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BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that will pair you with a professionally licensed counselor. Access to counseling can be scheduled at any time, anywhere, and through any smart device. The efficacy of BetterHelp is linked to provider skill and intervention protocols but there are some drawbacks if you fall into certain categories of needs.


  • Flexibility of schedule that is convenient for your schedule
  • Access to a licensed professional counselor


  • Results and efficacy are dependent on your paired provider
  • Scheduled counseling sessions will require and will depend on available internet connection and speeds
  • Not covered through insurance

BetterHelp Review - How Effective Is It?

By Rocklend Davis, Ph. D.

Updated on: Aug 11, 2020

Our mental health is vital throughout our lifetime, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

According to the CDC, our emotional, psychological, and social well-being make up our mental health and help us handle how we deal with stress, relating to others, and making healthy choices.

In 2015, mental illness affected approximately 43 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States.

What is BetterHelp?

There has been an increasing demand for the availability of adequate mental healthcare. BetterHelp can also be thought of as telemental health, which involves the ability to offer mental healthcare across a distance using communication technologies.

Further, the likes of videoconferencing, text messaging, and mobile applications are increasing as well.

A review has indicated the rise of telemental activities in low- and middle-income countries while showing the need to expand these services further to reach more people who need mental health services.

According to their website, BetterHelp may not be the right solution if any of the following are true:

  • You have thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
  • You are a minor or you are under the care of a legal guardian.
  • You are in an urgent crisis or an emergency.
  • You have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness or have been advised to be in psychological supervision or psychiatric care.
  • You were required to undergo therapy or counseling either by a court order or by any other authority.
  • You do not have a device that can connect you to the internet or have a reliable internet connection.

The purpose of this article is to share with you the available research that supports the delivery of online counseling through the BetterHelp platform and to help you determine if this platform is appropriate.

How To Get Started

To get started with BetterHelp, there is a link at the top right of the page that will ask you what type of counseling you are looking for. The options include individual counseling, couples counseling, and teenage counseling.

You will have to answer a series of questions before you get paired with a counselor that may take up to a few hours or a few days.

Once you have set up your account through BetterHelp, you can get counseling based on your needs, availability, and convenience in four ways:

  • Exchanging messages with your counselor
  • Chatting live with your counselor
  • Speaking over the phone with your counselor
  • Video conferencing with your counselor

After being matched with your counselor, there are numerous ways to communicate with first being messaging. You and your counselor will gain 24/7 access to a private and secure dedicated “room” where you can share things that are going on in your life.

Live chat, video, and phone sessions will need to be scheduled with your counselor by clicking a time on their available schedule.

According to BetterHelp, they recommend using their BetterHelp app that can be downloaded from the app store for an iPhone or iPad device.

Android users will need Google Chrome or Firefox on a computer or laptop for video sessions.

Further, video sessions are not currently supported in Internet Explorer or Safari.

Proposed Benefits: Science Determining The Efficacy of Online Counseling

Counseling series may be required when you are experiencing stress, anxiety, relationship troubles, parenting, depression, self-esteem, and anything that is causing interference with your happiness or preventing you from achieving your goals.

Psychoeducational interventions such as face-to-face counseling is classified as a front-line intervention due to its delivery of accurate information to individuals, families, and caregivers about mental health or a specific diagnosis (which may include possible causes and symptoms), management (including associated risks/side-effects) and prognosis, and how affected individuals can stay well.

Also, under the umbrella of mental health is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). The effectiveness of CBT has on alleviating depressive symptoms, and lowering the risk of relapse has been studied extensively.

Because BetterHelp can provide you with a licensed counseling professional, it is reasonable to assume that counselors utilizing BetterHelp as a platform may use tailored CBT protocols to target psychiatric disorders beyond depression.

That may include anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, personality disorders, and substance use disorders.

Online Counseling

Availability and access to technology are growing, contributing to more innovative ways linking you to services that may have been only accessible in-person.

Increasing in popularity are synchronous (text messaging) written conversations as web-based mental health interventions.

