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.

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Read 446 BetterHelp Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Consumer Rating: 4.4
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 356 4 star: 23 3 star: 2 2 star: 5 1 star:  60
Bottom Line: 85% would recommend it to a friend
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  • 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
  • 5 out 7 people found this review helpful

    Service really helped me during a hard time in my life. Saved money!

    • California,
    • Mar 10, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was struggling with some anxiety-driven issues and was jumping through hoops trying to get insurance-covered counseling. After struggling to find an approved counselor and time off work, I tried BetterHelp. It was WAY cheaper than even my co-pay, and I didn't have to take time off work. I also felt the quality of the counselor was much better. I really like this service.

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

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    • Aug 25, 2017

      Company Response from BetterHelp

      Thanks for your honest review Amber! We are so happy to hear that you found our services convenient and affordable with your counselor!


  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Absolutely awesome

    • Concord, CA,
    • Apr 11, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    This is a great solution for anyone who is looking for therapy and doesn't want (or can't afford) to see a therapist in-office. All therapists are licensed, and the interface is super-easy. Best of all, there is no need to schedule a session in advance!

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

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  • 3 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Love the service

    • Orlando, FL,
    • Apr 16, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I really love the service and my Dr. has been amazing. I would highly recommend these services to anyone and appreciate that this service is available and offers so much flexibility. I reached out to other services before deciding on BetterHelp and the wait time seemed to be forever, and the concerns of insurance and payment were very impersonal. With BetterHelp, I felt I got the immediate need to talk to someone out, and I felt heard. I feel I have a path and Dr that is going to get me back to a healthy, happy and balanced life goal. Thank you BetterHelp!

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

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  • 4 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Excellent Service!

    • Woodstock, New Brunswick, Canada,
    • Apr 25, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was a bit skeptical of an online counseling service but I knew I needed help and where I live, there are not many options so it was super happy when I was matched with Nicole! You answer some very short super easy questions and they match you with a counselor who is knowledgeable in that area.

    I have never had counseling before and had zero idea what to expect but she is awesome. Just one session with her made a huge difference! I plan to continue for a while because I think I have a lot to really work out in my head. Being able to just talk to her and her provide awesome easy solutions is huge to me. Thank you for providing an awesome service!

    I read a few reviews before committing and people were saying they were being charged, etc. One review I read hit the issue “People are not reading what they are agreeing to.”

    You can not expect a good service and a real service for free. These people are professionals and went to school for this education and deserve to be paid for their time and service.

    You get 7 days free so that you can make sure it's for you and then you do pre-pay for 4 weeks at a time as a default but you can adjust this in your account and can cancel at any time.

    They also explain this to you your 1st live session. They do live sessions either through video, phone or messages. I have done 2 sessions via the phone and I really like it.

    The counselor does not know your number. The system calls you and connects you to them so no long distance for you. I so far think it's an awesome system and am very thankful. If you live in areas with very little sources of help or embarrassed to "go to" a counselor then this is an awesome option!

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

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  • 5 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Great service!

    • Spring Valley, CA,
    • Apr 27, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    So far this service is just great. I really love the ability to write what's on my mind at the time it's going on. I'm seeing a therapist every two weeks, but receiving feedback, even if it's hours later, is so much better than waiting for 14 days to talk to someone. By the time I get to my next appointment, I've forgotten about the episode, and the therapist tends to direct me in ways that are not addressing my most serious issues.

    In just a few days on Betterhelp.com, I've been able to say more about the important issues that are impacting my life right now than I've been able to address in months of standard therapy. Maybe it's just me, but I feel more comfortable writing down what's going on in my head than I do talking about it. Also when I'm face to face I only have 50 minutes to accurately state what I want to address most and, like I say, the therapist often steers the conversation elsewhere. Whereas on Betterhelp.com I can take my time writing and editing what I have to say until I feel that my situation and feelings have been properly described. And it's also easier to describe a situation if I'm currently experiencing it than it is two weeks later.

    I love this service. Thank you so much.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Phenomenal Extraordinary Service

    BetterHelp is a wonderfully amazingly awesome service as a website for counseling for people who are struggling and may need help. I was matched up with a few counselors then had the option to change and that third time I found the right one. Now my counselor and I have been working together on my issues and I have gain some strength and empowerment because of her! She is amazing and I love her. I would definitely recommend her to anyone and also my friend's that includes the BetterHelp website also. Thank you so much BetterHelp!

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

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  • BetterHelp is better than your therapist/counselor

    • Toronto, Ontario, Canada,
    • May 4, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    For starters, 24/7 and unlimited service for a price that cannot be beat.

    Second, the staff is extremely kind and supportive. They gave me a personal email with a free t-shirt as I've worked with them for a while now.

    Third, they have amazing therapists/counselors. I've been seeing my counselor for almost a month now, and she is the kindest and most understanding person ever. I had in person therapists/counselors and I was unable to open up to them the way I opened up to my counselor on BetterHelp.

    Fourth, they have an amazing platform that's extremely easy to use and works great on your phone too.

    Lastly, I suggest you try it; you don't have much to lose. What you pay for a month is what you'll pay a therapist/counselor for 2-3 sessions, versus unlimited sessions on BetterHelp.

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

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    • Aug 28, 2017

      Company Response from BetterHelp

      Hi Zee! Wow! Thanks for the detailed and honest review. We're so glad that you also like the t-shirt! Thanks again, and have a wonderful day!


  • Two thumbs up

    • Illinois,
    • May 15, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Very helpful and convenient service. I can access a counselor so much easier and often than in-person sessions. The counselor is attentive, considerate, and thorough with listening to concerns and offering quality advice. It has helped me greatly when I was going through a tough time in my life.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Quick access and ease, to amazing and dedicated counselors!

    • Los Angeles, CA,
    • May 19, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I signed up the night before for this application, and I got a match literally within 10 hours! It was so fast and thorough, and I really enjoyed the counselor they paired me up with. It was a great match, and the counselor's availability was amazing because she was able to fully accommodate my extremely busy and hectic schedule. My counselor made it a priority to adjust and be flexible with my schedule, and most importantly, checks up on me frequently throughout the week to make sure I'm genuinely ok.

    The care, passion, and effort these counselors put in to make a positive contribution to their patient's lives are truly remarkable. BetterHelp truly saved my mental state of mind to allow me to find inner peace and happiness. Thank you BetterHelp!

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    An excellent service

    • Phoenix, AZ,
    • May 21, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    My counselor is very attentive, kind, and helpful. What makes BetterHelp great is what you get for the price. You can reach out to the counselor at any time. During day hours, she responds to your post promptly. Unlike most counseling, you have got to schedule getting help, and that can be stressful. It doesn't replace face to face help, however, I find it to be a good supplement (when dealing with important issues) to traditional counseling.

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

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  • Great service

    • Birmingham, United Kingdom,
    • May 25, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I decided to use BetterHelp when I was feeling down, losing sleep and being troubled by a past relationship.

    After a week with my helper, I was in a much better state of mind and had a much more positive perspective on my past relationship and my life moving forward.

    I would recommend them to anyone, especially considering there's a free trial at the moment.

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

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    • Aug 29, 2017

      Company Response from BetterHelp

      Hi Kurt, thank you so much for letting us know about your experience with BetterHelp! We're so happy to hear that you counselor has helped you with your life moving forward. We wish you continued success and happiness!


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