Betterhelp Vs Sondermind: Online Therapy(A Comprehensive Review)

This article will focus on two mental health platforms namely Betterhelp and sondermind by comparing them in a number of areas such as the services they provide, payment methods, insurance policies as well as what added features they have as a part of their service. The article will also introduce both companies by mentioning their aims and overall mission.

Betterhelp Vs sondermind: Online Therapy

Betterhelp and sondermind are online mental health companies that provide therapy services to those in need. When it comes to determining which company is better there are a number of factors one can look into to such as:

  • How To Sign Up
  • Services
  • Online Vs In Person Therapy
  • HIPAA Compliant
  • Psychiatric Services 
  • Payment Models – Insurance
  • Added Features

Before looking at each of these areas in detail, the article will introduce Betterhelp and sondermind to the readers.

BetterHelp – Your Online Partner In Mental Health

Betterhelp is one of the largest online platforms that provides multiple services for all types of people who are suffering from mental health problems and require counseling. What is great about this service is that it is online hence it is available anywhere and every time. You do not have to go to the doctor’s office to get an appointment or wait in line for your turn. This is great if you feel pretty down and getting out of bed is a challenge for you!

With approximately 1700 licensed therapists available online at the click of a button, Betterhelp ensures that its clients receive the best help they can get by connecting them to professional therapists and counselors who know what they need to do This is apparent by the total number of sessions which Betterhelp has already conducted from their platform; a whopping 70 million sessions already completed! This is possible because the company understands the needs of clients well and hence provides therapy related services to them online and not just at  physical location. In a world where things are changing constantly and the unknown is always around the corner, it is becoming more of a need rather than a desire to get services online and at your doorstep – we simply don’t have time nowadays!

Betterhelp recognizes everyone – they don’t discriminate. Whether you are a child who needs counseling or someone from a minority group or marginalized community, Betterhelp believes that no one should be kept away from getting the help they need! Also, Betterhelp recognizes the important diversity should be given; even though the differences don’t mean justify discrimination or leaving someone out, they do necessitate the special services we require. This includes people from all types of backgrounds. 

When you visit their site, you will see that the company realizes the various situations you may be stuck in; you could be a child who needs help, a person in a relationship who feels they need to opt for couple therapy or an individual who is having a tough time facing their problems. The website also recognizes people who experience different feelings, thoughts and experiences compared to the vast majority of people; it does not judge a person based on how others are but how the person is themself! So don’t worry! You are in good hands at Betterhelp.

Sondermind – Making Finding A Therapist Easy

Sondermind is all about improving behavioural health by making it more accessible, approachable and utilized. They are an online mental health platform that deals with a number of mental health issues that clients could have such as anxiety, depression, stress and even mental disorders!

Not only do they provide services online but they also provide in person therapy services because they do realize that sometimes people require physical check ups that cannot be carried out online. Hence they have created a system where clients can actually opt if they want to take sessions online or visit a service provider at their office.

The company is currently based in Denver, Colorado, United States but was founded in 2014. It is currently led by Douglas Newton who is the Chief Medical Officer of the company. The main aim of this company is to make behavioral mental health a possibility for all by making it accessible and providing coverage for it as well so that no one is kept from its benefits.

The online platform is an easy service that many can avail. The company is not a provider of mental health services itself but it serves as a platform for people and service providers. This means that it helps people who are in need of mental assistance connect with the professionals who have the skills to help them.

Betterhelp Vs sondermind: Online Therapy

In this section, we will take a step by step approach where we will compare both the companies on a number of factors that were highlighted in the starting section of the article.

How To Sign Up?

In this section, we will explain how an individual can avail the services of the platforms of Betterhelp and sondermind.

Betterhelp – How To Sign Up?

