Best Online Peer Counseling

Here are our picks for the best online peer counseling.

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When it comes to treating mental health, online resources are becoming more varied and easier to access than ever. Traditional therapy and psychiatry are still the cornerstones of treatment, but these options can be too expensive to be a realistic long term choice for many people seeking support. Online peer counseling can help fill this gap by putting you in touch with other people struggling with the same issues you're facing—whether that’s depression, relationship conflict, or anything else—to get support and guidance. The best peer counseling will also be moderated by a trained therapist or counselor.

Since the quality of peer counseling online varies widely, it can be difficult to know where to turn. To help evaluate the options, we surveyed thousands of counseling service users and worked with three licensed therapists to ensure the care is supportive, inclusive, and effective. Here are the peer counseling services we recommend.

Best Online Peer Counseling of 2023

Best for Group Therapy : Mindful Care

Mindful Care

Mindful Care

Key Specs  
  • Price: $35 per group session, $50 to $100 for an individual session
  • Insurance Accepted?: Yes
  • Types of Therapy: Individual, peer, group, psychiatry
Why We Chose It

While many online platforms offer group support, we were impressed with the range of excellent group therapy options at Mindful Care. Each group is led by licensed therapists trained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a therapeutic approach that helps you identify and change negative thought patterns.

Pros & Cons
  • Group therapy with evidence-based CBT

  • All groups led by licensed therapists

  • Offers both individual and group therapy

  • Not available in all states

  • Lengthy intake form

  • Must wait for response to schedule first session


Group therapy connects you with likeminded people living with similar challenges that they’d like to address with the help of a mental health professional. Hearing from both peers with similar experiences and a knowledgeable therapist makes group therapy an excellent resource. Mindful Care offers group therapy, which is a step above traditional peer counseling. Led by licensed therapists who bring CBT to the table, Mindful Care’s group sessions offer the kind of support you get from individual therapy but in a group setting. In group therapy, you still receive peer support from those going through similar challenges or experiences, but with the added bonus of facilitation from a mental health professional and evidence-based group treatment focused on CBT.

Each group session at Mindful Care is divided by focus, with separate groups for depression, anxiety, substance use, relationships, bipolar, trauma, tough emotions, life skills, and LGBTQ+ support. The group meets once a week for an hour. 

Plus, since the company also offers offers individual therapy, psychiatry, and substance use treatment, group therapy can be combined with one of these other services. You can also schedule same-day, 20-minute “micro-sessions” if you need a little more individualized care quickly. Mindful Care also offers psychiatry, all conveniently scheduled through the same portal. 

In addition, Mindful Care offers individualized addiction recovery treatment, making it a great place to combine group recovery-focused sessions with personalized psychiatry and therapy. 

Plans & Pricing 

Group therapy sessions cost $35 per one-hour session; sessions are held once a week with the same peer group, which can consist of anywhere from 5 to 20 members. 

For private therapy, evaluations are $150, while sessions run $100 (for a 40-minute session) or $50 (for 20-minute sessions). Psychiatry rates are $175 for an initial evaluation and $75 for follow-ups. 

Mindful Care accepts insurance, but treatment and coverage are only available in Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York. In these states, Mindful Care accepts most major insurance plans, including Medicare.

User Satisfaction & Testing Insights

For each of the 55 companies we evaluated, we surveyed 105 users to understand their experiences with the service. Mindful Care scored above average in the user survey rankings, with 83% of Mindful Care users saying they were likely or very likely to recommend the service to a friend, compared to 71% of users across all 55 therapy platforms. Ninety-two percent of users said they had a positive experience with Mindful Care, rating the service as good, very good, or excellent overall, compared to 84% of users across all surveyed platforms. 

Our reviewer was especially impressed with Mindful Care's group therapy offerings, reporting that she “benefited the most from group therapy because the hour-long session was the ideal amount of time to really delve into issues and to give participants the platform to voice their feelings.”

