Talkspace vs. BetterHelp

Talkspace is our pick for the best online therapy company

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As online therapy companies are becoming household names, chances are you’ve heard of BetterHelp and Talkspace. They’re the largest online therapy companies and they continue to grow in their reach. Online therapy skyrocketed during the Coronavirus pandemic, and users are continuing to take advantage of its usability. Online therapy offers convenience to therapy seekers who have busy schedules or who are unable to find a local therapist with openings.

Each company offers live therapy sessions through chat, audio, or video. Users can communicate with their therapist through asynchronous messaging with guaranteed therapist responses five days a week, depending on your subscription plan. It is important to pick a telehealth provider that fits your budget and your schedule. Both companies have licensed therapists available with a variety of session times. If your first match is not a good fit, it is easy to switch therapists on both Talkspace and BetterHelp. So in order to determine which company was better, we surveyed 105 users of both BetterHelp and Talkspace, sent questionnaires to the companies, and signed up for one month of therapy at both places. Here is how they compare.

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: How Do They Compare?

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.

: Talkspace


  • Price: $276 - $516 monthly
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: Yes
  • Type Of Therapy: Couples Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling
What Is Talkspace?

Talkspace is a New York-based company founded in 2012 by spouses Oren and Roni Frank. After an impactful experience in their own therapy, the Franks sought to make mental health care more accessible. As one of the first online therapy companies, Talkspace helped decrease the stigma associated with getting mental health care, and created more opportunities for people to receive therapy. Today, it provides online individual, teen, and couples therapy, keeping its services affordable through multiple subscription options and the fact that it accepts insurance. Talkspace is available in all 50 states as well as certain international locations, rivaling BetterHelp in accessibility.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Offers individual, couples, and teen therapy

  • Provides medication management services

  • Tiered subscription plans

  • High user satisfaction

  • Accepts health insurance plans

Cons
  • No sliding scale options

  • Therapists’ responses via messaging might be impersonal

  • Most affordable plan is only messaging

  • Cannot read therapist bios ahead of time

  • Does not offer group or family therapy

: BetterHelp


  • Price: $240 to $360+ per month
  • Is Insurance Accepted?: No
  • Type Of Therapy: Individual Therapy
What Is BetterHelp?

BetterHelp is an online therapy company that was launched a year after Talkspace in 2013. Headquartered in California, BetterHelp has treated nearly 3.2 million people since its founding. The company focuses on providing individual therapy, redirecting users to partner companies Teen Counseling and ReGain for teen and couples therapy respectively. It also owns and operates Faithful Counseling, which focuses on providing faith-based therapy, and Pride Counseling, which focuses on providing LGBTQ+ friendly care. Today, BetterHelp’s convenience and affordability stand out from other online therapy companies—as well as the company’s widespread domestic and international reach. 

It is worth noting that BetterHelp has come under fire for its questionable privacy practices—it is not HIPAA-compliant and sells its clients’ personal information for advertising purposes.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • One subscription plan available that prioritizes live therapy sessions

  • Offers financial aid

  • Serves the US and 200 additional countries

  • Therapist bios available on website

Cons
  • Only provides individual therapy

  • Pricing differs widely based on location and demand

  • Does not accept health insurance

  • No medication management services

  • Sells clients’ personal information for advertising purposes

Compare the Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: How Do They Compare?

Best For
Price
Is Insurance Accepted?
Does it Accept HSA/FSA?
Type Of Therapy
Communication Options
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Talkspace N/A $276 - $516 monthly Yes Yes Couples Therapy, Individual Therapy, Medication Management, Psychiatry, Teen Counseling Audio, Live Chat, Messaging, Phone, Video Chat Learn More
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BetterHelp N/A $240 to $360+ per month No Yes Individual Therapy Messaging, Phone, Video Chat Learn More
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Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Plans & Pricing

Both companies provide live therapy sessions in the form of live chat, audio call, or video call. BetterHelp’s sessions last 30-45 minutes, while Talkspace’s sessions last 45 minutes. Each company’s pricing is listed as weekly on their websites; however, users are billed monthly.

Talkspace offers a tiered subscription plan for individual and teen therapy:

  • The Messaging Therapy plan, starting at $69/week, includes unlimited messaging and guaranteed therapist responses five days a week
  • The Live Therapy plan, starting at $99/week, includes four live therapy sessions a month via live chat, phone, or video call
  • The Live + Messaging Therapy plan, starting at $129/week, includes both messaging and four live sessions

Talkspace also has a single plan for couples therapy: Couples Therapy + 4 Live Sessions, which includes unlimited messaging and four live therapy sessions per month. This plan starts at $109/week.

