This article conducts an in-depth review of BetterHelp, an online therapy providing organization. It aims to provide potential clients and the general public, concise yet all-encompassing information about BetterHelp in one place.
It begins by introducing what BetterHelp is precisely about, its effectiveness compared to traditional in-person therapy, its strengths and weaknesses, the credibility of the counsellors on board, what sorts of mental illnesses they treat and which clinical interventions they specialize in, to treat them with.
This review then describes how this online platform can be best used across different devices for maximum results, whom it is best suited for, its membership process and pricing, and assurance of anonymity and safety.
It presents an account of clients’ first hand personal experiences with BetterHelp, answers queries people often have about the service and lists potential alternative therapeutic services.
What to Expect?
|Range of Illnesses||7.5/10|
|Types of Therapy||9/10|
|Confidentiality and Security||9/10|
Why trust OptimistMind’s research?
OptimistMind is a widely trusted Psychology research organization. It is well known for its evidence based research papers and places specific emphasis on ensuring a holistic improvement in everyones’ day to day living.
OptimistMind has proudly employed numerous Clinical, Behavioural and Personality Psychologists not only to produce the top-most quality papers, but also established an expert review panel that works tirelessly to ensure the most legitimate information is distributed for the betterment of the people.
Writers at OptimistMind and their pieces are strictly scrutinized in order that they use the most credible references for citation and use an unbiased, scientific approach in their work.
BetterHelp was founded in 2013 by tech expert Alon Matas. Having experienced depression personally, Alon was in prime position to deliver just what he knew people would require.
Moreover, Alon’s idea, when combined with the financial resources of Teladoc, the largest Telehealth company in the country, after it purchased BetterHelp, allowed for it to reach a worldwide crowd.
As mentioned above, Alon Matas, the founder of BetterHelp had been a depression survivor himself. This personal journey came with a sense of empathy and responsibility, to serve others like himself, with the knowledge that not everyone is privileged enough to afford seeking therapy, let alone from the leading therapists.
Hence, the main mission of BetterHelp is to make Psychotherapy not only affordable, but also widely accessible. BetterHelp has achieved this using competitive pricing strategies combined with flexible subscription packages. Its online nature allows clients to connect with therapists from all over the world, with just a swipe of their smartphones.
How BetterHelp works
As per their mission of making therapy affordable, convenient and accessible, BetterHelp has employed 12,000 licensed therapists in all 50 states of America. Such numbers make it the world’s largest telepsychiatry service.
It functions by providing therapeutic services to clients all over the world via the internet. After subscribing to either of a range of packages which will be examined in detail in the sections to follow, clients can connect with their therapists through their mobile phones and computers.
This form of therapy can be availed through text messaging (up to 24 hours a day), or video call sessions or both. In a nutshell, conveniences such as texting, video calling, opting to switch therapists to match with the most well suited one, low costs (both external and internal), make it an attractive option to everyone.
Features of BetterHelp
Whether clients choose to log into their BetterHelp account on the website via their Computer or through the mobile application on their smartphone, they can avail the services of a 24/7 chat room.
This chat room is fully secure and private, with the content only visible to the client themselves and their therapist. This chat room works not as a real time instant messenger, but more like emails being sent back and forth.
A client and their therapist can leave each other messages like emails and reply to them at their convenience. Although each therapist’s style differs from the other, they will often reply at least once every 24 hours. Moreover, they will either reply with short texts in multiple spurts, or with one long message answering all your queries together.
As with other messaging services, the BetterHelp chat platform allows for attachments such as photos and documents to be exchanged, should clients require the need to do so, or if their therapist needs them to complete a written activity.
Betterhelp also offers scheduled live messaging sessions between client and therapist. These sessions serve as a chat on any real-time instant messenger application. Clients can avail this service to get their questions answered instantly, all in one place.
Moreover, this session can also be utilized for concerns that require urgent responses.
BetterHelp’s vast range of communication techniques also includes calling therapists over the phone.
This is essential for those who are on the go and want to utilize their time travelling or walking and hence hold their weekly or monthly sessions alongside other activities of the day.
This is also an extremely convenient choice for clients who find text messaging insufficiently expressive and are camera shy so as to not be comfortable video calling. Moreover, often clients can be seeking help for such problems to begin with.
This includes clients suffering from social anxiety, who are not comfortable video calling and hence need to be eased through the process of social interaction.
Lastly, another option is video calling. This method ensures that BetterHelp offers its clients the closest experience possible to an in-person session, yet still allowing them to avail the utmost convenience and comfort possible.
Clients can speak to their therapists through scheduled sessions weekly or monthly while maintaining that essential interpersonal interaction and connection through real time video calls.
The Range of Mental Health Issues BetterHelp treats
BetterHelp therapists are licensed to treat a multitude of mental health disorders.
