Pride Counseling Review

Pride Counseling pairs clients with therapists who serve the LGBTQIA+ community.

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3.8

Pride Counseling

Pride Counseling

Pride Counseling

Bottom Line

Pride Counseling may be a good option for LGBTQIA+ clients who need support with life stressors and prioritize flexibility, cultural competence, and discretion.

Pros
  • Subscription-based membership serving the U.S. and the U.K.

  • Caters to the LGBTQIA+ community, but welcomes all identities

  • Therapists are licensed by their states or countries

  • You can communicate with your therapist via chat, phone, and video call

  • Subscription includes unlimited messaging

  • Options for additional discretion

  • Some insurance plans offer partial reimbursement for services

Cons
  • Not all counselors are members of the LGBTQIA+ community

  • No psychiatric services or medication management

  • No therapist bios posted on the website

  • Your therapist is assigned via algorithm

  • Switching therapists takes longer than average

  • No free consultations or trials

  • Does not bill insurance

  • Company isn’t transparent about the financial aid it offers

3.8

Pride Counseling

Pride Counseling

Pride Counseling

The LGBTQIA+ community has long been underserved by mental health services due to barriers like cost and lack of cultural competency. Founded in 2017 by BetterHelp, Pride Counseling connects U.S. and U.K. therapy seekers with licensed therapists who offer convenient, affordable online therapy. While the company serves everyone, its stated mission is to serve the LGBTQIA+ community. 

However, Pride Counseling has experienced some controversies and criticism in recent years. In 2018, some of its online ads raised criticism from social media users who tried therapy with BetterHelp-owned sites and felt misled by the company’s claims of affordability and lack of transparency. So, how is Pride Counseling doing these days?

To fairly and thoroughly review Pride Counseling against its competitors, we surveyed 100 current users from 33 different online therapy platforms to gain insight into their experiences. We also sent a questionnaire directly to each company to get more detailed information about their offerings. These surveys and questionnaires allowed us to directly compare offerings, quality of service, and client satisfaction across companies. We used the feedback from the client questionnaire to evaluate user satisfaction and perception of quality. 

Pride Counseling did not respond to our questionnaire despite multiple attempts to contact them, but its parent company BetterHelp did. This hindered our ability to gain as much insight into Pride Counseling’s specific services and goals the way we were with some of its competitors, even if it is likely that some policies are standard across all BetterHelp-owned companies. We had to rely exclusively on user survey data to assess the company. 

Keep reading to see how Pride Counseling stacks up against its online therapy competition. 

First Impressions and Sign-up Process 

The homepage is attractive but bare-bones; the focus is mainly on getting people to begin the sign-up process. An eye-catching video of a pride flag waving in the wind directs your attention to a “Get Started” button and links to a page where you can download its app on Google Play and the App Store. Below that, you’ll see a very simplified explanation of the sign-up process, a paragraph detailing Pride Counseling’s commitment to serving members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and several short testimonials from clients.

Pride Counselling

Pride Counselling

The bar at the top of the screen links to the FAQ, Contact, Login, and Get Started pages; clicking the logo on the left side returns you to the homepage. There are no additional resources on the website besides the Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy, web accessibility statement, and a list of emergency hotlines

This can be confusing for those who expect information about the company and its staff or want to browse provider biographies—a fairly standard practice among Pride Counseling’s competitors. Below the “Who Are the Therapists?” FAQ, you’re invited to learn more about the counselor 404; but as of September 2021, that link directs to a 404 error page.

Seventy-eight percent of the users surveyed reported that they either had a very good or excellent experience signing up for services with Pride Counseling.

The first step of the sign-up process is a questionnaire that begins with questions about your gender and sexual identity. It then moves on to various mental health concerns like mood and sleep quality, and ends with the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), which screens you for depression symptoms over the past two weeks. Unfortunately, there’s no way to return to previous questions, so if you select an incorrect answer, you’ll have to start all over again. 

Once you’ve submitted your answers, you are prompted to create an account. Keep an eye on your inbox and spam folder for a verification code, as you can’t log into your portal without it. The next step comes in the form of two checklists, asking you what you want to focus on in therapy; check off as many or as few as you’d like.

The first checklist contains common mental health concerns such as depression, stress, anxiety, and addiction, as well as more specialized topics such as compassion fatigue, ADHD, and trauma. The second checklist includes issues such as life purpose, self-love, chronic illness, disability, and body image—but Pride Counseling notes at the top of the page that it can’t guarantee it will match you with a counselor who specializes in everything you indicate on this checklist. 

