Book an appointment Feather-communication-phone

Get your at-home COVID-19 test kit delivered. Book an appointment today.

online-therapy

Blog Mental Health

Top Therapy Apps of 2021

writtenByWritten by: Melissa Dowd (Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist)
Melissa Dowd (Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist)

Melissa Dowd (Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist)

Melissa Dowd received her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Dominican University of CA and is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. In addition to her work as a clinical therapist, Melissa is passionate about promoting emotional wellness through leading workshops, guest appearances, and across social media platforms.

Read more posts by this author.

December 3, 2020 Read Time - 12 minutes

What are the Best Therapy Apps of 2021?

Therapy? There’s an app for that. In fact, there might be too many to choose from for those looking to get started with counseling via their phone. Whether you’re trying to set up live therapy sessions for yourself or your family, or if you just want to listen to relaxing audio, there are countless apps to help you. 

Here, we’re going to be taking a look at the many options available to you and help you spot the difference between general mental health apps and therapy apps that connect you with a trained professional. We’ve also included an assessment at the end to help determine if you may benefit from therapy.

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

Talk to an Online Therapist PlushCare-App-Steps

Therapy App vs Mental Health App

What is the difference between a therapy app and a mental health app? A therapy app connects you with a licensed mental health professional with a variety of ways for you to communicate back and forth. On the other hand, a mental health app is focused on providing you with the tools to improve your general well-being but does not always involve communicating with an actual therapist. Below, we’ll go over some of the best apps available in both of these categories.


Read: What is Online Therapy?


Top 5 Therapy Apps of 2021

An image of a female online therapist in a lab coat on a laptop screen. Woman with curly hair, talking giving online therapy.

Online therapy is a booming industry built on convenience, affordability, and security. But do online therapy apps really work?

While some may find it difficult to imagine receiving mental health services via their screen, a growing number of users are receiving virtual care that is just as effective as in-person counseling for a fraction of the cost.

An analysis of studies found that telehealth therapy was capable of treating people suffering from disorders like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, stress, and low self-esteem. In fact, one study found online therapy to be more effective than in-person therapy.  “The empirical evidence presented in this article demonstrates the capability of TMH (telemental health) to perform these functions more efficiently and as well as or more effectively than in-person care.”

Rest assured, the following apps are all legitimate and host licensed professionals accessible to you at the touch of a fingertip.

The Best Therapy Apps of 2021:

PlushCare

PlushCare is proud to offer the premier service for online therapy in California. Through our app or website, you can quickly and easily set up an appointment to talk to one of our licensed therapists.

Our therapists can help with a wide variety of conditions, including: anxiety, depression, stress, self esteem issues, identity, financial troubles and more. Click here to meet securely with a trusted online therapist for just $65/session.

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

Talk to an Online Therapist PlushCare-App-Steps

BetterHelp

BetterHelp hosts over 5,000 licensed therapists for you to communicate with. Plans range from $35 to $80 per week and depending on your subscription, you can text, call, or have live video sessions with mental health professionals.

Curious how to pick a therapist? BetterHelp matches you with one based on a questionnaire you take when first opening the app. Of course, you’re welcome to switch therapists at any time and all professional counselors on the site are required to have at least three years and 2,000 hours of experience. 

With weekly billing, you can cancel your payments at any time.

ReGain

ReGain is a sister platform of BetterHelp and costs $40 to $70 per week. Unlike BetterHelp, ReGain is designed specifically for couples counseling with a licensed therapist.

On the ReGain app, couples share an account where you can set up individual or paired therapy sessions. Unfortunately, the app does not have the ability to host a three-way live session, so you’ll have to share a screen with your partner for all video and phone chats.

With ReGain, you also have access to a “room” shared with your therapist where each individual can leave their thoughts, feelings, and general updates. Your therapist will login to the room and reply to these messages as the primary mode of communication. This chat feature makes ReGain one of the best text therapy apps available for couples.

ReGain therapists can treat a variety of issues including but not limited to relationship challenges, marital issues, overcoming conflict, improving communication, overcoming adultery, intimacy issues, preventing divorce, and guidance with divorce.

TeenCounseling

Like the name suggests, TeenCounseling is an app for teens ranging 13-19 years old.

TeenCounseling is especially convenient for helping kids get treatment when they do not have access to transportation. Similar to ReGain, TeenCounseling hosts “rooms” that teens share with their therapist to leave messages any time, day or night.

TeenCounseling costs $40-$70 a week depending on how frequently you’d like the therapist to reply. Your teen can also schedule calls and video chats with a therapist, all of which are of course professionally licensed and experienced with teens. 