The process to sign up with Betterhelp involves 5 steps:

  • Visit Website: Click here to visit their website! You need to inform them if you are opting for individual therapy, couple therapy or teen therapy.
  • Intake Form: You will be required to fill out a questionnaire that has numerous questions pertaining to your health, income, counseling needs and preferences as well as mental health. This is important so that the algorithm can determine which counselor to match you with.
  • Assignment: You will be assigned a counselor on the basis of your responses. The counselor will be someone from your state. However, if you are a client from overseas, you will be matched with a service provider who matches your needs and preferences.
  • Payment Details: Betterhelp accepts payment through credit card or paypal and you will need to provide your real information here to sign up.
  • Start Your Counseling: After the registration process you can start your sessions with your service provider immediately. You will have access to a wide range of services and options to avail these services through different mediums. We will discuss these in upcoming sections.

Think the registration process is easy? Why not sign up today and start your journey towards better mental health.

Sondermind – Easy Sign Up

Here are the steps you need to follow in order to sign up at sondermind:

  • Visit their website!
  • Intake Form: Just like Betterhelp, this company also has an intake form that asks you a number of questions to determine what type of help you need and whether you have any certain preferences when it comes to a counselor that you want to be paired with. The purpose of this intake form is to ensure that you get the best counseling experience.
  • Choices: At this stage, after you have filled the intake form, the company will offer some suitable matches to you. They will show you a number of therapists based on your responses in the intake form. From here, you can choose the one therapist you think is the most suitable and continue forward.
  • Payment Details: In this stage you need to provide payment information so that you can actually start availing services. Here you need to provide information on your insurance so that you can get better coverage as well as your debit or credit card information so you can pay whatever is required of you.
  • Start Your Session: Depending on what you need, that is do you need online sessions or an appointment at the doctors office, you can immediately begin the session. You have access to the company’s materials and can hence start your journey to better mental health.

Services Offered – What To Expect?

Here, we will point out what services both platforms offer and hence what needs do they fulfill. This section will discuss all the services both Betterhelp and sondermind have in store for you!

Betterhelp – Your Online Therapist!

What services does Betterhelp offer? Let us take a look!

Individual counseling

The company provides counseling to individuals as well where they can get services for a variety of disorders such as:

  • Depression
  • Abuse
  • Domestic Violence
  • Grief
  • Marriage
  • Trauma
  • PTSD
  • Eating Disorders
  • Happiness
  • Anxiety

Each individual will be assigned a service provider based on their needs. The service provider will be from the area of requirement. This means that they can be someone who is a counselor for couples focusing on individuals only or a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Couples Counseling.

The platform also provides counseling for couples who are facing issues in their relationship. They provide services that help the couple express their problems and work through them in a safe and constructive environment so that the problem is solved and not broadened. The counselor guides the couple so that they utilize their time and efforts in understanding the issues both of them go through and how they can reach a solution.

Teen Counseling

The platform also provides services for teenagers who are going through a variety of problems such as:

  • Depression
  • School Problems
  • LGBTQ
  • Family Conflict
  • Anxiety
  • Bullying
  • Friends Issues
  • Eating Disorders
  • Trouble Sleeping

The platform may transfer you to their sister site which is known as Teencounseling and caters to teenagers between the ages of 13 to 19 years of age. The teenager must start out by filling a form that tries to gather as much information about them as it can so as to suggest a good therapist. The site also has the option where parents can use the interface on the behalf of the teenager.

Like their services? Sign up today by clicking here!

Sondermind – Behavioral Health

General Issues

Sondermind has services that target general issues people face that are not only common but can happen to anyone given the right circumstances. It deals with addiction, depression, anxiety, grief and trauma.

For all of these problems sondermind offers a wide range of professionals the client can choose from so they get the best possible service.

Specialized Areas

The website also offers to deal with issues that may require more specialization or dedicated skills. There is a long list that is provided below:

  • ADHD (Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder)
  • Anger Management
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Autism spectrum support
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Dementia
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Dissociative Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Emergency responder support
  • Family relationships
  • Gender identity
  • General support
  • Intimate / Romantic relationships
  • Learning Disorders
  • LGBTQIA+ support
  • Medical issues / Physical health
  • Medication consultation
  • Military / Veteran support
  • OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder)
  • Perinatal support: pregnancy, prenatal, postpartum
  • Phobias
  • Psychological testing
  • Psychosis / Schizophrenia
  • PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Sex / Intimacy issues
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Stress

Online Vs In Person Therapy

It is interesting to note that Betterhelp provides online therapy only whereas sondermind keeps both options open for clients and they can choose to go for one mode of service or a mixture of both. In this section we will look at the pros and cons associated with the services these two mental health platforms provide.

