Free, Online CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

Free? Then can it be worth much? Ah, that might depend on how hard you work. This is working with a computer, not a human (but read on; this is not the first time this has been tried. Several other such programs have clearly worked. This one has had over 100,000 users so far).

Bottom line:  free, online CBT for depression or anxiety is worth looking at if you can’t find a good, live CBT therapist, or can’t afford one. This is a great program but you’ll have to be very disciplined about working all the way through it to get the benefit. If you do, research shows you’ll likely get as much benefit as if you’d seen a live therapist (wow. true).Wagner


Here are several ways in which this free program could harm you:

  • You try it, it doesn’t work, and you conclude cognitive behavioral therapy doesn’t work for you. Don’t do that.
  • You try it, raise your hopes, it doesn’t seem to help, you feel disappointed (especially if you tried hard)
  • You try this instead of a really good, live therapist whom you could go see, within a few weeks, when you could afford it. The therapist can contour your treatment to you.
  • You stay up too late at night on your computer doing this homework instead of sleeping!
  • (And it could make you want real live CBT.Christensen)

There is no evidence that this computer approach is better than a live therapist.

Programs from Australia

Of those I’ve seen, these are the best studied, the best designed, and the most thoroughly road-tested. And they’re free. Why go anywhere else?

They have one for depression (which also touches on anxiety issues) and one for anxiety.

Therapy Apps

They are portable, low cost, and sometimes fun and engaging. But there’s a problem with therapy apps. Most of the 100,000 therapy apps on the market have never been tested, and most of the ones that have been tested are not available in any smartphone store. We’ve gathered a list of the select few that are backed by research and availabe for use.

(updated 11/2020)