Talkspace

Talkspace offers texting, calling, or live video sessions on plans ranging from $49 a week to $79 a week. For $49 a week, you access asynchronous messaging with a therapist.

For $59 a week you’ll have access to the same chat features however, once a month you have a scheduled live session with your therapist. Finally, for $79 a week you get all the same messaging features as cheaper plans, but with 4 live sessions a month.

Talkspace also offers therapy for teens and couples.


Read: Not Sure About Online Therapy? Learn the Pros and Cons


Top 5 Mental Health Apps of 2021

An image of an African American women meditating. Woman with long braids in a blue shirt relaxing with mindfulness app.

Is there a free therapy app? Not exactly. Mental health professionals are highly trained and therefore charge for their services.

However, there are a growing number of apps designed to improve your mental health, many of which are indeed free. 

Headspace

Headspace is a meditation app with millions of users in more than 190 countries. Each day, bite-size meditation sessions are added to help free your mind of anxiety and stress.

There are also SOS exercises available to use during times of emotional crisis.


That said, if you are having a mental health crisis you should call 911 or go to the hospital. You can also call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.


Headspace introduces new users to meditation by providing them with guided sessions focused on the foundations of the practice.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, headspace has several technique categories for you to choose from including but not limited to:

  • Focused attention
  • Visualization
  • Skillful compassion
  • Resting awareness
  • Reflection

Within each of these categories are different lessons for you to meditate with.

Headspace costs $12.99 per month or $69.99 annually. When you first download the app, you’ll have the opportunity for a free 10 day trial. 

Moodfit

Moodfit is a free mental health app designed to track and improve your mood.

You’ll start by filling out a questionnaire that will determine the severity of your symptoms and provide selected articles and audio files to help with your conditions. As you continue to use moodfit, you’ll enter information about your sleep, exercise, and medication habits.

Using these in combination with your mood tracking will allow the app to give you feedback about daily practices that can boost your mood.

The more information you give moodfit, the more accurate its insights will be. Further, you can use the app to experiment with how different foods or routines impact your mood.

Think of moodfit as a virtual journal specifically designed to help you track your feelings and give you insight about what habits makes you feel best.

Motivation – Daily Quotes

This popular app is fairly simple. Everyday, the app sends you a motivational quote.

To make sure that quotes are tailored for each individual, the app allows users to preselect categories for their quotes to get pulled from. These include quotes related to focus, sadness, friendship, kindness, study, and countless more. 

Motivation is a simple yet inspiring app. It gives you free access to hundreds of quotes that you can share with friends and social media. Whether you’re looking to inject a dose of positivity into your daily routine or want to reflect on certain aspects of your life, Motivation provides a daily nudge in the right direction.

Sanvello

What is the best app for anxiety? In a randomized study of 500 adults with moderate to severe anxiety and depression, the tools provided on Sanvello were shown to decrease symptoms. 

Sanvello is an all in one app, with tools to track your moods and health, teach mindful habits, and even build specific skills. With Sanvello’s guided journey option, users receive insight and tips to help with activities such as public speaking or test-taking.

The app also provides progress assessments that allow you to set goals and track your improvements.

Finally, Sanvello provides you with a community focused on the betterment of mental health. In anonymous chat rooms you can share advice, ask questions, or simply talk to others who are experiencing similar challenges in their life. 

Sanvello is $8.99 a month to use, however it also offers a free version for those looking for less of a commitment. 

Calm

Calm was selected as Apple’s 2017 “App of the Year.” The developers say it has more than 40 million downloads worldwide and more than 1 million paying subscribers. 

So what is Calm, and why is it so popular? Calm offers a variety of meditation and relaxation tools. These include guided meditations, breathing programs, sleep stories, stretching exercises, and relaxing music.

Calm is designed to lower stress, improve sleep, and reduce anxiety. Its free version includes timed mediations, day 1 of a multi-day meditation program, a Breathe Bubble tool, and one sleep story. 

Calm premium unlocks the full library of meditations, stories, music, and more. New stories are added every week and you can sign up for a free 7-day trial. Celebrities like Harry Styles, Lebron James, Laura Dern, Matthew McConaughey, Kelly Rowland, and Lucy Liu have recorded sleep stories available on Calm. 

Is Online Therapy Right for You?

Ethnic couple receiving online therapy on couch. Man and woman hugging.

Why should I try online therapy as opposed to meeting with a therapist in person? Below we’ll take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of online counseling.

