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We tried BetterHelp and found it to be a great online option if you’re just starting out with therapy and for short-term use. Here’s everything you need to know.

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A quick summary of BetterHelp

BetterHelp is an online therapy service where you can access a therapist 24/7 via a phone call, video chat, live chat, or text message. They offer a variety of different services, and their monthly membership payment plan is flexible so you can cancel anytime. For more in-depth information, continue reading.

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Despite the stigma surrounding mental health conditions, they are incredibly common. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20% of people in the United States will experience a mental health condition in any given year.

Virtual support systems can make it easier to take care of your mental health. They can be convenient and private for many people, making them a viable option for receiving coaching and therapy from anywhere and at any time.

BetterHelp is one such online therapy service that allows you to text-chat with a licensed, accredited therapist 24/7. We discuss how Betterhelp works, what to consider if you’re in the market for online therapy, and what would work best for you. We also included our editor’s assessment of BetterHelp and her personal experience with this online service. Follow along to find out more.

Mental Health Emergencies

If you need immediate assistance in the event of a mental health emergency — if you’re thinking about harming yourself or someone else — call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

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Founded in 2013, BetterHelp is the largest online therapy platform in the world, offering virtual therapy with licensed and accredited therapists via chat, phone calls, and video calls. It also provides additional services like journaling and group therapy sessions.

BetterHelp uses a monthly membership payment plan, but you can cancel your membership at any time.

BetterHelp has expanded its services in recent years and now partners with businesses and universities. It also has several sister websites that provide therapy for couples, teens, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and those seeking a faith-based approach.

Methods of communication

One of the great perks about BetterHelp are the different ways you can communicate with your therapist.

Chat room

Once you’ve been matched with a counselor, you can immediately start messaging them in a private and secure chat room.

The chat room is accessible at any time, as long as your device has reliable internet. Messaging isn’t done in real time, but as soon as you receive a response from your therapist, you will get an email notification. As a result, you’re free to message your counselor at any hour of the day.

Your counselor will reply with questions, guidance, homework, or feedback. The app will notify you of their response.

The conversations are saved in the chat room, so you’re free to reflect and reread whenever you’d like. BetterHelp says therapists are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which is a federal law protecting sensitive health information.

Live chats

James Imrie, the creative and marketing manager at BetterHelp, recognizes that therapy can be intimidating, namely for many first-time clients. He suggests text-based and live-chat sessions as a way to relieve some of that anxiety.

“Writing down your thoughts is a useful exercise for all kinds of situations,” Imrie says. “If you feel like your thoughts are crowded or foggy, boiling them down into a few sentences can help bring a lot of clarity and understanding.”

Live phone session

For those who prefer working through problems out loud, it’s possible to schedule a phone call with your counselor.

The system does not share your personal phone number with the counselor — everything is done through the BetterHelp app.

Live video session

If you’re someone who enjoys face-to-face conversation, you can also schedule a video session with your counselor. Just log on at your appointment time and your counselor will prompt you to start the video chat.

Group support

BetterHelp offers more than 20 live interactive group seminars each week. These are called “groupinars.” If you want to attend a groupinar but aren’t able to make it to the meeting time, you can get a link to the recording via email.

Topics of the groupinars vary from sleep to self-care to anxiety and depression.


BetterHelp includes an online journal that’s yours and yours alone. It won’t be visible to anyone else unless you choose to share it.

The journal feature may be useful if you want to try writing down your thoughts and feelings. BetterHelp offers journal prompts that can help you get started in your journaling.

Screenshot of BetterHelp journal page on the app. Courtesy of Parisa Syed
Courtesy of Parisa Syed

In addition to screening BetterHelp using our intensive vetting process, we also looked at their medical credibility, business practices, and social impact. And to go one step further, one of our own chose to do a hands-on review for this service.

Assistant Editor Parisa Syed (she/they) tried out BetterHelp and was satisfied with her experience. While their regular therapist was on maternity leave, Parisa was looking for someone who could help keep up with the progress she’s made so far.

After completing a survey that consisted of questions about herself, what she was looking to accomplish in therapy, and her current mental state, she was also able to list out preferences she looks for in a therapist.

Some of these options included the therapist’s gender, experiences, and other personal traits that might help when deciding who to see. Syed, in particular, looked for a therapist of color with experience in LGBTQIA+-related issues.

Syed was matched with a therapist within 2 hours of completing the forms.

“I received a notification via email and a text,” she says. “I had the option to schedule an appointment with her or to choose another therapist. I chose to make an appointment with her, and it’s been great so far!”

