Sanvello Therapeutic App Review

Therapy, guided meditation, mindfulness activities, and mood tracking.

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Sanvello

 Sanvello

Sanvello is an app aimed at helping provide therapeutic support through guided meditation, mindfulness activities, and mood tracking. There is a free version available as well as a premium subscription. In some areas, the app claims to also offer telehealth services.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Facts
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Free option available

  • Many self-guided resources

  • Educational resources available

  • Easy-to-use mood tracker that shows patterns in your moods and stress levels

  • Daily prompts, meditations, and guided activities

  • Community discussion board to connect with others

Cons
  • Only one plan available

  • Therapy is not available in many states

  • It is not clear whether therapy is available to you before you upgrade

  • Self-guided resources are limited in therapeutic value

  • Peer support resources are not monitored by professionals

  • Website is somewhat confusing to navigate

Key Facts
Price
$8.99 for premium app access. Therapy sessions vary depending on coverage and average $85 per session
Is Insurance Accepted?
Yes
Type Of Therapy
Group Therapy, Individual Therapy, Peer Support
Communication Options
Live Chat, Video Chat
HIPAA Compliant?
N/A
Is There an App?
Yes
Why Trust Us
55
Companies reviewed
5,775
Total users surveyed
350
Data points analyzed
We surveyed 105 users from each online therapy company and asked the companies to complete questionnaires. Then, we tested the services ourselves, conducted comprehensive data collection research, and evaluated our results with the help of three licensed therapists.

Many online therapy resources focus on offering virtual sessions with a therapist, as well as communication in between sessions. Some of these companies have faced criticism for requiring therapists to be available to their clients at all times, guaranteeing responses within tight timeframes. This unfortunately can lead to provider burnout and high turnover and could foster over-dependence, preventing the client from becoming self-sufficient and developing resilience.

Sanvello offers self-guided practices, peer support, and educational options for users so that they can access therapeutic resources in between sessions without requiring immediate responses from the therapist. Users who are not interested in traditional therapy can also use the app for education and resources without committing to ongoing sessions. So is Sanvello all it claims to be as a mental health resource?

To find out, we surveyed 105 Sanvello users about their experience with the app. I also used the app for three weeks and I tried to sign up for its therapy services, though unfortunately discovered (after sign-up) that this service was unavailable in my area. Although it can be difficult for apps to provide service to every state, and South Dakota has fewer licensed providers than many other states, I was the fourth writer to attempt to review Sanvello, and none of our writers were able to access therapy services in their area.

What Is Sanvello?

Sanvello is a mental health app. Originally called Pacifica, Sanvello became available in January 2015. Dale Beermann and Chris Goettel created the app to provide mental health support to those struggling with anxiety who may not have access to traditional therapy.

The resources on the app are based on cognitive behavioral therapy, an evidence-based treatment for anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, trauma disorders, and other mental health concerns. Users can choose from a variety of resources to access support based on their needs and preferences.

The website states that Sanvello is “the top-rated app for stress, anxiety, and depression,” and claims that it currently has more than 3 million users.

What It Offers

Sanvello offers self-guided support, education, peer support, and individual therapy in states where licensed providers are available. A map on Sanvello’s website indicates that it offers telehealth services in 23 states. 

The website also says that Sanvello additionally offers coaching services and provides instructions to set this up on the app. However, after signing up, I attempted to access Sanvello’s coaching service through the app, and found that the company no longer offers this service. Coaches are not listed under the “Care Team” options on the app despite the website indicating that this is still an option, so Sanvello seems to be advertising that it offers a coaching service when this is not actually available.

The app has a “Community” feature, which contains both community discussions and chat groups that offer peer-based support for those going through similar stressors or mental health symptoms. While peer support can be a valuable resource in recovery, Sanvello's forums are not monitored by mental health professionals.

