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Best Online OCD Therapy

Medically Reviewed and Edited by 
Olga Kyrychenko, Psychologist

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder whose symptoms are associated with high levels of discomfort and limitation in social, occupational, and emotional functioning. It’s the fourth most common psychiatric disorder and is estimated to be the 10th leading cause of disability in the world.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, OCD affects 2.5 million Americans, and about 2.2% of the U.S. population will experience OCD sometime during their lives. 

If not properly treated, OCD can lead to a chronic condition that worsens over time.

In this article we’ll talk about everything you need to know about OCD, guiding you through the details of its treatment and comparing the best therapy options available online.

Top 5 OCD Treatment Platforms

Best OCD Therapy Site
Brightside Review
Editorial Rating
94.1%
Pricing

$95 - $345 Per Month

Promo

$50 Off Your First Month

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Pros
  • Great flexibility with packages and possible treatments
  • therapists specialize in dealing with anxiety and depression
  • Modern platform with an excellent mobile app
  • Works with many insurance companies
Cons
  • Must pay before getting any treatment
  • You can’t choose your own therapist
Best Overall Therapy Site
Betterhelp review
Editorial Rating
93.4%
Pricing

$60-$90 Per Week

Promo

20% Off First Month

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Pros
  • Safe, Trustworthy Company
  • Excellent customer service and easy to use platform
  • Affordable price and financial aid programs
Cons
  • Only one pricing plan
  • Doesn’t work with insurance, Medicare or Medicaid
Best With Insurance
talkspace review
Editorial Rating
91.2%
Pricing

$69 - $109 Per Week

Promo

$80 discount on the first month

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Pros
  • Guaranteed response time 5 days a week
  • Affordable price and insurance accepted
  • Excellent customer service
  • One week free trial
Cons
  • Getting matched with a therapist can take a few days
  • No live sessions included in the basic plan
Best Affordable OCD Therapy
Online-Therapy.com Review
Editorial Rating
87.2%
Pricing

$39.99 - $80 Per Week

Promo

20% off for the first month

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Pros
  • Highest quality of therapists anywhere online
  • Excellent software and mobile app
  • Reputable well known company
  • Very affordable prices
Cons
  • Very few therapists on the platform
  • Live sessions are only 30 minutes long
Best For Same Day Appointments
Sesame review
Editorial Rating
86.8%
Pricing

$45 - $120 Per Meeting

Promo

20% Off First Meeting

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Pros
  • Same Day Appointments
  • Pick Your Own Therapist
  • Excellent customer service
  • Affordable Prices
Cons
  • Only live sessions - no chats or text messaging
  • No Mobile App
  • Doesn't Work With Insurance

How We Choose

In our search for the best online OCD therapy services, we based our choices on these key features:

  • Qualifications: All the platforms listed provide licensed therapists who specialize in OCD specific treatments such as ERP.
  • Therapists availability: it’s essential to build a strong connection with the therapist. That’s why we selected platforms that allow you to choose your own and make it easy to change them if they’re not a good fit for you.
  • Accessibility: Online therapy is all about flexibility and convenience. Our chosen platforms offer different communication methods, from video and phone live calls to chat-based sessions.
  • Insurance and cost: we picked services that accept insurance or offer affordable out-of-pocket subscription plans. We also considered the transparency of prices to allow you to make informed financial decisions.

Brightside - Our Pick For Top OCD Therapy Site

Brightside is an online therapy platform focused on the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders, as well as OCD. After a brief assessment, through personalized therapist-client matching, the platform connects you with a licensed therapist who will develop a care plan for your needs, including any medications that are prescribed.

You will have access to one-on-one video sessions and an asynchronous chat that lets you message your provider at any time between sessions. All therapists on Brightside are highly qualified with years of experience in practicing cognitive behavioral therapy, but not all of them offer ERP. Brightside offers 3 care plans, with a cost that ranges from $95 to $349 per month, and it accepts major insurance plans, like Cigna, Aetna, and Medicare.

