BetterHelp Review

Get matched to a licensed therapist online within 24 hours

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

4.4

BetterHelp

Betterhelp

Betterhelp

What We Like

  • Some therapists actively encourage live sessions

  • Many therapists provide worksheets and homework

  • The simple interface makes it easy to contact customer service

  • You are encouraged to change therapists if the current therapist isn’t a good match

  • Financial assistance is offered if you can’t afford therapy

  • The therapy process is explained in great detail

  • They offer multiple ways to communicate with a therapist, including over the phone

  • There is a free seven-day trial period

What We Don't Like

  • You’re matched to a therapist based on answers to questionnaire

  • Betterhelp discourages you from choosing your own therapist, but you can if you want

  • The homework assignments can make treatment seem less personal

  • Responses from therapists may feel generic

  • It isn’t clear when you might expect a reply from the therapist (it varied a bit for us)

Bottom Line

BetterHelp is an affordable way to quickly and easily access licensed therapists through text, live video or on the phone, and the seven-day free trial makes it a great option to see if the service is right for you.

4.4

BetterHelp

Betterhelp

Betterhelp

Founded in 2013, BetterHelp offers professional counseling and online therapy services with licensed psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and more. We wanted to test each of BetterHelp's offerings to see how effective they were. So we had five individuals sign up for one week to assess the site’s functionality and to evaluate how well online therapists were able to deliver mental health treatment. Keep reading to get the full scoop on what our testers thought of BetterHelp.

Sign-Up Process: Fast but a little impersonal

To sign up for BetterHelp, you must complete a questionnaire to identify what type of counselor you’re looking for. You can select any preferences you have about your counselor’s gender, age, and religion. You can also specify if you prefer a gay counselor or one who speaks Spanish.

The questionnaire also asks you to identify what type of issue you’d like a counselor to have experience working with, such as parenting issues, eating disorders, LGBT-related issues, career problems, and compassion fatigue. For each item listed, you can select how important it is for your counselor to be well-versed in that subject (least important, somewhat important, or most important).

While you do have to use your real information to pay for services, BetterHelp explains that your therapist will not have access to your information. You can create a nickname and interact with your therapist anonymously.

You will be asked for emergency contact information. This information is kept safe in the system and is only used if your counselor believes that you or someone else might be in danger.

You’ll be matched with a counselor in your state (if you live in the U.S.). Individuals from outside of the U.S. will be matched with an individual in a state.

BetterHelp states it takes, on average, about 24 hours to be matched with a counselor. They warn that it may take a little longer on some occasions depending on the qualifications or expertise you prefer in your counselor.

The five individuals who tested the service were matched to their therapists anywhere from 10 minutes to 18 hours after signing up.

You’ll receive an e-mail notifying you that you’ve been matched and you can begin messaging your therapist immediately. Your therapist will share information about the guidelines and what you can expect from therapy.

Most of the testers disliked the automated system of being matched to a therapist and felt the sign-up process was the thing they'd want to see changed the most. One evaluator said, “Giving the patient more control over who their therapist is would tailor the experience to the patient. This could save time and prevent the patient from having to go through a few sessions with a therapist that isn’t a good fit for them.” 

However, BetterHelp does make it clear that you can request a new therapist at any time if you aren’t happy with the person you are working with.

Betterhelp
Betterhelp

Ease of Use: User-friendly for desktop and mobile devices

The BetterHelp app and the desktop site are easy to use. The private room you’ll be given to message with your therapist looks similar to social media chat spaces.

You’ll receive an e-mail when your therapist replies to you—but messages may go to your spam folder. So it’s important to be on the lookout for replies. Otherwise, you might miss one. 

Your therapist may attach worksheets for you to complete as homework, but the worksheets are easy to open and complete on mobile or desktop devices.

There’s a calendar where you can schedule a live video, phone, or chat session. It’s up to you to decide which communication methods you’d like to use.

If you decide to talk with your counselor over the phone, your counselor will not know your phone number. Instead, you’ll enter your phone number into the system, and the system will initiate the phone call.

And you can always go back and review previous messages from your counselor at any time. Messages remain available throughout your treatment time.

Areas Covered: They address a variety of problems

BetterHelp reports they can help anyone who is looking for a better quality of life. Their counselors may be able to address anything that interferes with happiness or prevents people from achieving their goals.

Counselors may specialize in specific subject areas such as:

Counseling Qualification/Effectiveness: Expect worksheets and homework

All of the therapists at BetterHelp are fully licensed and in good standing. BetterHelp requires all therapists to provide documentation of their licensure, proof of their identity, and references from other licensed practitioners who have worked with them. Their license information is certified and cross-checked with their states’ licensing boards.

BetterHelp also shares each provider’s licensing information so you can check on your counselor’s credentials as well. Counselors are psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and licensed professional counselors. All of them have a master's or doctorate degree and possess at least three years’ and 2,000 hours of experience as mental health professionals. 

Each potential mental health provider completes a case study exam and is evaluated in a video interview. The entire hiring process takes four to five weeks and BetterHelp reports only about 15 percent of the applicants are accepted to work for them.

The therapists at BetterHelp tend to offer worksheets and homework. To some people, this may make the communication feel more professional and it may guide the conversation better. For others, it can feel impersonal.

