Talkspace vs. BetterHelp

See how these services stack up against one another.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products. Healthcare professionals review articles for medical accuracy. Learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

As online therapy has grown in popularity over the last decade or so, the telehealth options out there have expanded as well. Online therapy gives people the flexibility to seek treatment at times and locations that work best for them. It also tends to be more budget-friendly, too. 

Talkspace and BetterHelp are two of the largest, most well-known online therapy companies on the market. Both 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 is our choice for the overall best online therapy company because it works for most people and budgets.

When looking for an online therapy service, it is important to choose one that suits your schedule and preferred communication method with therapists who fit your personality and emotional support needs. Both BetterHelp and Talkspace provide flexibility within these areas, but BetterHelp offers more services at a lower price point.

Talkspace


Get $150 off your first month using promo code VERYWELL150.

What Is Talkspace?

Founded in 2012, Talkspace was one of the first online therapy companies to hit the market. Headquartered in New York City, its goal was to break down the stigma of getting help for mental health and make that help more accessible to everyone. As a result, it offers clients easy access to an expert therapist of their choice through messaging or live video sessions. To keep things affordable, it has several different subscription plans with tiered pricing.

Pros
  • Multiple monthly subscription plans available

  • Multiple convenient communication options available

  • Medication-management services available

  • All therapists are licensed

  • You can pick your therapist from recommended suggestions

Cons
  • Surveyed user satisfaction rating lower than average

  • Additional psychiatric services can get expensive

  • Additional live sessions can get expensive

  • No therapist bios posted on the website

  • Messaging-only plan not enough to address serious mental health issues

BetterHelp


What Is BetterHelp?

BetterHelp was founded not long after Talkspace in 2013. The company says it employs more than 14,000 licensed therapists and serves almost 2 million clients. BetterHelp’s mission is to make therapy affordable, accessible, and convenient to a greater number of people. It offers an all-inclusive subscription, which, considering what it offers, is more affordable than many of its competitors, including Talkspace.

Special Offer

Verywell Mind readers get 20% off their first month of membership to Betterhelp (includes Teen, Pride, Faithful and Regain).

Pros
  • Convenient monthly subscription

  • All therapists are licensed

  • Good privacy protection

  • Multiple communications methods available

  • Therapist bios posted on website

Cons
  • No medication-management services

  • No psychiatrists on staff

  • Price varies by location

  • No free trial available

  • Only one subscription plan available

Compare Providers

  Talkspace BetterHelp
Accepts Insurance Yes (some plans) No
% Users Rated Excellent or Very Good  69%  72% 
Session Platforms  Messaging, live text, live video, live audio  Messaging, live text, live video, live audio
Price  $260–$400 per month  $240–$600 per month 
Offers Psychiatry  Yes
Initial session is $199
Follow up sessions $125
No 

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Cost

BetterHelp offers only one subscription plan, but the amount you pay monthly can range from $240 per month to $600 per month, depending on your location and therapist preferences.

However, the one plan is all-inclusive and includes:

  • Unlimited messaging 
  • Four live, text, audio, or video sessions per month

Live sessions are 30–45 minutes in length, which is longer than most live sessions offered with subscription plans.

In contrast, Talkspace offers a range of service options and price points that allows you to customize the type and frequency of services, support preferences, and budget. Plus, you can adjust your plan at any time.

The three main subscription plans offered at the time of sign-up include:

  • Unlimited Messaging Therapy Plus: Includes text, video, and audio messaging; therapist responds daily, up to five days per week
  • Unlimited Messaging Therapy Premium: Includes text, video, and audio messaging; therapist responds daily, up to five days per week; includes one live video session per month (30 minutes)
  • Unlimited Messaging Therapy Ultimate: Includes text, video, and audio messaging; therapist responds daily, up to five days per week; includes four live video sessions per month (30 minutes)

While Talkspace offers more options, the downside is the expense. The more you add, the more expensive the service becomes. When comparing an equal number of live sessions purchased per month, BetterHelp is more affordable. Talkspace does work with some insurance, but you need an in-network plan in order to receive coverage reimbursement. So, Talksapce may not work well for someone who needs a self-pay option or does not have a plan that offers coverage for this service.

Both companies allow you to cancel or change your subscriptions at any time without a cancellation fee. Since they both bill on a monthly basis, you are charged the full month no matter when you cancel. There are no partial refunds or prorated rates offered.

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Website and Account Setup 

Talkspace

Talkspace’s sign-up process is a bit quicker. It has a super intuitive online interface where you’ll see sign-up options right in the middle when you first arrive on the page. Once you click through that, you’ll answer several questions that will help the site’s matching agent find the right therapist for you.

This is also when you’ll be instructed to create an account that allows you to sign in to the platform. You can describe what kind of therapy you’re looking for, what you’re struggling with, and what kind of therapist you would like to work with. Based on the platform’s algorithm, the matching agent will give you three therapists to choose from. Live sessions can easily be scheduled through the option prompt on the left side of the client portal page or app.