Users have access to “Collections,” which are self-guided meditations and treatments that Sanvello says can help with everything from building a healthy work/life balance to managing parenting stress. It additionally offers “Tools,” which include meditations, guided journeys, thought-based activities, a hope board, a tracker for physical health, and goal-setting activities. You can choose any activity you would like, and the app makes suggestions based on your activity and reported needs.

Each day, the app prompts you to complete a mood entry in a journal, which tracks what things impact how you feel and which resources you have found helpful. You can complete both daily and weekly assessments to track your mood and progress over time.

Who Is Sanvello For?

Sanvello is for those who need support for their mental health but might not have access to therapy resources, or who want to access additional support and resources to supplement their therapy services.

Sanvello is not for those experiencing a mental health crisis or requiring a higher level of care than outpatient therapy.

How Much Does Sanvello Cost?

Sanvello offers to work with your insurance or employee assistance program (EAP) to cover some or all of your session costs. The app indicates that the first session costs an “average” of $140, and follow-up sessions cost an “average” of $85, with costs varying based on session length and EAP or insurance coverage.

The premium subscription costs $8.99 per month or $53.99 per year. This component is typically not covered by insurance. In addition, according to its website, Sanvello requires users to upgrade to the premium subscription before checking on insurance coverage. Since it only offers therapy services in 23 states, this means that users could sign up for the service before realizing that they cannot access therapy through Sanvello.

Sanvello ranked relatively low for quality of price compared to other apps and therapy providers included in our survey. Of those we surveyed, only 46% indicated that Sanvello was an excellent or very good value for the cost, and only 54% rated it as affordable or very affordable.

Does Sanvello Offer Discounts?

Sanvello works with insurance companies and employers to cover a portion or all of the session fees (not the subscription fees). Typically, it does not offer discounts on top of this, but sometimes it offers discounts on the premium subscription. You can search for discount codes online before signing up.

Navigating the Sanvello Website and App

Sanvello’s website home page greets users with a stock photograph of a forest and a promise that it is “A place to feel better, wherever you go.”  Links to download the app in the Apple App and Google Play stores are front and center, with white and green text over a black background.

Sanvello

The home page has soft shades of blue with some red, which had a calming effect on me when I first viewed it. It asks, “Serious about saving or improving your relationship? Get professional therapy from a licensed therapist,” and says it offers “Individual and couples therapy. Anytime, anywhere.”

The top menu shows links for Self-Care, Peer Support, Coaching, and Therapy, with a green box inviting you to “Start for Free” in the upper right corner.

Sanvello 1

Scrolling down, you see options to preview some of the educational and self-guided video offerings, which toggle through various providers and resources on the app. Below, it describes the four support offerings on Sanvello: self-care, peer support, coaching, and therapy, with a note that “40 million Americans have Sanvello covered by their health plan.”

Sanvello2

Next is information about the resources and tools offered on the app, with user testimonials about how each resource benefitted them, more detailed information about each type of support offered, and another set of links to the app stores to download Sanvello to your device.

Sanvello3

Below this is information about the research behind Sanvello’s offerings, with an indication that users tend to see symptom reduction within 30 days of starting to use the app. The research page provides detailed information of studies conducted on the app and does not promise or guarantee these results. As a psychologist, I appreciate the wording and links to peer-reviewed studies on this page rather than broad statements claiming the app will work, which can never be guaranteed for all users.

Sanvello4

Information about positive media coverage of Sanvello comes next, followed by an offer to “Find relief when tough moments arise” through Sanvello’s “guided journey.”

At the bottom of the page, there is information about logging in, Sanvello’s company, research, the blog, customer support, jobs with Sanvello, and resources specifically for college students who need support, with a note that many universities recommend Sanvello as a “self-care tool.” It is not clearly stated on the education page whether or not these universities cover the fee to make the app free for their students.

Sanvello

The website can come across as a bit overwhelming, especially with the volume of information provided on the home page. I was confused about why there were so many links and pieces of information about Sanvello’s coaching service when this is not something it offers anymore. Of those we surveyed, only 53% found the website easy or very easy to navigate.