One tester said, 'They have an over-reliance on worksheets that go over basic things like cognitive distortions. It made the whole act of therapy feel like homework.'

Some of the replies from therapists appeared to be somewhat canned, perhaps even copy-pasted responses on general topics like depression or survivor’s guilt. One tester wrote, “I never felt like the therapist was listening to my concerns. The responses were kind of generic, and not all that personal to my actual issues.” 

One tester was concerned that the therapist discouraged the use of live sessions, saying, “They’re often redundant,” and encouraged the user to consider therapy like a “journal that talks back.” However, another tester had the opposite experience, saying “I liked that my counselor actively encouraged me to get in contact via a live video feed, giving me the chance to discuss my concerns in person. This was an advantage over Talkspace, which offered this service during the sign-up process, but never followed through.”

Another said, “I feel I hit the jackpot with my counselor, as she was a very good fit and incredibly responsive, and while I can't guarantee that would be the case for every client, it did leave me with an overall positive experience with BetterHelp.”

Types of Treatment Available: Educational webinars are a valuable bonus

Many therapists have specialized training to treat specific issues. Treatments may include: 

BetterHelp only treats adults. If you are looking for treatment for a minor, you will be taken to Teencounseling.com so your child can be matched to a licensed therapist who specializes in working with teenagers.

In addition to individual, family, and couples counseling, BetterHelp offers access to a variety of educational webinars. Therapists conduct live webinars on topics such as depression and stress management on a daily basis. 

Also worth noting is that BetterHelp has a partnership with a company called Brightside that, in certain states, allows you to see a doctor remotely in order to be prescribed medication for depression or anxiety. 

One tester mentioned that “This is a great feature to increase accessibility for people that might not have the ability to see a doctor in person for any number of reasons. And it’s not a feature that every online therapy service offers, so it could be a big differentiator for some patients who feel that medication would help their mental health.”

Betterhelp
Betterhelp

Privacy Policy: Stay anonymous and know security is a top priority

BetterHelp reports that their privacy and confidentiality standards are more advanced than what is required by law or regulations. To use their services, you don’t need to identify yourself. Everything you tell your therapist Is protected by strict federal and state laws.

They don’t work with any employers or insurance companies so nothing is ever shared or filed with them.

There is a shred button next to each message that you’ve sent. Hitting the button will prevent it from showing in your account. And all messages you send and receive are encrypted by bank-grade 256-bit encryption. Their servers are hosted in an “A Grade” facility to ensure your information is protected. And their browsing encryption system follows modern best practices. Their databases are also encrypted and scrambled so they become useless in the unlikely event that they are being stolen or inappropriately used. 

However, if you wish to have your information released to someone else, you can complete an authorization form giving your counselor permission to do so. 

Price: Try it for free before you subscribe

You can try BetterHelp free for one week. If you cancel during the first seven days, you will not be charged. 

BetterHelp is a subscription plan. While all plans include the same services, the length of your plan affects the price:

  • $80/week billed weekly (unlimited messages and a weekly live session for seven days)
  • $65/week billed monthly (4 weeks of unlimited messages and weekly live sessions for $260)
  • $45/week billed quarterly (3 months of unlimited messages and weekly live sessions for $540)
  • $35/week billed yearly (12 months of unlimited messages and weekly live sessions for $1,820)

At checkout, BetterHelp asks if you require financial assistance to pay for services. One tester wrote, 'Within 30 seconds and 3 questions later, I received 40 percent off my monthly fees.' So, this is definitely worth it and a place where BetterHelp bests the competition.

BetterHelp also makes it easy to cancel your service at any time. Before ending your membership, they offer to give you a different counselor. But if you select that you prefer to quit, your subscription is immediately canceled with a few clicks.

Competition: BetterHelp vs. Talkspace

BetterHelp’s biggest competitor is Talkspace. While Talkspace starts with a lower fee when you pay by the week, BetterHelp offers a free seven-day trial. 

BetterHelp’s plans also include a weekly live session, which isn’t included in Talkspace’s basic plan. 

You can talk with a therapist over the phone at BetterHelp, which isn’t an option at Talkspace. This may be more convenient for people who have slower internet connections or those who prefer speaking on the phone over video chatting. BetterHelp offers video sessions via desktop, which gives it one more advantage over Talkspace (where video sessions are only available on mobile devices).

BetterHelp also assigns a therapist to you based on a questionnaire. While they do tell you that you can change therapists at any time, you are discouraged to select the individual you want to work with, which gives Talkspace a bit of an edge over them.

In terms of guaranteed response times, BetterHelp does not have a policy, whereas Talkspace clearly gives a time frame when you'll hear back from your therapist.

Final Verdict

A reliable way to access qualified online therapists.

The five individuals who tested BetterHelp felt the service was satisfactory. The biggest concern was that the therapists relied too much on worksheets and their responses were generic. But, their financial assistance, access to live sessions, free seven-day trial, and partnership with Brightside to receive medication makes them a strong service to consider for anyone who prefers online therapy over face-to-face treatment.

Specs

  • Product Name Betterhelp
  • Price $35
  • Year Founded 2013
  • Usability Good
  • Mobile platforms Android and iOS
  • HIPPA Compliant Yes
  • Payment options Credit card or PayPal
  • Price Varies, but starts as low as $35/week
Was this page helpful?