One study was done to review the available literature regarding the evidence of the feasibility and effectiveness of online one-on-one mental health interventions utilizing text-based synchronous chat.

Through the wide range of mental health targets such as anxiety, distress, depression, eating disorders, and addiction, mental health interventions that were transitioned to online showed significant and sustained improvements in mental health outcomes.

The improvements were equivalent but not superior to treatment as usual.

However, the researchers urge that further research is required to determine whether time requirements for online interventions were feasible in clinical practice.

For instance, authors of a review have determined that it is still too early to recommend e-health interventions based on low-quality evidence, especially for children who are under the age of 10.


A feature of BetterHelp and their synchronous formatting of text messaging is that messages are saved.

However, there are risks to this as the information on your device may not be safe for others who can access your messaging and conversations.

Each counseling session has the options button to “shred” a previous message and will no longer show in your account.

If you wish to have your information or records be released to a third party (Primary Care Physicians, Lawyers, and Insurance companies), you will need to notify your counselor and fill out and sign an authorization form before.

How Much Does BetterHelp Cost?

Membership through BetterHelp ranges from $40 to 70$ per week and you will be billed to your credit card or PayPal account monthly.

You also have the availability to cancel your membership at any time for any reason.

To get further details regarding pricing for membership, you will have to complete a questionnaire.

From there, you will be directed to a page that offers a comparison of BetterHelp versus Traditional In-Office setting, at which they will ask for your payment information.

For an individual membership, you will get unlimited access to text, video, audio messaging, and a weekly live session for $65. As you are being billed every four weeks, the total cost will be $260 monthly.

A la carte services are not listed on their website.

Your subscription and billing cycle will start once you have been paired with a counselor.

Alternatives to BetterHelp

Performing a general search through google will provide you with results to an alternative platform of BetterHelp.

Talkspace is another alternative online platform that provides users with access to licensed therapists to help with mental health.

Starting with Talkspace will require you to perform an online assessment. You will select your therapist from a list of available matches.

Talkspace also has a search bar feature that can allow you to look up in-network partners and providers to work with your employers, health plans, and employee assistance programs to make this service more affordable.

Talkspace offers an array of pricing for its therapy service, and it is not cheap. There are three unlimited therapy messaging subscription services for individuals at Plus, Premium, and Ultimate.

The price range per month for each of the services start at $260 to $396/month with all packages giving you unlimited messaging with your therapist. However, the increase in cost is associated with the live video call.

With the Premium package, you will receive one live 30-minute session, and the Ultimate contains four live 30-minute sessions.

Monthly couples therapy and teenage therapy are also available at $396 and $260, respectively.

Live video calls are available a la carte for a cost of $65 per session.

The Bottom Line

Robust research exists in providing CBT and psychoeducational through counseling sessions.

Still, a lack of consistent research regarding web-based therapy indicates that it may be too early to recommend this service long-term.

While the services that you are getting through BetterHelp may be comparable to face-to-face counseling sessions, reimbursement from insurance may not be covered.

Online counseling should not serve as a substitute for face-to-face therapy. It is important to note that your BetterHelp provider will not make any official diagnosis to fulfill a court order or prescribe any medication.

Meaning your services may be limited by the severity of your condition or urgency of your request.

Certainly, BetterHelp will provide ease and convenience of receiving counseling sessions without leaving the comfort of your own home.

However, you are still required to put in the same effort as if you were in a face-to-face counseling session.

Compared to the alternative, Talkspace, BetterHelp may be a more affordable and reasonable option for online counseling help.

While most insurance providers do not cover mental health, Talkspace may have the ability to lower the cost, but this is dependent on their available partnerships.

It is imperative that you seek approval from your physician before receiving counseling sessions, even if it is from a licensed provider.