Best LGBTQIA+ Affirming : The Tribe

Key Specs
  • Price: Peer counseling is free; private therapy varies by provider
  • Insurance Accepted?: Varies by provider
  • Types of Therapy: Peer, individual, couples, teens
Why We Chose It 

If you’re a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, connecting with others who have similar experiences and challenges related to your shared identities can be very important. This is why we like TherapyTribe’s LGBTribe. It has over 30,000 members and a range of different resources, including a forum, blogging, and private messaging, all to connect you with other members of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Pros & Cons
  • Peer counseling specific to LGBTQIA+ community

  • Tribe membership is free

  • 8 different tribes cover a range of mental health issues

  • Tribes have large communities with up to 80,000 members

  • Only 8 Tribes—no forums for more niche issues

  • Peer support is not led by professional therapists

  • No trigger warnings on sensitive posts by other members


TherapyTribe is an online therapy directory that also offers peer support and counseling. It provides 8 “Tribes” anyone can join free of charge, including a Tribe specifically for those who identify as LGBTQIA+. Once you join this group, your dashboard allows you to enter the general forum, which is the starting point for a variety of peer counseling options related specifically to the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Within your Tribe, you’re encouraged to gain a smaller network of friends or “groups”—so rather than shouting into a void of tens of thousands of strangers, you can share your experiences and thoughts with a handful of people you’ve established a trusting relationship with, or even just one peer. Your dashboard also gives you space to start a blog, as well as browse blog posts from other members. 

TherapyTribe also features a therapist directory where you can search for therapists who provide traditional, one-on-one therapy with an emphasis on LGBTQIA+ affirming care.

Plans & Pricing

TherapyTribe’s peer counseling groups are completely free and it only takes about a minute to sign up for a membership.

There are eight tribes to choose from:

  • Addiction
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • OCD
  • LGBTQ+
  • Teens
  • Marriage/family

Members may join as many tribes as they want.

Private therapy is also available from a free-to-access directory therapists must pay to appear in. Insurance coverage and session rates vary by therapist.

User Satisfaction & Testing Insights

Ninety percent of the 180 TherapyTribe users we surveyed rated the directory as good or very good overall, and 6% indicated that they specifically sought out services through TherapyTribe for help embracing their LGBTQIA identity. Eighty-two percent of users thought that the directory’s additional resources—like the Tribes—were very good or good.

“Members of the LGBTQIA+ community face discrimination every day, so having a place where they can process their experiences with others who share the same gender and sexual identities is imperative,” explains Hannah Owens, LMSW, a subject matter expert. “This is what makes this ‘Tribe’ such a good resource for LGBTQIA+ identifying folks who are looking for peer support. Here, they can find empathy, understanding, and even coping skills for life’s challenges.”

Best Chat Support : 7 Cups

7 Cups logo

7 Cups

Key Specs
  • Price: Peer counseling is free; unlimited messaging with a therapist is $150 per month
  • Insurance Accepted?: No
  • Types of Therapy: Peer, individual
Why We Chose It 

Chatting over text with someone who understands your issues and concerns can be an easy and convenient way to get support from a peer. 7 Cups offers a free online community of individuals seeking or offering emotional support for lots of different life experiences and challenges. The site provides 24/7 free one-on-one chats with volunteer listeners.

Pros & Cons
  • Chat service makes peer connection easy and accessible

  • Chat immediately with a listener you can choose yourself

  • Dashboard offers a “path” to follow for daily support

  • Global access in 140 languages

  • Very general main forum with no specific mental health focus

  • Listeners often take a long time to reply

  • Listener feedback can be superficial


7 Cups is a free, text-based service that offers free one-on-one chatting with volunteer listeners, who could be individuals from almost any background. (You can sign up to be a listener yourself on the site, if you want.) 7 Cups gives all listeners an “active listening course” free of charge, and offers listeners in-house mentoring and support in obtaining additional certifications. There is no minimum certification to be a listener—but if you are looking for a particular skill set, most listeners post any credentials they may have on their bios. 

