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BetterHelp is the world’s largest online counseling platform, with over 23,000 licensed therapists serving over 2.5 million customers. Read about our editor’s experience with BetterHelp and learn about the brand here.
Mental health conditions are common throughout society. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience mental health conditions each year, as do 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 6–17 years.
BetterHelp may help people manage their mental health condition. This article provides an in-depth look into the BetterHelp brand, its services, and who it might suit.
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.
The BetterHelp online platform allows a person to access professional counselors anywhere and anytime. Individuals can use a computer, tablet, or smartphone to seek counseling services, which makes the process more convenient, flexible, and affordable than in-person appointments. It also allows a person to maintain their privacy while receiving therapy.
BetterHelp is a suitable therapy service for people who cannot easily access in-person therapy sessions due to location or health conditions. It is also well matched to people who need flexibility in their schedule, as users can choose mental health care professionals who are available when they need 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.
People can choose from counselors who specialize in many key areas, such as:
BetterHelp provides counseling services for adults, couples, teenagers, first responders, and veterans.
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 therapists based on their responses to an online multiple-choice questionnaire.
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 rooms, 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 schedule with their counselors in their chat rooms.
If someone is unhappy with their match, they can request to change therapists from their profile.
Getting started with BetterHelp
Getting started with BetterHelp involves the following steps:
- When individuals register online to use BetterHelp, they fill out an online questionnaire that seeks information such as gender, age, sexual orientation, relationship status, and religion.
- 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 want 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 matches a person with a therapist, that person gains access to a private chat room where they can communicate with their counselor. This chat room allows People to schedule live messaging, phone, or video sessions.
Who should not use BetterHelp?
BetterHelp writes that its services are unsuitable for:
- minors or those under the care of a legal guardian
- those with court orders to attend therapy
- people without access to a reliable internet connection
People who are in a mental health crisis or need urgent support should not use BetterHelp or any other online therapy service. They should seek help at the services below instead.
If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.
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 it also operates.
- Group therapy: BetterHelp offers group therapy sessions called “groupinars” that focus on specific mental health challenges, such as depression, grief, relationship problems, or substance use disorders. Group sessions can involve up to 15 people.
- Teens: People can choose to set up counseling for teenagers. BetterHelp redirects them to Teen Counseling, which the company also operates.
- Pride: The company can match people with a therapist experienced in LGBTQ matters by directing them to Pride Counseling, which it operates.
- Faithful: The company directs individuals interested in religion-based counseling to Faithful Counseling, which it also operates.
- First responders: This type of counseling is for people who work on the front lines of natural disasters, at crime scenes, and in other potentially traumatic or stressful situations.
- Veterans: This counseling is for people who serve or have served in the military.
- COVID-19: The company offers this counseling to doctors and other healthcare professionals who have worked or are working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The therapists on this platform may have certain specializations, such as anxiety, depression, anger management, and more. People can choose the areas they want to focus on when registering with BetterHelp.
In addition to providing counseling for individuals, BetterHelp partners with a variety of organizations to help create effective, affordable, and convenient mental health services in a number of industries. These include the private and nonprofit sectors, educational institutions, and municipalities.
Types of BetterHelp sessions
BetterHelp offers various types of therapy appointments to suit customers’ preferences. They include:
A person can opt to talk with 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.
Individuals can schedule a session with their therapist through the live chat function. This feature is similar to the chat room feature. However, people can message their therapist and receive responses in real-time.
A person can return to and view this message exchange whenever they like.
BetterHelp also offers phone sessions.
To use this feature, a person must schedule a session with their therapist. Then, they must log in to their BetterHelp therapy room, and the system will ask for their phone number. The system then calls this number and connects the person with their therapist.
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.
BetterHelp provides a journaling option for people who want to write down and explore their thoughts and feelings. Prompts can help people guide their journaling practice.
BetterHelp has a large network of qualified therapists. The company states it ensures that all its therapists have undergone full training, licensing, and accreditation, and they must have a master’s or doctoral degree in their chosen field. Therapists with BetterHelp have at least 3 years of previous experience.
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 the company only accepts 25% of applicants.
BetterHelp also displays a therapist’s full credentials, allowing individuals to perform their own research if they wish.
Disclaimer: An MNT editor received BetterHelp sessions for free to write this review. They chose to write anonymously for this review. All opinions are their own.
Our editor had weekly therapy sessions for 2 months. Below, they share their experience.
My previous experience with therapy
“I’ve had a lot of experience trying different types of talk therapy, so trying BetterHelp and talking with a new therapist about my mental health wasn’t particularly daunting. However, I know it can be difficult, and getting the match right is important for me to feel comfortable.”
“BetterHelp starts the signup process with a questionnaire in which you provide information about your age, gender, sexuality, spiritual and religious beliefs, relationship status, and more. You also answer questions about what you want from your therapist, including whether you’d like them to set you goals, talk about your past, or teach you new skills. You can also briefly describe the issues you’re facing before the platform uses your responses to match you with a therapist.
“I was matched within 3 hours, which was really impressive. I’m sure not everyone gets the match right on their first go, but the therapist I was matched with is a great fit for all of my preferences. This may also be a more exploratory experience for people who haven’t tried therapy before — I already know what will work for me, but some people may find that the platform doesn’t get the match right or they learn that they need something different to what they originally thought.”