Brightside Pros:

Brightside Cons:

  • Offers both therapy and psychiatry
  • Great flexibility with packages and possible treatments
  • Therapists specialize in dealing with OCD
  • Works with major insurance companies
  • Must pay before getting any treatment
  • You can’t choose your therapist

BetterHelp

BetterHelp is the world’s largest therapy service with a network of over 30,000 licensed therapists. It offers specialized care for OCD, matching you within 48 hours with a therapist trained in CBT and with experience in using Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Besides one-on-one video sessions, it lets you contact at any time your therapist in between sessions via in-app messaging.

BetterHelp prices range from $60 to $90 a week based on your location, and you can select a payment plan with recurring weekly, monthly, or quarterly payments. Although you can apply for financial aid through its website, BetterHelp counseling services aren’t generally covered by health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.

BetterHelp Pros:

BetterHelp Cons:

  • An extensive network of over 30,000 therapist
  • Affordable price and financial aid programs
  • You can easily switch therapists
  • Excellent customer service
  • Doesn’t accept insurance

Talkspace

Talkspace is one of the largest therapy companies in the U.S. It provides a wide range of services, including OCD treatment. It offers an extensive network of therapists and psychiatrists who specialize in treating OCD with talk therapy and medication management. 

What sets Talkspace apart is the insurance coverage: it accepts more than 100 insurance plans. If you pay out of pocket, the price for therapy ranges from $69 to $109 per session, depending on the level of expertise and education of the therapist. For psychiatry services, the price is slightly higher, with an initial visit cost of $250, while follow-up visits are $150 per session.

Talkspace Pros:

Talkspace Cons:

  • You can choose your therapist
  • Offers both therapy and psychiatry
  • Accepts the most insurance plans
  • No live sessions in the basic plan
  • Takes time to get matched with a therapist

Online-Therapy.com

Online-therapy.com is an online therapy platform that offers mental health care solely based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), making it a great platform to find treatment for OCD. It offers three monthly subscription plans: a basic plan for $200 per month, which grants access to a self-guided CBT program that includes yoga and meditation videos, an online journal, and an activity planner, and allows you to send unlimited text with a therapist, with responses within a maximum of 24 hours.

With the standard plan at $320 per month, they add 1 live 45-minute video, audio, or text therapy session per week, while with the premium plan – $440 per month – you get 2 lives sessions per week plus express replies to messages. It doesn’t accept insurance or offer financial aid, but it can send you itemized receipts to submit to your insurance provider for possible reimbursement.

Online-Therapy.com Pros:

Online-Therapy.com Cons:

  • Very affordable prices
  • The highest quality of CBT therapists available online
  • Offers unlimited texting with a therapist between sessions
  • Offers a 20% discount for the first month
  • Very few therapists on the platform
  • Doesn’t accept insurance

Sesame Care

Sesame Care is an online telemedicine platform that offers access to a vast list of healthcare services, including mental health treatment. It lets you search for virtual therapy among thousands of healthcare providers, which makes it very easy to find specialized treatment for OCD.

What makes Sesame Care stand out is the fact that it lets you combine virtual therapy sessions with in-person appointments, and even includes medical prescriptions: some psychiatrists can prescribe medication for OCD (usually Prozac, Zoloft, or Paxil) for as little as $5, and it can be delivered to your home within 2-3 business days. Although Sesame Care doesn’t accept insurance, it offers one of the cheapest rates per session available online.

Sesame Care Pros:

Sesame Care Cons:

  • You can choose your therapist
  • Offers online therapy sessions, in-person appointments, and medication management
  • Offers same-day appointments
  • Offers affordable medication
  • Only live sessions – no chats or text messaging
  • Therapist availability can vary by location
  • Pay per meet only – no subscription plans available
  • Doesn’t Work With Insurance

What is online OCD therapy?

With comparable outcomes to in-person therapy, online therapy can be a very useful and effective option to get the help you need. Online OCD therapy offers the opportunity to access mental health care and receive specialized treatment from the privacy of your own home and based on your individual needs, like your schedule, your lifestyle, or your budget.