The site also has group chat forums for peer counseling. Its free plan offers a “path,” which is designed to teach users useful skills for mental health. There are a variety of paths to choose from, each with a specific goal—such as “The Path to Patience” or “Moving Forward With Self-Forgiveness.” Users are encouraged to take a “step” down their path each day. Steps may include written exercises, meditations, or other self-help practices.

The chats, both one-on-one and group, are completely free, but the option to upgrade to chat with a therapist is prominently and constantly displayed across the site. The volunteer chats can vary, but there is no quality control, and you may find yourself wondering if your “listener” is actually even listening. You will certainly find some listeners to be supportive and helpful—but others might feel like being on a tech support chat with a large company, where you're left waiting too long for too short responses. However, being able to choose your “listener” by browsing bios is a nice feature, and can help you pick a listener that meshes well with your needs.

The dashboard also features a large selection of mindfulness exercises, and a “sharing circle” where you can connect with other people letting off steam. For more specific support, check out the group chat calendar, with scheduled sessions by topic (like anxiety, or for teens). The site is designed like a game—you can earn points, advance levels, unlock features—and the experience is a fun way to explore self-guided peer counseling.

Plans & Pricing

Peer counseling is free. Upgrading to unlimited texting with a therapist costs $150/month. Insurance is not accepted. Payment is by credit card only.

User Satisfaction & Testing Insights

While we didn’t survey users in the past year, we did in 2021. Of those 100 users, 66% felt the service was very good or excellent value for the cost—which is below the average for all surveyed companies, but may refer more to the paid therapy service, rather than the free peer counseling element. Another 66% felt that the value of the service was good, very good, or excellent for the price.

“Chat-based support is easy and convenient, as it is available from anywhere and at any time,” explains Owens, “making it a great choice for those who have busy schedules or for people just starting to dip their toe into the pool of peer support.”

Best Subscription : Circles

Circles Logo


Key Specs
  • Price: Basic plan is free; sessions led by mental health professionals are $79 per month
  • Insurance Accepted?: No
  • Platforms: Audio, video, chat
Why We Chose It

Circles is an app-based platform, available through a monthly subscription, with peer counseling for a large variety of specific topics. Many peer groups are free to join. Counseling is held either via video session, audio-only group calls, or messaging in chat rooms.

Pros & Cons
  • Low-cost monthly subscription

  • App is easy to use

  • Groups are separated by topic

  • Support from mental health professionals is available through Circles+ groups

  • Basic plan has no chat function separate from audio sessions

  • Some topics lack specific forums

  • Scheduled meetings may have low or no attendance 


For some, having access to a wide range of different online peer support groups can mean the difference between getting the help they need and suffering in silence. Circles puts a huge variety of peer counseling sessions at your fingertips, offering 580 different groups meeting at various days and times throughout the week. You'll access them through an app and pay a monthly subscription fee.

Most of the group topics are quite specific, such as autism, infertility, menopause, grief, or body image. These free sessions, or “circles,” are audio only (you can choose to add a photo of yourself to your icon if you wish)  and members are welcome to chime in at any time, or simply listen in if they’re not ready to share. 

The audio sessions are all prescheduled. Some are moderated, and these tend to be more focused and on topic, with subjects introduced and discussion encouraged by the guide. In the basic plan, the guide is always a member of the subject group, meaning they are living with whatever condition the group exists to support. Occasionally, they have some training as a coach or subject specialist, but these guides are not mental health professionals. Unmoderated circles are more just spaces for peer-to-peer connection; members are welcome to drift in and out rather than attending the whole thing. You might find people in an unmoderated divorce chat discussing the differences between Louisiana and Tennessee barbecue for 20 minutes without breathing a word about divorce—which could be a welcome distraction.

In the paid subscription plan, Circles+, the sessions are held over video, the groups are smaller, and they are always led by a licensed mental health professional to help keep the meeting on topic. Circles+ also gives you access to a 24/7 group text chat with a group of your peers, determined by selecting your general subject (e.g. grief or parenting) and then filling out a short questionnaire about your specific situation. There are only two types of groups, grief/loss and divorce/separation, available through Circles+.