These are enlisted as follows and are not limited to:
- Generalized Anxiety disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive disorder
- Psychosomatic disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Sleep disorders
- Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa
- Chronic impulsivity
- Chronic stress
- Familial issues
- Parenting problems
- Intimate relationship problems
- Sexual orientation issues
- Teen therapy
- LGBTQIA related issues
- Educational issues
- Career related problems
- Financial worries
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Spiritual matters
- Existential worries
Types of Therapy and Interventions employed at BetterHelp
BetterHelp employs therapists who are thoroughly equipped to deal with an array of mental health distresses.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapists
- Child Psychologists
- Adolescent/Teen Psychologists
- Behavioural Psychologists
- Clinical Psychologists
- Clinical Social Workers
- Licensed Professional Counsellors
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Mindfulness-based therapy
Some of the most helpful interventions BetterHelp therapists use with their clients are journaling, filling in worksheets and doing other written homework.
Journaling is an incredibly effective intervention aimed at helping clients make sense of the world around them, work through traumatic events from their past and set goals for the future.
Writing one’s thoughts down on paper enables an individual to neatly tread through the ‘jungle’ of thoughts in one’s mind in a step by step process. Instead of ruminative thinking, giving one’s thoughts a physical manifestation on paper not only allows for orderliness but careful observation and interpretation too.
Credibility of BetterHelp therapists
BetterHelp makes sure they employ the best of therapists. The organization ensures they employ therapists with a fully accredited Masters and Post Doctorate Degree.
Moreover, it is mandatory that they possess the relevant license, experience and training in their particular niche of Psychotherapy. In addition, they have all been deemed fit to practise by their respective state, after being screened for the necessary completion of exams, training, practise and education.
While their respective fields vary, 1,000 hours and 3 years of clinical practise is a mandatory prerequisite to form the panel of Psychologists at BetterHelp.
Effectiveness of BetterHelp
A study at the University of Berkeley found BetterHelp’s e-therapy to be as effective as traditional in-person therapy.
Moreover, statistics state that of all the people who used BetterHelp, 98% showed significant progress, 70% reported decreased depression and 94% preferred it over in-person therapy.
- One client, Stephanie Hairston, had high praises for BetterHelp. She, in her own words, writes “Thanks to my therapist, my experience on BetterHelp was life-changing. I’d have missed so much if I hadn’t tried BetterHelp when I did. I continue to be grateful for the circumstances that led to me signing up for BetterHelp and meeting my therapist on their platform. It is my hope that other people can use the BetterHelp platform to have their own profoundly healing experiences in therapy.”
- Another review by a satisfied client working with Kristen, a Clinical Social Worker at BetterHelp reflected that her therapist worked through her problems of addiction, grief and loss as a friend, and expressed high gratitude for the opportunity to have worked with her at BetterHelp.
BetterHelp’s e-therapy V.S Traditional therapy
|Therapists Qualification||Range of Therapists available|
|Types of Therapy||Flexibility|
|Types of Illnesses treated||Accessibility|
|Duration of Sessions||Time consumption|
|General Effectiveness||Interpersonal connection|
At BetterHelp, the screening process and employability rate is generally similar to those of in-person clinical settings. BetterHelp has set the bar high and makes it a point that each of its practising therapists acquire that level of experience and education.
In doing so, BetterHelp can proudly state that every one of its therapists has completed the necessary examinations successfully, acquired the appropriate licenses based on their geographical jurisdiction and clocked at least 1,000 hours and 3 years of clinical practise.
Types of Therapy
At BetterHelp, you will find all the types of therapy methods that are generally employed by therapists in physical clinical settings. These include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Mindfulness based therapy, Family oriented supportive therapy, Behavioural therapy etc.
BetterHelp therapists are fully fit to help clients with the whole range of distresses that in-person therapists are suited to deal with as well. A few examples are Depression, Bipolar disorder, Anxiety disorder, Insomnia, Eating disorders etc.
Another commonality between BetterHelp and in-person therapy is the similar interventions therapists in both use to help their clients get better. These include, journaling, breathing exercises, sleep diaries, dream documentation and time tabling.
Duration of Sessions
As with most in-person therapists, BetterHelp also ensures they don’t keep sessions short enough for clients to think they are not good enough value for money and at the same time, not long enough for individuals to struggle with their attentional and concentrational capacities.
Hence, BetterHelp conducts sessions no shorter than 30 minutes and no longer than 45 minutes.
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
Range of Therapists
One of the most striking features that sets BetterHelp apart from other in-person therapy services is the range of therapists available to choose from. Contrastingly, that is not possible in in-person therapy whereby a client has to move on from one therapist to another quite literally.
Secondly, because of its online nature, BetterHelp facilitates clients with multiple ways of flexibility. It not only allows clients to switch therapists if they don’t like their therapy styles, it also enables them to choose from a variety of different packages such as messaging, live chatting, audio and video calls.
