BetterHelp vs Talkspace
This review compares the two leading e-therapy services in the world, namely BetterHelp and Talkspace.
It draws this comparison along the lines of the most critical factors in assessing the quality and effectiveness of a therapeutic service.
The review begins by contrasting the ways of starting out on both platforms. It then progresses onto other facets such as the expenses borne by the client using each of these services, whether these services are covered by mainstream insurance companies, how flexibly and conveniently interactions with a therapist can take place and the range and limitations of these counsellors.
Moreover, the particular concern of confidentiality and security is uncovered, certain features exclusive to each platform are analyzed, alongside a comparison of their customer support services and respective business profiles.
This review concludes by answering commonly asked questions and delivering a verdict in the shape of a recommendation in light of the evidence gathered.
What to Expect?
From reading this review, readers should expect to see a detailed comparison between BetterHelp and Talkspace along the lines of the content the table below states.
|Convenience signing up||9/10||8/10|
|Therapist Matching & Interaction||9/10||9.5/10|
|Therapist Merit & Treatment Range||9/10||9/10|
Convenience Signing up
Both BetterHelp and Talkspace are generally considered to be user friendly online platforms for seeking therapy. However, we use one major distinguishing criterion to judge the significance of such platforms in terms of convenience and that is the feature of a free trial.
A free trial delivers multiple important messages to clients.
Firstly, on behalf of the service providers, it suggests that they empathise with their potential clients. The free trial does so by acknowledging that the client often comes from an emotionally distressed position and hence it is critical to gain their trust that they are not being financially exploited.
Secondly, this signals that the service providers are fully committed to establishing a bond between themselves and the client that is based on trust and mutual growth. This is essential for a sense of empowerment and security of the client.
Thirdly, especially since both services are online therapy providers, which is a new-found way of counselling, clients switching from traditional in-person therapy to this form of therapy may face a mismatch of information compared to the providers themselves. This makes it even more crucial for providers like BetterHelp and Talkspace to sympathise with clients’ needs.
BetterHelp ensures this sense of financial and emotional security for their clients by allowing a 1 week free trial period. Moreover, even withdrawing from therapy in the first month allows a reimbursement of 50% of the paid amount.
Clients rate this feature extremely highly, since they don’t feel trapped and know within themselves that should they choose to continue therapy, they are doing so by exercising their free will, which reflects that the therapy is likely value for money and completely worth it.
Unfortunately, Talkspace does not offer a free trial period for its clients.
However, it must be noted that it is still amongst the largest two online therapy providing services with thousands of satisfied customers, hence the absence of a free trial period is not the sole deciding factor in the overall experience of an online healthcare service.
Hence, in this department, BetterHelp’s services have the edge over Talkspace and clients who value a free trial period highly will likely choose the former for their counselling.
After the free trial period ends, BetterHelp offers a client 4 possible payment packages to choose from. These are as follows;
Through the weekly membership, the client simply pays 80USD per week. This allows the client to avail 1 weekly live session with their therapist, alongside up to 24 hour text messaging services.
This costs 65USD per week as a lump sum payment of 260USD is made at the start of every month. It includes a total of 4 sessions for the entire month and round the clock messaging services in a secure chat box. Basically, it is an extension of the initial package, however, the extended time period’s worth of subscription allows for greater economies of scale to be achieved by the client.
This plan is worth 45USD per week and requires a lump sum payment of 540USD every 5 months. It allows 1 session every week and unlimited messaging services.
This costs a total of 1820USD each year, which equates to merely 35USD per week and allows a similar range of services as the other packages, spread out over the timespan of a year.
The key takeaway from BetterHelp’s pricing policy and packages is that the essential provision of services remains the same, but is instead spread over a longer period of time, which incurs progressively lower overall costs upon the client.
Talkspace offers packages and services that differ from those of BetterHelp.
It differs in two major ways.
Firstly, it does not offer a weekly package. All three of its packages revolve around monthly payments.
Secondly, Talkspace does not place as much emphasis on live sessions as does BetterHelp. This is reflected in the detailed description of their packages below.
Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus
This includes texting, recorded video and audio messaging. The therapist replies daily, 5 days per week. It can either be billed monthly, 260USD, equating to a weekly cost of 60USD, every three months costing 708USD, amounting to 54USD per week or billed every six months, a total of 1248USD, which is the most economical as it is equivalent to being charged 48USD per week.
Unlimited Messaging Therapy Premium
Along with the services of the Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus plan, this integrates a live 30 minute session each month. It can be subscribed to by the client either monthly which costs 316USD paid as a lump sum (equal to paying 73USD per week), or paid for every three months which amounts to 852USD lump sum and 65USD weekly. The third option is paying 1512USD every six months, equivalent to 58USD per week.
Unlimited Messaging Therapy Ultimate
As with the above mentioned two plans, this plan also allows unlimited texting and recorded video and audio messages. However, in contrast to the Unlimited Messaging Therapy Premium plan, it enables a client to schedule four live sessions per month instead of one. This is the most costly Talkspace payment plan.
It can either be paid as 396USD per month, 1068USD every three months or 1896USD per six months. These amount to 91USD, 82USD and 73USD respectively.
As is reflective of the services of the two providers, Talkspace is considerably costly compared to BetterHelp. This can be seen upon a comparison of the most cost effective options of both.
BetterHelp’s most economical option costs 35USD per week and includes a weekly live session alongside unlimited messaging services, open 24/7.
Talkspace’s most affordable option is not only more expensive, costing 48USD per week, but also lacks a live session altogether. Sessions at Talkspace can be added upon requests, however they can cost over 100USD per session, which in many cases can be over the price charged by in-person therapists.
Hence, it is not unfair to say that BetterHelp seems like the more appealing option considering not costs but also which is more value for money. This is because there are subtle details which only in-person therapy can ensure to get right and the closest substitute to that is live sessions online.
The reason we say this is because considering a process like therapy, minute details such as eye contact and other natural movements are indicative of one’s mental health and the therapist picks on such observations to arrive at an accurate diagnosis. In the absence of this, such as in recorded audios and videos on Talkspace, there might be misinterpretations impeding the clients’ development.
However, this is a completely personal preference-based concept. Some individuals might genuinely not feel the need to conduct live sessions. Others may only require very specific scenario based advice which is sufficiently explainable over text messages. A well detailed text message might serve such clients better.
As with price, insurance can also be a deciding factor when it comes to choosing a healthcare service. This is because at times, even highly priced services, when insured for, end up being more reasonable than the lowly priced alternatives to begin with.
Unfortunately, BetterHelp is generally not yet insured by any of the leading insurance companies. Cigna, Aetna, Anthem, Centene etc, do not insure individuals against BetterHelp services.
Contrastingly, this is where Talkspace has a major advantage over BetterHelp.
Talkspace could potentially be covered by the insurance of around 40 million Americans right now. Cigna, Humana, Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield and Optum all can help waive off some of the hefty Talkspace therapy fee.
That solves only half the problem though.
Even if a client is able to get insured by their respective organization against Talkspace therapy services, the initial prices of Talkspace are so high, that even after the reduction, clients would still very likely be paying more than the 35USD per week annual option of BetterHelp, whereby a weekly live session is also offered.
Hence, it is not just about insurance. Despite it, Talkspace still proves to be costlier of the two. So, advantage BetterHelp again.
Therapist Matching and Interaction
BetterHelp uses an algorithmically devised way of matching a potential client with their best suited therapists based on the manner in which they answer the brief questionnaire during the registration process on the BetterHelp website.
This computer-run method has been tested and reported to be as effective as matching a client with the best possible therapist in a traditional manner.
Moreover, apart from this, BetterHelp also allows clients to search for therapists through a second method. This is by clicking “Find a Therapist” on the bottom of their website page. This directs the client to a page with 20 recommendations of potential therapists. Upon refreshing the page, options of therapists available increases.
The client can conveniently surf through all the options available to them, reading every therapists’ ‘bio’ and going ahead with choosing the best looking match.
Talkspace employs a more personable method of matching clients with therapists.