Customer Reviews

4.7 Stars out of 1440 Reviews
5 Star:85% 4 Star:6% 3 Star:0% 2 Star:0% 1 Star:6%
93% Recommend This Service
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Posted on Apr 22, 2021

Excellent and timely counseling

By Diane B., Poncha Springs, CO, Verified Reviewer

I was paired with the perfect counselor for me. The service is flexible with voice video, computer and app flexibility. I live in a rural area and it could have taken me several hit-and-miss tries to find the right person.

Length of Use: 3–6 months

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

Pros and Cons

Ease of matching

My counselor is very supportive

Ability to connect between appointments

Would like to schedule 2 appointments out

Wish there was different tier pricing as I progress

Senior rate would be nice

Posted on Apr 22, 2021

After far too long...

By Tim J., Twin Cities, MN, Verified Reviewer

I can't possibly say how many times over the years I'd been at a crossroads of not only knowing that I needed help, but actually doing something about it. I guess it was finally "my time" to do something about it. Little did I know that I would encounter such a great counseling service with BetterHelp.

Everything about my experience has been not only helpful but it has been a clear and easy to navigate process. Each step has proved to help me find clarity about my life challenges, and my counselor, Tracy, has helped me to navigate a way forward that has me already feel like I'm making progress but has me hopeful about my future.

I wish that I would have found BetterHelp sooner. The resources I have received have been excellent. The options for connecting and processing (journaling, etc.) have met my own unique style and needs. While I felt concerned about doing online counseling rather than a more person-to-person approach, I not only have found this to be very personal but also more efficient and fitting for my needs.

Take the step. Invest in you. Trust that things can get better. Know that there's help. And, know that it's all far easier to find the way forward with a BetterHelp counselor than it is to keep trying to do it all alone.

Length of Use: Less than 3 months

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

Pros and Cons

Met me right where I was at in my life

Responsive, focused, easy to access

Very reasonable cost

No “cons” were specified in this review

Posted on Apr 21, 2021

Love BetterHelp!

By Mariana M., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Verified Reviewer

I have had 2 therapists overall and I must say both know what they are doing! The only thing I disliked was that on my second-week session my first therapist quit on me and I wasn’t told that it would count as a full-on session. On my third week I received a new therapist, Phyllis Marcus, and she was a big help! Very friendly and I was comfortable talking to her, on my fourth week (today) it wouldn’t let me join the session cause my card was declined? Even though I paid the full $340 so that was disappointing.

Length of Use: Less than 3 months

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

Pros and Cons

The different ways of communicating

The schedule times

The apps functions

One of my weeks were stolen and not given back

Money wise

Therapist quitting and not giving me a refund on that week

Posted on Apr 21, 2021


By Aliy S., Pennsylvania, Verified Reviewer

Never get a chance to talk to her. Bad attitude! Irresponsible!

Length of Use: Less than 3 months

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

Posted on Apr 20, 2021

Totally needed

By Anastasia F., Anchorage, AK, Verified Reviewer

It has helped me so much. Being able to start working through my problems and still be able to get my daily life done is amazing. I was getting to a breaking point and it helped to be able to talk to someone about all of this.

Length of Use: Less than 3 months

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

Pros and Cons


Being able to talk to someone at anytime

Not being able to schedule for an hour session

Posted on Apr 20, 2021

BetterHelp = best help

By Lydia F., Albuquerque, NM, Verified Reviewer

Before I first started with BetterHelp I was wary of the price and if it would be worth it, or if it would just be a total waste of time and/or money. But I'm so glad I was wrong. I always feel like a priority to my counselor...she responds to messages between video sessions within the hour just about every time I message her. She's never late and never changes anything last minute. With that being said, she's also flexible and makes sure I have the freedom and the options to communicate however I am most comfortable with. I will gladly pay the $200/mo. My sanity intact at this time is worth every penny.

Length of Use: 6–12 months

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

Pros and Cons

My counselor

The freedom and flexibility

Options of communication

Options for counselor

The price, it's not undoable but I will always like it to be a tiny bit less, it is worth it though

Posted on Apr 20, 2021

This is a great app

By Melanie T., Chattanooga, TN, Verified Reviewer

I started BetterHelp because I was suffering with anxiety and depression. I was able to pick certain things or qualities I wanted in a counselor and I got the best match possible. My counselor really listened to my thoughts and concerns and she helped me through a really rough patch in my life. I am so grateful for this app and I'm so glad I gave it a try. I had never had counseling before and I really do think that this is what pushed me to get out of the hole I was in.