Betterhelp – Online Therapy

In this section of the article, we will look at the pros and cons of the online service Betterhelp provides to its clients!

What Is An In Person Therapy Service?

It is a fancy term for the services you receive at a clinic that exists in the physical and not the virtual online world. Here, clients will go meet their counselor or therapist face to face for a session relevant to counseling or therapy.

These sessions provide a holistic picture to the therapist as they do not only talk to the client but also observe them in person; they can read their body language, sense how they feel and identify abnormalities in the way they talk, behave or even exist within a certain space. Furthermore, the client is able to communicate openly and develop a relationship with their therapists; this helps the therapy process which leads to better results and quick progress.

The Pros & Cons of Betterhelp – An Online Therapy Service

Here are the pros and cons of availing online services from Betterhelp:

  • Accessible
  • Effective
  • Affordable 
  • Reduces Barriers to Therapy
  • Increased Privacy
  • No Face to Face Interaction
  • Not Sufficient Information for Therapist

Accessible

The best thing about Betterhelp is that it can be accessed at any time from anywhere around the world; the company has a diverse set of working professionals on their panel who are available around the clock. Regardless of your time zone and location, you will be paired with a counselor.

Effective

Betterhelp is a company that is diverse and promotes inclusivity so no matter who you are, what age group you belong to or what minority you represent, at Betterhelp your issues will always be entertained. Furthermore, as the client does not meet the counselor face to face or can keep their identity hidden, there is a lesser chance of experiencing an unpleasant situation such as discrimination; also, the people on the panel are aware that they will be working with diverse individuals so they are usually up for the job!

Affordable

Keeping other factors at bay, the costs of running a company online are way less than those of a brick and mortar one. However, if you are running an online business that incorporates recruitment practices from across the globe, costs will vary if not increase always. Nonetheless, online services like Betterhelp are cheaper compared to most in person therapy services.

Reduces Barriers to Therapy

Many people are uncomfortable going to therapy, especially the younger generation. So taking it online may actually reduce the barriers of having a physical session; over time the person may become comfortable with the idea of availing therapy and eventually accept the idea of meeting one in person especially if their mental health demands it. 

Increased Privacy

Betterhelp provides the option of chatting sessions as well as call sessions; if the client is comfortable enough they can also go for video sessions. However, in person therapy is always face to face hence people may avoid that because they do not want to reveal their identity especially if they have a lot of history they want to delete.

No Face to Face Interaction

Online services are not for everyone especially those who need to be physically in a room with someone to open up; in fact it can be difficult to open up if you are not with the person on the other side of the screen.

Not Sufficient Information for Therapist

This can be a problem; the therapist needs to have enough information to guide the counselee in a better manner. The quality of service may reduce if online sessions are conducted. Furthermore, online sessions may prevent the counselor from identifying dangerous situations such as individuals who are suicidal especially if the session only involves chatting.

The Pros & Cons of In Person Therapy – sondermind

Although sondermind offers both online and in person therapy services, we will only focus on in person therapy services here because the article has already highlighted the pros and cons of online therapy keeping in mind Betterhelp’s services.

We do understand that compared to online therapy sessions, in person therapy can be more expensive and not accessible to all. Also, some people may not be comfortable in revealing their identity by showing up at a clinic especially in a place where a lot of stigma is attached. However apart from these cons, the in person therapy does have pros:

  • Increased Effectiveness
  • Better Diagnosis
  • More Opportunities to Improve

Increased Effectiveness

The in person therapy session may suit some people more because they need to be in a physical setting in order to open up. Also, their mental health may require that they go for physical sessions rather than online ones. Maybe they need more attention, have to be observed more closely or they need human interaction which they have been lacking over time.