Plans & Pricing

Circles’ basic plan is free. Circles+ which costs $79 per month and is billed monthly. Circles+ caps session size at 10 members, and sessions are led by a mental health professional. 

Circles does not accept insurance.

User Satisfaction & Testing Insights

Eighty percent of the 105 Circles users we surveyed had a positive experience with the company, rating it as good, very good, or excellent overall, and 70% would recommend its services to a friend or someone like them. Eighty-three percent rated the qualifications of the therapists (in this case, the group facilitators) as good to excellent, and 80% thought highly of the service’s value for the money.

Our reviewer of Circles felt that the service “gets better over time as you get to know your cohort and your facilitator,” and pointed out that “where Circles really appears to shine…is in the training of their facilitators.”

Most Comprehensive : Sesh

Key Specs
  • Price: $60 per month
  • Insurance Accepted?: No
  • Types of Therapy: Peer counseling
Why We Chose It 

We like Sesh because its peer support group offerings are vast and truly comprehensive, with a group available for just about every concern you can think of. This specificity guarantees that, no matter the issue you are dealing with, you will find supportive and relevant peer counseling through Sesh.

Pros & Cons
  • Wide variety of topics covered

  • One-month free trial 

  • All chats moderated by mental health professionals

  • Sessions capped at 10 people

  • Sessions can be poorly attended

  • No chat function or resources outside of scheduled meeting times

  • Search function is difficult to view chronologically


Sesh offers peer counseling sessions on specific topics moderated by a licensed therapist or psychologist. Ten overarching categories of peer support are broken down into much more specific topics. For example, in the “relationships” category, you'll find meetings like “letting go of anger toward loved ones” or “pressing the brakes on gaslighting”—guaranteeing that you can find group support for almost any subject under the sun. Sessions usually last one hour, and are held over video chat. The sessions are somewhat formal: Attendees are asked to sign up in advance, arrive on time, and have their camera on if possible. 

Members are welcome to sign up for sessions in any of the ten categories: Anxiety/Stress, Art/Music/Movement, Body Image/Self Esteem, Career/Parenthood, Communication/Relationships, Cultural, Depression/Addiction/Recovery, Grief/Trauma, and Wellness/Support. Some categories offer a wide range of time slots and selection, such as the Depression/Addiction/Recovery groups, while other less popular topics have more limited availability (often at night) and fewer sessions offered, as is the case with the Art/Music/Movement groups.

It’s important to note that while these sessions are moderated by professional therapists, it is still peer counseling. What Sesh provides is peer support, not therapy. Combining topics like grief and trauma, or depression and addiction, in the same category may create cohorts that are experiencing similar feelings, and may be able to provide each other with support. But treatments for these diagnoses are not the same, and these sessions should not be regarded as treatment for these conditions, nor are they suitable replacements for individual or group therapy.

Plans & Pricing

Sesh costs $60/month. You must provide your credit card information to access a one-month free trial. 

No-shows and cancellations less than 12 hours in advance will be charged $20. These proceeds are donated to NAMI-NYC.

User Satisfaction & Testing Insights

Eighty-one percent of the 105 Sesh users we surveyed felt that their therapist’s (facilitator’s) qualifications were good, very good, or excellent. Sesh’s overall satisfaction rating was below average, with 78% of users saying they had a positive experience with the platform, compared to the average of 84% of users across all surveyed therapy platforms. However, the number of users who would recommend the platform was 71%—the same as the average across the board. 

Our Sesh tester felt, after her experience with the company, that “people can and do benefit from peer support” like what is provided through Sesh, noting that the ability to “share your story, listen to other people’s, celebrate each other’s successes, and discuss different coping strategies” can “help you feel less alone and isolated.”