You cannot request to only be matched with LGBTQIA+ counselors. If that is important for you, your only option is to keep switching until the algorithm matches you with a therapist you like.

The final step in the sign-up process is to briefly explain why you’re seeking therapy. Don’t worry about explaining your entire mental health history; a few sentences about your current concerns will work.

At last, you arrive at a page that welcomes you to Pride Counseling and uses language that is very similar to the FAQ page to outline the rest of the process and your monthly cost. You must provide payment information here or apply for financial aid (more on that below) before you can access your portal. 

According to the website, once you pay, your therapist should reach out to you and share instructions on scheduling your first appointment as quickly as possible—usually within 48 hours. From the responses provided by current users, this seemed to be pretty accurate:

  • Twenty-five percent said they heard from their therapist within the same day.
  • Forty-nine percent said they heard from them within two days.
  • Sixteen percent said they heard from them within the same week. 
  • Ten percent said it took up to two weeks or longer to hear from their therapist.

Cost 

When compared to the other 33 online therapy companies we reviewed, Pride Counseling’s average monthly subscription costs are above average, though it’s important to note that the price varies significantly based on where you live and what therapist you match with (more on that below.) 

About 70 percent of respondents we surveyed thought the cost for the company’s service was either very good or excellent. However, it’s important to note that the socio-economic realities faced by most LGBTQIA+ people are not reflected in our data. 

Respondents to our questionnaire about their experiences with Pride Counseling were overwhelmingly white (90 percent), cisgender (100 percent), and relatively wealthy. Forty-one percent reported annual household incomes ranging from $75,000 to $200,000 or more. For reference, the Census Bureau found that the median household income in 2019 was $68,703.

In 2019, the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that poverty affects 21.6 percent of LGBTQIA+ people, a rate that only increases for the community’s more marginalized members.

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS) by the National Center for Transgender Equality, found that:

Based on these statistics, it’s not difficult to imagine the average LGBTQIA+ therapy seeker might have trouble paying the out-of-pocket cost of a Pride Counseling subscription with no guarantee of reimbursement.

What Subscription Plans Does Pride Counseling Offer?

Unlike many of the online therapy companies we reviewed, Pride Counseling only offers one subscription option.

Every Pride Counseling subscription includes:

  • Four 30 to 45-minute live sessions per month, conducted via text chat, phone, or video, depending on your preferences
  • Unlimited messaging, so you can reach out to your therapist whenever you want (That said, “unlimited” is a bit of a misnomer—your counselor will only actually respond once or twice every business day.)

The price for this subscription varies depending on the therapist you match with and where you live. The prices you see on the Pride Counseling website vary depending on your geolocation—a fact we only discovered because some of our team members live in different regions.

For example, we discovered that if you have a New York or Florida IP address, you will see a price range of $60 to $90 per week listed in the company's FAQs, as shown in the image below. This means your monthly subscription cost could be $240 to $360 a month, depending on your therapist.

New York Weekly Prices
The Price Range You Would See in New York in the FAQ Page of Pride Counseling.

But if you have a Seattle IP address, you will see a different price range: $90 to $120. This means you could be paying as much as $480 a month, up to double the rate someone could be paying on the other coast.

Seattle Price Range
The Price Range You Would See in Seattle in the FAQ Page of Pride Counseling.

Since BetterHelp did not respond to us on behalf of its subsidiary, we have no insight into why Pride Counseling’s price range differs so much across different states, nor why the site isn’t transparent about what makes one location more expensive than another.

Is There a Free Trial?

There is no free trial available.

Does Pride Counseling Accept Insurance?

Pride Counseling does not bill insurance companies (including Medicare and Medicaid), so you’ll need to pay out of pocket every month. However, you can request receipts from your counselor and submit claims to your insurer for potential reimbursement.

Eighty-one percent of the users we surveyed were able to obtain at least some financial reimbursement from their insurance company, reporting that they spent an average of $210.19 per month out of pocket.

Affordable, trans-competent physicians aren’t easy to find in most areas of the U.S. In 2014, 25 percent of USTS respondents experienced issues getting their insurance companies to cover gender-affirming care. Pride Counseling notes that the willingness or ability to write letters of support for HRT and other lifesaving gender-affirming care varies by the therapist. 