Online OCD therapy is available through digital platforms that connect individuals with licensed mental health professionals specialized in the treatment of OCD and related disorders. These platforms allow you to attend therapy sessions through video or audio live calls, or live chats. Some providers also offer asynchronous messaging, which can be helpful to get continuous support between sessions.

Online therapy sessions are very similar to traditional in-person therapy, with the only difference being that the therapist and patient communicate remotely. Usually 45-60 minutes long, online sessions promote a collaborative and dynamic therapeutic process, in which the therapist provides a tailored treatment plan based on the patient’s needs, guiding them throughout the entire healing process.

Online therapy can help you address any form of OCD, helping you deal with obsessive thoughts, compulsive behaviors, and the impact of the disorder on daily functioning.

The most common obsessions it can help with are:

  • Contamination Obsessions: Fear of coming into contact with perceived contaminated objects;
  • Violent Obsessions: Fear of acting on an impulse to harm oneself or others;
  • Responsibility Obsessions: Fear of being responsible for something terrible happening, or fear of harming others because of not being careful enough;
  • Perfectionism-related Obsessions: fear of making mistakes and excessive concern with performing tasks “perfectly”;
  • Sexual Obsessions: unwanted thoughts or mental images related to sex;
  • Religious/Moral Obsessions: excessive concern with right/wrong or morality;
  • Identity Obsessions: excessive concern with one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Online therapy is subject to the same ethical and legal standards as traditional in-person counseling and many online therapy platforms accept insurance, but it may vary. Make sure to consult your insurance provider beforehand.

Is Online Therapy For OCD Effective?

Despite the seriousness of this condition, OCD can be treated online as effectively as in traditional face-to-face therapy. Several studies have shown that remote-delivered cognitive-behavioral therapy can lead to significant improvements in OCD symptoms, with outcomes comparable to traditional face-to-face interventions.

In particular, a 2022 study examined a large number of individuals with OCD symptoms who received therapy through a digital platform. The treatment provided resulted in “clinically and statistically significant improvements, with a 43.4% mean reduction in obsessive-compulsive symptoms…and a 62.9% response rate”, demonstrating the effectiveness of online therapy sessions. What’s more, the results showed that individuals experienced improvements regardless of the severity of their symptoms when they began therapy.

Another notable study, conducted in 2020, not only demonstrated that online video therapy is as effective as in-person therapy but also found how “remote therapy grants the therapist revealing glimpses of a patient’s home and life”, important details that allow the therapist to develop a more effective treatment.

Types of OCD Treatments Online

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a condition in which a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are recurrent, intrusive thoughts, images, or beliefs that cause intense distressing feelings. To reduce the anxiety associated with obsessions, the patient engages in compulsions: repetitive, stereotyped behaviors performed compulsively.

While these behaviors reduce or temporarily neutralize obsessions, they end up amplifying them, causing a spiral of anxiety and disabling distress that over time significantly interferes with the individual’s life. For this reason, the sooner OCD is diagnosed and treated, the better.

There are several established treatments for OCD. The first-line treatments are considered to be Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and medication- both proven to be the most effective, especially when combined, as studies confirmed.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a type of talk therapy that focuses on the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors involved in OCD. It aims to identify cognitive triggers to change unhealthy thoughts and negative behaviors, replacing them with healthier ways to cope.

Within the cognitive-behavioral approach, there are different techniques a therapist can use: 

Exposure and response prevention (ERP)

ERP is  a technique based on the notion that stimulus-induced anxiety tends to decrease spontaneously after long contact with the stimulus itself. For example, people with an obsession with germs can be advised to stay in contact with “germ-containing” objects until the anxiety decreases.

The repetition of the exposure, which is conducted in an extremely gradual and tolerable way, allows the anxiety to disappear over time completely. This exercise is combined with the response prevention technique, which encourages the patient to refrain from performing a compulsion in response to an obsession, like washing their hands.