Another major positive is the high affordability of BetterHelp. BetterHelp costs roughly 80USD per week whereas its in-person counterpart averages approximately 150USD, nearly double the amount.
External Costs/Impact on day to day living
Monetary costs are not the only ones incurred upon seeking traditional therapy. External costs have to be considered too. These include the costs of travelling/commuting to and from the clinic while seeking traditional therapy and the energy and effort required to do so.
Due to the commute etc, traditional forms of therapy require significantly greater scheduling time on one’s planner as well.
With BetterHelp’s e-therapy, this is entirely avoided, allowing for a greater sense of freedom for clients throughout the day.
One potential drawback of e-therapy is that individuals who place greater value on a more natural way of interaction and believe it to be a major part of therapy, are not sufficiently satisfied with online therapy and prefer more conventional alternatives.
Such clients rightfully believe that a face to face human interaction makes it easier to nourish an interpersonal connection between therapist and client, accounting for a necessary therapeutic relationship to develop for better development and healing.
However, since this is solely based on personalities and varies from one individual to another, many people in fact, are in favour of the trade off of avoiding commuting for online therapy.
- User friendly interface
- Upto 24 hour messaging
- Variety of communication methods
- Range of Qualified Therapists
- Diverse range of illnesses treated
- Significantly affordable
- Low external costs
- Absence of Psychiatrists (Psychologists are not allowed to prescribe drugs)
- Possible hurdles in forming a therapeutic relationship online
- Technical difficulties online
Having considered the strengths and weaknesses of BetterHelp and how it compares to traditional means of therapy, it is possible to derive a vague idea as to let readers know whether online therapy would be the right option for them.
Those who would benefit most
- People who are anxious about leaving their homes
- Those unable to travel for health related reasons
- People situated far away from their therapists
- People tight on schedules
- Individuals who have unconventional daily schedules
- Those who cannot afford in-person therapy
Those whom it would not suit best
- People who prefer physical human interaction
- People in need of urgent help
- People at the risk of suicide
- Individuals with a severe mental health disorder
- People advised to seek help by law/court
- Individuals for whom a therapist’s physical presence is deemed beneficial
- People who need medication and psychiatric drugs
- Someone who does not have access to a reliable internet connection
- Anyone who does not have privacy available at home
- People living in noisy environments
Getting Started on BetterHelp
Now that an idea as to what BetterHelp is about, an outline of its strengths and weaknesses and comparisons with conventional forms of therapy have been drawn on, here’s how the process of finding a therapist and getting underway works.
Finding the perfect therapist
By default, BetterHelp’s algorithm matches you to potentially your best suited therapist. This is based on how you answer the questionnaire while signing up. However, should you feel the need to do so, there is a manual way to work around this as well, which is arguably even more refined and customizable.
Go to BetterHelp’s website and click on ‘Find a Therapist’. This will lead you to a list of therapists available near your location. It often initially shows a total of 20.
If you feel the need to view more possible options, click the ‘refresh’ button on your browser. This refreshes the page and upon reloading, it views more options. You can repeatedly do so to increase the options available in front of you.
Check their bio’s and credentials. Reading not only their qualifications will tell you whether they are best suited to working with you, but a close examination of how they write and express themselves will give you an insight as to whether you relate with their techniques or not.
This is whereby clients pay 80USD per week and are liable to 1 session every week, alongside 24 hour messaging services.
This is worth 260USD in total, amounting to 65USD per week. It also enables 1 session per week with messaging services available round the clock.
The client is billed 540USD every quarter of a year, which equates to 45USD per week. As with the other packages, it also allows a client to use 1 live session per week, alongside 24 hour messaging services.
The annual plan is worth 1820USD, paid yearly. This is the most economically feasible package considering the long run, as it is equivalent to playing 35USD per week. This also allows for 1 live session per week and 24 hour messaging services.
How to Subscribe?
The process begins by the client answering a short questionnaire. It asks basic demographic questions initially, such as age, gender etc. Hereafter, it progresses to ask about one’s area of concern, such as the illness they perceive to have.
It also deals with questions that ask a client about the symptoms they feel, for how long they have felt that way and other issues they may feel like reporting.
Complete the Registration Form
The registration form simply requires the client to provide their name or nickname, a valid email address and create a password. Thereafter, the client just has to click on a link provided, or enter a short verification code to finalize creation and activation of their account.
Suggest your preferences in a therapist
In this third step, a client describes the sort of therapist they think would work best for them. The client is encouraged to mention which area of expertise they would want their therapist to have specialised in, such as LGBTQIA issues, depression disorders, anxiety disorders, mood disorders etc.
Moreover, it is at the client’s discretion as to how much experience of clinical practise they demand in a therapist of their liking.
