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:
  • 1107 Customer Reviews
  • 92% Recommend This Service
4.6 out of 5
5 star: 85% 4 star: 6% 3 star: 0% 2 star: 0% 1 star: 7%

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

    • By Amber C.,
    • California,
    • Mar 10, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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

    • 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!


  • Absolutely awesome

    • By Jack,
    • Concord, CA,
    • Apr 11, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • Love the service

    • By Jen,
    • Orlando, FL,
    • Apr 16, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • Excellent Service!

    • By Marsha,
    • Woodstock, New Brunswick, Canada,
    • Apr 25, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • Great service!

    • By David Zavala,
    • Spring Valley, CA,
    • Apr 27, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • Phenomenal Extraordinary Service

    Overall Experience:

    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


  • BetterHelp is better than your therapist/counselor

    • By Zee A,
    • Toronto, Ontario, Canada,
    • May 4, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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

    • 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

    • By Greg Cowan,
    • Illinois,
    • May 15, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • Quick access and ease, to amazing and dedicated counselors!

    • By Thomas P,
    • Los Angeles, CA,
    • May 19, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • An excellent service

    • By Joshua Owens,
    • Phoenix, AZ,
    • May 21, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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


  • Great service

    • By Kurt S,
    • Birmingham, United Kingdom,
    • May 25, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    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

    • 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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