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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.
Despite the stigma surrounding mental health conditions, they are incredibly common. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
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 have one of our editor’s assessment of BetterHelp and her personal experience with this online service. Follow along to find out more!
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.
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, so there’s no guaranteed response time from your counselor. 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
“Therapy can be intimidating, especially for a lot of first-time clients. Text-based communication (texting and live-chat sessions) are a great way to take some of the anxiety out of starting therapy and help clients dive into the process,” says James Imrie, the creative and marketing manager at BetterHelp.
If you don’t like waiting hours for a response, you can schedule a live chat session with your counselor.
This option mimics the comfort of texting a good friend.
“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.
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. There are even some prompts if you aren’t sure what to write about.
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. Powell found that this was one of her favorite benefits of BetterHelp.
“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:
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
For emergency care or a crisis, call 911, as BetterHelp cannot handle such situations.
With online therapy, such as BetterHelp, therapy is made more accessible.
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 recent review of 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 life threatening eating disorders and substance use disorders.
An online counselor will not be able to make any official diagnoses, fulfill any court orders, or prescribe medication.
If online therapy is not a good fit for you, BetterHelp provides the resources to help get you immediate and specialist care.
Powell 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.
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.
Amwell is a telehealth company that connects people with healthcare professionals through a virtual care platform. For $109 to $129, you can receive counseling for a variety of different services.
Amwell’s therapy services are not subscription-based, meaning you have to pay for each therapist visit. The therapist’s credentials and experience level determine how much you pay for your visits. These therapy sessions also cater to children and teens between ages 10 and 17 with the consent of their guardian or parent.
Amwell accepts health insurance from certain insurance providers, which you’ll determine during the sign-up stage.
Talkspace is a digital therapy platform that hosts thousands of licensed therapists and connects them with clients via the web and mobile app.
The platform offers therapy and counseling to individuals, couples, teens between ages 13 and 17, and veterans. Psychiatry evaluations and medication management are also available.
You can communicate with Talkspace therapists through texts, video, voice messages, and phone calls at any time. There are also live sessions once a week.
The network of therapists can help with a variety of needs. Therapy services operate on a subscription basis and may cost between $65 and $99 a week. A psychiatry session costs $249 for the initial visit, followed by $125 for each subsequent session. Talkspace accepts insurance from a couple of insurance providers.
7 Cups is a mental health platform that provides users with emotional support from an online community and therapy sessions as needed. For $150 a month, you get unlimited access to a therapist. You may connect with them through text-only messaging in your private chat room. The platform does not accept insurance.
The therapist replies once or twice a day, only on weekdays. You also have free 24-hour access to the community platform and a network of trained listeners who may provide emotional support whenever you need it.
7 Cups provides mental-health care through mindfulness exercises, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and interpersonal exercises, along with support for a variety of different needs.
7 Cups matches you with a therapist, so you will not have the option of choosing your therapist.
To compare the differences between the online services we mention here, take a look at the table below.
|Pricing||Services offered||Who it’s best for||Financial aid/insurance?|
|BetterHelp||$60–$90 per week|
•substance use disorders
|people without insurance (or who don’t have mental health coverage) who are looking for an affordable way to access 24/7 mental health care||does not accept insurance|
|Amwell||$109–$129 per session|
•chronic care management
|people looking for a per-appointment (not subscription) virtual service||insurance accepted|
|Talkspace||$65–$129 per week for therapy; $249 for initial psychiatry and $125 for follow-up sessions|
•substance use disorders
|people looking for 24/7 counseling that might be covered by insurance and that you can access via video, phone, or chat||insurance accepted, but limited mental health professionals|
|7 Cups||$150 per month|
•cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
|people who prefer to chat with a therapist only through text||insurance not accepted|
*Please note: When we say “basics” in the “services offered” column, we are grouping anxiety, stress, relationship issues, depression, LGBTQIA+ counseling, and grief counseling together. Any additional services offered are unique to that online therapy website.
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.
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.
Healthline senior market editor Jamey Powell tried out BetterHelp and was really pleased with her experience.
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 their gender, age, religious affiliations, and specializations.
Powell was matched with a therapist within a day. “I received a notification via email and on the desktop platform,” she says. “I had the option to schedule an appointment with him or choose a different therapist — I decided to schedule, and I’m really glad I did!”
She says that she had the option to choose between a call, messenger, or video. She opted for a video call, which she notes was very straightforward to use and “similar to any other Zoom or G-Chat room I’ve been in.”
For her initial appointment with her therapist, they met for an hour. She says that, while she didn’t have many prerequisites for a therapist, she did feel that she was matched relatively well. She described her therapist as being “qualified, empathetic, thoughtful, and a great listener.”
“I can also change how I contact him at any point, so I can decide [if] I’d rather have a call or just chat throughout the week,” she says.
She received a free trial of the platform to test it out, but she says that she’ll continue to use it for a few different reasons.
“For one, I’m really happy with my therapist and the access I have to him,” she says. “Knowing he’s there is really comforting.”
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are many pros when it comes to online or teletherapy. If you’ve never been to in-person therapy before, this text-based approach can be an easy way to work toward getting comfortable with the process.
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’re interested in trying BetterHelp, you can get started here.