Best App : Sanvello



Key Specs  
  • Price: Basic plan is free; self-care plan is $9 per month; therapy sessions $85 to $140 per session
  • Insurance Accepted?: Yes
  • Types of Therapy: Individual, peer
Why We Chose It

Sanvello’s app is a simple one-stop shop for peer support, putting access to all its peer support services in one convenient place—your pocket.

Pros & Cons
  • Appealing, easy-to-use app

  • Available in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese

  • Basic plan is completely free

  • Many self-help resources in addition to peer counseling

  • Paid subscription needed to unlock premium features

  • Community groups are chat/text only

  • Community groups not moderated by mental health professionals


Sanvello's app is a mental health tool with a free plan that gives access to a huge range of support groups. Getting far beyond standard options like “depression” and “recovery,” Sanvello’s thousands of chat groups get as specific as “afraid to fly,” for people scared of air travel, or “AP student refuge” for high schoolers struggling with their Advanced Placement classes. 

Sanvello has two types of peer support groups, accessible from the “community” tab on the dashboard: chat groups and discussions. There are only 17 discussion groups, on topics like "heartbreak," "mindfulness," or "work stress," that anyone can hop into at the click of one button. The chat groups are more specific, and require you to search, browse, and join groups you are interested in participating in. Topics are diverse and specific, including "panic attacks," "boyfriend issues," or "Harry Potter fan club." The groups are huge—some with over 30,000 members—and both chat groups and discussions are in a rolling text format, with no live meeting times.

In addition to the peer support groups and chats, Sanvello’s app gives access to “collections” organized by topic that put written content, community spaces, and other resources on the same subject in one space. 

Another rare feature is the focus on positivity. Discussion groups have the usual suspects, like depression and anxiety, but also include spaces to share gratitude, inspiration, and mindfulness. It’s a nice balance, and a great way to seek out peer support with a focus on what is right in life rather than what’s wrong.

Plans & Pricing 

Sanvello’s basic app is completely free. You can upgrade to the premium plan for $9 per month (or $54 per year paid upfront) to unlock access to additional resources, like the full library of meditations and guided journeys, of which there are only a few in the free app. 

Sanvello does accept insurance. Employers can also register to offer free access and one-on-one coaching to their employees. 

The company also offers therapy, at an average of $140 for initial sessions and $85 for follow-ups.

User Satisfaction & Testing Insights

Of the users we surveyed, 66% said they had a positive experience with the company and 58% would recommend it to someone like them. While these numbers are lower than others on our list, this is largely because we were asking users about their experience connecting with a therapist—not the peer counseling services they received. And due to the variety and accessibility of Sanvello's group chats, we still feel it offers a worthwhile platform for peer counseling if you’re just looking for support, not therapy.

“The convenience and accessibility of Sanvello’s app cannot be ignored,” says Owens. “Being able to connect to peer support from anywhere and at any time is a boon for those needing a boost in between therapy sessions or who need to speak with someone immediately.”

Best National Service : Peer Collective

Key Specs  
  • Price: $72 to $160 per month for weekly sessions; about $43 per individual session
  • Insurance Accepted?: No
  • Types of Therapy: Peer
Why We Chose It

People all across the country need peer support, especially in places that don’t have reliable access to mental health services. This is why Peer Collective stands out. With a huge member base and support available in every state, Peer Collective offers quality one-on-one peer counseling across the United States.

Pros & Cons
  • Available anywhere in the U.S.

  • One-on-one peer counseling sessions are more personal than chat forums 

  • Affordable session rates

  • Wide selection of counselors and time slots

  • Peer counselors are not trained mental health professionals

  • Search results often do not match search parameters

  • No chat groups or additional resources outside one-on-one live peer counseling sessions


Mental health concerns don’t discriminate—anyone anywhere can be affected by an issue for which peer support could be helpful. Peer Collective is an extensive peer support service available everywhere in the United States. It offers a model as similar as possible to actual therapy while still existing in the peer counseling realm. Its site allows users to book live sessions of 30, 60, or 90 minutes with a “peer,” who is not a mental health professional of any sort, nor guaranteed to have any kind of certification. However, Peer Collective does have an in-house vetting process, and it claims to only select 3% of its applicants as counselors. These counselors can listen and offer emotional support and advice. Users can choose a peer counselor who understands their specific struggle by browsing bios, where counselors often describe their own journeys, such as single motherhood or life-long anxiety. 

