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BetterHelp is an online counseling platform. The company describes itself as the world’s largest counseling organization, with over 21,000 licensed therapists serving more than 1.8 million people.

Founded in 2013, BetterHelp is based in Silicon Valley. In 2015, a major telehealth company called Teladoc acquired it but kept the original brand name.

BetterHelp online platform makes it possible for a person to access professional counselors from any place, at any time. Individuals can use a computer, tablet, or smartphone to seek counseling services, which makes the process more convenient, flexible, and affordable and allows to maintain privacy.

Mental health conditions are common throughout society. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience mental health conditions each year, as do 1 in 6 young people aged 6–17 years.

Medical News Today has carefully vetted BetterHelp to ensure that there are no safety risks for individuals.

The vetting team looked at several factors before writing this article, such as:

  • Medical accuracy and integrity: BetterHelp is transparent about the coverage it can provide and its standard of care.
  • Best practices: The company uses licensed healthcare professionals and complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
  • Indicators of trust: BetterHelp has third-party regulation and certification of security standards.
  • Reputation: The company has not received any warning letters from the Federal Trade Commission, has no pending or past lawsuits, and has a high rating on its Better Business Bureau (BBB) page.

At the time of publication, the BBB gives BetterHelp an A grade, and the average customer rating is 4.16 out of five stars, based on 334 reviews.

Positive reviews mention compatibility with counselors and how easy the website is to use.

Less favorable comments focus on billing problems, reimbursement issues, and lack of counselor availability. People also report difficulty reaching an agreement on the counseling format, with the company having offered some individuals live chat sessions when they requested phone or video appointments.

BetterHelp provides counseling services for adults, couples, and teenagers. The company works with thousands of licensed counselors, all of whom have a master’s or doctoral degree in their fields, as well as at least 3 years and 1,000 hours of hands-on experience.

Counselors come from the following backgrounds:

BetterHelp pairs individuals with the therapists based on how they respond to an online multiple choice questionnaire. If a person is not happy with their match, they can ask to change therapists.

The company will then assign a person to a private online chat room that only they and their therapist can access. The chat room is always “open” for the counselor and client. Individuals have unlimited chat time with their counselors through their chat room, although the chats are not usually live.

BetterHelp offers people one live session with their counselor each week. These live sessions can be online chats, phone calls, or video sessions that individuals can schedule with their counselors in their chat rooms.

BetterHelp features

BetterHelp offers various features that people can use to access the company’s services.

Chat room

A person can opt to talk to their designated therapist via a chat room at any time. While people can access this messaging service whenever they wish to, a therapist may not respond immediately.

Live chat

A person can schedule a session with their therapist through the live chat function. This feature is similar to the chat room feature. However, individuals can message their therapist and receive responses in real time.

A person can return to and view this message exchange at any time.

Phone session

BetterHelp also offers phone sessions.

To use this feature, a person needs to schedule a session with their therapist. Then, people need to log in to their BetterHelp therapy room, and the system will ask for their phone number. The system then calls this number and connects a person to their therapist.

Video session

Alternatively, a person may schedule a live video session with their therapist so they can speak face to face. As with the phone session, a person signs into their therapy room at the appropriate time.

The therapist sends an invitation to begin a video chat. Once the participant accepts the invitation, the session will begin.

Group therapy

In addition to one-on-one sessions, members of BetterHelp may also access therapist-led live group seminars.

These group sessions are free of charge. BetterHelp offers over 20 live sessions per week.

BetterHelp offers the following types of therapy:

  • Individual: This therapy is suitable for people who wish to discuss their mental health with a professional.
  • Couples: This therapy is beneficial for a person and their partner. If a person chooses this option, BetterHelp directs them to ReGain, which the company operates.
  • Teen: People can choose to set up counseling for teenagers. BetterHelp redirects them to Teen Counseling, which the company operates.

The therapists on this platform may have certain specializations, such as anxiety, depression, anger management, and more. A person can choose the areas they would like to focus on when registering with BetterHelp.

When individuals register online to use BetterHelp, they fill out an online questionnaire that seeks information such as:

The questionnaire also asks about a person’s objectives in seeking counseling and the types of issues they are experiencing. A person may also select any characteristics they would like in a counselor, such as religion, gender, and ethnicity.

BetterHelp reviews a person’s completed questionnaire and then pairs them with an appropriate counselor. This process may take up to a few days.

Once the company pairs a person with a therapist, that person gains access to a private chatroom, where they can communicate with their counselor. People can schedule live messaging, phone, or video sessions through this chatroom.

BetterHelp has a large network of qualified therapists. The company claims it ensures that all its therapists are fully trained, licensed, experienced, and accredited and that they have a master’s or doctoral degree in their chosen field.

BetterHelp asks all therapist applicants to verify their identity and provide license documentation. The company then cross-references this information with the therapist’s state licensing board. After BetterHelp verifies this information, the applicants must complete a graded case study and a video interview.

BetterHelp states that this thorough process means that the company only accepts 20% of applicants.

The company uses multiple layers of encryption to safeguard user data, with one layer for general browsing and a second added layer for subscribers and their counselors.

The company does not share data with insurance companies, and counselors follow all local and federal privacy guidelines, including the HIPAA.

