In 2022, we spent months collecting data and user sentiments on 12 of the best online therapy platforms. Here are our results.

The coronavirus took over the world in early 2020, and with it, life as usual came to a halt. As we redefined our priorities, many parts of our daily lives moved online.

This online shift changed many businesses, including therapy. Our 2022 survey measured this shift as it related to therapy. We looked at how users felt about using online therapy services and if it changed anything about how and what they share in therapy.

table of the top therapy platforms recorded from our survey
Design by Andrew Nguyen

In total, 315 respondents answered our survey. Data shows that the most used platforms for online therapy were BetterHelp (22%), Doctor on Demand (16%), Talkspace (14%), and MDLive (13%). The eight other platforms included in the survey were used by 1–5% of respondents.

Users who received services from the platforms listed above provided a large enough sample size for each of their respective therapy platforms, so we are confident about the results we discuss throughout this breakdown.

Below, we break down the results of the 66% of respondents who used either BetterHelp, Doctor on Demand, Talkspace, or MDLive for therapy services.

Recommendations

Design by Andrew Nguyen

Four of the 27 questions we asked had to do with the user’s overall experience with their preferred therapy platform. When asked if they would recommend their respective platforms to others on a scale of 1–10, 53% said they would, while 20% said they would not. About 27% were passive, or marked somewhere in the middle of the scale.

We also asked how likely it was for users to recommend their specific therapist to others on a scale of 1–10. Of the 66% of respondents, 47% said they would recommend their therapist, and 25% said they would not.

Doctor on Demand had the highest recommendation percentage both platform- and therapist-wise. Talkspace had the highest percentage of those who wouldn’t recommend their therapy service, and 31% of BetterHelp users wouldn’t recommend their therapist to others.

Recommending online therapy platform

  • 57% would recommend Doctor on Demand; 20% would not.
  • 55% of MDLive users would recommend their service; 17% would not.
  • 50% of BetterHelp users would recommend this service to someone else, while 27% would not.
  • 49% would recommend Talkspace to others; 22% would not.
Design by Andrew Nguyen

Recommending therapist

  • 55% of Doctor on Demand users would recommend their therapist; 24% would not.
  • 49% would recommend their therapist from Talkspace; 27% would not.
  • 45% of MDLive users would recommend their therapist; 17% would not.
  • 41% of BetterHelp users would recommend their therapist to others; 31% would not.

Overall satisfaction

The next question we asked was how well the user felt their therapist understood their needs. For those who met with more than one therapist, we asked them to answer based on the therapist they worked with the most.

We recorded the answers from “very well” to “not well at all.” About 81% of respondents believed their therapist understood their needs “very well” or “somewhat well.” Only 6% marked “not very well,” while 1% marked “not at all well.”

Design by Andrew Nguyen

MDLive had the highest overall satisfaction rating, with 88% choosing either “very well” or “somewhat well.” BetterHelp had the highest percentage of users responding “not very well” and “not at all well,” with a combined 10%.

  • A total of 88% of MDLive users believed their therapist understood their needs “very well” or “somewhat well”; 2% responded with “not very well.”
  • 84% of Doctor on Demand users responded with “very well” or “somewhat well”; 6% marked “not very well.”
  • 80% of Talkspace users responded with “very well” or “somewhat well”; 2% marked “not very well.”
  • 77% of BetterHelp users felt their needs were understood by their therapist, while a combined 10% believed their needs were met “not very well” or “not at all well.”

Value of the platform

Next, we asked users to share how they felt about the value of their preferred platform. About 85% of MDLive users felt they were getting “excellent” or “good” value from using their service, while 13% of BetterHelp users felt the value they were getting was “poor” or “very poor.”

Design by Andrew Nguyen
  • 86% of MDLive users felt they were getting “excellent” or “good” value from their service.
  • 80% of Doctor on Demand users felt they were getting “excellent” or “good” value; 2% felt they were getting “poor” value.
  • 69% of Talkspace users felt they were getting “excellent” or “good” value; 8% felt they were getting “poor” or “very poor” value.
  • 67% of BetterHelp users felt they were getting “excellent” or “good” value; 13% felt they were getting “poor” or “very poor” value.

Overall experience takeaways

  • Doctor on Demand had the highest percentage of users recommending its services and care.
  • MDLive users were most satisfied with the platform’s overall experience and believed their therapist understood their needs.
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Design by Andrew Nguyen

Many of the questions we asked respondents were about their experiences with their therapist, including how easy it was to find and connect with one, the number of therapists they met with before finding the right fit, and therapist availability.