Sanvello’s website offers links to its Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram pages. However, its Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages have not been updated since May 2022, and its most recent LinkedIn activity is from 1 month ago (as of January 2023).

Does Sanvello Have an App?

Sanvello was developed as an app and is available on the Apple and Google Play stores. The download is free, and limited resources are available for those who choose not to upgrade to premium. However, most of Sanvello’s offerings are behind the premium paywall.

Sanvello6

The app’s home screen asks, “How are you?” and invites you to check in. Once signed in, the app recommends various tools based on where you are in your journey. You can choose from the home page, an explore page (offering educational collections and self-care tools), your team (information about your therapist if you are using this service), community (peer support), and “Me,” a page with your mood, journey, self-care skills, and assessments you have completed.

The app seems easier to navigate than the website, with clear information about where to find various tools and resources.

Signing Up for Therapy at Sanvello

Once you have signed up for the premium version of the app, you can go to the “My Team” section of the app to schedule a therapy appointment. The next screen invites you to “Get the support you need with convenient, on-demand therapy” above information about pricing.

Sanvello sign up

Users then select “Get started” and are prompted to answer some questions to ensure that Sanvello’s therapy offerings are appropriate. It asks if the user has any of the following:

  • History of violent criminal behavior
  • History of perpetrating domestic violence
  • Participation in a detox program in the last three months
  • Two or more mental health hospitalizations in the last six months
  • Suicidal intent or behavior in the last two weeks
  • Self-harm behavior that required medical attention in the last two weeks
  • Thoughts of harm to others
  • None of the above

If you select anything other than “None of the above,” the app thanks you for sharing this information and indicates that therapy through Sanvello is not appropriate for your needs. You are directed to both crisis and non-crisis mental health resources for the United States, Australia, Ireland, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

Sanvello hTheme

If Sanvello’s therapy services are appropriate, you are then asked what your physical location will be at the time of your sessions. If you choose a state in which it does not have a licensed provider, the app indicates that you cannot sign up for therapy at this time, and you are given the option to sign up for an update when therapy becomes available in your area.

United States laws indicate that a provider must be licensed in the state where the client is physically located at the time of their session. Sanvello’s commitment to only offering therapy to those in states where it has licensed providers indicates it is following the law.

When trying out the app, I selected my home state of South Dakota and was unable to schedule due to Sanvello not having providers in my state. However, I live close to the Minnesota border and could travel to Minnesota at the time of my session. Sanvello’s website states that it provides therapy in Minnesota, but when I changed my location, the app indicated that therapy services were not available in Minnesota.

How Do Therapy Sessions Work at Sanvello?

Since Sanvello did not have therapists available for me (or any of the writers who attempted to complete this review), I cannot speak to my own experience completing therapy sessions with Sanvello. 

Its website indicates that it has options for session length, but does not indicate if sessions are audio or video, whether they are completed in the app or through another method of service, or the missed appointment and cancellation policy.

Switching Therapists at Sanvello

Again, I was unable to try out this feature since there were no therapists available in my area. If Sanvello has few therapist options available, users might not be able to easily switch therapists if their provider is not a good fit.

Self-Care Resources

Sanvello has a wealth of self-guided resources, most of which require the premium subscription. These include education about mental health, meditations, guided visualizations, mindfulness activity, and peer support forums. There is also a mood tracker. Some educational and meditation options were available to all users, but the tracker, most resources, and community features all require the premium subscription.

Sanvello recommends educational resources based on what the symptoms and needs you report, though you can browse its library and find additional resources. I found that it tended to recommend information that was applicable to the areas where I indicated I needed support, and the materials appeared accurate and well-researched.

As with the educational resources, the meditations and activities are recommended based on your reported needs, with the option to browse more resources. This can be helpful to anyone who struggles with decision paralysis or is unsure about where to start. With the large variety of options available, it seems likely that most users will be able to find options that work for them.