Meanwhile, BetterHelp offers a single plan for individual therapy; however, its pricing varies widely. The company told us its pricing average is $68/week, but added that BetterHelp participates in surge pricing, meaning the cost of therapy services changes based on your location and how much demand for mental health care there is. When reviewing BetterHelp, our editors confirmed the inconsistencies. Our editor in Seattle was quoted $90 to $150 per week, while our New York editor was quoted $60 to $90.

While Talkspace accepts insurance, BetterHelp does not, though it does provide financial aid to particular demographics, including students, veterans, and low-income households. Having the option to secure financial aid or your insurance benefits may be the determining factor as to  which online therapy company is better for you.

Fifty-eight percent of users we surveyed said Talkspace’s three subscription plans were affordable or very affordable. Even though BetterHelp offers only one plan, 58% of users surveyed also said BetterHelp was affordable or very affordable.

Both companies have an easy cancellation process. Since users are billed monthly, a cancellation means your plan will not renew at the next billing period. Users are required to pay for the full month, and refunds for unused sessions are not available.

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Website & Account Setup 

Signing up with either company is fairly straightforward. Of the users we surveyed, 39% said the sign-up process at Talkspace was very easy while 33% said the sign-up process at BetterHelp was very easy. You can sign up for services via the websites of both providers or their corresponding mobile apps.

I signed up for both Talkspace and BetterHelp. Even though the sign-up process was more comprehensive on BetterHelp, I did not feel like Talkspace’s swift sign-up negatively affected my experience or how well I matched with my therapist.

Talkspace

Eighty-two percent of users said Talkspace’s website was easy or very easy to use. The website’s design is straightforward and simple. That being said, there are additional resources, such as an informational blog or mental health tests, on its website—although these pages are sometimes hard to find. I had to explore the website further to find these resources linked in the site’s footer rather than the navigation menu.

Talkspace Homepage

Talkspace Homepage

After arriving to the homepage, users are able to sign up immediately, with the choices “Individual,” “Couples,” “Teens,” and “Psychiatry” in different-colored boxes below the phrase “Feeling better starts with a single message.” Its quick sign-up process involves eight questions, ranging from your sleep habits and physical health to your gender identity and date of birth. The entire process took me about 10 to 15 minutes to complete on Talkspace’s website.

If you plan to use insurance benefits, you will need your Member ID accessible while signing up.

If you are seeking individual therapy, you will receive a personalized match within 48 hours. After I signed up as an individual, Talkspace took less than an hour to match me, which was impressive. Couples seeking therapy through Talkspace will receive a list of recommended therapists to choose from–though the website does not specify how long it takes to receive this list.

BetterHelp

Signing up for BetterHelp is a longer and more comprehensive process. While the website is straightforward and easy to navigate, there are more questions in BetterHelp’s sign-up process than Talkspace’s process. It took me about 20 to 30 minutes to complete, and I had to do it in one sitting because it did not save my answers. I was asked a series of questions about my gender identity, age, sexual orientation, relationship status, and religion. Then, BetterHelp asked questions about my mental health history, current physical health, financial status, employment, and symptoms of depression and anxiety. The questionnaire also asked if I had problems with intimacy or with my identity. I considered the questions to be random and not well organized when I completed my sign-up.

Betterhelp

Betterhelp

Even though signing-up is a long process, 73% of BetterHelp users said its website was easy or very easy to navigate. I found the website to be well-organized, eye-catching, and interactive.

The company states users will receive a match in 24 hours, but I received one in less than 12 hours.

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Psychiatry

Out of the two, only Talkspace provides psychiatry services. These services are offered separately from talk therapy. Of the users we surveyed, 70% rated Talkspace’s medication management services as excellent or very good. Twenty-nine percent of users said they were prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and 22% said they were prescribed an atypical antidepressant.

Initial psychiatric evaluations cost $249, and each follow-up session costs $125. You can sign up for a psychiatric evaluation on Talkspace’s homepage. Those prices do not include medication, which can range from $5 to $99 for a 30-day supply of SSRIs. Psychiatrists on Talkspace are unable to prescribe controlled substances, such as Xanax or Valium. Medication prescriptions will be sent to a pharmacy near you.

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Counselor Qualifications 

Percentages
Percentages

Therapists working for Talkspace and BetterHelp are required to be licensed in their respective states. In the company questionnaire, Talkspace shared that its employees are required to have over 3000 clinical hours, while BetterHelp requires their therapists to have 1500 clinical hours and a Masters-level education. All therapists through BetterHelp are independent contractors.

Seventy-two percent of BetterHelp users said their therapist’s qualifications were excellent or very good, and 69% of Talkspace users said the same. Twelve percent of Talkspace users and 20% of BetterHelp users said therapist qualifications and expertise were an important factor in their search for a therapist.