Many counselors simply describe their desire to help others, or their ability to listen, without getting too personal—but their age, gender, ethnicity, and photo is always available to help users pick out an appropriate peer. Peer Collective focuses exclusively on these one-on-one counseling sessions; there are no additional chat forums or self-care resources.

Plans & Pricing 

Peer Collective’s first session offers a pay-what-you-wish model; users can pay from $0.50 to $22. Individual session rates after the first session are not available on the site, but are about $35 for a 60-minute session (based on the subscription plan of $112 per month advertised as 36% off).

Peer Collective offers 3 subscription plans, all charged monthly.

  • One 30-minute session a week: $72
  • One 60-minute session a week: $112
  • One 90-minute session a week: $160

It does not accept insurance.

User Satisfaction & Testing Insights

We reviewed Peer Collective in 2021 and found that, of 100 surveyed users, 76% rated its services as very good or excellent; additionally, 79% felt the same about the company’s value for the money. Another 79% reported that Peer Collective was better than other services they’d used in the past, and an impressive 88% told us that they would still be using Peer Collective in a year.

Our Peer Collective reviewer felt good about the support this company can provide to those looking for peer counseling, noting that “It’s affordable, available same-day, and you’re guaranteed to be able to talk to someone who’s been trained to listen to you with empathy and compassion.”

Final Verdict

Online peer counseling is a great way to get emotional support, but which platform will work best for you depends on what you are looking for. For one-on-one live virtual counseling sessions accessible anywhere in the US, we recommend Peer Collective. For immediate, non-crisis support, head over to Circles and hop into an ongoing session. If you’re looking for group therapy led by a professional, try Mindful Care. If you want a fully loaded app with lots of self-care exercises, try Sanvello

Each of our picks offers a different take on peer counseling, and with the low- to no-cost appeal of this type of service, it’s worth trying out a few to find out which platform (and which community therein) can offer you the best support.

Guide to Choosing the Best Online Peer Counseling

What Is the Difference Between Peer Counseling and Online Therapy? 

Online peer counseling is a way to get support from one or more of your peers. A peer may simply be someone from a similar demographic, such as your same gender and age, who can help you with the general issues you might both be facing. Or, a peer may be someone experiencing the same specific struggle as you, such as divorce, depression, addiction, or cancer. A peer counselor can offer emotional support, compassion, and a listening ear. Some peer counselors are certified, meaning they have completed the National Certified Peer Specialist course and passed their state’s certification exam. To qualify for the course, certified specialists also need to have first-hand experience with trauma, mental illness, addiction, or whatever issue they want to specialize in, and also be in recovery from that issue. 

What Types of Online Peer Counseling Are Offered?

Online peer counseling can come in many forms, including:

Online forums: These usually do not require any kind of sign-up, and often contain thousands of voices. Users can post questions or vent, or respond to other users with information and support, in a 24/7 open chat space. 

Live discussion groups: These are typically pre-scheduled, and may last an hour or more in an audio, video, or chat format. Groups may or may not be moderated by a group leader or capped at a certain number of attendees.

Peer chats: These are sort of a hybrid between forums and groups. Peer chats involve a select group of peers (you may need to be vetted before you are admitted) and create a community space users can return to and establish friendships with other members. Typically, chats are open 24/7 and posts and responses are on a rolling basis. 

One-to-one counseling: This is available both prescheduled, such as at Peer Collective, or immediate, such as through 7 Cups. Both audio and text options are available. If you want to share with one other person rather than a larger group, individual peer counseling is a good choice. 

Who Is Online Peer Counseling Right For?