BetterHelp works on a subscription basis and offers a 7-day free trial. Subscribers pay $60–90 per week after this trial period. The exact price depends on a person’s location, preferences, and therapist availability.

The company sends bills every 4 weeks. The bills are payable by credit card or PayPal. A person can cancel their subscription at any time.

BetterHelp financial aid

BetterHelp may offer some financial aid. In the initial questionnaire, BetterHelp will ask for information about a person’s financial position.

When a person selects their plan, they can apply for financial aid.

Does BetterHelp accept insurance?

BetterHelp states that the company and therapists do not submit claims to Medicare, Medicaid, or health insurance companies.

While some health insurers may cover part of the costs of the BetterHelp platform, the company warns that a person’s copay may be more expensive than the cost of using the services without insurance.

If an individual does wish to use their insurance, they should check whether their provider offers coverage for BetterHelp.

Learn more about whether insurance covers BetterHelp here.

Does BetterHelp offer discounts?

At the time of publication, BetterHelp offers a 25% discount for the first month of counseling to support people through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Changing or canceling a subscription

A person can change or cancel their BetterHelp subscription at any time.

Additionally, people can switch which therapist they contact, at any time.

As with any form of treatment, there are both positive and negative aspects of online therapy.

Some advantages of BetterHelp include:

  • convenience
  • timesaving nature
  • unlimited chatting

Moreover, the platform is accessible from desktops and mobile devices and is more cost effective than face-to-face therapy.

Some less positive aspects may include the following:

  • Distance therapy provides less direct contact between people and their counselors. However, research suggests that online mental health services have comparable results to traditional, in-person services.
  • Billing is automatic even without secured appointments.
  • The counselors cannot prescribe medication.
  • Most insurers do not cover BetterHelp services.
  • Access to a device with a reliable internet connection is essential for using BetterHelp.

How does a person know whether BetterHelp is right for them?

According to BetterHelp, its counselors can help those wanting to address something that may be keeping them from enjoying their life or meeting their goals. Counselors are available who specialize in many key areas, such as:

  • addiction
  • anxiety
  • stress
  • trauma
  • relationships

Who may not benefit?

The company states that it is not a good choice for people who are in crisis, have a severe mental health condition, or have thoughts of harming themselves or others.

Individuals whom an authority has directed to seek any kind of psychological treatment or supervision need in-person care. People who qualify as minors or who are under the care of a legal guardian cannot use BetterHelp on their own.

About mental health

Experts describe mental health as the way people’s thoughts and feelings affect their lives. Just as an individual can sometimes need professional help to protect and restore their physical health, they can also need support for their mental health.

Mental health can change over time and in response to specific situations. Signs that someone may be facing mental health challenges and could benefit from seeking help include:

  • experiencing changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • withdrawing from favorite activities
  • experiencing frequent powerful and uncomfortable feelings, such as hopelessness, fear, confusion, and distress
  • feeling more anxious or nervous or worrying more than usual
  • feeling a lack of energy
  • having difficulty performing daily tasks
  • experiencing self-destructive thoughts or behavior, such as substance misuse or self-harm

A person should contact a doctor or mental health professional as soon as possible if they or someone in their care is experiencing symptoms relating to mental health.

Visit our dedicated mental health hub for more information on how to support yourself and others during difficult times.

Alternative options

People looking for online therapy may wish to consider other services, such as:

Talkspace

This major online therapy provider, which employs thousands of thoroughly evaluated therapists, says that it has served more than 1 million people.

Users start by chatting with a consultation therapist. Based on this conversation, they receive a list of recommended therapists. After making a selection and starting therapy, a user is guaranteed a daily response from their therapist at arranged times.

The company also offers personalized prescription medication management through Talkspace Psychiatry.

Online-Therapy.com

Unlike online therapy providers that work with a wide range of counselors, this company only works with therapists who practice cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

CBT is a therapeutic practice that helps people identify and change the ways of thinking that have a negative effect on their lives.

In addition to live, flexible, and private sessions with therapists, this service includes videos, worksheets, journals, and activity plans.

BetterHelp vs. Talkspace

The following table compares BetterHelp with Talkspace, another company that offers web-based counseling:

BetterHelpTalkspace
Cost$60–90 per weekvaries depending on a person’s location
InsuranceMost insurance providers do not cover BetterHelp services.Most insurance providers do not cover Talkspace services.
Type of therapy• individual
• couples
• teen
• individual
• couples
• teen
• psychiatry
Features• chat room
• live chat
• phone session
• video session
• group therapy
• live chat
• phone session
• video and audio messaging
• live video
Option to change therapist?yesyes
Ways to paycredit card or PayPalcredit or debit card
Canceling a subscriptionpossible at any timepossible at any time

Learn more about the differences between BetterHelp and Talkspace here.

Summary

BetterHelp is an online counseling platform. It connects thousands of people seeking support with thousands of vetted counselors.

The company pairs users with counselors based on their responses to an online questionnaire, although individuals may switch if they would prefer a different therapist.

A person can schedule weekly meetings with their counselor, which can be through webchat, phone, or video connections.

If an individual is experiencing difficulty performing day-to-day tasks due to their mental health, they should seek help from a qualified mental health professional as soon as possible.