In terms of therapy approaches, BetterHelp and Talkspace each provide:

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Somatic Therapies
  • Trauma-Focused Therapy

The majority of users from BetterHelp said they sought mental health care for depression, anxiety,  family issues, and stress. Talkspace users said anxiety, depression, stress, and abuse, as well as grief and loss made them look for therapy.

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Mobile App 

Both companies have free mobile apps available to download on iOS and Android phones. Upon logging into either app, users can access the private portal.

When you open the BetterHelp app, the first page you see is your private portal. There are tabs at the bottom for “Session”, or your portal, “Journal,” “Schedule,” “Groupinars,” and “More.” In the “Journal” tab, you will find optional daily prompts to complete in addition to therapy. That being said, BetterHelp’s app is confusing to use because of its organization.

Betterhelp App

On the other hand, the app for Talkspace flows well and is simple to use. You can view most of its elements on one screen. Talkspace’s app is organized by “Rooms,” which is your private portal, “Helpful tips,” which includes videos about the therapeutic process, and “Tools.” The “Tools” include a schedule of your upcoming live sessions and an area to track your symptoms and note long-term goals, as well as a variety of coping exercises.

This could be why 56% of users said Talkspace’s app was easier to use than its competitors, whereas just 31% of BetterHelp users said the same.

Talkspace app

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Session Platforms

Talkspace and BetterHelp each provide users with private portals that are accessible through their mobile apps or websites. Asynchronous text messaging with your licensed therapist is available within the private portals. You are able to message your therapist at any time with both companies. Depending on your plan, you will receive guaranteed therapist responses at least five days a week.

You are also able to schedule your live therapy sessions through the private portal and choose your desired session type—live chat, audio, or video call. Your therapist will then confirm the session time.

It is worth noting that Talkspace allows users to schedule four therapy sessions at one time, meaning you don’t have to wait to schedule appointments week-by-week. I appreciated the freedom to skip a week or schedule two sessions within the same week, depending on my needs. This may be why 29% of users said Talkspace had more flexible session times than its competitors.

BetterHelp schedules roughly week-to-week. After you schedule your initial session through the portal, your therapist will ask you at the end of each session when you would like to schedule next, as is often the case with in-person therapy.

I was disappointed with Talkspace’s live sessions. During live video calls, the video often lagged and the audio sounded staticky. The low quality distracted me, and I felt unable to focus on my needs during therapy sessions. The audio did not improve with live audio sessions—confirming to me that it was an issue with Talkspace’s platform.

In contrast with Talkspace, the audio and video quality during live video sessions was excellent on BetterHelp. The high level of quality extended to BetterHelp’s audio session, though I personally felt like I was on a casual phone call rather than a therapy session.

Live chats on BetterHelp and Talkspace were comparable to one another. I found it more effective when therapists utilized text messages versus audio messages during the live chat sessions. It is worth pointing out that BetterHelp has a “Live Texting” feature where users can view what the therapist is typing as they type it. This was interesting to me and pushed the flow of conversation along.

When I tried asynchronous messaging on each platform, I received concise, vague responses from the therapist at BetterHelp. My therapist at Talkspace often directed me towards live sessions when I messaged them. For example, after sending a long message with three paragraphs, I received the response, “Would you like to schedule a live video or audio call to discuss that further?”

While a variety of factors play a role in how well you connect with your therapist, such as session type, length between sessions, or typical response times, 77% of users from BetterHelp and 83% of users from Talkspace said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the therapist options provided by the respective companies. 

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Resources

Both Talkspace and BetterHelp provide additional resources, such as live events or blog posts. Each company’s blog provides informative articles about mental health conditions and coping strategies. BetterHelp’s blog, notably titled “Advice,” contains more posts than Talkspace, with a wider variety of topics, such as what to expect in therapy and information on different therapeutic approaches.

However, Talkspace includes a “Mental Health Conditions” library. These pages thoroughly describe the symptoms, causes, and treatment of 29 diagnoses. Free mental health assessments are available on its website, too. It is worth noting that the results of these tests are not an official diagnosis. There also an extensive blog with regular posts.

Talkspace blog

Talkspace also offers hour-long workshops through Zoom. Some examples are “Releasing Resentment Together,” “Celebrating a Multigenerational Workforce,” and “Making Peace with Your Body and Food.” Users must attend these workshops live as they do not offer a link to the recording after. Of the users we surveyed, 50% said Talkspace’s additional resources were excellent or very good. In fact, 26% of users said Talkspace’s resources were better than its competitors—which is one of the highest percentages of the 55 companies we reviewed.