Length of Use: Less than 3 months

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

Pros and Cons

The counselor I was matched with

The grounding techniques

Having someone who would listen

They work well with your schedule

No “cons” were specified in this review

Posted on Apr 20, 2021

Best money ever invested

By Tovee Seven S., Canada, Verified Reviewer

Ask yourself what is my health worth, then add $100000 because it is worth it...you’re either gonna spend it on help or prescription if you don’t get your head right and your spirit. In this time of pandemic and suicide being at its highest it’s ever been you can’t afford not to get help. I always thought I was ok until I was lost, gained 40 lbs, cut off all my long hair, couldn't eat, couldn’t sleep, barely got my butt in the shower...it was not fun...or pretty.

Length of Use: Less than 3 months

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

Pros and Cons

How quickly you can speak to someone

That the counseling is filtered to match you as best it serves you

Some people won’t be able to afford the service

Posted on Apr 20, 2021

So much help, thanks BetterHelp!

By Maianh N., Dublin, Ireland, Verified Reviewer

Honestly speaking, I struggled a bit on finding the right counselor for me, I went through 5 counselors within 2 days because:

1) Time availability.

2) Methods of Contact; call/video.

3) Time zones.

4) Specialisation - ADHD, anxiety, family.

5) Not using a religious approach.

6) Female/male.

So you get to choose what exactly you want in your counselor, for me I had a lot of requirements so naturally, it took longer and I actually am lucky enough to have an amazing counselor from Texas while I live in Ireland! But since I was quite decisive in this area it didn’t take me too long to find a counselor I found helpful, I was about to give up but I took another shot and I got what I needed and more! Now we’re on weekly calls on Wednesdays and worksheets and I can text in between the sessions whenever I feel overwhelmed.

Cost: Costs can be lowered depending on your income and I got a bit of a reduction and it made a big difference to me. Obviously, therapy sessions are quite costly but it shouldn’t be a privilege, so with BetterHelp, you can actually get really great reductions in costs for your mental health.

Length of Use: Less than 3 months

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

Pros and Cons


So many specializations

Easy to choose a counselor and change

Could be more counselors

Keeps asking me for reviews but here I am

I got put with a lot of Christian-led counselors

Posted on Apr 20, 2021

My first time

By Ricky M. , East Norriton, PA

I am very new to counseling/therapy. I had always thought it was for people who were worse off than I was. I never thought there was anything wrong, until I hit a breaking point.

Without getting into details, I needed someone to talk to. I needed someone to tell me things were going to be ok.

BetterHelp was extremely easy to sign up for and to find a counselor (at least with the specific issues I wanted to work on). I speak with my counselor Jolene every Thursday morning and it starts my day off wonderfully and it's one of the highlights of my week!

Everyone talks about the price. I never thought I would be able to afford it, and I never thought that it would be worth it. I work in retail sales and I don't make that much money. But can you put a price on mental health? Please trust me when I say, just try it. You will be so relieved and leave the phone call with the first genuine smile in a long time. You may even laugh during your sessions, which I know I missed dearly in my time of need.

I would definitely recommend BetterHelp to anyone who needs it.

Length of Use: Less than 3 months

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

Pros and Cons



The counselors themselves


The fact that you can only schedule one session at a time, for example, you can't just pick every Thursday of the month at 11:00

Posted on Apr 19, 2021

Horrible experience

By Stephanie S. , Long Beach, CA

I feel like it was a complete waste, the counselor canceled twice on me on the day of the sessions. I went for help and instead got disappointment.

Length of Use: Less than 3 months

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

Pros and Cons

No “pros” were specified in this review

Last minute cancellation

Not helpful

Caused more anxiety about losing money

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