BetterHelp Review

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4.3

BetterHelp

Betterhelp

Betterhelp

Bottom Line

BetterHelp is our overall best pick for online therapy because of its scale and convenience. It offers a variety of services that will fit many people’s mental health needs and has a high overall customer satisfaction rating with the users we surveyed.

Pros
  • Convenient monthly subscription

  • All therapists are licensed

  • Good security measures to protect private information

  • Live sessions included in plan

  • Multiple communications methods available

  • Can message your therapist anytime

  • Informative, modern website

  • Therapist bios posted on website

  • High user satisfaction

Cons
  • No medication management services

  • No psychiatrists on staff

  • You can't pick your own therapist

  • Only one subscription plan available

  • Price varies by location and therapist

  • No free trial available or consultations

  • Price listed on website might change week to week based on demand and geographical location

  • Not much detail on financial aid

Special Offer

Verywell Mind readers get 10% off their first month of membership.

4.3

BetterHelp

Betterhelp

Betterhelp

Entrepreneur Alon Matas wasn’t having any luck finding a decent therapist, and neither was his friend, Danny Bragonier, a former marketing analyst and product manager. So in 2013, they co-founded online therapy service BetterHelp to make therapy more affordable, accessible, and convenient.

Years later, it’s one of the most well-established mental health platforms, especially helped by its 2015 acquisition by Teladoc, one of the first and largest telemedicine services. Today, the company says it connects nearly two million clients with over 14,000 licensed therapists. BetterHelp’s all-inclusive subscription includes weekly sessions and it may be more affordable than many of its competitors’ costs, depending on where you live. It was awarded Best Large Service in Verywell Mind's 2021 Online Therapy Awards.

To fairly and thoroughly review BetterHelp against its competitors, we surveyed 100 current users from 33 different online therapy platforms in order to gain insight into their experiences. We also sent a questionnaire directly to each company to get more detailed information about its offerings. 

These surveys and questionnaires allowed us to directly compare offerings, quality of service, and client satisfaction across companies. Here’s how BetterHelp stacks up against its online therapy competition.

First Impressions and Sign-up Process

When you arrive at BetterHelp’s homepage, you’re greeted immediately with the words, “You deserve to be happy." Below that, it asks what kind of therapy you’re seeking. If you’re interested in couple’s therapy or teen therapy, it will direct you to BetterHelp’s other companies, ReGain and Teen Counseling

Betterhelp Homepage

Scrolling down, you’ll find detailed information about how BetterHelp operates and what therapy looks like if you sign up. This includes information about how you get matched with your therapist, communicate with them, schedule live sessions, and what BetterHelp therapy looks like in general. The drop-down menu also features access to relevant advice about mental health and wellness. 

Overall, the site is modern and easy to navigate.

It is worth noting that the sign-up process for BetterHelp is longer and more involved than at competitor companies, which can be frustrating and time consuming for some users.

Sixty-nine percent of the users surveyed reported that they either had a very good or excellent experience signing up for BetterHelp. This is lower than other companies were rated, likely because the intake is longer and you cannot choose your own therapist.

When you sign up, you will be led through a series of questions about your gender, age, sexual orientation, and religious preferences. Then you will be asked a series of questions gauging your mental health, such as whether you’ve been feeling depressed or anxious, and whether you’re struggling with your sleep or concentration.

Once you have completed these questions, you are prompted to create your private account by giving your name, email address, and creating a password. BetterHelp will then send you an email to verify your account. 

Log in, and the questionnaire continues with another set of questions about whether you prefer a therapist of a certain background, ethnicity, religion, or gender. Based on how you respond, an algorithm will choose a therapist for you; you cannot choose one yourself. 

The final step of the sign-up process is payment. There is only one subscription plan available, and the price you are offered is be based on where you live and your therapist’s qualifications. You can apply for financial aid at this step, though, if you can't afford therapy.

According to the questionnaire we sent BetterHelp, a therapist should reach out to you and share instructions on scheduling your first appointment within 48 hours. 


From the responses provided by current users, this seemed to be pretty accurate:

  • Thirty-two percent said they heard from their therapist within the same day.
  • Forty-two percent said they heard from them within two days.


However, 22% said they heard from them within the same week and 4% said within two weeks or more.

Cost

BetterHelp's prices appear—as the website states in its FAQs—to be more affordable than traditional in-person talk therapy. However, compared to all 33 online therapy companies we reviewed, BetterHelp's prices are generally about average—though you could end up paying above-average prices if you live in certain states (more on that below).

