Best Online Group Therapy 2022: Top 5 Virtual Group Therapy Apps

Markita Lewis

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

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Betterhelp

BetterHelp

  • Large selection of online groups to join
  • Offers both closed and open group therapy cohorts
  • Registered access to recorded group sessions for seven days

Sign Up Now

10% Off First Month: HEALTHCANAL

Hims & Hers

Hims & Hers

  • Focuses on skill building for mental health
  • Free online support groups
  • Other mental health services available at cost

Circles

Circles

  • Detailed matching process for groups
  • Allows communication between weekly meetings
  • Can meet with group facilitator before meeting group

Mental health care is just as important as maintaining your physical health. Mental health affects our thoughts, emotions, and how we behave towards ourselves and other people.

Speaking with a trained counselor or therapist can help you get the tools to have healthy coping mechanisms and overcome symptoms associated with mental health conditions or stressful life events.

Traditional in-person therapy can be quite expensive and difficult for people to access easily.

Seeking online therapy services can be a less costly and more convenient way to get the mental health support you need. Some benefits of group therapy include community building, accountability and motivation, and feeling that you’re not alone in your issues.

This article covers some of the best online group therapy applications (apps) in 2022.

5 Best Online Group Therapy in (December. 2022)

  • BetterHelp – Editor’s Choice
  • Hims & Hers – Best Free Group Online Therapy
  • Circles – Best for Emotional Support
  • Grouport – Best for Psychological Treatment
  • Monument – Best for Alcohol Recovery

What Is Online Group Therapy?

Group therapy is a form of therapy in which one or more specialized psychologists or therapists lead a group of several people in a therapy session. 

Group therapy can be used alone or in combination with individual therapy. It typically brings together people with similar experiences

An online group therapy session is typically conducted over video, voice chat, or messaging with the supervision of licensed mental health professionals.

Who Should Use Group Therapy?

Group therapy is beneficial for various mental health conditions and life experiences. 

Research supports that group therapy effectively treats anxiety[1], depression[2], substance use disorder[3], post-traumatic stress disorder[4] (PTSD), and other mental health topics.

Even if you do not have a mental health disorder, group therapy can help you deal with grief, loss, a lack of social skills, or divorce.

Of course, group therapy may not be appropriate for everyone. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidal thoughts, please contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988 or 1-800-273-8255.

The Line Up At A Glance

Betterhelp

Editor’s Choice

BetterHelp

  • Large selection of online groups to join
  • Offers both closed and open group therapy cohorts
  • Registered access to recorded group sessions for seven days

Sign Up Now

10% Off First Month: HEALTHCANAL

Hims & Hers

Best Free Group Online Therapy

Hims & Hers

  • Focuses on skill building for mental health
  • Free online support groups
  • Other mental health services available at cost

Circles

Best for Emotional Support

Circles

  • Detailed matching process for groups
  • Allows communication between weekly meetings
  • Can meet with group facilitator before meeting group

Grouport

Best for Psychological Treatment

Grouport

  • Offers psychological treatment for conditions
  • Allows anonymity during video chats
  • Potential out-of-network reimbursement through insurance

monument

Best for Alcohol Recovery

Monument

  • Offers groups based on social identities
  • Group sessions are free
  • Strong community support through forums and chat

5 Best Online Group Therapy To Choose In 2022

BetterHelp

Betterhelp

Sign Up Now

10% Off First Month: HEALTHCANAL

See BetterHelp Reviews

BetterHelp is a well-known online counseling platform that offers a large selection of providers, great flexibility for joining group sessions, and many options for mental health support.

  • Large selection of online groups to join
  • Offers both closed and open group therapy cohorts
  • Registered access to recorded group sessions for seven days
  • App works on computer, tablets, and phones
  • History of data privacy and therapist quality controversies

BetterHelp is an online counseling platform founded in 2013 to increase access to psychologists, board-licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and clinical social workers.

BetterHelp stands out by being a relatively affordable cash-pay platform that provides many options for therapists and group sessions. Individualized and couple therapy costs between $60 and $90 a week.