Number of therapists users met with before finding the right fit

We asked users if they met with 1, 2, 3, or 4+ therapists before they found the right one. In total, 52% of users saw one therapist (their first therapist) and believed they fit their needs, while 35% saw two before finding the right fit, 7% saw three, and 5% saw four or more.

Approximately 57% of MDLive and BetterHelp users saw only one therapist and felt they were the right fit. Meanwhile, 50% of Talkspace users saw two therapists before feeling confident that their therapist was a good fit.

  • 57% of BetterHelp users used one therapist; 28% used two; 13% used three, and 2% used four or more.
  • 57% of MDLive users used one therapist; 32% used two; and a combined 10% used three or more.
  • 53% of Doctor on Demand users used one therapist; 37% used two; and a combined 10% used three or more.
  • 39% of Talkspace users used one therapist; 50% used two; and a combined 11% used three or more.
Design by Andrew Nguyen

Availability of therapists

We also asked respondents to share how satisfied they were with access to their therapist on a scale of “very satisfied” to “not at all satisfied.”

In total, 82% were very or somewhat satisfied with their therapist’s availability, and 5% were “not very satisfied” or “not at all satisfied.”

MDLive had the highest satisfaction rate, with 88% of users reporting they were very or somewhat satisfied. Talkspace had the lowest satisfaction rate in terms of availability: 11% of users were not very or not at all satisfied.

  • 88% of MDLive users were very and somewhat satisfied.
  • 84% of Doctor on Demand users were very and somewhat satisfied; 4% were not very satisfied.
  • 80% of Talkspace users were very and somewhat satisfied; 11% were not very or not at all satisfied with their therapist’s availability.
  • 79% of BetterHelp users were very and somewhat satisfied; 9% were not at all or not very satisfied.

Dissatisfaction with therapists

We asked users to share what they were neutral about or what made them dissatisfied with their therapist. We broke down the answers by platform.

However, we found that the most common reason for dissatisfaction was that the respondents “don’t feel like my issues are being heard/therapist wasn’t really listening.” This made up 23% of their answers out of 13 different reasons.

Below, we break down the highest percentages for dissatisfaction by each therapy platform:

Design by Andrew Nguyen
  • Reasons for dissatisfaction with BetterHelp
    • 27% of respondents didn’t trust or feel comfortable with their therapist.
    • 20% of respondents didn’t feel like their issues weren’t being heard or their therapist wasn’t really listening.
    • 20% believed their therapist only focused on problem-solving or diagnosing instead of understanding the issues completely.
  • Reasons for dissatisfaction with Doctor on Demand
    • 25% of respondents didn’t trust or feel comfortable with their therapist.
    • 25% of respondents believed the service was too expensive.
  • Reasons for dissatisfaction with MDLive
    • 40% of users didn’t trust or feel comfortable with their therapist.
    • 40% of users believed their therapist only asked general or routine questions that didn’t help solve their issues.
  • Reasons for dissatisfaction with Talkspace
    • 22% of users didn’t trust or feel comfortable with their therapist.
    • 22% of users didn’t feel like their issues were being heard or that their therapist wasn’t really listening.
    • 22% of users believed therapy didn’t work or feel right for them.
    • 22% of users believed their therapist didn’t seem qualified.

Therapist experience takeaways

  • BetterHelp and MDLive had the highest percentage of users finding a therapist who was a good fit on their first try.
  • MDLive users were most satisfied with their therapist’s availability.
  • About 20% of users across most platforms — except for MDLive — did not feel trust or feel comfortable with their therapist.
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The final category of the survey looked at users’ overall experiences with their preferred online therapy platform. We asked five questions in the survey, but we discuss three here. They cover ease of use, what users liked about their platform, and what users disliked about the platform.

Ease of use

Overall, 90% of users found the online therapy platforms very easy or somewhat easy to use.

BetterHelp had the highest percentage: 91% of users believed the platform was easy to navigate. The platform also had the highest percentage of users saying that the platform was not very easy to navigate, at 6%.

  • 90% of Doctor on Demand users found the platform easy to navigate; 10% were neutral.
  • 87% of Talkspace users found the platform easy to navigate; 2% found it to be not easy at all.
  • 86% of MDLive users found the platform easy to navigate; 2% found it to be not at all easy.

What users liked about their platform of choice

Design by Andrew Nguyen

We asked readers to expand on what they liked most about their online therapy service platform. The results are broken down below.

Overall, 18% of users liked that online therapy is convenient and accessible.

