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BetterHelp is an online counseling platform. The company describes itself as the world’s largest counseling organization, with more than 21,000 licensed therapists serving more than 1.8 million people.
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.
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.
BetterHelps’s online platform makes it possible for a person to access professional counselors from any place, at any time. Individuals can use their computer, tablet, or smartphone to seek counseling services, making the process more convenient, flexible, and affordable while maintaining privacy.
At the time of publishing, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) gives BetterHelp a rating of 4.1 stars out of a possible 5, based on 279 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 apparently offering 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 Doctorate 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:
- marriage and family therapy
- clinical social work
- professional counseling
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.
How to sign up
When people register online to use BetterHelp, they fill out an online questionnaire that seeks information on their objectives in seeking counseling, the types of issues they are experiencing, and the characteristics they would like in a counselor. BetterHelp reviews a person’s completed questionnaire and then pairs them with an appropriate counselor.
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 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
BetterHelp works on a subscription basis. Subscribers pay $60–90 per week, which may be significantly less than the cost of face-to-face therapy.
The company sends bills every 4 weeks that are payable by credit card or PayPal, and a person can cancel their subscription at any time.
As with any form of treatment, there are both positive and negative aspects to online therapy.
Some positive aspects of BetterHelp include:
- timesaving nature
- more cost effective than face-to-face therapy
- the platform is accessible from desktops and mobile devices
- unlimited chatting
Some less positive aspects may include:
- Distance therapy provides less direct contact between people and their counselors.
- 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.
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:
Who may not benefit?
The company says 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.
People whom an authority has directed to seek any kind of psychological treatment or supervision need in-person care. Minors or people under the care of a legal guardian cannot use BetterHelp on their own.
Experts describe mental health as the way people’s thoughts and feelings affect their lives. Just as people 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:
- changes in eating or sleeping habits
- withdrawing from favorite activities
- frequent powerful and uncomfortable feelings, such as hopelessness, fear, confusion, and distress
- lack of energy
- difficulty performing daily tasks
- 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.
People looking for online therapy may wish to consider other services, such as:
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.
Unlike other 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 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.