Operating since 2013, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, employing more than 50 employees (and thousands more freelance counselors) and owned by superstar public company Teladoc (NYSE: TDOC) – BetterHelp is one of the most credible companies out there and is growing at a staggering pace (on track to double revenues from previous year).
The company has received tremendous coverage in the Chicago Tribune, Atlantic, The Wallstreet Journal and many more serious publications hailing and praising the BetterHelp model.
|U.S Based Company||Yes|
|Number of Licensed Therapists||More Than 25,000|
|Therapy Modes||Text, Audio and Video|
|Available Treatments||Private therapy, couples, teens (13-19 only)|
|Average Price||$60 – $90 per week unless eligible for financial aid|
|Sign Up Time||Few minutes, incredibly simple and easy to use|
|Response Time||Within The Day|
|Customer Reviews||92% positive|
|Our Editorial Rating||5 Stars|
|Current Promotion||50% discount for the first month|
BetterHelp is a mental health counseling platform that aims to match you with your ideal therapist as soon as possible. Even though the signup process is very simple, there are a few things to be aware of, and some ways to make it work better for you and become more efficient.
When you first sign up for the service, you do not have to pay anything or give out any personal information – BetterHelp lets you stay completely anonymous. You’ll only have to provide a few basic details once you actually begin treatment.
Based on our experience, it usually takes a day or less from the moment you sign up until you are matched with a therapist of your choice and can begin therapy.
Getting started only takes a few minutes. All you have to do is fill up a quick questionnaire that will help the BetterHelp algorithm match you with an appropriate counselor. If you have read our Talkspace review, you know Talkspace is the only platform that allows you to be interviewed by a real person who’ll help you with the matching process – Something BetterHelp currently doesn’t offer regrettably.
This means you have to make an extra effort in filling up this questionnaire the best way you can. Luckily, they let you be as specific as you like with regards to the type of therapy you are looking for, and what kind of psychologist you think will suit you the most.
Once you are done, you will be presented with a few automated suggestions for your potential match – if you don’t like any of them, you can ask to see more. You can also change therapists any time, even after therapy has already started.
Although BetterHelp doesn’t advertise this option, and clearly try pushing new clients into their automatic matching system – there’s still a way you can choose your own therapist instead. To do so, you have to go to BetterHelp’s desktop version rather than the mobile app. Scroll all the way down, and click the ‘find a therapist’ link in the footer menu.
You have to choose your location, then you will be presented with a list of relevant profiles you can browse. If you refresh the page, other profiles might appear. So if you see someone you like, open their profile in a new tab, while hitting the refresh button on the main page a couple of times still, to see what other profiles might show up.
You can read each therapist’s profile, see how they present themselves and whether or not you feel comfortable with them and what they offer. When you find someone you like, all you have to do is click the ‘Get started’ button and you will be prompted to pay and get the therapy rolling.
You will have to use real information to pay for services, but BetterHelp ensures your therapist doesn’t get access to it. For the purpose of your interaction with them, picking a nickname is sufficient.
Your therapist might also ask for some additional information – since they might want to be able to contact you in case of an emergency. It is up to you whether you want to give out your real name and address, but if your counselor deems it neccasery, we strongly recommend doing so.
Once you have created your account and requested to be matched with a specific counselor, you will get an automated message from the BetterHelp system.
This will be followed by a brief introductory message from your potential therapist, asking you to tell a little bit more about yourself. This is an automated message and is not sent by the therapist in real time. Still, make an effort to reply seriously and include all important details – so that your therapist can get a sense of whether they can help you or you will be better off finding someone else.
Right after you send your first message, you will be asked to pay for the BetterHelp service. You pay for a month in advance, which includes unlimited messaging and one live chat, phone, or video session per week. The mode for the live session is chosen by you – but some therapists don’t offer video sessions, so make sure to check that in their profile first.
Payments are made on a monthly basis, and there’s only one plan to choose from. As mentioned above, you get unlimited texting and one live session a week. The price varies between $90 and $120 per week – depending on your location and requested treatment. You can pay with either credit / debit card or Paypal.
During the initial signup questionnaire, you can specify if you are currently unemployed or facing any type of financial difficulties. When the payment screen pops up, there will be a link on it saying ‘Apply for financial aid’ – you can click it to find out if you are eligible for their program or not. You’ll be asked a few questions and offered discounts based on the information you provide – with the largest discount being 40% off the original price.
