BetterHelp Review: The Right E-Counseling Service For Your Problems?

By Lydia Noyes
HighYa Staff Updated on: Apr 18, 2019

BetterHelp is the self-proclaimed world’s largest counseling service. This 100-percent online platform promises to make professional counseling accessible and affordable for anyone who wants it.

The company website states that BetterHelp members pay a flat weekly fee and gain unlimited messaging access to licensed psychologists, therapists, social workers, and counselors.

It’s their goal to help you tap into a network of specialists that can help you through a range of personal issues from mental health to relationship counseling and more. In fact, BetterHelp claims that you will get the same professionalism and quality through their service as you would through in-person appointments, but with the added benefit of flexible, unlimited communication.

But can online counseling really take the place of visiting a therapist’s office? We’ll address this issue and look at how BetterHelp works to help you decide if the service is right for you.

How to Sign Up for BetterHelp

When you first sign up for BetterHelp, you will answer a series of online questions designed to narrow down the kind of counseling service you require.

These include whether you want individual, married, or teenage counseling, your gender, age, sexual orientation, religious background, relationship status, history with therapy, current physical health, financial status, emotional state, and more.

Once you complete the questionnaire, you must create a private account through the website and verify it by email.

You can then state your preferences for a counselor and indicate whether you want someone of a particular age, religious background, gender, or specialty.

Next, you will rank several issues traditionally addressed in counseling based on whether they are relevant to why you are seeking therapy. Finally, you are asked to write a few sentences about why you are seeking therapy.

From there, BetterHelp will match you with one of their licensed counselors, and he or she will review your information and begin the communication process through the site’s message platform.

Who Are BetterHelp Counselors?

The BetterHelp website tells us that their counselors are “licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited psychologists (Ph.D. / PsyD), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW / LMSW), or licensed professional counselors (LPC).”

They state that all counselors have at least a master’s degree in their field, certification in their home state, and a minimum of three years and 2,000 hours of hands-on experience. You can review the full list of counselors here.

How Does BetterHelp Communication Work?

At the time of writing, BetterHelp offered four primary ways to connect with your counselor.

  • Messaging: You and your dedicated counselor gain access to a private and secure online chat room where you can send and receive messages from each other. This room is open 24/7, and you will get a notification through email when your counselor messages you.
  • Chat: You can schedule a time with your counselor to message you within your chat room so that you get instant responses and feedback.
  • Phone: It’s possible to use any phone to speak with your counselor. You will need to schedule a time in advance and then both log into your counseling room at the set time. The system will then request your phone number and connect you with your counselor through a secured connection that keeps both numbers private.
  • Video: Similar to Skype, BetterHelp offers a virtual face-to-face video feature. You will schedule your session in advance and log into your counseling room at the set time. Once you both arrive, your counselor will send you a prompt to start the video session.

Is My Privacy Protected on BetterHelp?

The BetterHelp website makes it clear that your privacy is protected at every stage. You aren’t required to give your full name or contact information when you sign up, and many people choose to use a nickname.

The system does require that you provide emergency contact information before beginning the counseling process, but this information is secured within the system and only accessible if your counselor indicates that you or someone else is in danger.

What Does BetterHelp Cost?

At the time of writing, BetterHelp offered three tiers of weekly membership at different price points.

  • $45 per week: unlimited text-based counseling (option to add live sessions for $25 each)
  • $55 per week: unlimited text-based counseling and two live sessions per month
  • $65 per week: unlimited text-based counseling and four live sessions per week.

Each membership plan is charged monthly by credit card or PayPal, and your subscription continues to renew until you cancel it.

How long should you commit to BetterHelp counseling? The company states that membership timelines vary and that some people stay for just a few weeks while others stay committed for the long term.

If you have questions, the company asks you to direct them to their contact page.

Is Online Therapy Effective? Experts Weigh In

Mental health is a serious topic, so regulating a therapy session to your smartphone isn’t a decision to be made lightly. Is online counseling equally effective as in-person appointments? We posed this question to some experts to get their insight.

The overwhelming response we received from licensed therapists, social workers, and psychiatrists was that online therapy is a valuable tool that serves a critical need today.

Says Health Tech futurist Dr. Alfred Poor, “online therapy is not just a good idea; it’s a great idea. It is clearly effective, but it’s also much more efficient and convenient for both the doctor and the patient.”

