BetterHelp Review: Is It Right for You?

BetterHelp.com is a convenient, affordable online mental health service that is best suited to patients who want to improve their quality of life and work through issues that might be holding them back through online counseling. BetterHelp.com does not offer official diagnoses or prescriptions.

By: Chris Riley

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Gerardo Sison

Last Updated: July 27th, 2021

 

What is BetterHelp? | BetterHelp Treatments | Is it Effective? | Pricing | Pros and Cons

If you’re one of the millions of people who has struggled to find access to convenient mental health care that you can actually afford, you’re not alone. The problem has become so pervasive that online companies like BetterHelp have developed to fill the gap in mental health services and provide patients with the care that they need. 

Our BetterHelp review will tell you everything you need to know about the service, what it has to offer, and if it’s right for you.

What is BetterHelp?

BetterHelp is the world’s largest e-counseling platform and was started with the mission of making professional counseling accessible, affordable, and convenient, so anyone who struggles with life’s challenges can get help anytime and anywhere through live sessions, according to the company’s website

BetterHelp was founded with the understanding that access to quality mental health care is hard to come by, with many people unable to afford counseling, unable to find a therapist that works for them, or unable to make it to an in-person appointment with a mental health professional. 

BetterHelp seeks to remove those barriers and make mental health care more accessible for everyone through online therapy services.

What does BetterHelp offer?

The cornerstone of BetterHelp’s product offering is convenient access to more than 17,000 licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited psychologists (PhD/PsyD), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW/LMSW), and board licensed professional counselors (LPC). The service offers an online therapy platform for individuals, couples, and teens.

Clients are matched with a licensed therapist located in their state based on their responses to a short questionnaire. During the registration process, people are allowed to remain anonymous and able to choose a nickname if they prefer not to use their real name during their sessions, which is a valuable feature for those with privacy concerns. 

Clients are matched to counselors based on their location, personal preferences (such as working with a male or female therapist, someone with LGBTQ+ experience, someone older or younger, and more), the type of therapy that they are requesting (individual, couples, or teens), and what specific aspects of mental health they are struggling with (anxiety, loss, coping with life changes, and much more). 

Once matched with a therapist, clients are offered online therapy services through four different methods: online messaging, live chats, phone sessions, and video sessions. 

All of BetterHelp’s counseling services can be accessed through a computer or laptop, as well as via mobile devices using the BetterHealth app. Some components of BetterHelp, such as the company’s online messaging option, are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, while scheduled appointments occur at more typical times. 

Is BetterHelp effective?

It’s understandable that some people would be concerned about whether online mental health care offered through BetterHelp could be as effective as in-person traditional therapy sessions. After all, anyone who has been to a therapist before knows that building a rapport with a new therapist takes time and effort. Can BetterHealth really replicate that feeling online through video chat and teletherapy? Can an online therapy platform really be beneficial?

A study conducted by the Berkeley Well-Being Institute and published in 2019 would seem to indicate that services like BetterHelp with online counseling are just as effective as face-to-face sessions. The study found that 98 percent of study participants reported making significant progress in their mental health over the study period of three months, and 94 percent of participants prefer BetterHelp over traditional therapy sessions done face-to-face. While people use BetterHelp for many different reasons, the study noted a 70 percent decrease in symptoms of depression as reported by participants during the study period. The study found that BetterHelp was as effective for patients without prior traditional psychotherapy experience as it was for patients with previous exposure to face-to-face psychotherapy. The study included 318 active users of BetterHelp.

Other studies have also been conducted on the effectiveness of online cognitive behavioral therapy treatment in routine clinical practice. The studies reported similar results, with a high rate of patient satisfaction and wellness and large short term reductions in all of the primary symptoms of complaint; these improvements were noted for the entire year of the study period and for up to a year after treatment. 

As a result, it’s reasonable to state that online psychotherapy, like the kind offered through BetterHelp, can be extremely effective at improving a patient’s quality of life, overall wellness and helping them reach their mental health goals. 

How much does BetterHelp cost?