BetterHelp treatment plans all include unlimited messaging with your therapists. This isn’t done in real time, but rather works more like sending out emails. We have found response times to be very good, but it can obviously vary between different therapists. Unfortunately, BetterHelp does not allow you to request a set response time from your counselor like other platforms do.
If you feel like your therapist is not responding quickly enough or their replies are a bit too flat – don’t hesitate to call them out on it. For any type of treatment to be successful, it’s important you’ll be clear and transparent in what you need and expect from them. If they are unable to adjust, it just means you’ll have to replace them with another counselor.
All communication is done through a private, secure virtual therapy room to which only you and your therapist have access to. You can login to it from both the desktop version or the BetterHelp app, but sometimes you will be logged out and have to sign in again which we found a bit annoying. There’s no limit to how many messages you can send there, and they can be as long and detailed as you like. You are also able to attach pictures and audio files.
One thing we liked in particular is the ability you have to “shred” messages in your room. Only you have this option available, no one else can edit or alter the contents. This gives you a lot of agency and freedom, and made us feel very safe in our communications with therapists on the site. You also have an option of flagging certain messages as “urgent”.
BetterHelp gives you the option to communicate with your therapist through a weekly live session. This feature greatly enhances the therapy and should not be overlooked. As is with face-to-face therapy, it’s better to have a set day and time each week so that it feels more structured – but some flexibility is possible of course if you find yourself needing to reschedule a specific session.
Live sessions are available through chat, phone calls and video calls. If your internet connection can support it, we highly recommend the latter. There’s so many proven benefits to being able to see one another during your sessions. It will not only make you feel better and more comfortable, but will also make your therapist’s work much easier and better.
BetterHelp say live sessions typically lasts 30-45 minutes. From our experience, it is almost always closer to an hour long. The length and frequency of sessions is something you can change, and should talk to your therapists directly about.
Betterhelp offers the widest range of available treatments online, simply thanks to the sheer amount of licensed therapists offering their service on the platform. Common fields of expertise include:
Most therapists specialize in popular treatment methods such as CBT, mindfulness or Psychodynamic treatment. BetterHelp’s focus is on private counseling for adults only, but if you are dealing with family issues there are also quite a few therapists specializing in group therapy who can help with that.
It is also worth mentioning that BetterHelp owns and operates separate sites for Teens and relationship counseling. You can read our reviews of Teencounseling.com and Regain to see if the dedicated platforms are a better fit for your needs. Regardless, you are still able to get the same treatments by using the BetterHelp platform instead.
Even though Medicaid expanded their coverage of telehealth services, BetterHelp does not currently accept any type of insurance. You can read a very detailed guide on their website, but the gist of it is that partnering with insurance providers will mean BetterHelp is unable to maintain your privacy and complete anonymity.
The best thing to do is check directly with your insurance provider and see whether or not you are eligible for any form of coverage while using BetterHelp. If you do, BetterHelp will have you sign a release form and then proceed to provide your insurance company with all necessary details.
Online therapy, that even without insurance is cheaper than what you’ll pay for live therapy in most cases, even with copay. If Betterhelp’s prices still seem high to you, try applying for their financial aid program or speak directly to a customer service representative. From our experience, they are very responsive and will do everything in their power to assist you and find a way for you to get help on their site. Alternatively, read our guide for the best therapy platforms with insurance, and compare these to BetterHelp before making your choice.
BetterHelp is the largest online therapy site in America, and certainly one of the best. The amount of different therapists offering their services on the platform makes it incredibly unlikely you won’t be able to find the help you deserve and want.
In our BetterHelp vs Talkspace article we compare BetterHelp directly to their main competitors in great detail. To sum it up, both are very good. Customer service and software are both excellent, with Talkspace enjoying a very narrow edge in both. Talkspace is more expensive if you can’t use insurance, or if you are able to make use of BetterHelp’s financial aid program.
What truly sets Betterhelp apart and makes it stand out though, is the length they go to in order to ensure you get the best possible treatment online. We have tried many virtual therapy services, and stand in direct communication with all of their representatives, but have never come across anyone handling these matters more professionally or transparently than Betterhelp does.
The best way to illustrate how seriously they take these, is by looking at their vetting process for potential therapists, which is far more advanced and rigorous than other platforms out there. All of the counselors on the site are licensed, state approved with at least a Master’s degree, 3 years and at least 2000 hours of clinical experience.
The vetting process then includes the following steps:
Each successful applicant is then assigned a mentor – a more experienced therapist who has been using the platform for a long time. All therapists then go through constant peer review, results monitoring and training on a regular basis.