Poor pointed us towards the results of a study on elderly veterans in treatment for depression. This research found no significant difference in the results achieved from in-person counseling sessions and counseling through video chat technology.

It’s also true that online therapy increases counseling accessibility for many people.

“In the past, rural patients had very limited access to counseling, especially specialized types of counseling,” says Houston psychiatrist Jared Heathman. “The pro that I am most excited about [for online therapy] is increasing access to patients in less populated areas.”

However, online counseling does have some limitations, says Hilda Burke, a psychotherapist and author.

“When I work with a client, the actual words they say are a small proportion of what they’re communicating. Usually, I’ll get a strong sense of how they're feeling before they utter a word, from their body language, eye contact or lack of it, or their posture,” Burke said. “Online therapy can never replicate the level of insight that comes from physical closeness.”

Likewise, a few counselors expressed the importance to us of bringing their patients into a designated therapy space for their sessions.

“Some people want to physically move to a different space because the body can have a sense of relaxation,” clinical social worker Vanessa Benzan-Monteiro told us. “That way, [your body] recognizes, ‘Oh, I’ve stepped into my therapist’s office.’”

BetterHelp also weighs in on this debate. While they claim that 98 percent of their patients made significant progress and that 94 percent prefer BetterHelp to in-person counseling, they acknowledge on their website that their services aren’t capable of substituting for traditional therapy in all situations.

A fundamental limitation is that they can’t make official diagnoses, fulfill court orders, or prescribe medication. Likewise, insurance is less likely to cover E-therapy services than in-person appointments.

Overall, we’ve found that online therapy is still an emerging field, and more research needs to be done to about its effectiveness compared to traditional treatment.

For now, the National Institute of Mental Health’s stance on the topic is that consumers should be cautious before trusting an online therapy program because there are currently no national standards for evaluating their effectiveness.

Our View: Should You Try BetterHelp?

From this analysis, it should be clear that an online counseling service like BetterHelp is a blessing for many people.

If you lack access to local counselors who specialize in specific fields, don’t want to pay for traditional therapy sessions—$75 to $160 per session on average, according to Healthline—and want the convenience of unlimited messaging access with your therapist, or feel intimidated by in-person meetings, BetterHelp might be a viable counseling option.

However, there are limitations to this service, and it is not the right option for many people. If any of the following are true, we suggest pursuing traditional therapy instead.

  • You are a minor
  • You lack access to a reliable internet connection
  • You are suicidal or have thoughts of hurting yourself/others
  • You are dealing with an urgent crisis
  • You have been diagnosed with a mental illness
  • You have been advised to be under psychiatric care
  • You are looking for a diagnosis, prescription, or to fulfill a court order

For those who still aren’t sure whether a service like BetterHelp fits your situation, Mark Pines, CEO of OpenCounseling, suggests bringing the topic up with a therapist.

“Whether [your therapist] is online or not, they should be able to give you objective feedback where this is an effective form of therapy for your specific condition,” he said.

Here’s our summary: So long as you keep the service’s limitations in mind, we think that e-therapy services like BetterHelp can be an effective way to work with a mental health professional.

Sign Up for HighYa Newsletter

Sign up for HighYa newsletter and get our best content delivered in your inbox as well as 3 free eBooks to help you save money and shop smarter. Enter your email below to get started!


Read 426 BetterHelp Customer Reviews and Complaints

Write a Review
Average Consumer Rating: 4.4
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 339 4 star: 21 3 star: 2 2 star: 5 1 star:  59
Bottom Line: 85% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 426
Sort reviews by:

  • Editor’s Note: It is our understanding that this company has been asking its customers to leave feedback on HighYa. We assure you that each of these reviews has still been subjected to the same verification & vetting process that all submitted reviews go through. Learn More Here
  • BetterHelp has been a life saver

    • Houston, TX,
    • May 18, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I got matched with a therapist quickly and I must say that she is amazing. She listens and gives great advice. She understands my issues and is working with me, at my own pace, to help resolve my issues. She also gives great articles for me to read to help understand the situation.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • BetterHelp helps better than your biased best friend can

    You have to try it to believe it. I'm not an automated reviewer. I'm from Bangladesh, Ami banglay Kotha boli.

    I ignored it at first thinking it's not a live one-hour session, you need to be physically present with a counselor in the same room, but at one point, I was desperate for help. BetterHelp was the closest option available to me and I gave it a shot.