Better Diagnosis

In these cases, the therapist is in a better position to not only guide the counselee but diagnose them with a condition if it is required or allowed as part of the session. To be diagnosed is something complex; chatting is not enough and you need to physically see the person and also observe how they behave in order to get to the true issue.

More Opportunities to Improve.

Counseling is not all about talking. Psychological health is complex and requires cognitive and behavioral efforts – sometimes clients need to be present in person and take part in activities. The tests that are conducted on them require them to be present in person. Furthermore, if they are present physically, they can engage in healthy activities as part of the session that will be more effective as compared to trying to do them online.

HIPAA Compliant – Betterhelp Vs sondermind

Both Betterhelp and sondermind are HIPAA compliant and this is one advantage or feature that they share together – it ensures that they have the best protocols to protect the medical information of their clients and use it for known purposes only.

This section of the article will discuss what HIPAA is and what implications it has for the online mental health platforms and how that benefits a client.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule

It covers the national standard rules of individually identifiable health information with the aim of protecting patients personal health information. It requires all entities and their business associates that are covered by HIPAA to follow this rule. The privacy rule directs doctors to inform patients about which segments of their information will be shared with who for what purposes. At the same time, the rule gives patients the right to request for their protected health information (PHI). 

What information is protected under the rule? Take a look:

  • A patient’s name, birth details, contact information, social security number and other personally identifiable information (PPI).
  • The past, present or future health condition of an individual.
  • Treatment details provided to the individual
  • Payment details of treatment that can be used to identify that person.

How Do Betterhelp & Sondermind Comply to HIPAA?

What Information Is Collected

It is important that Betterhelp is aware of the information they are collecting and using only then will they be in a position to assess if they are required to comply under HIPAA law. The following information is collected by Betterhelp:

  • Identifiers
  • Personal information as identified by California Customer Records Statute
  • Protected Classification Characteristics (as under California Law)
  • Internet Activity
  • Geolocation data
  • Inferences drawn from personal information

All this information is listed on their website and shows they are aware of the information they are collecting. They have also stated that they do not collect personal information that is excluded from the scope of CCPA which includes guidelines by HIPAA.

Now, we will examine how Betterhelp and sondermind undertake the guidelines HIPAA has drawn out and how it benefits you as a client!

Security Procedures.

As a HIPAA compliant, Betterhelp and sondermind understand that they need to ensure maximum protection of the data of their clients. They use an SSL encryption and banking grade 256 bit encryption, they are hosted under the most secure servers because they value your privacy and realize that sensitive information is exchanged on their platform. 

Apart from that, they also allow clients to use their false name when interacting with their counselors or assigned service providers. Their information is not shared – contact information – with their service providers when they connect to them for sessions.

Services – How they Ensure HIPAA Compliance

It is necessary for Betterhelp and sondermind to engage in the following as they are HIPAA compliant:

  • Employees need to be trained on different procedures
  • Appropriate administrative and technical safeguards must be employed to protect the privacy of data – Betterhelp has a secure website
  • Individuals must be able to complain, request or provide suggestions to entity – Betterhelp allows it’s clients to reach out to them in multiple ways

Psychiatric Services – Betterhelp Vs Sondermind

When it comes to psychiatric services, sondermind takes the lead as Betterhelp does not provide any such services online. In the case of sondermind, they provide psychiatric treatment online as well as part of their in person therapy services. Betterhelp does have psychiatrists on it’s panel but they are not allowed to diagnose clients or prescribe medication due to a number of reasons.

In this section we will look at who is a psychiatrist and how they are different from psychologists who sit on both the panels of Betterhelp and sondermind!

The Psychiatrist – The Doctor Who Mends Your Brain

A psychiatrist is a doctor who helps treat people with mental health issues and they consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or International Classification of Diseases (ICD). These doctors do not only treat mental health disorders but diseases that affect the brain as well. 

This is a branch of medicine that deals with problems associated with human behavior hence the doctor needs to be well versed in social and biological sciences.

The Difference Between A Psychiatrist & Psychologist

A psychiatrist is someone who is qualified to treat individuals with controlled medication and therapy. They treat children, adolescents and adults who are suffering from a psychiatric condition and like other physicians they have attended medical school to earn a doctoral degree. These doctors typically help people manage their medicines and how they should monitor their progress.

