she isn’t writing or editing, you can find Sarah with her nose in a book or enjoying the outdoors with her French bulldog, Honey.