Below the signup area, you can scroll down to find links to mental health articles, reviews from users, and useful links to mental health tests you can take. At the bottom, you’ll also find a list of mental services available through the site. 

BetterHelp

BetterHelp has a very similar interface to Talkspace’s. You’ll see buttons to start the sign-up process right when you enter the website, and when you scroll down, you’ll see user reviews, and an FAQ section. But BetterHelp’s sign-up process takes more time. You will be led through a series of questions regarding your gender, age, sexual orientation, and religious preferences, followed by another 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 complete these questions, you are prompted to create your private account by giving your name, email address, and creating a password. Once you get an email verification, you then will go through another set of questions designed to help match you to a therapist that best meets your preferences. There are questions about your communication style, and whether you prefer a therapist of a certain background, ethnicity, religion, or gender. It may seem like a lot, but these questions help the site’s algorithm choose a therapist that fits your specific needs. 

BetterHelp also has a series of mental health articles available on their site, which you can find by clicking on “Advice” in the menu at the top. The articles seem like they’re updated a little more often than Talkspace’s, and they make a point of saying they’ve been reviewed by mental health experts. 

Connecting With a Therapist

Both companies state that you should be able to connect quickly with your therapist after initially signing up for services, ideally within 24 hours. While users surveyed reported fast response time with both companies, BetterHelp users reported hearing from their therapist slightly faster than Talkspace users. That said, less than half of both BetterHelp and Talkspace users said they’d heard from their therapist within two days. Here are some more stats that might give you a better sense of genuine, average response times for therapists from each service: 

BetterHelp:

  • Thirty-two percent said they heard from their therapist within the same day.
  • Forty-two percent said they heard from them within two days.
  • Twenty-two percent said they heard from them within the same week and 
  • Four percent said within two weeks or more. 

Talkspace:

  • Twenty-three percent said they heard from their therapist within the same day.
  • Forty-two percent said they heard from their therapist within two days.
  • Twenty-five percent said they heard from their therapist within the same week.
  • Nine percent said within two weeks or more.

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Resources

Both Talkspace and BetterHelp have informative websites where you can access helpful resources. They have updated blog posts, detailed FAQ pages, and links to information about various mental health topics.

Talkspace offers free assessments for conditions like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder. You can share these assessments with your therapist or psychiatrist. The assessments can be found by scrolling to the bottom of the homepage and clicking the “Assessments” link. Talkspace also has a library of mental health conditions you can use to help understand different diagnoses. This library can be found under the “Mental Health Conditions” tab at the bottom of the homepage.

BetterHelp appears to have more resources on its website. By clicking the “Advice” tab at the top of the homepage, you will find a page full of links to articles, explanations of mental health conditions, and articles that explain different types of therapy used.

The therapists associated with the platform work independently, so they may have additional resources of their own, like worksheets and guidebooks to share with you. This will, however, depend on who you are matched with.

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Counselor Qualifications 

Both Talkspace and BetterHelp require all therapists associated with their platforms to be licensed in their respective states. Along with a state license, both companies also require that each therapist has a minimum of 2,000 hours of experience in the field before joining the platform. Some therapists may hold a doctorate degree, but all therapists are required to have obtained at least a master’s degree.

At BetterHelp, 80% of the users we surveyed said therapists’ qualifications were an important reason to choose an online therapy service, and 75% said they found the therapists’ qualifications at BetterHelp to be either very good or excellent. In addition, 92% of users said they found the therapist options to be either very good or excellent.

When it came to choosing Talkspace, most people we surveyed said the staff’s qualifications and expertise played a significant role in their decision to sign up, but ease of use and speed of therapist response was ranked as a higher level of importance. Eighty-four percent said they found the therapists’ qualifications to be either very good or excellent. And 97% reported that they found the therapist options to be either very good or excellent.

Both companies offer individual sessions, couples sessions, and therapy for teens as young as 13, but they offer these services in different ways. Talkspace keeps all its services under the same company umbrella, while BetterHelp separates specialized services into smaller companies. The site will direct you to its sister companies for couples counseling, LGBTQ+ counseling, and teen counseling.

Both companies treat mild to moderate depression and anxiety issues along with stress management, relationship struggles, social struggles, identity issues, bullying, and mild to moderate trauma issues. But, neither company is good for more severe mental health issues or for those with self-harm or suicidal ideations.

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Psychiatry

BetterHelp focuses on talk therapy only—it does not offer psychiatry services. Talkspace does offer psychiatric services, but for an additional cost to talk therapy. You also can’t bundle therapy and psychiatric services like with other similar companies such as Wellnite.

Even though some of these companies offer medication management, not all types of medications can be prescribed legally through telemedicine. For example, controlled substances cannot be prescribed through an online appointment. This includes medications like Xanax and sleeping pills. Talkspace has psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners who can prescribe medications available for prescription via telemedicine. The wait time to get a psychiatric appointment is a bit longer—about three to five days more—than the wait time to talk to a therapist.

