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Best Online Group Therapy Services For 2024

Medically Reviewed and Edited by 
Olga Kyrychenko, Psychologist

Recognizing the significance of social dynamics on our mental wellbeing, group therapy has emerged as a powerful tool in addressing mental health problems and challenging situations.

Providing a safe space based on mutual support and empathetic understanding, group therapy is a valuable tool that helps us observe our own internal world through relationships with others, helping us to overcome psychological, emotional or social concerns.

This article will explain what virtual group therapy is and how it works, how it can be beneficial and in what can it be most helpful. Moreover, I’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide to help you choose the best online group therapy for your specific situation.

Best for Group Therapy
Circles Review
Editorial Rating
96.7%
Pricing

$30 Per Week

Promo

1 Week Free Trial

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Pros
  • Easy to use website and service
  • one week free trial
Cons
  • Not all facilitators are licensed psychologists
  • Does not accept insurance
Best For Free Chat Therapy
7 Cups Review
Editorial Rating
88.1%
Pricing

$0- $150 Per Month

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No Available Promo

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Pros
  • Non professional volunteers available 24/7
  • Safe to use with great regard to your privacy
  • Signing up is easy
  • Cheapest way to get support online
Cons
  • Quality of volunteers vary greatly
  • No option for live sessions, even with the paid version
Best Welcome Bonus
Editorial Rating
83.4%
Pricing

$140 Per Month

Promo

50% Off First Month

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Pros
  • one-on-one consultation with a licensed professional to match you with the right group
  • All groups are led by mental health professionals
Cons
  • Doesn’t take insurance
  • Doesn’t offer single sessions
Best For Alcohol Addiction
Editorial Rating
83.2%
Pricing

$14.99 - $254.99 Per Month

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No Available Promo

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Pros
  • Custom monthly subscription plans based on your needs
  • Over 60 weekly support groups
Cons
  • Only treats alcohol abuse
  • Dou get automatically matched to a therapist without the option to choose one
Best For Minorities
Editorial Rating
81%
Pricing

$60 Per Month

Promo

First Week Off

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Pros
  • Unlimited access to groups and sessions
  • Wide selection of sessions multiples time a day
Cons
  • Sessions are canceled if not enough people attend
  • Doesn’t allow to remain with the same group through sessions

What is Group Therapy?

Group therapy is a form of therapy where a small group of individuals, led by a trained therapist or counselor, meet to share their experiences, emotions and struggles in a safe setting. This dynamic allows participants to connect with others facing similar issues, providing a sense of community and shared understanding.

It’s important to note that group therapy and support groups, while related and apparently similar, differ in structure and focus. Support groups provide a safe space too for individuals to share experiences and offer mutual support, but they are more unstructured and open-ended, and the facilitator is not necessarily a trained therapist who provides professional help.

The key difference, however, mainly relies on the goal: while support groups aim to help members cope, the goal of group therapy is to help members change, making this option more appropriate and effective for the treatment of issues that require a clinician’s expertise.

Group therapy effectiveness relies on “reciprocity“, “exchangeability” and “confrontation” between the members. It’s precisely the mutual exchange and the non-judgmental dialog that comes from these principles which give this approach a therapeutic and healing character.

Online group therapy operates on the same principles but is conducted as a virtual group therapy. This format offers accessibility and flexibility, enabling participants to engage from the comfort of their chosen space.

How Does Online Group Therapy Work?

Online group therapy has a similar structure and format as in-person group therapy. The main difference is that the sessions take place in a virtual setting, facilitated through video conferencing platforms like Zoom. One of the key advantages of Zoom group therapy is the ability to connect with a diverse group of individuals from various geographic locations, broadening the range of experiences and perspectives shared within the group, enhancing the therapeutic process.

During online group therapy sessions, the group, formed around a shared issue and typically comprising up to 12 participants, engage in discussions led by one or more trained therapists, who guide and facilitate the group’s interactions. These discussions allow participants to openly share their personal experiences and they offer a unique opportunity to explore and address mental health concerns within the context of a supportive community, allowing the members to learn from the experiences of others, gain new perspectives, and develop a sense of belonging.