Because you cannot “tell” the algorithm to exclude providers who don’t provide this service, you’re rolling the dice every time you’re matched with a new counselor. 

Can You Change or Cancel Your Subscription?

You can cancel your monthly scheduled payment at any time through your private portal. 

However, the FAQ section of the website doesn’t explain whether you will be reimbursed for your unused sessions and BetterHelp did not respond to our questionnaire to provide the details.

Are There Discounts Available?

Verywell Mind readers can get 10 percent off their first month of membership. Pride Counseling does not offer veterans, students, or other discounts. 

You can apply for financial aid if you cannot afford the monthly cost of a Pride Counseling membership. To do so, you must disclose a decent amount of personal information, including your (and your spouse’s, if applicable) monthly income across Social Security/SSI benefits, unemployment benefits, and pension/retirement income. 

Pride Counseling’s site provides no information on who is eligible for aid, and how much assistance to expect; parent company BetterHelp did not respond to our questionnaire about Pride Counseling, which could have clarified this seeming lack of transparency. 

Ease of Use

Once you’ve signed up, you can go to your portal to schedule your first sessions and start communicating with your new therapist. You can also send unlimited text, audio, or video messages using the portal, and get notified when your counselor responds.

Eighty-three percent of surveyed users reported that the speed at which they heard back from their new therapists was either very good or excellent.

Whether you’ve been seeing a Pride Counseling therapist for a few hours or a few years, you can change counselors by sending an email to the support team or using the Help section of your client portal. Once you have requested the switch, the algorithm will match you with another Pride Counseling therapist; you still don’t get to choose. This process takes slightly longer than some of Pride Counseling’s competitors, most of which instantly (or at least quickly) match you with a new list of therapists that you can choose from.

Still, 76 percent of our respondents found the therapist change process easy or very easy, which is on par with Pride Counseling’s competitors. Seventy-eight percent also rated the platform’s user-friendliness as either very good or excellent, and 84 percent of users surveyed considered the video and platform quality to be either very good or excellent.

Therapists' Qualifications and Quality of Care

Because we didn’t hear back from Pride Counseling (or its parent company, BetterHelp), we can only review the quality of services provided by Pride Counseling-affiliated therapists using our survey data and the information available on the company’s site. 

Eighty-eight percent of survey respondents said that counselors’ qualifications and expertise played a significant role in their decision to sign up for Pride Counseling, and 83 percent said they found the therapists’ qualifications to be either very good or excellent. But while BetterHelp has a seemingly endless number of bios for its 21,000+ therapists, Pride Counseling’s “Meet our therapists” page is missing as of September 2021.

The FAQ doesn’t explain what qualifies its providers to specialize in LGBTQIA+ issues—just that all its psychologists, marriage and family therapists, social workers, and professional therapists have completed the degrees and fieldwork that allow them to be licensed in their respective state or country. 

Past traumatic encounters have left many members of the community understandably wary of medical professionals who do not understand their experiences. However, Pride Counseling does not let you filter potential matches by identity categories like race, disability, sexuality, gender, or pro-fat acceptance—an odd omission considering the company’s goal of moving the needle on LGBTQIA+ mental health care. 

Ninety-eight percent of respondents said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the therapist options. 

It’s important to note that our survey results are skewed towards a small subset of the community: Respondents were 91 percent white, 100 percent cisgender, largely middle class or wealthy, and an average of 36 years old. 

Even still, the majority still reported having to switch therapists at least once at Pride Counseling because only 8 percent had stayed with their initial matches.

  • Thirty-six percent saw two different therapists. 
  • Forty percent saw three therapists.
  • Fifteen percent saw four or more therapists.

The process might be more difficult and emotionally taxing for people whose identities are significantly underrepresented in our data and in medical research generally. For example, someone who is Black, disabled, queer, and/or nonbinary might end up having to delay PTSD treatment because they keep getting matched with counselors who can’t relate to them.

Types of Therapy Offered

Pride Counseling matches their clients with independent therapists whose specific techniques and approaches to therapy vary.

Some of the most common techniques used could include:

The company’s sole focus on therapy puts it at a disadvantage compared to several of its competitors—Wellnite, Cerebral, and Talkspace, and others—that offer both talk therapy and psychiatric services. Clients who need medication management or letters of recommendation for HRT or surgery may need to seek and pay for services through a local doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist, which reduces the appeal of Pride Counseling’s affordability and convenience. 