It's worth noting that our respondents tended to be on the wealthier side. Although the Census Bureau found that, in 2019, U.S. households had a median annual income of $68,703, 70% of our BetterHelp respondents reported annual household incomes of over $100,000—with 6% making more than $200,000. A MassMutual report from May 2021, found that 47% of its survey respondents had been unable to save more than $500 in the previous three months and that 37% had not been able to save any money since March of 2020.

Still, while 68% of surveyed users across all of the platforms rated their out-of-pocket costs as very good or excellent, only 59% of BetterHelp users said the same—possibly because the price you'll pay varies quite a bit depending on where and when you sign up.

What Subscription Plans Does It Offer?

BetterHelp only offers one subscription plan, which is billed weekly every four weeks. The plan is all-inclusive and not customizable. It includes:

  • Unlimited messaging with your therapist through text or audio message
  • The ability to schedule weekly 30- to 45-minute live video or phone sessions.

The price for this plan varies quite a bit—though you have no control over that final cost because the company determines what you pay based on what therapist it matches you with, your location (or more specifically, your IP address), and demand where you live. Your prices might also change week to week depending on when you sign up.


For instance, our editor in New York was shown a weekly cost of $60 to $90 (the same price BetterHelp reported in responding to our questionnaire), but our Seattle-based editor saw $90 to $120 one week—and $120 to $150 the next. This appears to suggest that BetterHelp uses a sort of surge pricing. This could possibly be due to a shortage of available BetterHelp therapists in the Pacific Northwest, though since the company provided no additional details in its questionnaire response and didn't respond to our requests for further information, we cannot say for sure.


This brings the actual monthly total for a BetterHelp subscription to $240 to $600, which is a pretty big range.

Is There a Free Trial?

No.

Does BetterHelp Accept Insurance?

No. However, your therapist can provide a receipt for you to submit a claim.

Sixty-four percent of users who submitted claims to their insurance companies were able to obtain at least some partial out-of-network coverage, spending an average of $187.05 per month.

This average is a very good deal for someone who’s paying $60 a week, as this reimbursement would bring each session down to a cost of about $13. However, someone who happens to live in a location with a rate of $150 may find themselves struggling to come up with the extra $400 a month.

Can You Change or Cancel Your Subscription?

You can cancel at any time through your private portal, for any reason. However, you will not be refunded for any unused sessions.

Are There Discounts Available?

BetterHelp discounts generally come from user referral links. For example, Verywell Mind offers all new users 10% off their first month.

You can also apply for financial aid when you sign up. The company will determine how much of a discount, if any at all, you are eligible for based on your financial circumstances. However, potential users may feel wary from the lack of details offered, and reluctant to divulge personal financial information with no guarantee of eligibility.

Ease of Use

BetterHelp appears to be achieving its goal of making therapy convenient. Of the users we surveyed, 81% thought the platform was either very good or excellent in terms of ease of use.

You can communicate with your therapist in the following ways:

  • Live chat
  • Phone call
  • Video conferencing
  • 24/7 online messaging to your therapist (who will respond during their work hours)

It's easy to schedule live sessions through your client portal for whenever you need them, based on your therapist's availability, of course. You can then chat live through an instant messaging platform, over the phone, or on a video call. 

Ninety percent of users we surveyed said their video call sessions were excellent or very good, while 89% said the same about chat messaging. 

BetterHelp’s therapists also seem to be relatively responsive.

Seventy-three percent of surveyed users reported that the speed at which they heard a response from their therapist was either very good or excellent. 

While BetterHelp does match you with a therapist when you sign up, you aren’t stuck with them. Customer service can help you switch, and you aren’t required to tell your therapist yourself—the company can take care of that for you. Sixty-nine percent of survey respondents found the process easy or very easy.

Therapists' Qualifications and Quality of Care

Eighty percent of the users we surveyed said therapists' qualifications were an important reason to choose an online therapy service.

Seventy-five percent said they found the therapists’ qualifications at BetterHelp to be either very good or excellent.

All of BetterHelp’s therapists are licensed psychologists, marriage family therapists, clinical social workers, or licensed professional counselors. All have a master’s degree in their field and at least some of the staff therapists at BetterHelp have doctorate degrees.

All staff bios are listed on the website so you can peruse them and get a sense of who your therapist could be. It is worth noting that, unlike some competitors like Talkspace, BetterHelp does not work with psychiatrists.

Ninety-two percent said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the therapist options.

BetterHelp has a large, diverse offering of therapists, allowing it to serve a large number of clients and their various mental health needs.

That said, it does appear that some users have to switch therapists a few times before finding the right match because only 15% met with only one therapist while using the service.

  • Thirty-eight percent of the people we surveyed reported seeing two different therapists.
  • Thirty-two percent reported seeing three therapists. 
  • Fifteen percent reported seeing four or more.