In addition to group discussions, online group therapy often incorporates various therapeutic techniques, such as mindfulness exercises, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or psycho-education, depending on the purpose of the therapy.

Circles - Best Online Group Therapy Service

Circles is one of the best providers of virtual group therapy sessions. Their focus on diversity and inclusivity ensures that you can find a group tailored to your specific needs: they offer more than a dozen topics to choose from, including everything from managing anxiety, grief, relationship issues or dealing with mental disorders, chronic illness or disability.

While not covered by insurance, Circles offers an affordable monthly subscription of 29$, which gives you unlimited access to weekly group meetings led by professionally trained therapists, and a 24/7 chat feature to connect with all the members and the facilitator of your circle. Additionally, you have access, at no extra cost, to their Masterclass content, including self-help exercises, blogs, and webinars.

Circles Pros:
Circles Cons:
  • Seven-day free trial
  • Simple to navigate mobile app and desktop browser
  • Affordable price and easy cancellation
  • Access to 24/7 chat outside sessions for each group joined
  • Meeting groups are led by trained professionals
 
  • Not covered by health insurance
  • Limited mental health issues covered
  • Switching groups can be slow, users need to contact customer service to do so

7Cups

7Cups is a text-based community platform that offers on-demand emotional support and online therapy. For free, it provides access to an expansive selection of chat rooms, where users can start or join discussions on a wide range of specific mental health topics, from ADHD, bipolar disorders, and depression, to grief, loss and relationship management. However, the downside of this large availability of forums is that often your post may not be seen and not attract the engagement you need.

To address this drawback, you may opt for chats with “Active Listeners”, one-to-one chats that connect you with volunteer listeners, who don’t have any specific experience or qualifications, but they completed an online course to provide active listening and immediate support. If needed, they will also refer you to a licensed mental health professional.

If you’re seeking professional therapy, 7Cups provides a subscription plan for $150 per month that provides a 24/7 chat with a trained therapist. You should expect a reply at least once daily, Monday through Friday. However, the subscription doesn’t offer any live or video sessions, making this option not particularly suited for serious mental health issues that require more in-depth conversations. 7Cups doesn’t accept insurance.

7Cups Pros:
7Cups Cons:
  • 24/7 anonymous chat
  • AI Chatbot that guides you to navigate the platform
  • Large support community with a wide variety of specific topics
  • Free self-guided exercises
  • One-on-one chat with trained therapist if you pay $150 a month
 
  • Listeners can’t provide immediate crisis support
  • No free trial for online therapy
  • Online therapy doesn’t happen in real-time, with no option for video or phone calls
  • Limited types of therapy available
  • You can’t choose your own therapist
  • Website interface could be overwhelming and the app is reported to be very buggy
  • Doesn’t accept insurance

Grouport

Grouport focuses exclusively on group therapy, making it a specialized and effective choice for people looking to address specific issues. After a one-on-one assessment led by a trained mental health professional, the platform will match you with a group that best suits your needs.

Each session, conducted once a week, at the same time each week, lasts 60 minutes. All groups, led by specialized therapists, have up to 12 participants, who tend to be the same throughout all the sessions to deliver a comfortable sense of community.

For a price of $35 per week, billed at $140 every month, the platform covers a range of topics, including depression, addiction recovery, and trauma healing. At the cost of $25 per week, they also offer Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) groups, where you can learn new skills to manage emotions, improve relationships and to cope with setbacks and negative emotions.

Unfortunately, Grouport doesn’t take insurance. However, it provides forms to submit to your insurance provider for reimbursement. The reimbursement amount depends on the provider’s policies, but you’d be able to recover as much as 85% of the cost for group therapy.

