BetterHelp Review

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4.3

BetterHelp

Betterhelp

Betterhelp

Bottom Line

Betterhelp is our top pick for an online therapy company because it is easy to navigate, convenient, and offers a variety of services that will fit many people’s mental health needs.

It 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

  • Algorithms choose therapist for you

  • Only one subscription plan available

  • Price varies by location

  • No free trial available

  • No free consultations

Special Offer

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

4.3

BetterHelp

Betterhelp

Betterhelp

Founded in 2013, Betterhelp is one of the oldest and best-known online therapy companies today. This is partly due to the fact that, when it was acquired by TeleDoc in 2015, it was able to scale the business with an easy-to-use online platform and a solid information protection system to keep client personal data safe. Today, the company says it employs over 21,000 licensed therapists and serves more than 1.8 million clients. 

Like many of its competitors, Betterhelp aims to make therapy more affordable, accessible, and convenient to a greater number of people, including those who are too busy to visit a brick-and-mortar practice or who can’t afford the cost of private practice. It offers an all-inclusive subscription, which, considering what it provides, is more affordable than many of its competitors, including Talkspace.

To fairly and thoroughly review Betterhelp against its competitors, we surveyed 100 current users from 28 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 on Betterhelp’s homepage, you’re greeted immediately with the words “You deserve to be happy,” which feels welcoming. 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, for more specialized therapy. 

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. There is also a detailed FAQs page with further detail. The pop-down menu also features access to relevant advice about mental health and wellness. 

Overall, the site is modern, easy to navigate, and up to date—and it is clear what you can expect from Betterhelp should you choose to sign up. 

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-six percent of the users surveyed reported that they either had a very good or excellent experience signing up for Betterhelp. This is lower than at other companies, 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. 

Upon email verification, you will then go through another set of questions that are designed to help best match you to a therapist that meets your preferences. There are questions about your communication style, as well as 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 will be based on where you live and your therapist’s qualifications. You can apply for financial aid at this step, though, if you cannot 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

When compared to the average prices of all 33 online therapy companies we reviewed, Betterhelp’s subscription price is about average, though more affordable than similar plans offered by key competitors, such as Talkspace. 

However, Betterhelp only offers one subscription plan and it is priced based on where you live and your therapist’s qualifications. Since you cannot choose your therapist, this means the price is calculated for you during intake; you do not know the price before beginning the signup process. 

This might be why only 59% of the users we surveyed said that the cost was excellent or very good, which is much lower than the percentage of users who said the same about other companies.

What Subscription Plans Do They Offer?

There is only one subscription plan at Betterhelp, but how much you pay monthly can range from $240 per month to $360 per month, depending on your location and therapist preferences. 

However, this one plan is all-inclusive. You have access to unlimited messaging with your therapist through text and audio, plus the ability to schedule four live video or phone sessions per month when you want. Your therapist can schedule sessions for 30- to 45-minutes depending on their availability and your preferences.

Is There a Free Trial?

There is no free trial offered.

Does Betterhelp Accept Insurance?

Betterhelp is not in-network with any insurance provider. However, the company will provide a receipt if you request one so you can seek reimbursement from your insurance company.

While the amount of reimbursement you receive depends on your insurance plan, 56% of the users we surveyed said they were able to obtain at least some financial reimbursement from their insurance company, reporting that they spent an average of $194.49 per month out-of-pocket for services.

Can You Change or Cancel Your Subscription?

You can cancel at any time through your private portal. If you have time remaining in your subscription, you can request a refund for the remaining, unused time, or continue using the service until the month you paid for expires.

Are There Discounts Available?

There are no special discounts available for veterans or college students. However, it is possible to find promo codes online for a discount off your 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.

Ease of Use

Betterhelp achieves its goal of making therapy convenient because it is such a flexible platform, with a variety of communication methods available to fit your needs and schedule. 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:

  • 24/7 online messaging (your therapist will respond when they’re next online)
  • Live chat
  • Phone call
  • Video conferencing

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

Ninety-two percent of users we surveyed said their live video call sessions themselves were excellent or very good, while 86% said the same about online chat messaging. 

Betterhelp’s therapists also seem to be relatively responsive.

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

While Betterhelp does match you to your therapist when you sign up, you aren’t stuck with them if you don’t like working with them. You can request a switch through the customer support. You don’t have to tell your therapist that you want to switch if you don’t feel comfortable—the company will notify them for you. Once you have sent the request, the company will match you with a new therapist and you should hear from that therapist within 48 hours. Seventy-nine percent of users we surveyed 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 their 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 has no psychiatrists on staff.

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

Betterhelp has a large staff of diverse therapists, allowing them 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:

  • Forty-two percent of the people we surveyed reported seeing two different therapists.
  • Twenty-nine percent reported seeing three therapists. 
  • Fiftenn percent reported seeing four or more.

One of the risks of working with a large company like Betterhelp is the possibility that your therapist might leave the company, 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 Betterhelp. 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 even 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 sister companies.

The types of talk therapy available to you will vary depending on who your therapist is, but some common therapy types offered include: 


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

Since Betterhelp doesn’t have any psychiatrists or MDs on staff, it does not offer medication management services. This is a big drawback because 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. In addition, because it does not work with insurance companies, nothing you tell your therapist is ever shared, reported, or filed. 

All the messages between you and your counselor are secured and encrypted by 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.

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.

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 contact the emergency contact you provide at sign-up or local emergency services. This is only done in extreme situations and for your own safety, 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.

Over 80% 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-two percent of those polled have been clients for three to six months.
  • Twenty-eight percent have been clients for six to 12 months.
  • Twenty 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 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 a very tech-savvy user; it’s relatively affordable when compared to private-practice therapy; it’s convenient (you can message your therapist after midnight if you want); 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. 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 counseling, teen counseling, Christian therapy, or working with an LGBTQIA+ therapist, the company can refer you to its sister sites 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 to a certain extent by asking you to answer some questions during signup about what you’re looking for, your therapy goals, and the type of therapist you want to work with. However, Betterhelp matches you to a therapist that it thinks will work best for you, while Talkspace will show you options based on your preferences, and let you choose who you want to work with. 

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 go as high as $400 per month. Psychiatric services and additional live sessions can be purchased on top of subscription prices. 
  • Betterhelp’s subscription plan ranges from $240 to $360 per month.

Both companies have designed their own platform for video and chat communications, opting not to utilize Zoom or Vsee. They also take great 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 is alone, though, in offering users a “shred” button to erase messages from the platform.

In terms of customer satisfaction ratings, both companies were very similar to each other, but often below average compared with the other 27 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 only 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. Only 76% of Talkspace users 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 will 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, 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 28 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 
  • Therapist qualifications 
  • Types of therapy offered
  • Quality of care
  • Client-therapist communication options, 
  • Session length
  • Subscription offerings 
  • Client privacy protections 
  • Cost and value for money
  • Whether they take insurance
  • Average out-of-pocket costs
  • Therapist assignment process
  • How easy it is to change therapists
  • Overall user satisfaction
  • Likelihood clients would recommend them 

Read our full online therapy methodology to see how we evaluated each service.

Specs

  • Product Name Betterhelp
  • Year Founded 2013
  • Price 240 - $360 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
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.

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