During the pandemic, therapy options became much more versatile. While some therapists still prefer to meet up in person, there are now more options available for individual and group therapy.  

Whether you have a regular therapy routine or you’re exploring your options for the first time, online group therapy is a great option. Many will find that online group counseling or virtual mental health groups suit their needs.

What is online group therapy? 

Online group therapy is a multi-person session that takes place virtually–this could be via video chat, voice calls, or chat room discussions. The session is led by a mental health professional.

The concept really took off during COVID-19, when in-person meetings were essentially nonexistent. Whereas it was once difficult to feel comfortable speaking up online, with people often speaking over each other by accident, now people have adjusted to the concept and appreciate the convenience of virtual meetings. For those who do not have easy access to transportation, online group therapy can be a great choice.

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Online group therapy should still meet a person’s particular needs and help a person to explore their condition alongside other patients. Some of the conditions that might be treated via online group therapy include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety and panic disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-harm
  • Substance use disorder
  • Chronic illness
  • Long-term and terminal illnesses

The difference between group therapy and support groups

“The main difference between group therapy and a support group is the presence of a mental health professional who acts as a group facilitator. Without an educated and experienced therapist, you cannot have a therapy group,” says Eric Patterson, LPC.

Online support groups are often peer-led. People often benefit from participating in both support groups and therapy groups, and this fact does not change just because it is online.

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Who is online therapy good for? 

Online group therapy could be useful for anyone exploring their therapy options. The convenience of meeting online in one benefit already mentioned, and is particularly good for those who find it difficult to travel to an office. Those who prefer the additional anonymity provided by not having to walk into a known therapist’s office might find online group therapy a positive option. On the other hand, if you do not have a strong internet connection or you do not have a private place in your home where you can speak online to a group without interruptions, an in-person group might be a better option.

Those who experience anxiety or discomfort about meeting one-to-one with a therapist, or who function best when surrounded by peers, might find that they prefer the option of group therapy, either online or in person. Having the added support of peers who are experiencing challenges similar to yours can affirm that you are not alone in your struggles.

A Few Online Group Options

Grouport specializes in online group therapy, making it great for those new to group therapy. Each group has no more than 12 members, and is led by a licensed therapist. 

BetterHelp starts by asking a series of questions, which aid in pairing up a patient with the therapist or therapies that will best suit them. Therapy plans cost between $60 to $90 per week, and sessions can take place by video chat, phone, or chat room.

Talkspace has over 1 million users. It offers both individual and group therapy as well as psychiatry, and allows messaging with therapists 24/7.

TherapyTribe includes a free online support community available to all, offering peer-to-peer counseling on a variety of topics.

Additional Resources

Healthline: What Is Online Group Therapy? Plus, How to Find It

Looking for an in-person group or online individual counseling? Visit our partner Northwestern Community Services Board. If you are looking for help for a substance use disorder, visit our partner Warren Coalition Counseling.

Updated July 11, 2023.

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