    I used to cry by myself, or even in a house full of family members, every day of the week. After I started my sessions with BetterHelp, within two weeks I started feeling more confident, feeling like I can handle my issues better, I feel like I'm stronger mentally, which I must've been all along, BetterHelp helped me unlock that about me.

    Like I said earlier, I can't list all the ways it has helped me. My experience is just words for you. You must try it to believe it. I wish you all the very best in finding the right solution for your concerns.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • Great resource

    • Greenville, SC,
    • May 14, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    BetterHelp is easy to use and they did an excellent job of finding me a great counselor. I have worked through a few issues, participated in some interesting "groupinars" and even got some others in my family to sign up with the service. Highly recommend!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Great counselors but uncertain scheduling

    • Utah,
    • May 13, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I've had good experiences with both my counseling experiences through BetterHelp. I think the quality of the counselors, their practices, level of communication and professionalism are as reliable as anything you can find "on the ground." I especially like that in both cases, we just jumped right into the issues. We didn't take a lot of time doing "intake" interviews and gathering information. We started talking and they gathered information as we went along. My problem with BetterHelp is that their scheduling system is confusing. You can't actually see when a counselor is available and you are only able to schedule an appointment with your counselor after you've finished your last session with them. So, the idea that you have "unlimited access" is not accurate. There is no way to know if you will be able to see your counselor regularly, and it is uncertain if you will be able to schedule a session with your counselor for the coming weeks. That makes it hard to feel stable or make plans.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • BetterHelp

    • Richmond, VA,
    • May 13, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    BetterHelp has been a game changer/life saver for me. I can write my counselor at my own availability, schedule my own phone/video sessions right out of my house, even late into the evenings sometimes when other therapists would normally not be available. I can talk to my therapist multiple times a week as opposed to having to wait until my next session to discuss things on my mind. I needed therapy, and didn't have the time for it - BetterHelp changed that.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • Great help when I needed it

    • Georgia,
    • May 10, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Consistent help in your pocket whenever you need to talk to someone. It was very nice to have constant access to a counselor who could help whenever I needed it. The help that received has helped me to realize a great deal about my life and my mind and has enabled me to become better at managing my stress.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • Easy to use, counselor very helpful and has pointed me in the right direction.

    • Brenham, TX,
    • May 10, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I love using this site; it is confidential and my counselor, Joan, has been very helpful to me. She has made me see that suicide is absolutely the worst plan and helps no one and hurts the ones I love.

    She is very calm and has taken me in the right direction.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • Getting help.

    • New York,
    • May 6, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have always thought that I can handle all of my issues on my own, but I eventually gave in. I started with BetterHelp and have found things out about myself that I never knew. I am getting the help that I need in the best way possible thanks to BetterHelp.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • Fantastic support and help

    • Pittsburgh, PA,
    • May 2, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I am so pleased with my experience with BetterHelp and also my counselor! She has been supportive and helpful in sorting out my feelings, emotions, and issues. The ability to send a message when I feel the need and know that she will respond the same day is fantastic! I’m too busy to go see a counselor, but when I need to "talk," I know that I can at any time! This is a wonderful app and I would highly recommend it.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • If you need help, it's literally right there in your pocket...

    • Flint, MI,
    • May 2, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was really scared to try this, honestly, but I have not been disappointed! I'm at a time and place in my life where I just can't go into an office and sit with a counselor once a week, I need someone there for me all the time, and who is easily accessible. BetterHelp matched me with someone I 100% resonate with, and I've improved more than I could have imagined. It's helped me in more ways than I can explain, and I honestly can't thank them enough. My counselor is right there in my pocket, whenever I need her, and it's amazing that I can clearly say with full confidence that I'm getting the support I need. Thank you, BetterHelp!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • I have Parkinson's Disease and am also a caregiver for my husband.

    • Delaware, OH,
    • May 1, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Being a caregiver for my husband for 16 years, and within the last few years I have learned I have Parkinson's Disease, leaves me mentally and physically overwhelmed and adding another doctors appointment to my schedule seemed like too much. I found better help and they connected me with a counselor I really can relate to. She is positive, asked questions, let's me ask questions. Let's me dump a lot of negative feelings on her. I need and look forward to writing to her every day. I have seen counselors before and Lorey is as good if not better than some counselors I have seen in the past. I don't feel I am doing everything alone with Lorey.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

Showing 1-11 of 426

Write a Review for BetterHelp!

Share your experience to help others shop smarter & discover great products.

Write a Review