The peer support resources connect users with other people dealing with similar struggles. When you join the forum, you are greeted with a notice about rules and guidelines for the forums, including showing respect for others and not using the forums as a substitute for therapy or other treatment. It concerned me as a provider that these forums are not moderated or monitored, meaning Sanvello relies on the community to follow these rules without supervision.

Pausing or Canceling Sanvello

Since therapy sessions at Sanvello are pay-as-you-go, users can discontinue therapy at any time. The premium app subscription is easy to cancel as well. In the app, select the “Me” section, and tap the settings icon in the upper right corner. The option to cancel your premium subscription appears near the top of the page.

When you cancel, you still have access to Sanvello’s premium app until the pre-paid period has ended. This plan is on a monthly basis, so you will continue to have access until the end of that month.

Quality of Care and User Satisfaction

Sanvello’s website includes extensive information about the research behind the services and resources that it offers to its users. It references several peer-reviewed studies pointing to the effectiveness of its program.

On its website, Sanvello provides clear expectations for therapy, including treatment planning in the first session and describing what therapy looks like for users who might not have seen a therapist in the past. It also indicates that all therapists who work with the platform are independently licensed.

Sanvello’s website is less user-friendly than other platforms we have reviewed, and its offerings are a little confusing based on the information it provides. For example, there is extensive information about its coaching service, but users who sign up are then told that this is not something Sanvello currently offers. It will need to update the website to indicate what is currently available.

The users we surveyed had mixed feelings about Sanvello. Only 36% rated Sanvello’s service as very good or excellent, only 50% felt that the therapists at Sanvello had excellent or very good qualifications, and only 36% ranked therapist diversity as very good or excellent. Of those who were able to use Sanvello’s therapy service, 45% found it easy or very easy to find a therapist, and only 37% were likely or very likely to still be using the service in six months.

Much of Sanvello’s appeal is its resources in addition to therapy, but our survey indicated that only 40% of users found these additional resources very good or excellent.

Overall, only 53% of Sanvello users were satisfied or very satisfied with the app, and only 58% would recommend it to a friend.

Privacy Policies

Sanvello’s privacy policy and terms of use are both listed at the bottom of its website. The privacy policy indicates that the current policy and terms of use are effective as of June 1, 2022.

According to Sanvello’s privacy policy, it follows laws surrounding the privacy of health information. It notes that it abides by mandated reporting, public health, and judicial and law enforcement proceedings, which may limit the privacy of medical information, and it clearly describes the circumstances in which your information may be disclosed.

Sanvello additionally reserves the right to use de-identified information about your treatment for research purposes. Since Sanvello provides information about treatment outcomes and publishes peer-reviewed studies to improve the effectiveness of services offered, it is not surprising that it would use treatment information for this purpose.

Sanvello’s privacy policy indicates that it may share client information to “business associates that perform functions on our behalf or provide us with services if the information is necessary for such functions or services.” It notes that its business associates are also bound by legal requirements for confidentiality of protected health information.

The policy goes on to clearly explain how clients can authorize release of medical information, revoke that release, and access their own medical records. It finally provides information for filing a complaint with Sanvello to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The terms of service confirm that Sanvello owns the legal copyright to information it distributes or shares with users. It states the limitations of the app, including that Sanvello is not an appropriate crisis resource and does not treat mental health or medical emergencies.

According to the terms of service, unsolicited submissions to its resource library are not accepted, and it reserves the right to use information submitted without compensation. It also notes to users that the resources available may change at any time at Sanvello’s discretion.

The terms of service include a statement limiting Sanvello’s liability in the event that a user feels harmed by a service they receive.

Finally, the terms of service indicate a commitment to following all applicable laws related to the services Sanvello provides.