Grouport Pros:
Grouport Cons:
  • Easy and clean website interface
  • Provides a one-on-one consultation with a licensed professional to match you with the right group
  • All groups are led by mental health professionals
  • Covers a wide range of mental health disorders
  • 50% off on your first month
  • Doesn’t take insurance
  • Doesn’t offer single sessions
 

Monument

Monument is an online platform specialized on the treatment of alcohol abuse that provides insurance-covered care delivered by licensed therapists and physicians. It offers customized treatment plans to help you change your drinking habits, whether you’re interested in drinking moderation or complete abstinence.

For $14.99 per month you can join a community membership that grants you unlimited access to moderated support groups (over 60 groups every week), guided courses, with video lessons and workbooks to support your recovery, a 24/7 anonymous community forum for peer support and self-paced guided courses including videos and readings.

For an additional cost of $249 per month, if your needs require it, the platform offers you virtual one-on-one therapy sessions on a weekly or biweekly basis.

Finally, you can opt for medication-assisted treatment for a price of $100 per appointment. You will be able to explore medication options with a physician, manage your prescription electronically, and get it delivered to your home or pharmacy.

Monument Pros:
Monument Cons:
  • Custom monthly subscription plans based on your needs
  • All therapists are licensed and trained professionals
  • Over 60 weekly support groups
  • Anonymous 24/7 community forum available
  • Offers medication-assisted treatment for purchase if needed
  • Accepts insurance
  • Only treats alcohol abuse
  • Physician can only prescribe two medications
  • You get automatically matched to a therapist without the option to choose one

Sesh

Sesh is a mental health platform that provides online support groups facilitated by licensed therapists. It offers sessions on a wide range of topics, from managing stress, anxiety, or depression, to parenting and relationship support. It also extends to community-focused groups, supporting members of specific groups, like LGBTQIA+ or people of color.

It’s important to note that although all sessions are led by professional therapists, Sesh only provides support groups, not therapy groups. If the problem you’re facing requires a more therapeutic approach, this platform might not be the right choice.

Nevertheless, with a monthly subscription of $60, you can access unlimited support groups and attend as many sessions as they like, which not only makes this option accessible and convenient, but also creates a sense of autonomy in decision-making that promotes self-determination.

Sesh Pros:
Sesh Cons:
  • First 2 weeks for free
  • For a monthly subscriptions, it offers unlimited access to groups and sessions
  • Offers a wide selection of sessions multiples time a day
  • Licensed mental health professionals lead the sessions
  • Doesn’t allow to remain with the same group through sessions
  • Sessions are canceled if not enough people attend
  • If you can’t attend a registered meeting, you will be charged with a $20 fee
  • Doesn’t accept insurance

How To Choose an Online Group Therapy Platform?

Group therapy is a proven effective approach, rooting its success to our biological need to connect and communicate with one another. Listening, sharing, and experiencing one’s difficulties through the stories of others means “empathizing” with them to the point of finding a better self-knowledge through mirroring.

The sense of sharing and belonging can represent alone a great therapeutic and change factor. However, each individual responds to certain treatments in relation to their very personal way of being. It’s therefore essential to carefully choose the type of therapy that best suits your needs and preferences. There are different factors and key points to consider before opting for a group therapy.

At the end, the single most important factor is your safety and the level of comfort you’ll be able to reach. These are both detrimental to any successful treatment, let alone one which is done in a group environment. For that reason, before joining a group I encourage you to make sure both the counselor and participants share your core beliefs and outlook upon life.

What is Group Therapy Most Effective For?

Group therapy is recommended for the treatment of various challenges and concerns, whether psychological, emotional or behavioral. Through the dynamics of a group that welcomes and cares for each individual, it’s an ideal approach to process emotions and reactions, making it particularly suitable for affective, substance and alcohol addictions.

Group Therapy can also effectively help in the management of the following mental disorders and challenges:

  • Anxiety and stress management.
  • Depression and mood disorders.
  • Grief and loss.
  • Relationship and family issues.
  • Coping with trauma and post-traumatic stress.
  • LGBTQ+ support and community building.

Online Support Group vs. Face-to-Face Support Groups

Online and face-to-face support groups both offer valuable peer support when seeking mental health support. Online support groups provide the advantage of accessibility and convenience, while face-to-face support groups may appeal to those who prefer in-person interactions and need a local support network.