Privacy Policies

Pride Counseling’s service is HIPAA compliant and it only accepts therapists and counselors who are fully licensed in their country or state. This also entails three years of experience and a master’s degree or more. The company does not formally oversee its therapists, who are considered independent contractors. The Terms and Service note that “the use of the platform is at your own risk.”

The Privacy Policy breaks down the ways BetterHelp protects and uses your data. Some of these are standard for online medical services—for instance, messages and data are protected by banking-grade 256-bit encryption and therapist confidentiality—but there are a few differences that enable Pride Counseling to provide a greater degree of discretion than many of its competitors.

The company allows clients to go by nicknames, does not send any details to insurance companies unless requested, and shares very limited personal information to third parties who have formally agreed to confidentiality. You can also elect to have your statements say “BetterHelp” rather than “Pride Counseling.” 

These added layers of privacy have the potential to be life-saving to the unfortunate number of the LGBTQIA+ community, who haven’t come out due to fear of abuse or violence.

Pride Counseling’s terms of service note that the company can refuse service to anyone at any time. It also does not spell out the next steps when a counselor decides they cannot provide adequate treatment for a client. Our best guess is that each counselor has their own referral policies.

If your therapist suspects you are a threat to yourself or others, they are required by law to report this information to the relevant authorities, including law enforcement.

Overall Client Satisfaction

Seventy-seven percent of the current users we surveyed rated the services they received through Pride Counseling as either very good or excellent, and an identical 77 percent said its value was very good or excellent for the money spent.

According to the survey, 26 percent of respondents have been clients for three to six months, 30 percent have been clients for six to 12 months, and 29 percent have been clients for one to two years, suggesting that a fairly good percentage sticks with the company for a while. 

Eighty-seven percent who had used other online therapy platforms said that Pride Counseling was better or much better than their previous experiences.

Ninety-four percent of users told us they were likely or very likely to be working with a Pride Counseling therapist a year from now. This suggests that the company is doing a good job retaining its customers.

Ninety-six percent of users reported that they were either likely or very likely to recommend someone like them to Pride Counseling. 

Is Pride Counseling Right For You?

Pride Counseling’s service is best suited for adult clients who need professional support to deal with stress, relationship issues, mild-to-moderate cases of anxiety and depression, and other issues faced by the LGBTQIA+ community.

However, it may not be a good option for people who need medication management or referrals to gender-affirming care—you’ll need to see a doctor for that—and it does not serve anyone under 18 years old.

While you can message your therapist 24/7, you will not receive unlimited responses. Many counselors offer 45-minute sessions, while others’ appointments last as little as 30 minutes, which might not be long enough for clients who need more in-depth therapy. But ultimately the length is your therapist's choice, not yours.

As Pride Counseling is not an emergency service, it is not for people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts or psychosis, in crisis, or in need of inpatient care.

Pride Counseling vs. Ayana Therapy

Pride Counseling and Ayana Therapy are both referral-based services that strive to provide competent mental health care to marginalized people. 

The former caters to members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the U.S. and the U.K., but strangely, it does not guarantee its users will be matched with therapists who are LGBTQIA+ themselves. Ayana also serves communities of color and other marginalized groups, with the priority of matching people with therapists who share or can relate to their identities. This is a major plus when it comes to the search for culturally competent treatment.  

Ayana’s response to our questionnaire failed to indicate the number of therapists it works with, but BetterHelp (Pride Counseling’s parent company) didn’t respond at all. Though BetterHelp’s website claims the company has over 21,000 therapists available, it's impossible to say how many, if any, also serve Pride Counseling users.

Providers who work with both Ayana Therapy and Pride Counseling must be fully trained and licensed in their respective states and/or country. Pride Counseling therapists are required to have at least three years and 1,000 hours of relative experience, while Ayana’s therapists may have either three years or 2,000 hours.

Both Pride Counseling and Ayana Therapy do not offer psychiatrist services or medication management.

In addition, neither Pride Counseling nor Ayana Therapy offers treatment options besides individual talk therapy, so those seeking group support, family therapy, or couples counseling will need to look elsewhere. Techniques used by therapists at both companies include CBT, DBT, EMDR, motivational interviewing, and journaling.

Both companies allow you to have sessions over text, audio/phone, or video. Pride Counseling states that sessions are 30- to 45-minutes long, depending on what your therapist decides to book; all of Ayana’s appointments are 45 minutes long. While users of both services can send unlimited messages to their therapists, neither Pride Counseling nor Ayana therapists will respond more than once or twice per business day.