One of the risks of using a large company like BetterHelp is the possibility that your therapist might stop working for the service, forcing you to be reassigned to someone new, whether you want to or not. To try to mitigate this, BetterHelp told us that they allow therapists to take their clients with them after they leave.

If this happens and you don’t want to leave BetterHelp with your therapist, the company will work with you to help choose someone new or make a referral to someone they recommend.

Types of Therapy Offered

BetterHelp focuses on individual talk therapy, though if you are interested in couples counseling or teen counseling, the BetterHelp website will redirect you to its subsidiary companies.

The types of talk therapy available to you will vary depending on your therapist's background and treatment style, but some common offerings include: 


Some therapists also utilize worksheets, guidebooks, and educational resources. 

Since BetterHelp doesn’t offer access to psychiatrists or medical doctors, it does not offer medication management services. This is a big drawback, as multiple competitors — such as Wellnite, Get Cerebral, and Talkspace — offer both talk therapy and medication management services.

Privacy Policies

BetterHelp puts a lot of effort into ensuring information safety and privacy for its clients, and it outlines the protocols on its website. The company adheres to all HIPAA guidelines and trains its therapists to do so as well. As a result, once you create an account, all private information you reveal to the company or your therapist is protected, as required by HIPAA. In addition, because it does not work with insurance companies, nothing you tell your therapist is ever reported to your insurance provider. 

It is worth noting, though, that the fact that you visit the BetterHelp website, or download and open the app, might not be kept confidential. Cookies on the site will make note of your interest in mental health services and share this information with third-party advertisers, which is why you will likely see an increase in mental health-related ads after going to the website. For example, BetterHelp does share some data with Facebook so that the social networking site can display mental health ads to you. However, the use of cookies is not unique to BetterHelp. A number of companies do the same.

BetterHelp’s servers are distributed across multiple Tier 4-AWS data centers for optimal security and protection and its browsing encryption system (SSL) follows modern best practices. In addition, it encrypts and scrambles its databases so they essentially become useless in the unlikely event that they are stolen or inappropriately used.

All the messages between you and your counselor are secured using banking-grade 256-bit encryption. You can also click the "shred" button next to each message that you've sent so it will no longer show in your account, though it's unclear if it will also be deleted from the servers.

BetterHelp does hold on to some health data for a period of time, as required by law—even if you delete your account.

If you want any of your information or records to be released to a third party, you can notify your therapist who will provide you with a form to fill out and sign. Once the form is returned, your therapist can send you the requested information.

If your therapist becomes concerned that you are a threat to yourself or others, they might get in touch with your emergency contact—and/or, in extreme crisis, local emergency services, as is required by law.

Overall Client Satisfaction

Seventy-two percent of the users we surveyed rated the services they received through BetterHelp as either very good or excellent.

Only 63% said its value was very good or excellent for the money spent; but of the users who had tried other services, most said they liked it better.

Seventy-nine percent who had used other online therapy services said that BetterHelp was better or much better than their previous online service.

BetterHelp users seem to stay with the company for a while. According to our survey:

  • Twenty-three percent of those polled have been clients for three to six months.
  • Thirty percent have been clients for six to 12 months.
  • Nineteen percent have been clients for one to two years.

In fact, 83% of users told us they were likely or very likely to be working with a BetterHelp counselor a year from now.

Ninety-one percent of users reported that they were either likely or very likely to recommend someone like them to BetterHelp.

Is BetterHelp Right For You?

BetterHelp stands out from its competitors not only because it has been around a while, but also because it is a large company designed to suit many people’s different mental health needs, including therapy for depression, anxiety, relationship issues, and stress.  

It’s easy to use even if you aren’t very tech savvy; it’s relatively affordable when compared to private practices; it’s convenient (send messages any time); and it has a large staff of diverse, licensed therapists, increasing the odds that you’ll find someone you’ll want to work with.

Because it offers live 30- to 45-minute sessions as part of its subscription, you will be able to see some of the same benefits as you would with in-person sessions. If you do a live video session, your therapist can observe you as you talk — not just listen — which is an important part of the therapeutic process. 

However, if you live with a more severe mental health condition, such as complex PTSD, active addictions, or severe depression or anxiety, BetterHelp's shorter 30-minute sessions might not work for you because they'd be a little too brief for in-depth work. The 45-minute appointments would be more appropriate, but you might still need additional services, including medication management, which isn't offered by BetterHelp.

BetterHelp is also not designed to be an emergency service. People struggling with suicidal thoughts, who are in crisis, or need inpatient care are not suitable for this service. Those with psychotic disorders or a history of psychosis are also not a good fit.

BetterHelp Vs. Talkspace

Talkspace and BetterHelp are two of the most well-known online therapy companies in operation today. Both are large companies that employ thousands of licensed therapists and offer convenient, accessible therapy subscriptions that allow you to communicate with your therapist via messaging, phone, or live video. 