Betterhelp

Betterhelp

Similarly, BetterHelp offers Groupinars, which are short webinars users can attend about a variety of topics. These live events are held within your private portal on BetterHelp’s website or app. Some titles offered include “Recovering from Race-Based Traumatic Stress” and “The Gut/Brain Axis: Digesting the Connection Between Food and Mood.” If you do not catch the live event, you are able to view the recording for up to seven days after.  Fifty-three percent of users we surveyed rated BetterHelp's additional resources as excellent or very good. 

Talkspace vs. BetterHelp: Customer Experience 

Overall customer satisfaction appears high for both companies. Eighty-two percent of Talkspace users said they were likely or very likely to recommend the company to a friend, whereas 77% of BetterHelp users said the same.

Seventy-four percent of Talkspace users and 67% of BetterHelp users rated the company’s customer service as excellent or very good. Both companies have phone numbers and contact forms for customer support easily accessible within the portal and on their websites.

It is worth pointing out, however, that one scroll through Talkspace’s social media pages reveals multiple complaints from users in their comments regarding the company’s overall customer service or lack of response from customer support.

Final Verdict

Although the one out-of-pocket subscription plan offered by BetterHelp is slightly cheaper than the comparable services at Talkspace, Talkspace is our choice for best online therapy company because it accepts insurance, offers multiple types of therapy (individual, teen and couples), and it also offers medication management. Its easy-to-use app and website create a streamlined service for users.  Ninety-seven percent of Talkspace users said Talkspace was much better, better, or a little better than its competitors, whereas only 85% of BetterHelp users said the same. Plus, Talkspace is good for those wanting to use in-network insurance plans or employer-sponsored plans. However, without insurance benefits, the cost of Talkspace’s subscription plans could be too costly.

BetterHelp’s overall affordability and available financial aid options make it a good choice for users prioritizing cost and accessibility. Still, its session costs differ based on where you are located, potentially making its services more expensive than Talkspace’s. The ability to read therapist bios prior to signing up and BetterHelp’s requirements for their therapists could also be beneficial for therapy seekers looking for well-qualified therapists with plenty of experience with patients. However, the controversy around privacy cannot be ignored—considering these issues as well as its practice of surge pricing, we cannot recommend BetterHelp over Talkspace.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How Long Are Therapy Sessions at BetterHelp and Talkspace?

BetterHelp advertises their therapy sessions to be between 30-45 minutes, while Talkspace sessions are 45 minutes. That’s not to say some sessions might end early based on the flow of conversation or the quality of care the therapist is able to provide.

Do Talkspace and BetterHelp Accept Health Insurance?

Talkspace accepts most health insurance plans. It is easy to search and check if the company accepts your plan by entering your member ID during sign-up.

BetterHelp does not accept health insurance. However, it provides a wider range of financial aid to certain demographics, such as low-income populations, veterans, and students.

Can Talkspace and BetterHelp Therapists Provide Diagnoses?

No, neither Talkspace nor BetterHelp therapists are able to diagnose you. However, Talkspace’s psychiatrists are able to provide diagnoses.

Can Therapists on BetterHelp and Talkspace Prescribe Medication?

Therapists on BetterHelp and Talkspace cannot prescribe medication. Talkspace does have licensed medication management providers, such as psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners. However, this service is separate from your therapy services.

When Should I Consider Getting Help Beyond Online Therapy?

Online therapy can benefit those with moderate anxiety, depression, or life stressors. However, if you feel like your diagnosis or symptoms are more severe, such as psychosis, schizophrenia, or suicidal ideation, then in-person options for therapy or psychiatric treatment are more suitable.

Methodology

To accurately review and compare the two online therapy companies, we sent questionnaires to both 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.

We evaluated both companies 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, the likelihood that clients would recommend them, and current mentions in the media.

Teletherapy

Joy10000Lightpower / Getty Images

Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. GoodRx. "SSRIs."

By Riley Blanton
For over six years, Riley Blanton has written stories about mental health, women’s rights, as well as pregnancy and postpartum. She is passionate about maternal mental health and founded the site, Postpartum Brain, to educate and encourage people about perinatal mental health. Riley’s articles are published in verticals like Healthline, Motherly, and more. Read more of her work on perinatal mental health here.

Edited by
April McCormick,
April McCormick

April is the health editor for performance marketing at Verywell. Her work has appeared in Time, Parents Magazine, The Huffington Post, TripSavvy, Parenting.com, First Time Mom and Dad, Mama Mia, All4Women, the New York Times Bestseller, A Letter To My Mom, and more.

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Olivia Campbell,
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Olivia Campbell is a health editor for performance marketing at Verywell. She is author of the New York Times best-selling book “Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine.”

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Simone Scully,
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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.

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Ally Hirschlag,
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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.

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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.

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