The sign-up process at most of the online therapy services we reviewed includes questionnaires that allow prospective clients to share their mental health concerns, and Pride Counseling and Ayana Therapy are no different. However, though other companies like Talkspace use these results to generate a list of suitable therapists to choose from, neither Pride Counseling nor Ayana Therapy offers this option. Instead, you are matched with a therapist algorithmically, and if they’re not a good fit, you must wait to be rematched with a new provider. 

Pride Counseling doesn’t match users with therapists who share their identities, while this is one of Ayana’s top priorities and main draws.

Both companies have clean, modern websites that are easy to navigate and appear to be informative—at least until you start discovering outdated pages and broken links to important details like provider bios and terms of use. Ayana Therapy, unlike Pride Counseling, has a blog with articles written with marginalized people’s experiences and mental health concerns in mind. However, it can only be accessed via the “Media” link in the top navigation bar, and the most recent post is from June 2021, which makes us wonder if the company intends to continue maintaining the blog.

Pride Counseling does list prices on its FAQ page, but these prices are geotagged so you will see different ranges depending on where you access the website. Ayana Therapy does list the flat fees for single sessions and memberships, but you have to dig around to find up-to-date prices. A banner on the site advertises that sessions are $60, but the sign-up page confusingly refers to May and Mental Health Awareness Month—and that price appears to be out of date. If you happen to find yourself on the gift card page, you will see the prices that Ayana confirmed for us are accurate—but if you don’t, you may feel misled when you get further in the sign-up process.

Ayana Therapy may not be affordable for all members of the communities it serves, but it’s more affordable than Pride Counseling:

  • Pride Counseling: $240-$360 per month for four weekly appointments
  • Ayana Therapy: $140 per single session, or $290 for a monthly membership of four weekly appointments

Neither companies accept insurance, though both do provide superbills upon request. Pride Counseling usually doesn’t offer discounts, but it’s offering VeryWell readers 10 percent off their first month. And while the company offers financial aid, it fails to explain what makes someone eligible or how much aid someone might expect to receive. Ayana Therapy does not offer any discounts or financial aid.

In all, 77 percent of Pride Counseling users and 67 percent of Ayana Therapy users rated the respective services as either very good or excellent. Eighty-three percent of Pride Counseling clients thought that they were either likely or very likely to refer someone to the company; a comparable 79 percent of Ayana clients said the same. 

Despite some issues—like cost and inability to be matched with therapists who share your identity—Pride Counseling seems to inspire more loyalty among its customers. Ninety-four percent of Pride Counseling respondents reported they were either likely or very likely to still be seeing a counselor from the company a year from now, compared to 80 percent of Ayana’s clients. 

This may be at least partially influenced by the fact that Ayana Therapy, founded in 2019, is still a relatively new company, while Pride Counseling, while relatively newer, has a parent company that has had a huge base of U.S. and U.K. clients and therapists since 2013. 

Of the users we surveyed who had tried other therapy services, 77 percent of Pride Counseling users reported that services were either better or much better than the services at the companies they used before. Seventy percent of Ayana Therapy clients reported the same. 

Final Verdict

Pride Counseling strives to make professional counseling accessible, affordable, and convenient for anyone who’s LGBTQIA+ (or not) and needs mental and emotional support. However, it cannot live up to these promises for everyone in this disproportionately poor and marginalized community, due primarily to its out-of-pocket cost and the inability to have a final say about which therapist you are matched with. 

However, Pride Counseling can be a competitive option for those over 18 who can afford the monthly fee, especially if their insurance companies agree to reimbursement, and who want discretion, convenience, and multiple modes of communication.

Methodology

Our methodology for evaluating online therapy companies is comprehensive and data-driven. To review the best online therapy programs, we sent questionnaires to 33 companies and surveyed 100 current users of each. This allowed us to directly and fairly compare services offered by gathering qualitative and quantitative data about each company and 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
  • Ease of changing therapists
  • Overall user satisfaction
  • Likelihood clients would recommend them

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

Specs

  • Product Name Pride Counseling
  • Year Founded 2017
  • Insurance Accepted? Offers reimbursement receipt
  • Price $240-$360 per month
  • HIPAA Compliant Yes
  • Platforms Text, audio, video
  • Payment Options Major credit cards, Google Pay
  • App Available? 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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