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Mobile App 

Both Talkspace and BetterHelp have easy-to-use apps that are free to download. The companies give have 24/7 access to your client portal where you can leave messages for your therapist. The apps are also where you can schedule live sessions and have live video, audio, or e-chats with your therapist. Both companies’ apps are accessible on Android and iOS devices, which allows you to access your portal and therapist anywhere you have internet access.

There are some things you won’t have access to on Talkspace’s app right away. For example,  you won't be able to reach the mood management tools or your client portal until you have signed up for services. When you download the app through BetterHelp, it is laid out similarly to the main website with information available before you sign up. Both companies allow you to change therapists or make any subscription changes through the app as well, adding to the convenience of the services.

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Session Platforms

Users connect with their therapist through the private portal on both Talkspace and BetterHelp, either logging into the main website or through the app. The companies also both allow you to send an unlimited number of messages to your therapist any time you like. Your therapist is required to respond at least one time per day, five days per week. 

Depending on what plan you purchase, you can schedule live sessions with your therapist through your portal with the calendar provided. Once you schedule, your therapist will confirm your appointment time and prompt you to join the session once time begins.

When surveyed about video quality, 70% of Talkspace users and 76% of BetterHelp users reported that they thought the video and platform quality was either very good or excellent. Eighty-one percent % of users from both BetterHelp and Talkspace reported the platform was either easy or very easy to use.

Seventy-three percent of users from Talkspace and 78% of users from BetterHelp reported that their therapist’s speed of response was either very good or excellent.

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Customer Experience 

Customer satisfaction ratings for both Talkspace and BetterHelp were similar, but often below average compared with the other 33 companies we surveyed:

  • 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. 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 had used in the past. Only 76% of Talkspace users said the same. 
  • Ninety percent Talkspace users reported they were either likely or very likely to still be seeing a therapist within the company a year from now, compared to 83% at BetterHelp. 

Final Verdict

BetterHelp is our choice for the overall best online therapy company because it works for most people, is more affordable, and has slightly better customer reviews according to our user survey responses. BetterHelp is a good choice if you’re looking for convenient and accessible talk therapy through an online format that offers weekly live sessions for a low self-pay cost.

Talkspace may be a better choice for you if you benefit from psychiatric services in combination with talk therapy. Having to self-pay for both services through Talkspace can get expensive, so this works best for those who have insurance plans that are in-network with Talkspace, or an employer in-network with Talkspace that can offer lower rates and help cover costs.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How Do I Decide Which Online Therapy Service Is Right? 

It really depends on what you’re looking for in terms of cost and prescription access. If you’d like your medication to be managed through your service, then Talkspace is the company for you. But, if you don’t have insurance and want teletherapy at a lower cost, then BetterHelp may be your best bet. Both services offer well-qualified therapists, a relatively easy sign up process, lots of supplemental support, and the ability to communicate with therapists in a number of different ways. The main differences lie in insurance acceptance and medication management availability.

Do Talkspace and BetterHelp Accept Insurance? 

Talkspace does accept some insurance plans while BetterHelp does not. Talkspace allows you to pay for services using a flexible spending account and/or a health savings account card if you have them. Talkspace also works with a few companies to offer employee assistance programs, which helps employees receive discounted rates for services.

While some users reported that they were able to receive insurance reimbursement for services with both companies, BetterHelp users will need to submit their own claims.

Can Therapists on BetterHelp and Talkspace Prescribe Medication? 

Therapists cannot prescribe medication, but psychiatrists can. Only Talkspace offers psychiatric and medication-management services in addition to talk therapy. While you can schedule sessions with a psychiatrist through the app and client portal, costs are additional. Medications that can be prescribed legally through online appointments are limited and do not include controlled substances. For these types of medications or more severe mental health conditions, it is best to seek medical help from a local, in-office provider.

How Safe and Secure Are Talkspace and BetterHelp?

Both companies have designed their own platforms for video and chat communications, opting not to utilize third-party platforms like Zoom. They also take great care in ensuring data and information privacy and have each described these security measures in detail. The companies use data encryption and banking-grade security for payment information, and they 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.

When Is It Time to Seek Help Outside Online Therapy Services?

Talkspace and BetterHelp can treat a number of common mental health issues like moderate depression, anxiety, and addiction. However, if you feel like you’re living with something more severe, or a more serious diagnosis, like psychosis, for example, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention outside of online therapy, perhaps with an in-person psychiatrist or at an in-patient facility. 

By Mary K. Tatum, MS, LMHC
Mary is a licensed mental health counselor and psychotherapist with 15 years of experience working in the psychology field. She earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Bluefield College and a Master of Science in Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She began in social work and then moved to drug rehab settings, working as a therapist, group facilitator, and clinical director. She specializes in family dynamic systems, trauma recovery, improving resilience, addiction recovery, and the psychology of successful business management.

Additional reporting by
Ally Hirschlag
Allison "Ally" Hirschlag

Ally is a senior editor for Verywell, who covers topics in the health, wellness, and lifestyle spaces. She has written for The Washington Post, The Guardian, BBC Future, and more.

Learn about our editorial process