Between the options for meeting over a call, messenger, or video, Syed chose to meet over video.

“It was just like hopping on a Zoom meeting,” she says. “Super simple.”

The initial appointment lasted for about 50 minutes. A lot of what Syed was looking for in a therapist was established in this initial appointment.

“I was looking for someone who could understand the background of a first-gen American, [the] family dynamics associated with that, and someone who was honest and wasn’t afraid to push back,” she says. “My therapist is all of those things, plus funny, empathetic, and easy to talk to.”

Syed also likes that the method of contact can be changed based on their preference. She likes being able to talk on the phone if she wishes instead of meeting over video.

According to BetterHelp, counselors are licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, or licensed professional counselors.

All the company’s counselors have a master’s or doctorate degree and possess at least 3 years and 1,000 hours of experience as mental health professionals.

If you don’t like who you’re paired with, you can request to be matched with a new therapist. As someone who’s been through their fair share of therapists, Syed found this feature to be a pretty great perk.

Who BetterHelp would be best for

“Online therapy can serve as a source of connection and support, especially during a time (in light of the pandemic) that feels otherwise isolating,” says Sheava Zadeh, PhD, LEP, BCIM, a psychologist and the founder of Pamper Your Brain.

“Clients who live in remote areas or who have limited mobility or limited access to transportation may be more motivated to participate in online therapy,” Zadeh says. “It allows for more flexibility in scheduling, as clients have access to more specialists and can select the specialists who can work with their schedules.”

You also get the comfort that comes with being in your own personal space — and you don’t have to worry about running into anyone you know in the waiting room.

BetterHelp has a wide array of counselors who are specialized in specific concerns and needs, like:

BetterHelp also offers individual counseling, couples counseling, and teen counseling with a focus on the services above.

Who shouldn’t use BetterHelp

Consider in-person therapy rather than virtual therapy if you:

  • connect better at in-person interactions
  • dislike virtual communication
  • don’t have stable internet access

Also, BetterHelp therapy sessions may not be suitable for people who need more intense treatment options, like dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and psychodynamic therapy.

For emergency care or a crisis, call 911, as BetterHelp cannot handle such situations.

Syed noted that BetterHelp is one of the more affordable online therapy options she’s seen, especially since there are several different ways to communicate with your therapist.

Prices range from $60 to $90 a week, depending on how many live sessions you want to schedule. You’ll be billed monthly.

However, BetterHelp does not accept insurance, so you may find there are other more cost-effective options.

Does BetterHelp offer financial aid?

BetterHelp also offers financial aid for those who qualify — for example, for anyone who’s unemployed or going through financial difficulty.

If you want to apply for financial aid, you’ll do so during the sign-up process. You’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire to check your eligibility.

Does BetterHelp accept insurance?

BetterHelp is a subscription plan with services not generally covered by health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.

Read more about BetterHelp insurance coverage.

Can you change or cancel your BetterHelp subscription?

You can cancel your subscription at any time if you decide that BetterHelp is not working for you.

Along with BetterHelp, there are other online therapy services that offer services that could better align with your needs. Take a look at the following services, and the comparison chart at the end to see which online therapy service could work best for you.

PricingWho it’s best forFinancial aid/insurance?
BetterHelp$60–$90 per weekpeople without insurance (or who don’t have mental health coverage) who are looking for an affordable way to access 24/7 mental health caredoes not accept insurance
Amwell$109–$129 per sessionpeople looking for a per-appointment (not subscription) virtual serviceinsurance accepted
Talkspace$69–$129 per week for therapy; $249 for initial psychiatry and $125 for follow-up sessionspeople looking for 24/7 counseling that might be covered by insurance and that you can access via video, phone, or chatinsurance accepted, but limited mental health professionals
7 Cups$150 per monthpeople who prefer to chat with a therapist only through textinsurance not accepted

BetterHelp is rated as a top teletherapy platform for a variety of mental health concerns. Users generally report positive experiences with BetterHelp’s network of therapists, services, and the effectiveness of the therapy sessions.

BetterHelp has an average of 4.07 out of 5 stars on Better Business Bureau (BBB) from over 330 customer reviews. It also has an A rating from the site, which is based on the BBB’s opinion of the company’s reputation and trustworthiness.

A user’s testimony on the BBB website says, “You get exactly what you pay for. I was hooked up with an amazing therapist, and she is so intelligent and kind-hearted. I had a hard time finding a therapist in my city, and I decided to give BetterHelp a try after seeing advertisements. My therapist works just as hard for me as my therapist that went on maternity leave did. I’m actually in another country and time zone as my therapist, and she makes it work.”