Online group therapy is a free benefit offered by BetterHelp in addition to paid individual or couples counseling. BetterHelp offers over 20 live and interactive group therapy sessions or “Groupinars” weekly, so finding a group that works with your schedule and needs is easier.

They offer closed groups to improve peer support amongst participants, but there are open groups that can be joined at any time.

Groupinars are led by a licensed mental health professional who gives a one-hour presentation while participants can live chat. If you miss a Groupinar session you registered for; you can view the Groupinar presentation up to seven days afterward.

While virtual group therapy is a free service offered by BetterHelp, you must first have a monthly membership to their individual or couples therapy.

BetterHelp does not submit claims to health insurers, Medicare, or Medicaid, and mental health services provided are generally not covered by these entities.

Hims & Hers

If you’re new to group therapy or want a low-cost option, Hims & Hers Health has free online group therapy that can help you build skills for mental health resilience.

  • Focuses on skill building for mental health
  • Free online support groups
  • Other mental health services available at cost
  • Some days have few group options

Founded in 2017, Hims & Hers Health, Inc is an online telehealth platform for men and women that provides medical care and personal care support online.

Hims & Hers have a mission to help people handle their “hard-to-talk-about” issues, which is why they focus on mental health, sexual health, contraception, and hair loss.

Hims & Hers has several online support group sessions, which typically last 60 minutes and are available from Monday through Thursday. 

Online support groups are led by a licensed therapist who provides evidence-based tools and strategies to help participants with their mental health. Each session also has a live group discussion where questions are answered in real-time.

You can be anonymous in any support group and join through your phone or computer. 

Hims & Hers anonymous support groups are currently offered for free. For more intensive care, you can sign up for online psychiatry services or private individual counseling sessions.

Circles

Going through tough times alone can be difficult. Circles is a great online group therapy platform focusing on emotional support through challenging life events.

  • Detailed matching process for groups
  • Allows communication between weekly meetings
  • Can meet with group facilitator before meeting group
  • Does not offer psychological counseling

Circles is an online group therapy platform formally known as “7 Chairs.” This platform was founded in 2018 and was designed to help individuals get emotional peer support in an accessible manner.

Circles specialize in creating online group therapy cohorts for people experiencing specific issues such as grief, loss, separation, or divorce. 

In the Circles experience, people are matched to small closed groups of 6 to 10 people who are going through similar life events.

Each small group is facilitated by screened and vetted mental health professionals who you can speak with in a one-to-one call before your first Circle meeting.

Circles virtual group therapy sessions consist of weekly 60-minute video sessions, with a group chat available 24/7. There is also additional support through tools including blogs, self-help cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)-based exercises, and webinars on the Circles website and app. CBT exercises may include such interventions as deep breathing to reduce stress.

Circle currently does not take insurance but offers financial assistance to individuals who need it.

Grouport

Grouport offers high-quality online therapy services centered on psychological treatment. Their small g roups, specialized therapists, and variety of conditions treated make Grouport a great option.

  • Offers psychological treatment for conditions
  • Allows anonymity during video chats
  • Potential out-of-network reimbursement through insurance submitted yourself
  • No group communication between sessions

Grouport is a virtual group therapy platform established in 2019 to create accessible online group therapy tailored to treating chronic psychological disorders.

Grouport offers groups for dialectical behavior therapy[5] (DBT), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety, depression, grief & loss, relationship issues, and trauma & PTSD.

DBT is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that helps people with intense emotions or destructive behaviors learn skills to manage these emotions and reduce interpersonal conflict. A key concept of DBT is radical acceptance, which encourages you to accept the way you are and the events in your life.

Upon signing up for Grouport, you will have a 20-minute consultation with one of their counselors to ensure that you’ve joined the best group for your psychological needs.

Grouport virtual group therapy sessions are 60 minutes long and held once per week via video chat. Each group has a maximum of 12 participants, and groups are led by a licensed therapist trained in a relevant specialty.

Membership to Grouport is billed every four weeks but can be canceled at any time. 

