BetterHelp Review - How Effective Is It?

By Rocklend Davis, Ph. D.
HighYa Staff
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.

Safety

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.

Pros and Cons

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

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

Start your review of BetterHelp:
  • 1011 Customer Reviews
  • 91% Recommend This Service
4.6 out of 5
5 star: 85% 4 star: 5% 3 star: 0% 2 star: 1% 1 star: 7%

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  • Amazing service, app was glitchy

    • By Kristina R.,
    • Toronto, Canada,
    • Aug 13, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: 3–6 months
    Overall Experience:

    BetterHelp has helped in getting me in touch with a counselor and overcoming my depression and anxiety. I love that there are also additional tools offered like webinars and a journal feature. The reason why I didn’t give it five stars is the app. It can take a while to sign in, it freezes, and the calls tend to cut off or not go through. This is only an issue on the phone app, I just prefer it over the computer website, since I don’t always have access to a computer at all times. Nonetheless, BetterHelp has helped me improve my overall mental health with my amazing counselor.

    Pros and Cons:

    • My counselor
    • Webinars
    • Journal
    • Glitches
    • Calls dropping
    • Sign-in wait

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


  • Bettering your therapy journey

    • By Melissa F.,
    • New York City, NY,
    • Aug 13, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: 3–6 months
    Overall Experience:

    BetterHelp helped me dig deeper into the reasons I was seeking out help in the first place, connected me with a helpful therapist, and always made things easy on its interactive app and website. BetterHelp always sends reminders and provides a platform where I can journal, schedule sessions, and chat with my therapist.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Accessibility
    • User experience on the app/web
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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


  • Impressed

    • By Claude D.,
    • Guyton, GA,
    • Aug 13, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: Less than 3 months
    Overall Experience:

    I was in need of some guidance, insight, wisdom, and accountability. Jonathan is providing all of that for me. I feel like I’m talking to a friend that truly has my best interest at heart. I’ve done in-person counseling in the past, and I actually enjoy the video meetings much better. There’s something about being in the comfort of your own surroundings that brings an instance peace and ease to the meetings. And Jonathan has a calm and friendly spirit. He’s a good man. Nobody else is involved. No waiting room to sit in. No parking spaces to hunt. No weather to contend with. It’s a real time-saver, and extremely affordable. So far I’m extremely impressed with my counselor and BetterHelp.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Convenient
    • Excellent counselor
    • Affordable
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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


  • Fantastic counseling app

    • By Helena S.,
    • Fort Collins, CO,
    • Aug 12, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: 3–6 months
    Overall Experience:

    BetterHelp has been wonderful over the past months! I didn't have the best first experience with in-person counseling 3ish years ago, and finally decided to try again in the last year. It felt weird to be paired with a counselor just by filling out a questionnaire, but WOW, I was paired with an amazing one! I plan to continue counseling through BetterHelp indefinitely.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Flexible scheduling
    • Counselor-client pairing system is well done
    • Can still do face-to-face sessions AND messaging throughout the week
    • Sometimes if internet connection is weak, video goes in and out
    • Face-to-face over camera is still so different than in-person sessions

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


  • BetterHelp counseling experience

    • By Seth P.,
    • Hazleton, PA,
    • Aug 12, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: 3–6 months
    Overall Experience:

    It has been a truly eye-opening and changing experience that has done nothing but push me to be the best version of myself possible during one of the hardest points in my life so far!

    Pros and Cons:

    • Multiple methods of counseling
    • Staff responsiveness
    • Informational sessions
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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


  • Very helpful

    • By Julie O.,
    • Italy, TX,
    • Aug 12, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: Less than 3 months
    Overall Experience:

    I love BetterHelp. At first, I wasn't sure if I needed counseling but it has already helped me with a few issues I was struggling with. Would recommend.

    Pros and Cons:

    • My counselor
    • The price
    • Easy
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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


  • Great website

    • By Chelsea W.,
    • Ontario, Canada,
    • Aug 11, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: 3–6 months
    Overall Experience:

    I like BetterHelp because it gives me lots of options to communicate with my counselor. The survey I filled out at the beginning seemed to work well because I am quite happy with the counselor I was paired with. She is supportive, knowledgeable, and helpful. I like that I don't have to wait for one weekly hour-long session (like I would if I was seeing someone in person) and that I can speak to my counselor more frequently and when things come up. It is also quite affordable for the service being provided. I also like the amount of options offered for the different types of counseling sessions.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Affordability
    • Communication options
    • Ease of use
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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


  • Professional help for professionals

    • By Eric F.,
    • Yuma, AZ,
    • Aug 11, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: 6–12 months
    Overall Experience:

    Even professionals need help to keep helping others. BetterHelp helps me stay at my best. My counselors are easy to talk to connect with, and challenges me to grow to better myself. It’s not about being broken or needing to be fixed. It’s about being better.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Responsiveness of my counselor
    • Availability of appointments
    • Various modalities email, chat, phone, and video
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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


  • I love BetterHelp!

    • By Lauren B.,
    • Boca Raton, FL,
    • Aug 11, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: Less than 3 months
    Overall Experience:

    I love BetterHelp! I have never been able to connect with a therapist until now. It is extremely easy to have virtual sessions and send each other quick messages to check in. BetterHelp also offers benefits such as groupinars, a place for you to journal, and even track your goals.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Easy to connect with therapist
    • Numerous benefits (groupinars, journals, Goal Tracker)
    • No “cons” were specified in this review

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


  • An amazing way to receive personalized therapy online!

    • By Anna R.,
    • Milwaukee, WI,
    • Aug 10, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: Less than 3 months
    Overall Experience:

    BetterHelp is a great way to get therapy online. They match you with a therapist, or rather, a therapist chooses to match with you based on their judgment and confidence of being able to help you with whatever your goal is. You write a bio and description of what you are looking for in therapy and that is how you are matched with a counselor.

    Therapy with BetterHelp has been just like any in-person therapy I've had in the past, but I didn't have to go through the process of hopping from therapist to therapist in order to find one I "clicked" with and was able to work with me on my goals. That being said, they offer the option of switching to a different therapist at any point if that does happen and you'd rather try somebody else.

    Therapy with BetterHelp is affordable as well, personally for me, it is cheaper than therapy I've had in the past that actually went through insurance. There are multiple payment/duration options, with the minimum being inexpensive if it's just something you want to try out without fully committing to something. Even with choosing the shortest option as a "trial" you still get everything they offer, which is a lot!

    They offer the ability to message (online chat) your counselor at any time (there is even an option to flag the message as "urgent" if you need help right away!). They also offer voice and video therapy sessions weekly if that's your preference. However, in my experience, your counselor is pretty flexible in working with you and figuring out a good schedule together.

    Overall, I've had a great experience and will continue therapy through BetterHelp no doubt!

    Pros and Cons:

    • Committed and caring therapists
    • Ability to message your therapist, even send attachments back and forth
    • Webinars
    • Financially it would be better if it was a little less expensive for those who really cannot afford therapy

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


  • Never too late for counseling

    • By Marissa C.,
    • Johnson City, TN,
    • Aug 10, 2020
    • Verified Reviewer
    • Length of Use: Less than 3 months
    Overall Experience:

    This is my first experience with counseling. BetterHelp has made it extremely easy to access the help I have needed. BetterHelp took questions about me and paired me with a terrific counselor.

    Pros and Cons:

    • Accessible
    • Affordable
    • Easy to navigate
    • Because of the uniqueness of this service, insurance will not help

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


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