BetterHelp works as a subscription service with pricing that varies depending on the length of time that individuals commit to using the service. Regardless of which plan you choose, you have access to unlimited free counseling sessions in real-time via messaging, live video, phone, and chat. 

Pricing for subscription plans are as follows:

  • Weekly plan: $70 per week
  • Monthly plan: $260 per month (approximately 65 dollars per week)
  • Quarterly plan: $540 per quarter (approximately 45 dollars per week)
  • Annual plan: $1820 per year (approximately 35 dollars per week)

BetterHelp is the least expensive when patients commit to a longer subscription, but it may be challenging for people to predict how long they will need therapy. As a result, some people may end up paying for more therapy than they need, while others may be unwilling to commit to therapy for an extended period of time and will end up paying more per week despite using the service for months.

However, regardless of which plan a client chooses, there is no denying that BetterHelp has a more cost-effective pricing model than in-person therapy. In-person therapy sessions typically cost anywhere from $50 to $250 per session or more, depending on where you live. 

BetterHelp does not partner with insurance companies, so patients who have health insurance with mental health coverage may find that they can save money by seeing an in-network therapist and using their health insurance. People who want to use BetterHelp but are unable to afford to do so may qualify for assistance through the company’s financial aid program.

What are the advantages of BetterHelp?

BetterHelp is associated with many different advantages for people who are looking for a convenient, affordable way to access mental health care wherever they are through an online therapy platform. 

Advantages of BetterHelp's counseling services are:

  • All online therapists are licensed and rigorously vetted with at least three years and 1,000 hours of professional experience.
  • Clients are able to choose whether they prefer to use their computer or the mobile app to access services.
  • Therapists are able to address a wide range of mental health and quality of life concerns.
  • Therapy is available in the form of text messages, live chat, phone calls, and video calls depending on your preference.
  • BetterHelp’s website and app are easy to navigate and understand.
  • Therapy through BetterHelp is much less expensive than in-person therapy for most people.
  • If you don’t like your therapist, you are able to switch therapists at any time.
  • BetterHelp frequently offers a 7-day free trial for people who are interested in seeing if the service works for them.

What are the disadvantages of BetterHelp?

Although BetterHelp has many advantages, there are also some downsides to the service. 

Disadvantages of BetterHelp include:

  • BetterHelp therapy is not covered by health insurance.
  • BetterHelp therapists are not able to make an official diagnosis of a mental health condition and cannot prescribe medication.
  • BetterHelp therapy does not count towards fulfilling court-ordered therapy.
  • Patients may have difficulty knowing how much therapy they need and which subscription plan to sign up for. 

Is BetterHelp right for you?

BetterHelp is geared towards improving mental health, wellness, and overall quality of life, but the company does not provide diagnoses of mental health conditions. 

BetterHelp might be right for you if you are looking for access to convenient, affordable mental health care and do not require prescription medications. 

If your therapy goals include improving your quality of life and addressing specific issues that may be holding you back, such as stress, relationships, depression, eating disorders, trauma, family conflicts, grief, self esteem, anxiety, parenting, addictions, sleeping, anger, LGBT matters, and religion, BetterHelp.com might be able to provide an appropriate talkspace for you. 

Who should not use BetterHelp?

As noted on the BetterHelp website, there are some people who should not use the BetterHelp service. 

If you meet any of the following criteria, you should not use BetterHelp:

  • You are thinking about hurting yourself or someone else.
  • You are having an urgent mental health crisis or are experiencing an emergency.
  • You need to go to therapy or counseling as the result of a court order or other authority.
  • You are a minor or are under the care of a legal guardian.
  • You have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness, require psychological supervision, or need psychiatric care.
  • You do not have reliable internet access.

Patients diagnosed with major mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders, or drug or alcohol addiction may require more services than BetterHelp can provide.

Summary

BetterHelp provides convenient, affordable access to mental health care for patients who are looking to improve their quality of life and work through issues that could be causing feelings of depression or anxiety. 

BetterHelp and telehealth services like it have been shown to be as effective as face-to-face traditional therapy, and patient satisfaction rates are high.

Source:

https://mhealth.jmir.org/2019/1/e10948/ 

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0040089 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354443