  • What users liked about BetterHelp
    • 20% of users liked that the app or website was easy to use.
    • 19% of users liked that there was a good variety of therapists to choose from.
    • 19% of users felt more comfortable that they could do therapy from home rather than in person.
    • 17% of users liked that online therapy was convenient and accessible.
  • What users liked about Doctor on Demand
    • 20% of users believed that therapy was effective and helpful for their issue.
    • 16% of users liked having access to a therapist when needed or for quick, immediate, or on-demand access.
    • 16% of users believed their therapist was attentive, empathetic, helpful, and understanding.
  • What users liked about MDLive
    • 26% of users liked having access to a therapist when needed or for quick, immediate, or on-demand access.
    • 24% of users liked that the app or website was easy to use.
    • 21% of users believed that doing therapy from home was more comfortable than in-person therapy.
  • What users liked about Talkspace
    • 21% of users liked the variety of ways to communicate with their therapist.
    • 17% of users liked that the app or website was easy to use.

What users didn’t like about their platform

Overall, 29% of respondents believed there was nothing to improve about their platform; they believed it was great as is.

Design by Andrew Nguyen

However, 13% noted price* as an issue and said their platform of choice could be more affordable or offer payment plan or free services for those in need and who are unable to afford it.

We break down the results by platform below.

  • What users didn’t like about BetterHelp
    • 26% of users didn’t like how BetterHelp was priced*.
    • 23% thought there was nothing to improve and liked it the way it is.
  • What users didn’t like about Doctor on Demand
    • 31% thought there was nothing to improve and liked it the way it is.
  • What users didn’t like about MDLive
    • 26% thought there was nothing to improve and liked it the way it is.
  • What users didn’t like about Talkspace
    • 21% of users didn’t like how Talkspace was priced*.

*The three main themes related to dislikes or improvements related to pricing were the desire for affordable pricing, payment plans and bundles, and free services for those in need. For the sake of discussing these results, we combined these three themes into one data point referred to as Pricing NET in the chart on the right.

Platform experience takeaways

  • BetterHelp’s users were most satisfied with the platform’s ease of use.
  • Convenience, accessibility, and communication methods were what the users liked most about their preferred platform.
  • The respondents’ most common dislike was the price of each platform’s services.
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Here, we summarize the data from each of the three categories: user experience, therapist experience, and product experience. We also discuss the limitations of the survey.

User’s overall experience

Only 53% of respondents said they would recommend their platform to other users, and 47% of respondents said they would recommend their therapist to others.

This could be related to the respondents’ experiences with their therapist. When people don’t feel connected to or comfortable with their therapist, they may be less likely to recommend the platform, therapist, or experience to someone else.

Overall, 47% of users were likely to recommend their therapist, while only 41% of BetterHelp users and 45% of MDLive users were likely to recommend theirs. Talkspace and Doctor on Demand users were slightly more satisfied, with 49% and 55% of user respectively likely to recommend their therapist.

However, when asking users if they felt their needs were met by their therapist, 81% answered “very well” or “somewhat well.” When asked about the value of the services they received, 77% of users believed they were getting “excellent” or “good” value from their respective professionals.

While it seems like most of the respondents liked their therapist and felt that their needs were met, there does seem to be a disconnect with how many people actually want to recommend their therapist. We believe this may be due to people not being as comfortable with online therapy as traditional in-person therapy.

This survey asked users to reflect on their experience with online therapy over 6 months. It could be that the users are more comfortable with in-person therapy because they have done it for longer and feel more able to discuss difficult topics with someone in the same room rather than over an online platform.

User’s experience with therapist

The availability of the therapists, though rated high percentage-wise, may not be important to most users. There appears to be no lack of options when it comes to finding another therapist when a user’s regular one is not available. It’s the quality of the experience that drives the core data.

This is highlighted by the dissatisfaction with therapists data and the number of therapists used data.

As a refresher, a total of 52% of users saw only one therapist before deciding they were a good fit, and 35% of users saw two. About 12% saw three or more therapists before deciding they were a good fit.

Out of 13 different reasons listed, 23% of respondents said “don’t feel like my issues are being heard/therapist wasn’t really listening” was their top reason for dissatisfaction.

Another common trend was that most users from each platform didn’t trust or feel comfortable with their therapist.

Comfort, in the case of online therapy, could be tied to privacy and confidentiality, but our data shows that 89% of the respondents were satisfied with their platform’s privacy and security policies.

This leaves human interaction. Having a room with a closed door and seeing a person’s body language could be the differentiating factor between feeling comfortable in front of a therapist.

In any case, Doctor on Demand and MDLive appear to get the highest marks for satisfaction of care and treatment.

User’s experience with platform

In general, users rated their experiences with the platforms well, citing the ease of use, navigation, and convenience and accessibility of each platform.