Although ERP has shown the highest levels of effectiveness, it’s a very stressful therapy that also leads to some of the highest dropout rates.

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)

ACT is a technique that helps people accept their thoughts and think of obsessions as just passing thoughts and not necessarily as reality. Through acceptance techniques, like mindfulness or relaxation exercises, patients learn healthier ways to respond to obsessions without involving compulsive behaviors.

Although this technique is not as extensively researched as ERP, it has been proven to be helpful for people struggling with the more intense nature of ERP.

Medication For OCD

Medication treatment for OCD involves the same class of medication used for depression and other anxiety disorders. Called serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), they work by increasing the availability in the brain of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation and helps alleviate the symptoms. Compared to other anxiety disorders, medication for OCD requires a higher dosage and it may take up to 8 to 12 weeks to start working.

The FDA has approved four antidepressants for treating OCD:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Clomipramine (Anafranil)

Other Treatments

If you don’t respond well or don’t notice any improvement with conventional treatments, mental health professionals might suggest a more intensive level of care, like attending treatment in mental health treatment centers. It could consist of participating in day programs, or partial hospitalization, depending on your level of need. The International OCD Foundation offers a free directory to find intensive treatment centers that can help you.

Unfortunately, about 10% of individuals with OCD are considered treatment-refractory, because they remain severely affected regardless of how intensively they are treated. For these severe cases, other treatments are available, like Deep brain stimulation (DBS) or Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

However, these interventions are treatments of last resort, because of their invasive nature, the potential serious adverse effects, or lack of scientific support. For example, Deep Brain Stimulation, although a promising FDA-approved neurosurgical procedure, has currently been undergone by less than 400 people worldwide.

How to Choose an OCD Online Therapy Site

When considering online therapy for OCD, it’s essential to choose the right provider for you. Carefully compare all the available options and take your time to make an informed decision. Choosing a platform that aligns with your preferences, needs, and goals can significantly impact the effectiveness of treatment.

There are several key factors you may want to consider:

  • Credentials and Qualifications: Make sure online platforms connect you with therapists who are licensed and qualified mental health professionals. In particular, verify if they have credentials for CTB therapy and other relevant expertise in treating OCD.
  • Treatment Approach: Different needs require different therapeutic approaches, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), or Mindfulness-Based Therapy. Consider if the platform provides the diversity of services necessary to meet your specific needs and preferences.
  • Therapist-Client Matching: Check whether the platform incorporates a therapist-client matching process or if it lets you pick your therapist. Feeling comfortable and connected with a therapist is essential for the success of the treatment. For this reason, also verify if the provider makes it easy for you to switch therapists.
  • Accessibility and Flexibility: Evaluate the flexibility of the service. It should offer flexible scheduling options to accommodate your needs. Consider also the accessibility of the platform, making sure it provides different session formats that can suit your preferences.
  • Cost and Insurance Coverage: Some platforms offer subscription plans, while others operate on a pay-per-session basis. Choose an option with a price that resonates with your budget, and that accepts your insurance.
  • Security and Privacy: Choose providers that prioritize the security and privacy of their clients’ information. Look for platforms that are HIPAA-compliant and use secure, encrypted communication channels to protect your sensitive data.

Is online OCD Therapy Right for me?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition that affects 1 in every 100 adults in the United States. People suffering from OCD experience symptoms that are debilitating and interfere with their daily life. They often attempt to hide their symptoms due to the embarrassing or disturbing content of their thoughts, and many individuals tend to isolate themselves as a consequence of their compulsive behaviors. 

Fortunately, online OCD therapy offers a convenient, affordable, and flexible way to receive specialized treatment from the privacy of your own home. Online therapy closely mirrors traditional in-person therapy, employing evidence-based treatments like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure and response prevention (ERP), and medication.

Although OCD therapy can take time and requires patience, it has been proven to be highly effective in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.

Additionally, online OCD therapy offers potential advantages over in-person therapy, allowing you to access therapy in situations and environments familiar to you, like your home, where you typically struggle the most with your OCD triggers.