Sanvello vs. Its Competitors

According to our survey, users are mixed about Sanvello. It ranked lower than many other online therapy platforms for overall satisfaction, quality of services offered, and available resources. In order to be competitive with other, similar companies, it will need to focus on improving client satisfaction. 36% of users rated Sanvello as excellent or very good overall, compared to 56% of users for Online-Therapy.com, 65% of E-Therapy Cafe users, and 52% of Calmerry users.

37% of Sanvello users were likely or very likely to still be using the app in six months, compared to 53% of Amwell users, 60% of Circle Media users, 68% of E-Therapy Cafe users, and 56% of Talkiatry users. 48% of Sanvello users rated the number of licensed providers as very good or excellent, versus 69% of Talkiatry users and 61% of BetterHelp users.

Only 43% of Sanvello users reported that the app was Excellent or Very Good at connecting them to a therapist, compared to 66% of Talkiatry users, 62% of Online-Therapy.com users, and 50% of Sanvello users rated therapist qualifications as very good or excellent, compared to 64% of Online-Therapy.com users, 58% of Feel Good Institute users, 67% of E-Therapy Cafe users, and 63% of Teladoc users.

In addition, many online therapy platforms (including TalkSpace and BetterHelp) have therapists available in all 50 states and many U.S. territories. Although Sanvello’s peer support and self-guided resources are available to anyone who wants to use them, those seeking treatment from a licensed provider might not be able to access this option. We cannot speak to how the therapy sessions themselves compared to other platforms because none of our writers was able to attend therapy sessions with Sanvello.

Despite these shortcomings, Sanvello’s privacy policy indicates that it complies with United States law regarding protected health information (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA), which is something that many online therapy platforms, including TalkSpace and the companies owned by BetterHelp (ReGain, Teen Counseling, Pride Counseling, etc.) either do not commit to or openly admit that they do not follow. For example, unlike many competitors, Sanvello does not indicate that customer information will be used for advertising purposes or sold to third party businesses. This is a huge asset to Sanvello and will protect the company if and when the Office for Civil Rights enforces sanctions for HIPAA violations on other platforms.

Final Verdict

Overall, Sanvello has some well-created resources and self-guided options for those who need additional support for their mental health. It thoroughly vets and researches the services it provides to ensure safety and usefulness for its clients. Its privacy policy commits to following all relevant laws around protecting user confidentiality, which is unfortunately rare with online therapy platforms.

However, the company's user satisfaction and accessibility needs work. Therapy is not available in many states, including states included on the map on the website, and Sanvello's website indicates that it offers coaching services, which are not available on the app. We were unable to see that we did not have the option to schedule a therapy session until after we had paid for premium access.

In addition, Sanvello’s user ratings were lower than those of many other resources we researched. Many felt that it was not worth the cost. The resource has potential, but the company needs to ensure accessibility and user satisfaction for a sustainable model.

Methodology

To fairly and accurately review the best online therapy programs, we sent questionnaires to 55 companies and surveyed 105 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 the following factors: website usability, the sign-up and therapist matching processes, therapist qualifications, types of therapy offered, the service's quality of care, client-therapist communication options, session length, subscription offerings, client privacy protections, average cost and value for money, whether it accepts insurance, how easy it is to change therapists, overall user satisfaction, and the likelihood that clients would recommend it.

We also signed up for the companies in order to get a sense of how this process worked, how easy to use the platform is, and how therapy takes place at the company. As noted previously, due to availability issues, we were unable to test the therapy services offered at Sanvello.

By Amy Marschall, PsyD
Dr. Amy Marschall is an autistic clinical psychologist with ADHD, working with children and adolescents who also identify with these neurotypes among others. She is certified in TF-CBT and telemental health.

Edited by
Hannah Owens
Hannah Owens

Hannah Owens is the Mental Health/General Health Editor for performance marketing at Verywell. She is a licensed social worker with clinical experience in community mental health.

Learn about our editorial process
and
Simone Scully
simone-scully-verywell

Simone is the health 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