Choosing between the two formats depends on your individual needs, preferences, and circumstances. Consider the following factors:

  • Comfort Level: Are you more at ease sharing in a physical group or through the relative anonymity of online platforms?
  • Geographic Location: Does your proximity to support group meetings affect your choice?
  • Scheduling: Do you have a flexible schedule to attend in-person meetings, or do you need the convenience of online options?
  • Specific Needs: Are there specialized groups or topics that are more readily available in one format over the other?
  • Level of Stigma: Are you concerned about potential stigma associated with attending in-person support groups in your community?

The effectiveness of a support group experience, whether online or in-person, always depends on the quality of facilitation, the dedication of participants, and the alignment of the format with your personal preferences and needs.

Online Group Therapy vs. Individual Therapy Sessions

When approaching group therapy, the idea that the time and attention the therapist will give you is limited and less useful because being divided among the participants can make you believe that this type of intervention is less effective than individual therapy. Group therapy though doesn’t consist of individual therapies done in a group, but rather represents an approach with its specific therapeutic factors and benefits, different from those of a classic therapy.

Group therapy allows to exploit specific psychological processes that emerge through the formation of a network of relationships in a context of shared understanding, warmth and motivation to change. In the group, in fact, all participants work together in a synergistic way to address problems starting from the specific needs of each individual, which allow group therapy to amplify and accelerate certain processes of change and improve the effectiveness of some types of intervention.

Group therapy finds its best application in the treatment of those challenging situations whose causes are already semi-elaborated on a conscious level, even more so when they pertain to the behavioral and relational sphere. Individual therapy, on the other hand, is more useful when the causes of the issue are still unconscious, because the work requires exploratory depth and marked intimacy.

For this reason many individuals benefit from an integration of both: combining the results made in individual therapy with the “amplifying” benefits of group therapy can offer a comprehensive and holistic approach to mental health care.

On a final note, it’s important to address a common concern that may arise when approaching group therapy: having to share your personal problems and intimate thoughts with strangers. However, one of the fundamental rules of the group is confidentiality. Just as the therapist is bound to professional secrecy, those who choose to join the group won’t reveal the identities and stories of their peers. This rule, together with a climate of non-judgmental listening, are elements that help the group feel like they are in a safe place and encourage trust in each other.

Online Group Therapy - Frequently Asked Questions

Is online group therapy as effective as face to face group therapy?

Online group therapy can be just as effective as in-person sessions when facilitated by skilled therapists and attended by engaged participants. The convenience and accessibility of virtual therapy may even make it more effective for some individuals.

Can I find online group therapy for specific mental health issues?

platforms categorize their group therapy sessions by topics, making it easy to find the right group for your needs. You can use the list of platforms we reviewed or consult with mental health professionals to discover relevant groups.

How long does a group therapy session last?

Usually, online group and support sessions last between 60 and 90 minutes.

How much does online group therapy cost?

Online group therapy price depends on the platform, the services it offers and the qualification of the mediators. Of the companies we reviewed, the cost for group therapy and support groups are included in monthly subscriptions, that range from $15 to $150.

Is Virtual Group Therapy Right For Me?

Online group therapy offers a wealth of opportunities for individuals seeking mental health support. It’s generally more affordable than individual therapy and it allows you to connect with people facing similar challenging life stages and mental health issues, granting great advantages in acquiring coping and changing skills for your wellbeing. Additionally, with the convenience of virtual sessions, you can access immediate emotional and psychological support when you need it, at the ease of your home.

However, group therapy isn’t for everyone. While many people feel comfortable sharing, listening and connecting with a group, some individuals don’t feel at ease in a group setting, which can undermine or even nullify all the therapeutic benefits of the therapy.

The key is to listen to yourself: understand your preferences, determine your needs and explore all the options to find the right type of therapy and service that resonates with you.

Ultimately, group and support therapy shouldn’t be considered as a replacement of traditional therapy, especially for the diagnosis of severe cases.