Grouport does not accept insurance but offers an invoice every billing cycle that can be used for out-of-network reimbursement with your insurance provider. You must bill your insurance company yourself.

Monument

Monument is a newer, but notable alcohol recovery service. Through unique group therapy sessions, online forums, and optional personalized treatment, Monument makes alcohol recovery more accessible.

  • Offers groups based on social identities
  • Group sessions are free
  • Strong community support through forums and chat
  • Optional personalized treatment for alcohol recovery
  • Personalized treatment plans are not available in all states

Monument is an online telehealth service launched in 2020 to make alcohol recovery easier and more accessible to the general public.

Monument specializes in online alcohol treatment for people navigating alcohol sobriety or moderation but may be unable to afford expensive treatment programs. 

Groups on Monument are moderated by therapists and cover topics such as preventing relapse, gender-specific groups for sobriety and moderation, mindfulness meditation, and navigating sobriety and moderation through racial trauma and oppression.

After sessions, you can chat 24/7 with fellow group members on a private channel.

Monument also features an online alcohol support forum and an unmoderated drop-in community hangout to encourage connection in groups and accountability.

Through Monument, individuals can also speak to a physician about starting a prescription for disulfiram or naltrexone, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved prescription medications that can help treat alcohol use disorder.

Monument offers online group therapy free of charge and only requires registration with the Monument website to join a group.

The cost of more intense care plans that include physician visits, medications, and specialized therapy sessions will depend on your medical insurance provider. Monument is also approved for Flexible Savings Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) spending in most cases.

Who May Not Use Online Therapy

While many people may benefit from using online group therapy, there are circumstances in which in-person or individual sessions may be more appropriate[6].

Group sessions are typically held at a specific date and time and may not work for people needing flexible schedules.

People with extreme behavioral characteristics who are highly manipulative, shy, impulsive, aggressive, or with active psychosis may not do well in a group setting.

Honoring group privacy or group agreements is also important for online group therapy. This may not be a good option if such privacy or group agreements cannot be adhered to. 

Online group therapy may not be appropriate for people who are prone to dropping out of groups, unable to maintain group member privacy, or people who act contrary to the interests of the group.

Online therapy also may not be appropriate for people experiencing severe psychological symptoms, such as actively experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm or severe addictions. 

People who need more customized interventions or a higher level of treatment, such as intensive outpatient programs or inpatient programs, should not use online group therapy.

Guide for Choosing the Best Virtual Group Therapy

Searching for online support groups or therapy online can be difficult. Here are some things to consider when choosing the best online therapy group to meet your personal needs:

Consider Group Size and Type

The size of your group may impact your experience. Consider whether you would prefer a small, intimate group of people to gain trust with or a slightly larger group to get a wider range of perspectives.

Deciding whether you want to be in an open or closed group also matters. Closed groups have all participants join at the same time. A closed group can help foster better emotional connection and unity amongst fellow group members. However, it may take more time for a closed group to be available.

Open online groups are groups in which members can join at any time before a group maximum is reached. It may take longer to adjust to fluctuations in membership and build trust, but open groups are somewhat faster to join and form a communication channel.

Think About Group Treatment Model and Focus

Group therapy works best when all participants share a common experience or condition. Think about what issue you’d like to receive support with that can provide the best benefit for you. If needed, you can always join more than one group to meet your needs.

Not all therapists in online group therapy sessions use the same counseling theory models[7] to promote change. Some therapists may use tools from CBT, DBT, group psychodynamic therapy models, or other theories to help participants.

Find What Works for Your Schedule

One of the downsides of online group therapy is that you have to commit to a time and day for the weekly sessions. Online therapy platforms that offer many open groups to join may be better when your schedule is in flux.

Consider Your Communication Needs

Some group therapy platforms only allow for other group members to communicate with each other during the therapist-led session. If you miss a session, that could mean an entire week without group support or interaction.

If you prefer having a greater sense of community with your fellow group members, look for group therapy platforms that allow group members to communicate outside of moderated sessions. Some online group therapy websites offer forums, private group chats, or other ways for group members to connect.

