Ayana therapy is a privately held company based in Los Angeles, CA. With just 10 in-office employees, it’s still a small growing startup company – but it has already received backing by The Fund Venture Capital and Techstars which is an encouraging sign it will continue to grow and stick around for a long time.
Eric Coly, Ayana’s founder and current CEO, is a former investment banker. He started Ayana in 2019 following a long bout of severe depression. As we all know, struggles such as these often lead to growth and change, and such was the case for Eric. He used his own experiences and struggles to come up with a unique service that aims to help minorities by providing intersectional therapy.
All in all, we have absolutely no reason to feel Ayana is not safe. It is a legit company with serious backing, an inspiring mission statement and an impressive CEO at the helm.
|U.S Based Company||Yes|
|Number of Licensed Therapists||Unknown, But Not Many|
|Therapy Modes||Text, Audio and Video|
|Available Treatments||Private Therapy Only – No Couples or Groups|
|Average Price||$60 Per Week|
|Sign Up Time||Few Minutes|
|Response Time||Several Days|
|Customer Reviews||86% Positive|
|Our Editorial Rating||3.5 Stars|
Ayana Therapy’s sign up process is actually different from most other sites. Instead of filling up a quick questionnaire and completing the signup process immediately, here you leave your name and contact information – and wait for their team to contact you with further instructions.
Ayana’s website says this is because they want to tailor the experience and give personal treatment to each potential client, but we suspect it’s more due to lack of staff. In any case, once they do reach out to you, there’s no special treatment or a personal feel to it so I’m not sure what’s the point. In my case, it took almost 3 whole days before I heard back from them.
Unlike other small sites such as Counseling on Demand for example, which lets you have a free consultation meeting first, over at Ayana you get to fill a fairly generic questionnaire about your demographics and preferences, before being automatically assigned your potential “match”. In some cases, most likely based on availability in your specific location, the system will suggest several matches for you to choose from.
Once you select one of the offered therapists, you’ll wait for their approval so that counseling can actually begin. While this normally takes 24-48 hours or less, at times I had to wait as long as a week or even more (upwards of 2 weeks). This is much different than most therapy platforms, either big ones such as Talkspace or even smaller sites such as Calmerry and Online-therapy.com – all guarantee you can start your therapy in 2 days or less. The only other therapy site I tried where matching takes a week is Get Cerebral.
In any case, once the counselor approves your request, you’ll have to pay – either for a monthly subscription plan or for a single session (see below for a breakdown of costs). Once you do, you’ll be able to begin therapy. Your counselor will be available through text and chat messaging throughout the week, as well as conduct a weekly virtual session with you through video or phone.
Your assigned therapist will be the one escorting you throughout the whole therapy process. If at any given time you are not satisfied with your counselor and wish to replace them, you’ll have to contact support. After a few days, you’ll get another list of potential matches to choose from.
Ayana Therapy is currently the only teletherapy site that allows users to choose between a monthly subscription plan and paying for a single session each time. While I do appreciate the flexibility, the price of $140 for a single session is much higher than what other sites charge. Amwell for example, a better overall therapy platform, only charges $109 for a single session of therapy.
If you are interested in the pay per meet module, then I recommend comparing Ayana to Sesame Care. Over there, price for a single session starts at only $45, and they guarantee you’ll get an appointment within a day or two (and not like Ayana where one time I waited for over a week). You can read my full Sesame Care Therapy review and see how these two compare.
Ayana Therapy also has a unique “Gift card” feature which enables you to purchase therapy sessions and give them to someone you know. This is a great feature, but it is unclear to me why giving therapy as a gift should cost more than getting it for myself. The single session price is the same at $140, but the 4 session monthly subscription package costs $30 extra for some strange reason.
It’s also worth mentioning again that Ayana does not work with any type of health insurance, nor does it offer any discounts and financial aid programs like BetterHelp does. I find this to be a little bit disappointing from a site which is dedicated to helping marginalized individuals, many of which come from hard economic backgrounds or struggle to find work in today’s still overly judgmental work environment.
That said, even without insurance, their pricing is quite competitive. You can see how it compares by reading our guide for the best online therapy sites with insurance.
One of the things I liked the most about Ayana Therapy is the quality of their employed counselors. These are handpicked to serve specific populations at need, and are excellently trained to be culturally competent and aware. If there’s one thing that really proves the merit of Ayana’s unique approach to therapy – this is it.
Counselors working with Ayana are all licensed psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, or licensed professional counselors. They each have at least a Masters degree in their respective field, as well as 3 years and 2,000 hours of hands-on experience. All counselors are of course fully licensed and are carefully vetted by Ayana before they begin working.
Even though Ayana doesn’t have as many therapists on staff as other platforms, their specialists cover a wide range of mental health problems. They mostly practice CBT, DBT and EMDR techniques to help patients with the following:
Ayana’s counselors can help you deal with issues that arise from meaningful relationships in your life – whether it’s your family, partner or colleagues at work. That said, the platform only offers counseling for a single patient. If you are looking to get help with your relationship, you might want to look into our list of the best couples therapy sites first.
Ayana Therapy offers a unique approach to virtual counseling that is both refreshing and answers a real need. The desire to bring targeted, specialized help to marginalized sectors of society is a great mission, and Ayana is making great strides towards perfecting it.
That said, as demonstrated in this Ayana Therapy review, I do feel at this current stage the cons of using this service outweigh the pros. It’s hard justifying paying for a platform without a mobile app, which doesn’t let you choose your therapist and makes you wait up to 2 weeks before you meet one.
For that reason, I feel like Ayana is not a good first option for people who are thinking of getting help online. If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Pride Counseling does the same thing Ayana Therapy does, minus all the downsides (it is a bit more expensive though).
And if you belong to a different minority group – why not try Talkspace or BetterHelp first? Out of 5000+ therapists there surely must be someone you develop rapport with, and over there they actually let you choose.
That said, if you have already tried other forms of therapy and feel disillusioned and disheartened by the experience, there’s certainly no harm in giving Ayana Therapy a shot. Some people do really need to be talking to someone who is very similar to them and understands them on a very profound level before they can truly open up and trust them – and Ayana might be the perfect place to find such a person.
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