Most users believed the value of their platform of choice was worth the money, but it could be more affordable and have other options for services, such as bundles or packages.

Users also liked how many different resources were available to them when signing up for online therapy services: 40% recorded that they used the breathing exercises available to them, while 39% liked the option to talk with a psychiatrist.

Forty-four percent of BetterHelp users liked and used the platform’s journaling features, and 47% of Doctor on Demand users liked the option to meet with a primary care doctor or other healthcare professional.

User satisfaction with the platforms is relatively high, with 80–90% saying their platform of choice was easy to use. Overall, 29% of respondents believed there was nothing to improve about their platform of choice.

One thing to note, though, is that users still seem to have issues or concerns with online therapy — despite reporting that the platforms are easy to use. Since users seemed to have relatively positive experiences with each platform, this is likely not contributing to their dissatisfaction with their therapist or with online therapy services.

The questions we asked highlight the quality of care that users received. We broke down the questions into three categories:

  • User experience: Here, we focused on asking how the respondents felt about their therapist, if they would recommend them to others, and if they felt the value of the service matched the price.
  • Therapist experience: These questions asked about the availability and quality of therapists. We also asked how many therapists a person saw before they found a good fit.
  • Product experience: Here, we focused on the platform’s ease of use and whether discussions happened through an app or a website. We also asked about likes and dislikes of the respondent’s preferred platform and what they would change.

Keep in mind that the results below account for approximately 66% of the 315 respondents. We break down the top four platforms highlighted in the survey: BetterHelp, Talkspace, MDLive, and Doctor on Demand.

Methodology

In our survey, we worked with a vendor — Luth Research, a high quality panel provider and market research company — to make sure the respondents were verified users of the platforms. These respondents agreed to have their website activity tracked.

All participants were logged into one of the 12 sites measured for 6 months or had the corresponding therapy app. For a period of 2 weeks, respondents 18 years and older and all demographics were asked to take a 15-minute online survey about their experiences using that particular platform.

Demographics

We asked users their age, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Though we recorded ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation, the only demographics specific in this survey are male and female. Ethnicities are combined to only white and non-white when featured in any charts, tables, or comparisons.

Design by Andrew Nguyen

Age

Most online therapy platforms require the user to be at least 18 years old, so the age ranges we recorded ranged from 18–55+ years:

  • 40% of respondents were ages 35–44
  • 25% of respondents were ages 25–34
  • 16% of respondents were ages 45–54
  • 11% of respondents were ages 55+
  • 8% of respondents were ages 18–24

Race

For this demographic, we asked respondents to note which ethnicity best describes them. We gave them the option to select more than one answer.

  • 74% of respondents identified as white
  • 16% of respondents identified as African American or Black
  • 11% of respondents identified as Hispanic, Latino, or Latina
  • 4% of respondents identified as Native American
  • 3% of respondents identified as Asian or South Asian
  • 2% of respondents identified as other
  • 1% of respondents identified as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

Gender identity and sexual orientation

Design by Andrew Nguyen

Respondents were given the following options for gender identity: male, female, nonbinary, or other.

  • 69% of respondents identified as female
  • 28% of respondents identified as male
  • 3% of respondents identified as nonbinary
  • 1% of respondents identified as other

Respondents were given the following options for sexual orientation: straight or heterosexual, bisexual, lesbian, gay, and other.

  • 75% of respondents identified as straight or heterosexual
  • 16% of respondents identified as bisexual
  • 3% of respondents identified as lesbian
  • 3% of respondents identified as other
  • 2% of respondents identified as gay

Most of the 315 respondents were white, heterosexual females. In the future, we hope to expand our sample size to be more inclusive.

Another gap in our research is the “other” category. This category relates to a therapy platform that wasn’t listed as an option for users. These unknown platforms account for about 15% of the 315 respondents, more respondents than Talkspace and MDLive.

If we can conduct another study, this gap could be exciting to research and discuss. More online therapy services have emerged recently and can be included in this survey moving forward. We can also ask different questions. We now know that quality of service and therapists seem to be most important to users.

Design by Andrew Nguyen

We also hope to delve more into the psychology behind the online therapy market. It seems that some users, though they appreciate the convenience of online platforms, are hesitant about fully immersing themselves in the experience. This is true even if the provider has good privacy policies and the user feels like their therapist has a good understanding of what they need.

It would be an interesting topic to explore further: Though people have assurances that their online therapy platform’s services are protected and they find a therapist that fits their needs and they mesh well with, perhaps people still feel a disconnect when meeting online.