Consider Your Finances

Online group therapy is typically cheaper than in-person group therapy, but not all platforms are at accessible prices. Free online group therapy can be great for individuals with financial hardship or people looking to try out therapy for the first time. 

Be sure to check the website’s payment options before signing up. Most online group therapy programs are cash-pay only, but there are online therapy platforms that accept insurance or allow for FSA/HSA payments.

Final Thought

Online group therapy can be an effective tool in supporting your mental health. It is often more cost-effective per session and more accessible than traditional in-person group therapy.

Group therapy is beneficial for dealing with many mental health conditions and life events. This type of therapy can also give feelings of hope, improve social skills, and increase connection with others who are going through similar circumstances.

Speak with your healthcare provider to see if online group psychotherapy could benefit you.

We’ve shared some of the top online group therapy platforms to try in 2022. If you need additional options, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a helpful website that can help you find treatment[8] today.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidal thoughts, please contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988 or 1-800-273-8255.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is online group therapy a right choice for you?

Online group therapy can be effective for many people who want additional support from individual therapy or want to improve their mental health with others going through similar experiences. 

What Is the distinction between online group therapy and online support groups?

Online group therapy is about changing behaviors and involve a trained and licensed mental health professional using evidence-based tools for treatment or growth. Online support groups are for encouragement or coping with life experiences and are not always run by trained mental health professionals.

Is online group therapy covered by insurance?

Online group therapy can be covered by insurance, depending on the platform. When choosing an online therapy platform, always check their payment policy to see if they take insurance. Otherwise, contact your health insurance provider to see if they cover online therapy from your platform of choice.

Is it necessary for me to communicate during online group therapy?

Many online support groups and therapy groups allow participants to observe and stay completely anonymous. However, communicating with the group through video chat, voice, or text may be beneficial to building trust and emotional support between members.

How much does group therapy cost?

The cost of group therapy differs from provider to provider. Getting group therapy online for free is possible, but many providers charge at least $15 or more per session. Online group therapy providers will have the cost of their services available on their websites.


+ 8 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Barkowski, S., Schwartze, D., Strauss, B., Burlingame, G.M. and Rosendahl, J. (2020). Efficacy of group psychotherapy for anxiety disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychotherapy Research, [online] 30(8), pp.965–982. doi:10.1080/10503307.2020.1729440.
  2. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy. (2020). Group Psychotherapy for Depression. [online] Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00207284.2020.1749521?journalCode=ujgp20
  3. López, G., Orchowski, L.M., Reddy, M.K., Nargiso, J. and Johnson, J.E. (2021). A review of research-supported group treatments for drug use disorders. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy, [online] 16(1). doi:10.1186/s13011-021-00371-0.
  4. Schwartze, D., Barkowski, S., Strauss, B., Knaevelsrud, C. and Rosendahl, J. (2017). Efficacy of group psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Psychotherapy Research, [online] 29(4), pp.415–431. doi:10.1080/10503307.2017.1405168.
  5. Lakeman, R., King, P., Hurley, J., Tranter, R., Leggett, A., Campbell, K. and Herrera, C. (2022). Towards online delivery of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy: A scoping review. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, [online] 31(4), pp.843–856. doi:10.1111/inm.12976.
  6. Nih.gov. (2022). 3 Criteria for the Placement of Clients in Groups. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64215/
  7. Center (2022). Chapter 9—Time-Limited Group Therapy. [online] Nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64936/
  8. Samantha.Elliott (2013). Find Treatment | SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. [online] Samhsa.gov. Available at: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-treatment.
Markita Lewis

Written by:

Markita Lewis, MS, RD

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Markita Lewis, MS, RD is a registered dietitian and a freelance health and wellness writer practicing in the Los Angeles area. As a clinician, Markita has several years of experience working with adult and pediatric patients in inpatient and outpatient settings. Markita has also conducted research in areas including diverticulosis, age-related macular degeneration, and cultural eating patterns.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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