My first session
“I chose video sessions because I prefer face-to-face sessions over text chat. The session started on time, and I spent it filling the therapist in on my past, the mental health conditions I’ve been diagnosed with, and what problems I’m facing that I’d like support with.
“The therapist mentioned that she didn’t get any information about me before we started our session, indicating that the information you share in the signup process may not reach your therapist. This felt a little unhelpful, as I was spending time in my first session repeating information I thought she would have had access to.
“Overall, though, the first session went really well. My therapist is professional, sympathetic, listens well, and openly enjoys our discussions.”
“Since my first session, I’ve had some really interesting and insightful conversations with my therapist. Plus, rescheduling appointments I couldn’t make was very easy. I just had to go onto my chat room, click reschedule on my next appointment, and pick a new date from my therapist’s calendar.
“BetterHelp is really good at reminding you about upcoming appointments, but getting several texts and emails about a regular session can be a bit much. For those who have trouble keeping track of appointments, I’m sure it would be really useful.
“The weekly cost is what I would expect, and there is the option to have fewer sessions a month to keep the cost down, which is a great feature for people on a flexible income and those who want a longer time to work on things between sessions.”
“I’m really happy with my BetterHelp experience so far, and I’d recommend it to MNT readers. It’s been smooth from the start, and I was lucky to get a well-matched therapist on the first try.
As with any form of treatment, online therapy has both positive and negative aspects. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of BetterHelp.
- The service is flexible and convenient.
- BetterHelp offers an unlimited chat feature with therapists.
- It is accessible from mobile and desktop devices.
- BetterHelp is more affordable than face-to-face therapy.
- The therapists are qualified; every therapist has a Master’s degree or doctorate in their field.
- Distance therapy provides less direct contact between people and their counselors. However, older
researchsuggests 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.
At the time of publication, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has given BetterHelp an A- rating. The company has had BBB accreditation since 2015. The average customer rating is 4.1 out of 5 stars, based on over 560 reviews.
The BBB bases its rating on such factors as the amount of time a company has been in business, the number of complaints filed and resolved, transparency of business practices, and the presence of any licensing or government actions against the company.
Positive reviews on the BBB website mention compatibility with counselors and how easy it is to use the BetterHelp online platform. Less favorable reviews note billing problems, reimbursement issues, and a lack of counselor availability.
People also report difficulty agreeing on the counseling format, with the company offering some individuals live chat sessions when they requested phone or video appointments.
On Trustpilot, BetterHelp has an average customer rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. There are almost 7,000 reviews, with favorable comments mentioning positive experiences with therapists, the convenience of the service, and flexibility in finding the right therapist.
More critical reviews raise complaints about unexpected charges and a lack of regular appointments with therapists, and some customers found it difficult to find therapists with experience in certain areas, such as concerns affecting LGBTQIA+ individuals.
BetterHelp reviews on the company website are generally positive, with customers again noting that they enjoy the platform’s ease, convenience, and flexibility.
However, other reviews report therapist availability, billing, and reimbursement issues. Moreover, some individuals felt that it was difficult to connect with a therapist using the live chat feature, with a few users also reporting that they were discouraged from scheduling video or phone sessions.
BetterHelp has faced some controversy recently, mainly regarding data protection issues.
In 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggested that BetterHelp broke its privacy promises. The FTC says BetterHelp took health information from individuals during its intake questionnaire and sold it to advertisers, including Facebook, Snapchat, Criteo, and Pinterest, from 2017–2020.
BetterHelp allegedly used users’ sensitive health information to target social media adverts, encouraging them to refer their friends and family to the service. In March 2023, the FTC banned BetterHelp from sharing customers’ data for targeted advertising.
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 and 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.
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 whenever they wish to.
Additionally, people can switch which therapist they contact at any time.
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 has insurance and wishes to use it, they should check whether their provider offers coverage for BetterHelp.
BetterHelp may offer some financial aid. In the initial questionnaire, BetterHelp will ask for information about a person’s financial position. A person can also reach out to the company’s customer service to apply.
When a person selects their plan, they can apply for financial aid.
Learn more about whether insurance covers BetterHelp.
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 states it does not share data with insurance companies, and counselors follow all local and federal privacy guidelines, including HIPAA.
The table below compares BetterHelp to its competitors.
|$60–$90 per week, depending on a person’s location and preferences and therapist availability
|• Messaging: from $69 a week
• Messaging and video: from $99 a week
• Video, messaging, and workshops: from $109 a week
|$109–$129 per session
|typically not accepted
|typically not accepted
|Type of therapy
• first responders
|• chat room
• live chat
• phone session
• video session
• group therapy
|• live chat
• phone session
• video and audio messaging
• live video
|• video sessions
|Option to change a therapist?
|Canceling a subscription
|possible at any time
|possible at any time
|no subscription required
Below, we answer the most common questions about BetterHelp.
Although BetterHelp may not be a good fit for everyone, it can be a convenient alternative to traditional therapy and may benefit some people.
A 2019 study found that BetterHelp users experienced a significant reduction in depression symptom severity after using the platform for 3 months.
BetterHelp is a legitimate company offering therapy from licensed therapists.
The FTC found that BetterHelp had shared millions of customers’ sensitive health information with advertisers such as Facebook, Snapchat, Criteo, and Pinterest. This went against the company’s privacy promises.
BetterHelp settled the lawsuit against it in 2023.
BetterHelp is more affordable than many of its competitors at $60–$90 a week. There is financial aid available.
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.