BetterHelp uses this information algorithmically to match the client with the closest possible therapist.
Accept Terms and Conditions and make Payment
The client will be taken to the terms and conditions page. Upon accepting those, the payment page will open. Payment is accepted through a multitude of media, such as Visa cards, Paypal and mainstream Credit cards.
Payment is made convenient and easy. Upon payment, the website asks the client whether they would require financial aid and upon answering yes to that question, depending upon a case by case basis, previous clients are reported to have received up to 30-40% of their subscription fee back.
This payment section is also where clients confirm their agreement to either the weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly package.
How to Optimize your BetterHelp experience?
The BetterHelp experience can be utilized in the best possible way and clients are encouraged to make use of the following few steps to do so.
Confronting the Therapist
It is often believed that since the therapist speaks from a position of higher authority and knowledge, the client has to be a passive recipient of rote information. However, the client should know that for their own personal betterment, the right thing to do is to kindly question the therapist if they feel the therapy is leaning towards prolonged generic or rote advice.
Developing Comfort and Trust
The client should also ensure that they allow themselves ample time to build a therapeutic bond with the therapist that is based on comfort and trust. The therapist should be viewed as a genuine friend instead of a mechanistic source of help. This is in the best interests of both parties.
Ensuring the Effectiveness of Therapy
Clients are suggested to ask their therapists regarding their concerns about their progress. Therapists should ideally mention a clients progress to them every few sessions at least, however, if they do not happen to do so, clients should remind therapists to keep a track of their progress. This allows clients to view their achievements and often goes a long way in terms of enhancing further will power in continuing therapy and developing themselves.
Addressing Communication Issues
If after choosing a specific package and mode of communication, the client figures out it is not the best way to go forward, they can feel free to email the BetterHelp support team and also inform their therapist for a possible switch, for instance, from audio calls to video calls.
Finding and using the best mode of communication is critical to forming a comforting therapeutic relationship founded on trust and mutual growth. However, if for any unfortunate reason, the therapist does not agree to switching communication methods, the client should apply for a switch in therapists.
The application can be sent to the BetterHelp team right away and they will be directed to another therapist in usually, only 24 hours.
BetterHelp uses two kinds of encryption, the SSL encryption and also the banking standard 256-bit encryption.
Moreover, HIPAA laws and all state and federal laws are strictly adhered to, in order to protect the clients’ confidentiality.
BetterHelp allows for full customer satisfaction in terms of privacy as clients are not mandatorily required to submit their name while registering.
Alternatives to BetterHelp
Should BetterHelp not satisfy the client, there are other options we want to recommend, and by doing so we encourage every individual to not feel the slightest bit of embarrassment or shame in seeking help. Other similar services include:
You can check our review between BetterHelp vs Talkspace vs Cerebral.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is BetterHelp worth it?
Generally, BetterHelp is worth one’s time and money. Research at the Institute of Berkeley has reported that BetterHelp has been as effective as in-person therapy. Moreover, BetterHelp clients have had many good things to say about the platform, as can be said about most forms of therapy.
Is BetterHelp better or Talkspace?
Both are amongst the leading e-therapy providing services in the world so it boils down to personal preference. However, it is generally understood that BetterHelp is more affordable than Talkspace.
How much does BetterHelp cost per month?
BetterHelp has different packages that cost differing amounts. The monthly package costs 260USD which amounts to 65USD per week, however it’s annual package is the most economical, amounting to 35USD per week.
Is BetterHelp counselling legit?
BetterHelp is completely legitimate. It ensures multiple layers of encryption and conforms by all the relevant HIPAA rules and regulations.
Is BetterHelp really free?
This is a common misconception. BetterHelp is not free. It is a paid online therapy service. However, its affordability does make it stand out.
Can I cancel Betterhelp?
Yes, a client can conveniently choose to cancel their BetterHelp subscription whenever they please. Also, upon the request to cancel their membership, BetterHelp offers them to try another therapist. This offer can easily be denied and the client can proceed to quit.
This review examined the online therapy service BetterHelp in fine detail. It explored what the service and its providers are about, how they were founded and what larger than life mission they are pursuing.
Secondly, it analysed how BetterHelp works, its features such as messaging, audio calls and video calls. It presented an account of the range of different types of mental health disorders BetterHelp treats and the therapists who are on board who assist in treating them, alongside their minimum level of qualification.
A comparison between BetterHelp’s online therapy and traditional in-person therapy was drawn on, and the former’s advantages and disadvantages were highlighted.
The review then went on to describe the systematic process of subscribing to BetterHelp, the payment packages it offers, how to best use the platform for maximum results and answered the questions potential clients often ask.
Related Betterhelp Resources
As part of Our Betterhelp Review, we have also created other resources on Betterhelp which may be of interest to you.