Advantages of Online Therapy 

  • Convenience. Online therapy is simply more convenient. Online therapy saves the time and effort it would take you to travel back and forth to an in-person office. This is especially useful for those who don’t have access to transportation or live in rural areas.
  • Flexible commitment. Online therapy is less of a commitment. These sites see users come and go all the time.
  • Cost savings. You save money. Generally, online services are far less expensive than traditional in-person therapists. There are a variety of plans to choose from that can account for any budget. 

Read: How Much Does Online Therapy Cost?


Disadvantages of Online Therapy

  • Potential loss of intimacy. Face-to-face contact can make for a more intimate experience. Therapists gain a lot of information from how you communicate with your body. 
  • Need the tech and space. You need a phone or computer, a good internet connection and a private space. For some, reliable internet access may not be an option and finding privacy for talk therapy could also be a complication.
  • Insurance coverage. Online therapy may not be covered by insurance. Although many insurance plans cover traditional in-person therapy, many exclude online services. You’ll have to check with your provider if you want to save on the cost of virtual counseling.
  • Severe mental illness. Online therapy is not right for those dealing with a severe mental illness or multiple complicated mental health conditions. Those that need close monitoring and help with medication management are always referred to in-person mental health treatment.

Remember, as with all types of therapy, online therapy is what you make of it. Your attitude and commitment to your mental health will drastically impact the outcome of your therapy.

What App is Right For Me?

In this article we’ve gone over just a handful of the apps at your disposal to improve your mental health.

Deciding between a mood journal and live counseling sessions can be difficult, especially for those addressing mental health issues for the first time.

If you’re looking to improve sleep, diet, or daily habits, we recommend starting with mental health apps. These will cost you less, and can help you help yourself. 


If you’re grappling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges, we recommend online therapy.


If you’ve ever struggled to sign up for therapy because it seemed like a big deal or too much of a hassle, these online options are perfect for you.

Getting started has never been easier and you can set up an appointment from the comfort of your bedroom. Just click here to get started.

Remember to take care of yourself, you’re worth it.

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

Talk to an Online Therapist PlushCare-App-Steps

Quiz: Do I Need Therapy?

Answer the following questions as accurately as possible to find out if you may benefit from therapy or mental health support.

Mental health disorders are extremely common and very treatable. The earlier treatment starts the better, so don't hesitate to reach out to a medical professional if you're struggling. For many mental health disorders talk therapy combined with medication therapy is the first line of treatment.

This quiz is not a diagnostic tool but can be used to help determine tendencies associated with mental health disorders and recommend the appropriate treatment.

If you'd like to speak with a top online therapist about your mental health, book an appointment here.

I am concerned about a behavior, feeling, or something I am doing.
I find it more difficult to cope with things than usual.
I have trouble concentrating at work or school.
I read books or go on the Internet to discover more about the behavior or feeling that’s troubling me.
Over the past year, I’ve had a lot of trouble sleeping because of all my worries.
I feel that there's something wrong with my body even though doctors tell me I’m fine.
I'm scared and nervous in public, and this is a big problem in my life.
I relive a terrible event that happened to me a long time ago.
I use more and more alcohol or drugs so I can deal with my problems better.
My drug or alcohol use causes problems in my job or relationships.
It’s hard for me to feel happy doing things I used to enjoy.
I eat a lot of food all at once and then make myself throw up.
I harm myself on purpose or do risky things without thinking.

Read More About Online Therapy Apps


Sources

pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Guided Self-Help Works: Randomized Waitlist Controlled Trial of Pacifica, a Mobile App Integrating Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Mindfulness for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression. Accessed on November 10, 2020. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31199319/

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. The Effectiveness of Internet-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders. Accessed on November 10, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5659300/

onlinelibrary.wiley.com. Primary‐care patients’ expectations and experiences of online cognitive behavioural therapy for depression: a qualitative study. Accessed on November 10, 2020. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1369-7625.2008.00531.x

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

Our commitment to you.

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

  • right Tick Image

    Research from sources you can trust

  • right Tick Image

    Medical reviews by field experts

  • right Tick Image

    Frequent content updates

More to learn.

Online Games To Play With Your Friends During Isolation

Online Games To Play With Your Friends During Isolation

Online Games To Play With Your Friends During Isolation As the coronavirus pandemic continues, millions find themselves under stay-at-home orders…

Leah McCabe 5 minutes
Why Pets are Great for Mental Health

Why Pets are Great for Mental Health

Pets can make a difference for your mental health 1 in 5 adults report experiencing symptoms of a mental health…

Jillian Stenzel 3 minutes
Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

Effects of Social Media on Mental Health

Effects of Social Media on Mental Health Are you worried that social media is negatively affecting your mental health? You’re…

Melani Facundo 6 minutes