BetterHelp offers one subscription and focuses on individual talk therapy, though if you’re interested in couples or teen counseling, therapy from a Christian perspective, or LGBTQIA+ competent counseling, the company can refer you to its subsidiary companies that specialize in these areas.

Talkspace offers multiple different subscription options and offers individual therapy, couples counseling, and teen counseling. Neither company offers group therapy.

Talkspace also offers access to a psychiatrist and medication management services.

Because of the large size of both companies, both use algorithms to help match you to your therapist based on what you’re looking for, your therapy goals, and the type of therapist you want to work with. However, BetterHelp matches you directly with a therapist that it thinks will work best for you, while Talkspace lets you choose who you want to work with from a list of options. 

Neither company tells you the exact price before you sign up. Instead, they give you price ranges, which vary depending on where you’re based, what therapist you work with, and — in the case of Talkspace — what subscription plan you choose. 

  • Talkspace subscriptions begin at $260 per month and run as high as $400. Psychiatric services and additional live sessions can be purchased on top of subscription prices. 
  • BetterHelp’s subscription plan appears to range from $240 to $600 per month.

Both companies have designed their own platform for video and chat communications, opting not to utilize Zoom or VSee. They also take good care in ensuring data and information privacy and have described these security measures in detail. The companies use data encryption, banking-grade security for payment information, and both go through regular testing protocols to ensure information is kept secure and within HIPAA guidelines. BetterHelp offers a handy “shred” button to erase messages from your account (but is not transparent about if these are fully deleted from its servers).

However, both companies allow the use of cookies on their site so the fact that you are interested in or using their mental health apps is not a secret from advertisers.

In terms of customer satisfaction ratings, both companies were very similar to each other, but often below average compared with the other 32 companies surveyed. Of the users we surveyed, our survey found:

  • Seventy-two percent of BetterHelp users said the services were either very good or excellent, whereas only 69% of Talkspace users said the same.
  • Ninety-three percent of Talkspace users said they were either likely or very likely to refer someone to the company, whereas 91% of BetterHelp users said the same. 
  • Seventy-nine percent of BetterHelp users said that the company did much better or a little better than other services they’d used in the past, slightly surpassing the 76% of Talkspace users who said the same.
Final Verdict

BetterHelp is our choice for the overall best online therapy company because it will work for most people. It’s a great option if you’re looking for convenient and accessible talk therapy. It’s ideal if you don’t want to go to see a therapist in person or don’t live near any licensed mental health therapists. It might also be a good choice for you if you have an unpredictable or busy schedule but still want the option to talk to your therapist through live video sessions.


It won’t work for you, though, if you need medication management or an official diagnosis, or live with a more severe mental health condition. 

Methodology

Our methodology for evaluating online therapy companies is comprehensive and data-driven. To fairly and accurately review the best online therapy programs, we sent questionnaires to 33 companies and surveyed 100 current users of each. This allowed us to directly compare services offered by gathering qualitative and quantitative data about each company and its users’ experiences.

Specifically, we evaluated each company on website usability, sign-up process, subscription offerings, client privacy protections, and how easy it is to change therapists. We then looked at therapist qualifications, the types of therapy offered, quality of care, client-therapist communication options, session length, and the therapist assignment process. Finally, we looked at cost, value for money, whether the companies take insurance, overall user satisfaction, and the likelihood clients would recommend them.

Specs

  • Product Name BetterHelp
  • Year Founded 2013
  • Price 240 - $600 per month
  • Insurance Accepted? Offers Reimbursement Receipt
  • HIPAA Compliant Yes
  • Platforms Messaging, texting, audio, video
  • Payment Options Major credit cards and paypal
  • App Available? (Y/N) Yes
Additional reporting by
Ray Finch
Ray Finch

Ray is a copy editor, fact-checker, mental health writer, and editorial producer with over five years of experience.

Learn about our editorial process
Edited by
Simone Scully
simone-scully-verywell

Simone is the health associate editorial director for performance marketing at Verywell. She has over a decade of experience as a professional journalist covering mental health, chronic conditions, medicine, and science.

Learn about our editorial process
and
Ray Finch
Ray Finch

Ray is a copy editor, fact-checker, mental health writer, and editorial producer with over five years of experience.

Learn about our editorial process
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2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Semega J, Kollar M, Creamer JF, Shrider EA. Income and poverty in the United States: 2019. U.S. Census Bureau. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Publishing Office; 2020:2.

  2. Spring 2021 MassMutual consumer spending & saving quarterly index. MassMutual; 2021:17. https://www.massmutual.com/static/path/media/files/2021springindex.pdf