Peer counseling can help anyone struggling with a particular mental issue, such as depression, anxiety, or OCD, and can even help those living with more severe mental illness. For those looking to talk about their problems without the often prohibitive price tag of professional therapy, peer counseling is effective in providing emotional support, although it typically does not use the same effective therapeutic models (such as CBT) found in therapy. It should not be considered a substitute for therapy, but rather an additional support. 

What Are the Benefits of Online Peer Counseling? 

Peer counseling can lead to an overall improvement in quality of life for users. A study on cancer patients found peer counseling to support psychological empowerment, and suggests that peer support groups should become a standardized part of cancer treatment. Research on peer counseling found it to be effective in reducing depression in older adults, while programs in California schools have found peer counseling to be a useful way to help students deal with stress, family problems, academics, and loneliness. 

Peer counseling can also help people maintain healthy habits, including for their sexual health and the management of HIV/AIDS. The efficacy of Alcoholics Anonymous—perhaps the original model for peer counseling in modern society—is another testament to the extent peer counseling can help individuals improve both behavior and overall mental health.

What If I'm Having Thoughts of Harming Myself?

What If I'm Having Thoughts of Harming Myself?

The peer counseling options listed here are not appropriate for crisis situations. If you are having thoughts of harming yourself, or feel like you are in a crisis situation, there are many hotlines available which provide one-on-one counseling with people who are trained to help you. 
From the U.S., call the Suicide and Crisis Hotline at 988, or to reach the Crisis Text Line, text HOME to 741741. Click here for a directory of hotlines dealing with specific issues, such as domestic violence or trafficking.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is Online Peer Counseling Effective?

    Some studies have shown peer counseling has been shown to be effective in improving quality of life. One 2020 study found peer counseling to be effective in reducing depression, while programs instituted in California schools have found it to be a useful way to deal with stress, family problems, academics, and loneliness. However, other studies aren’t so sure. Peer counseling is not as standardized as many therapeutic techniques, and as such, the work involved and the resulting outcome can vary when compared to formal therapy, which uses specific techniques, such as CBT, which have been proven effective.

  • What Should You Expect From Online Peer Counseling?

    Many people visit online peer counseling platforms to vent, and you can expect to read or hear a lot of messages from people voicing their struggles and emotional challenges. You can also expect people to support you and cheer you on during your own hard times—and you may find yourself offering support to others too, and gaining strength from giving as well as receiving encouragement.

  • What Types of Support Are Offered in Online Peer Counseling?

    Emotional support is perhaps the largest component to online peer counseling. However, if you are looking for specific, practical advice, whether it’s navigating the legal system or tips on getting through chemotherapy, online peer counseling can help with that too.

  • What Is the Cost of Online Peer Counseling?

    There are many free options in online peer counseling, particularly in the form of forums and discussion groups. There are also paid options, often for live one-on-one sessions. These sessions are usually quite affordable, generally running about $20 to $40 per session.

  • What Qualifications Do Online Peer Counselors Have?

    Peer counselors may have some formal training in specific specialty areas, and some may even be licensed professionals volunteering as counselors in a specific peer group they belong to. Some peer counselors have taken a national course and state exam to become qualified as Certified Peer Specialists—meaning they have both formal training and lived experience. Or, they may have no formal training whatsoever. Some peer counseling sites, such as 7 Cups, allow users to volunteer as “listeners,” and lend their ear and words of support to others having a hard time.


To compile this list, we reviewed 55 different online therapy companies and surveyed 105 users of each to understand their experiences with each company. We evaluated these companies based on services offered, price, and availability and accessibility, including in what locations these services are offered, as well as ease of use. Companies that offer group support were favored for this roundup. In addition, we researched companies outside of the ones we surveyed to find services that offer peer counseling specifically, and evaluated these companies based on the types of support they provide (such as one-on-one “listening,” chat support, or support groups), their price, and topics covered.

Sharing Circle at Beginning of Group Therapy Session


Article Sources
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