Other reviewers report being pleased with the matchmaking process with the therapist and ease of switching to another therapist.

They also appreciate the efficiency of their therapist, the improvement in their mental health, and constant checking in from BetterHelp on their progress and relationship with their therapist.

BetterHelp has a 4.6 out of 5 stars rating on Trustpilot from more than 4,100 customer reviews. The reviews about BetterHelp’s services on Trustpilot are as positive and appreciative as the ones on BBB.

Although BetterHelp has helped many people access mental health services, the company has faced significant controversy related to its effectiveness, ethics, and privacy practices.

One of the primary sources of controversy has been the platform’s marketing tactics, which have been criticized for being misleading and predatory. For example, some social media influencers were accused of capitalizing on their viewers’ mental health issues by promoting the app for personal gain.

While affiliate links are common in the influencer world, promoting a mental health app to vulnerable followers has been viewed as exploitative.

Transparency around the qualifications and training of therapists on the app has also been called into question, with many users complaining about therapists who fail to show up for sessions, who are unresponsive and unhelpful, or who flat-out deny service.

Syed, while she enjoyed their therapist, noticed that the therapist seemed distracted and working on other things during their sessions together.

“I don’t mind if my therapist is eating or taking notes, but I sometimes noticed when I would be talking about something important to me or opening up, my therapist from BetterHelp would distractedly answer and wasn’t exactly helpful in giving feedback to my situation,” she says. “It was a bit discouraging for me.”

Additionally, verifying the identity and qualifications of online therapists can be difficult, raising concerns about the quality of care provided on the platform. BetterHelp faced a class-action lawsuit in 2018, which alleged that the company made misleading claims about the qualifications and credentials of its therapists.

BetterHelp’s privacy practices have also been a source of controversy, with users expressing concern about the collection and sharing of their data with third-party companies without adequate disclosure or consent.

The platform’s ability to record and store user conversations with therapists has also raised concerns about data privacy and security. Many individuals have spoken out against the platform for selling their data to companies like Facebook without their knowledge or consent.


  • Many ways to access care: You can access therapy via texts, live chat, phone calls, and video calls.
  • 24/7 access: You can reach your therapist at any time of the day.
  • Easy to change therapists: You can request a change of therapist whenever.
  • No time commitment: You can decide how long you want to use the platform, and you can cancel anytime.
  • Access to well-qualified and experienced therapists: BetterHelp therapists are board certified and have a minimum of 3 years and 1,000 hours of experience. Each therapist also goes through a vetting process before they’re admitted into BetterHelp’s network.
  • Affordable: BetterHelp offers financial assistance to those who qualify for it.


  • Not covered by insurance: Generally, insurance doesn’t cover BetterHelp’s online therapy services. This includes private insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid.
  • Limited scope: BetterHelp therapists can provide talk therapy, but they can’t diagnose a mental health condition, prescribe medications, or fulfill a court order.
  • Only for adults: BetterHelp doesn’t provide therapy for kids or teens. Instead, the website transfers you to its sister website, teencounseling.com.
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Depending on what you’re looking for, BetterHelp offers counseling for individuals, couples, or families. Here’s what you’ll do to get signed up.

Fill out a questionnaire

The introductory questionnaire is fairly detailed, asking you:

  • what type of therapy you’re looking for
  • your gender
  • your age
  • your sexual orientation
  • your pronouns
  • your relationship status
  • your religious preferences
  • whether you’ve been in therapy before
  • why you’re seeking therapy now
  • your expectations from your therapist
  • your physical health and medication(s)
  • your eating habits, including alcohol consumption
  • your employment and financial status
  • how you prefer to communicate with your therapist

You’ll also be screened for depression. Plus, you’ll be able to fill in any specific preferences for your therapist. You can choose whether you would like:

  • a male or female therapist
  • a Christian therapist
  • a therapist from the LGBTQ+ community
  • a therapist over age 45
  • a non-religious therapist
  • a therapist of color

Finally, you’ll fill in some basic information, like your country, state, and how you heard about BetterHelp.

Create an account

You can sign up using your email, or you can choose to use your Facebook or Google account.

You only need to enter your first name or nickname at this stage.

Get matched

Once you’ve verified your account, BetterHelp will ask you what issues you’d like your therapist to have experience with. You’ll also have an opportunity to describe, in your own words, why you’re seeking therapy.