Upon registration, a live session with a member from the Talkspace team takes place whereby they ask the client about questions related to their illness and what they would consequently want to look for in a therapist in terms of traits.
They then choose the best therapist themselves and enable the client and therapist to connect.
Overall, although both methods have been proven effective, Talkspace employs a more natural technique, which is close to the traditional way of in-person therapy. Hence, clients might be more attracted to Talkspace due to this reason.
Therapist Merit and Treatment Range
BetterHelp and Talkspace
BetterHelp and Talkspace are strikingly similar in this regard.
Both services acquire the expertise of appropriately and fully licensed therapists whose credentials are tested strictly.
These include Clinical Social Workers (LCSW/LMSW), Licensed Professional Counsellors (LPC), Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) etc.
It is ensured that the therapists complete the necessary practise, training and education and pass all the relevant examinations deeming them fit to work by adhering to their respective states’ laws.
The range of illnesses they specialise in treating is extremely vast and includes the following and more;
- 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 issue
- Educational issues
- Career related problems
- Financial worries
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Spiritual matters
- Existential worries
There are however, certain features that are exclusive to both.
BetterHelp offers specialized help catered only towards the LGBTQIA+ community, teenagers and couples, on their three separate respective websites. Therapists serving them are highly specialized in the needs of these individuals.
BetterHelp allows access to 20-plus interactive live group sessions regulated by therapists.
The Talkspace signing up procedure is aided by short videos that accurately help in each step.
Online symptom trackers allow a client to update the therapist ahead of time and track their progress.
Talkspace also has basic psychiatric help offered as well. Although this is fundamentally only in the form of re-filling for those who have already been prescribed drugs elsewhere, it is a feature that BetterHelp lacks.
Confidentiality and Security
BetterHelp and Talkspace
Both BetterHelp and Talkspace conform by HIPAA laws and their messaging services are not only SSL encrypted but also 256-bit encrypted along banking standards.
Both platforms adhere by all relevant state and federal legislation.
Customer Support Services
Customer services of both platforms allow one to submit questions and/or feedback. They both reply in around 24 hours.
It has an online form which clients are required to fill.
Moreover, it has an FAQ section where commonly asked questions and queries are answered and the answers enlisted for clients to view.
BetterHelp provides an email address on their contact page for convenience.
Talkspace has a ticketing system which is easy to keep track of.
Moreover, it has a thorough resource system called the knowledgebase, which although different in name, serves the same function as that of an FAQ section.
BetterHelp and Talkspace
Both platforms are not too different in this aspect. Both are accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). However, in terms of online reputation in general, it is believed that BetterHelp may be slightly superior.
BetterHelp also has thousands of more reviews than Talkspace and a more talented and dedicated Public Relations team.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is BetterHelp vs Talkspace better?
Whereas BetterHelp does generally seem like the better option due to multiple edges over Talkspace, the latter also has attractions that certain clients value highly.
How much does BetterHelp cost per month?
BetterHelp is generally more affordable than most other e-therapy services. It’s monthly package costs 260USD, which means 65USD per week.
Is BetterHelp covered by insurance?
No, BetterHelp is not covered by insurance.
Is BetterHelp worth the money?
Yes, not just BetterHelp, but all e-therapy services and in-person therapy are considered worth it.
Why is BetterHelp bad?
In October 2018, BetterHelp attracted some negative attention in the form of complaints by users against ad experiences with the application. However, founder Alon Matas responded to these claims appropriately and sufficiently.
Is online therapy legitimate?
Yes, online therapy is completely legitimate. It uses two way encryption and the therapists are also highly qualified.
This Review analysed the two largest online therapy providing services, BetterHelp and Talkspace.
It conducted a comprehensive comparison of the two platforms based on multiple facets such as signing up procedure, pricing, insurance, therapist credibility, confidentiality, customer support etc.
It concluded that more or less, both services outdo each other in different departments but are generally worth it.
Where BetterHelp has attractions in a free trial, lower prices and specialized help, Talkspace has its exclusive advantages in providing insurance, psychiatry services etc.
Hence, it boils down to an individuals’ personal preferences as to which provider would suit them best.