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 451 BetterHelp Customer Reviews and Complaints

Write a Review
Average Consumer Rating: 4.4
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 361 4 star: 23 3 star: 2 2 star: 5 1 star:  60
Bottom Line: 85% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 451
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
  • Affordable and helpful

    • Brooklyn, NY,
    • Jul 14, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    BetterHelp has been a great go-to for me since I am currently uninsured and don’t have much free time to travel to an office. They provide financial assistance if you’re unemployed or in hardship. They matched me with a great therapist who listens and is helping me piece major and minor concerns together in a healthy manner.

    BetterHelp is very easy to navigate. You can write notes from your sessions, they give reminders about your sessions, how to schedule them, message your therapists - which is a tool I most appreciate since when I had a concern that I didn’t want to forget, or when I was introducing myself and my story - it was an excellent and easier way for me to do so.

    I highly recommend BetterHelp for anyone who doesn’t want or can’t find time to travel, and needs the chance to contact your therapist and be accountable for your session time.

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

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • Very helpful

    • Douglasville, GA,
    • Jul 11, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have only been using this app for about a month now, but it’s already helped me so much. It’s a really great alternative to face to face therapy, and a lot more affordable. You can talk to a therapist every day of the week, and they will get back to you as soon as they can. Amazing platform, I love it so much.

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

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • My experience with BetterHelp so far

    • Texas,
    • Jul 11, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I've been using BetterHelp for about a week now. I know that doesn't seem long enough for a review but I've had the best experience so far. I was paired with a counselor quickly and she's been on my side since Day 1. I communicate with her daily and she has helped me really process and begin working on some areas in my life that needed help. It seems expensive at first glance but it's worth every penny!

    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 my life back

    • Florida,
    • Jul 10, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I can't say enough positive things about my experience with BetterHelp and in particular, my therapist Eva Goode.

    The portal provided is an amazing tool. I can directly connect with my therapist at any time I wish. I've scheduled weekly video conference calls that have LITERALLY changed my life.

    I use the portal to journal my progress. If I want to share my entries with my therapist, it's a simple click to do so.

    My therapist (Eva Goode) is incredibly responsive and thoughtful. She's a fantastic support system and life coach. She makes me feel like I'm her only client, and most importantly, I trust her.

    If you're looking for help, or you simply need someone to talk to...this program really works. It's easy. It's affordable. It's effective.

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

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • BetterHelp

    • New York,
    • Jun 28, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I’m so happy I found BetterHelp. The process to find a therapist was seamless and they offer many great options for my busy schedule. Every part of the process is easy payment, arranging appointments, etc. BetterHelp also makes therapy very affordable.

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

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • BetterHelp is better

    • North Dakota,
    • Jun 24, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I found the BetterHelp platform after discussing with my local counselor the need for additional self-care help, mentoring, coaching, and counseling beyond what was available in my community. If you are from a rural community then you certainly understand the lack of mental health resources and availability. BetterHelp has been exactly what I needed to supplement my local counseling. The features on the site are well designed and polished from the journal, to the counselor matching, to the many ways that I decide how I want to communicate with my online counselor. I am grateful this service and platform are available and it has been very helpful for me.

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

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • An interesting experience

    • California,
    • Jun 21, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I didn't think this would be as good as it is. You won't see results as quickly but it is a unique experience I would recommend. The payment is pretty good and I think it is a good way to match with someone who cares.

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

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • Top notch service

    • Virginia,
    • Jun 17, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    BetterHelp I find is the best service in the "counseling" field. You can choose how and when and how much you want to talk or not talk and the cost of the service is so reasonable. I have the best counselor I could have ever hoped for. Don't hesitate to try this out. You will be so glad you did!

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

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • Amazing.

    • Florida,
    • Jun 17, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have a major depressive disorder and severe social anxiety. This is a lifeline I wish I knew existed months ago. I am not quick to respond to my messages, but I will get better. I rarely leave the house and the patience and care I have gotten so far from this site is something I can depend on.

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

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • Insanely helpful and easy to access

    • Jackson, MS,
    • Jun 14, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have several reasons for needing a therapist and a lot of financial hardships as well as lack of availability and/or quality help. BetterHelp is the loophole I needed. I can talk to my counselor on my schedule, however many times a week I need. Financial aid is super helpful as well. Don't sleep on this app, it has helped me change my life.

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

    Help others find the most helpful reviews

    Was this review helpful?

    yes no

  • Affective and convenient

    • Seaside, OR,
    • Jun 14, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    This is a wonderful way to receive counseling with all of today’s technology. Rebecca, my counselor, is a very knowledgeable, well-spoken counselor. She has been extremely helpful and consistent in guiding me through the issues that I need to work on.

    I feel that I can depend on her to be opened and honest with me as to things I need to work on and does not just agree with everything I say. I would highly recommend both this app and Rebecca as a counselor for anyone in search of counseling.

    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 451

Write a Review for BetterHelp!

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

Write a Review