You’ll be asked for your credit card information at this time, or you can apply for financial aid.

It can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days to be matched to an in-state counselor.

Courtesy of Parisa Syed

If you’re someone who enjoys the ease of texting, 24/7 communication, and never leaving the house, BetterHelp is a great fit for you.

While traditional therapy offers the quiet comfort of facial expressions and affirmations, in today’s tech-centric world, even that can be closely mimicked through BetterHelp’s live video sessions.

That being said, since online therapists are distant from the client, it may be difficult to respond immediately or effectively when a crisis situation or tragedy happens.

It’s also hard for an online therapist to pick up on certain facial expressions, body language, or vocal signals that may occur in real-world interactions. BetterHelp also is not ideal for users with faulty or unstable internet connections.

Lastly, if you’re experiencing life threatening thoughts or conditions, online therapy is not the best option for you.

Keep in mind

BetterHelp is not a substitute for emergency services.

In the event of a mental health emergency — if you’re thinking about harming yourself or someone else — call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

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Is BetterHelp better than in-person therapy?

It depends on your goals and needs.

BetterHelp gives you access to a network of thoroughly vetted, licensed, board certified, and experienced counselors who are available to help with a variety of mental health needs. This is similar to office sessions with a qualified therapist.

BetterHelp’s online therapy sessions may benefit anyone who’d like to prioritize and improve their mental health.

However, unlike certain in-person therapists, BetterHelp’s therapists cannot give an official diagnosis, prescribe medication, or meet a court order.

Also, in-person therapy sessions are a more appropriate fit for managing severe mental health conditions.

Does BetterHelp take insurance?

No, BetterHelp does not accept insurance from any health insurance provider and is not covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

You also cannot get insurance reimbursement for the therapy costs from using the platform. One reason is that BetterHelp does not give official diagnoses or prescribe treatment. Insurance companies need these details before they can cover the cost and for record-keeping.

Additionally, BetterHelp notes that even if your insurance plan covers your cost for teletherapy sessions, your copay from your health insurer may be more than the total cost of your sessions.

Is BetterHelp private and secure?

According to BetterHelp, users’ privacy and confidentiality are of utmost priority.

Your information with your therapist remains strictly confidential, and you can erase all conversations with them anytime you want just by clicking the “shred” button.

You can anonymously sign up on the platforms. However, in case an emergency arises during sessions, you will be required to give your contact details when you start therapy.

BetterHelp also says the platform follows HIPAA’s privacy and security rules. This means that everything discussed during appointments is strictly confidential unless there’s a case of immediate harm to the user or someone else.

BetterHelp’s databases are encrypted and scrambled and become unusable should a third party interfere with them. If you’d like to share your information with a third party, you first have to notify your therapist. They’ll give you an authorization form to fill out before they can release your information.

Is BetterHelp legit?

Yes! BetterHelp is a reputable online teletherapy platform that’s been vetted against our business and medical standards. It’s also been reviewed by our medical affairs mental health experts and has gone through our vetting process.

BetterHelp also states on its FAQs page that all of its providers are “fully licensed and in good standing.”

Is BetterHelp free?

BetterHelp isn’t free. The cost ranges depending on your location and what treatment plan you opt for, but you can expect somewhere between $60 to $90 a week, billed every 4 weeks.

Is online therapy really helpful?

With online therapy, therapy is made more accessible for many people.

According to a 2019 study, online therapy can be effective for depression. In the study, more than 300 BetterHelp users had significant reductions in symptoms of depression after 3 months.

A 2022 review of 20 clinical trials comparing teletherapy to in-person therapy shows the promise of telehealth. Teletherapy was found to be just as effective as in-person therapy, so it can be a good option when an in-person meeting with a therapist is not possible.

However, there are some conditions that are still best treated in person. This includes eating disorders and substance use disorders.

Note that an online counselor will not be able to make any official diagnoses, fulfill any court orders, or prescribe medication.

There are many pros when it comes to online or teletherapy.

If you’ve never been to in-person therapy before, or are new to therapy in general, this text-based approach can be an easy way to work toward getting comfortable with the process. It’s highly customizable and personalized, and you have the option to switch whenever you feel like it’s not a good match.

BetterHelp is an affordable, convenient option that offers solutions for people who prefer to talk on the phone or via video call.

However, BetterHelp should not be used if you’re in immediate danger or need critical mental health services. If you need immediate assistance in the event of a mental health emergency — if you’re thinking about harming yourself or someone else — call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

If you’re interested in trying BetterHelp, you can get started here.