Psychologists, on the other hand, focus on treating children, adolescents, adults and elderly people using psychotherapy. They diagnose patients using medical tests, psychological and emotional assessments and even observation. They also use medication to an extent to treat clients but unlike psychiatrists, they are trained to employ psycho and behavioral therapy. Most fields of psychology require a doctorate (Ph.D. or PsyD); all psychologists must fulfill state requirements for providing psychiatric care and services before being granted a license

Hence the differences between a psychologist and psychiatrist rests in their educational background, approaches to treatment and focus on treatment as well.

As a result, sondermind is able to diagnose clients and prescribe the necessary medicine because not only do they recruit psychiatrists but allow them to practice without any conditions.

Payment Models – Betterhelp Or Sondermind?

We will now look at the payment models of both the platforms!

Sondermind Accepts Insurance

When it comes to sondermind, they are a service that partners with a number of insurance companies such as Aetna, Anthem (Blue Cross Blue Shield), Apostrophe, Bright Health, Cigna, Friday Health Plans, Kaiser, Optum, and United Healthcare. They are also in-network with Cigna EAP and United EAP, as well as Medicare in Colorado. 

However, they do not accept Medicare, Medicaid or Tricare!

The benefit of sondermind is that people can cover their costs using insurance and hence make mental health care affordable!

You can pay using the following options:

  • Insurance coverage: The company partners with a number of institutes that are affiliated with insurance companies or insurance providers themselves. Hence they accept insurance from a wide range of providers and clients can use this option to pay for their mental health costs.
  • EAP: If you are using an EAP, you will normally have a certain number of free sessions before you have to pay with your insurance benefits or out-of-pocket. To use your EAP, it’s best to call them ahead of time and let them know you are seeing a SonderMind therapist. They will then give you a referral number which you can bring to your first appointment. 
  • Pay Yourself: You can also opt to pay yourself and cover whatever costs you experience from out of your pocket. You must provide your payment details to the company while signing up. In other cases, the client must still provide payment details because they will eventually have to pay the coinsurance or copay as well.

Does Betterhelp Accept Insurance?

You cannot use insurance to pay for Betterhelp unless in circumstances where it is applicable. The services of Betterhelp are also not covered by Medicare or Medicaid. There are a number of reasons for this which have been highlighted on their website but they include the following:

  • Health insurance plans have partial or limited coverage so it really isn’t useful. Most of the time they do not fully cover the costs and one ends up doing much paperwork to get very little benefit. On top of that you need to finance the insurance as well somehow.
  • In the case that your health insurance plan covers all costs of the services, the co-pay of insurance may be higher than the entire cost of Betterhelp’s services – this is due to the generally low cost services of Betterhelp due to it’s online nature and ease of accessibility for all. So, it is better not to avail insurance because you may end up paying way more to get the insurance compared to the actual costs of the services.
  • Clients at Betterhelp may not be able to use insurance because insurance companies often require that the diagnosis of a patient and their future treatment plans are sent to them. However, at Betterhelp service providers are not allowed to diagnose patients for a number of reasons. The service providers are also not allowed to prescribe drugs. As said before, insurance companies require some sort of documentation or proof that a person is indeed eligible for insurance.
  • Betterhelp emphasizes that their costs for services are very low hence it is not advisable to use insurance. This is what they prefer and they also offer financial aid on their website which can be used to decrease the costs of sessions from around $280 to as low as $216. 

Conclusion

This article provided an in depth analysis of both of the mental health platforms – Betterhelp and sondermind – by comparing them in a number of areas such as what services they provide and how easy is the sign up process. Furthermore, the article compared them by determining if they provide certain services such as that of in person therapy and whether or not they accept insurance. The article also discussed the modes of communication they offer to clients. 

References

https://www.sondermind.com/

https://www.betterhelp.com/

https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/index.html

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/healthinsurance.asp#:~:text=Health%20insurance%20is%20a%20type,pay%20the%20care%20provider%20directly.

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