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%

 Our Promise to You

To safeguard you and ensure helpfulness and relevance, our compliance team manually assess every customer review before it goes live.

We have a zero-tolerance policy for fake reviews, and companies cannot control or alter any reviews at any time.

Sort reviews by:

  • This company is actively collecting reviews from its customers. All reviews submitted are subject to moderation and approval to ensure they meet our Review Guidelines.
  • Fraud

    • By Irene,
    • Dallas, Texas,
    • Mar 11, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I was contacted by one of the "trained therapists," a Dr. Dixon, through BetterHelp. Within the first five messages, this person did not seem like a trained therapist. By the last message I received from Dr. Dixon, it was painfully obvious I had been duped. When I asked if we would have a Skype session, I received no more messages.

    Other unsuspecting and trusting people could receive guidance from a fraud. This is potentially dangerous. Thankfully, I did not disclose too many personal things to this person. I would like to know how BetterHelp verifies their therapists. His profile says he has a Ph.D. but I'm curious, a Ph.D. in what?

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


  • A month up front

    • By AJ,
    • New York, NY,
    • Mar 21, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    They charge a month up front when it isn't clear that they'll do that. For me, that was $180. I can't afford that; I'm in college!

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


  • Charged me $45 per week without my knowledge

    • By Justin,
    • Lisbon, Portugal,
    • Apr 4, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Probably a useful service for many, but decided it wasn't for me after trying their free trial. When I signed up, the wording was not clear that they would begin automatically charging me $45 per week. When it finally showed up on my bank statement, I requested a refund, which they refused despite the fact I never used the service after my trial.

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


  • They're abusing depressed people

    • By Miray,
    • Germany,
    • Apr 21, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    On January 10, I wanted to give it a try because there was a one-week free trial. When I was enrolling, I was asked to give my credit card details to pay $1, saying that that money is to be sure that everyone was serious about the counseling. I thought that was okay.

    They immediately found me a counselor who was very nice to me. But in 3-4 days I understood online counseling wasn't good for me. So I stopped using their service in less than a week.

    This week, I realize that they charged me $135 in March. So they started taking my money on March 1st, $45 weekly. I immediately canceled my membership and wrote to their customer service. The customer service is offering to pay me the last payment only, that means $45, and adding that they don't check if I get any help or not.

    I can understand that they have policies, but I am very sure that I didn't accept to pay $45 weekly because I don't have that much money! I'm a student, and this is a huge amount of money for me. The only reason that I gave my credit card information was paying the $1 at the enrolment.

    I think they aren't honest. I think they waited for a while and then they gave it a try to get my money, and they could do this for three weeks until I realized that I was getting robbed.

    Now I kindly ask them to pay $135 back to me. Because they weren't clear about their policies, and they're abusing the people who need help and who are in a depression.

    I could have recommended them to my friends if they didn't do that to me.

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


  • Do not use!

    • By D,
    • Ohio,
    • Jul 12, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I was told I'd be charged $46, but I was charged $180 with no warning. It took me hours to finally reach them by phone, where they told me I'd have to wait for an email the next business day (funny because they took my money within seconds). I'm already broke, and now I'm in a complete hole until next payday. And all because I wanted "affordable help." Do NOT use!

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

    • Aug 1, 2017

      Company Response from BetterHelp

      Hi D,

      If you need to get in touch with us, please email us at contact@betterhelp.com. We'd be happy to assist you with your subscription plan!


  • Scam

    • By Gina Walker,
    • North Carolina,
    • Jul 24, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I saw this ad on Facebook and thought it'd be nice to talk with someone in the comfort of my own home. Next day, I was contacted by a counselor, at which time I responded that I did not want the service. I can talk to friends/family for free, and to cancel my subscription.

    After several months, and a VERY long phone call with the number on my credit card bill, repeating that I've never used the service and that I want it canceled, and a full refund, I'm STILL being billed $180 a month. I'm trying to obtain an itemized bill, and obtaining legal counsel to get all this money refunded. Total scam. Apparently, if you tell anyone you don't want this, or try to stop it, they can't relay that info to the "billing" department.

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

    • Aug 1, 2017

      Company Response from BetterHelp

      Hi Gina

      Please get in touch with us at contact@betterhelp.com. We can assist you with any charges made on your account with our Support Team.


  • Make sure you read the billing rules

    • By Ron Grabner,
    • Memphis, TN,
    • Oct 12, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    Dr. Hamm is great! There is an Allison that will send you emails trying to get you to write a good review, but if there is a problem, she will not contact you back. Be careful, they say $45 a week but hit you with a $180 bill for a month. I know I saw others having billing problems. I should have listened and hope you do too.

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

    • Oct 12, 2017

      Company Response from BetterHelp

      Hi Ron, thanks for leaving your review for us here. It looks like our team members have gotten back to you within one business day and assisted you with your account. Please check your email!


  • Do NOT pay for this service!

    • By Emma Deitz,
    • Wisconsin,
    • Oct 22, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I paid $45 to speak with a therapist, and I was never matched with one! I got the same message numerous times saying they were looking for a therapist for me. They ripped me off, and I don't want them to rip you off too. Do not waste your money!

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

    • Nov 2, 2017

      Company Response from BetterHelp

      Hi Emma. Thanks for your review. Please contact us at contact@betterhelp.com for any billing issues!


  • Rubbish

    • By Jess Griffin,
    • Somerset, United Kingdom,
    • Nov 8, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I registered for an account, and they told me to wait 24 hours for a therapist. Three days later I get an email telling me that BetterHelp is not suitable for me. My anxiety has now been so bad. I've even had to stay off school.

    Don't bother with this crappy service.

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

    • Nov 10, 2017

      Company Response from BetterHelp

      Thanks for letting us know, Jess. We understand that online counseling is not the best resource for everyone at this moment, and we apologize. You can utilize any of the free resources that we provided you in our email to seek any additional help that you may need.


  • Hard to cancel, etc.

    Overall Experience:

    I was going to do the trial and briefly speak with a counselor. I didn't realize my trial was up, but today I was charged a lot more than what I had in my checking account. So I am overdrawn in my checking account. They only refunded most of my money. They also stated that my counselor would reply after I messaged her that I wanted to quit counseling and give me instructions on how to quit counseling. I think this is ridiculous. I will see what my counselor says as I since messaged her again. But last I spoke to her, she said all she had was the site's email address (?).

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


  • Pretty good, unless you want to end the subscription.

    • By Eddie L,
    • Los Angeles, CA,
    • Dec 8, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer
    Overall Experience:

    I must say I do like the BetterHelp service. My therapist was great until the time came that I requested to discontinue the service.

    This is a subscription service, and you will be charged every week! The only complaint I have is their process for ending the subscription.

    First of all, there's no one to contact the company. No phone number, no email, nothing. If you want to cancel, you must email your assigned therapist. I followed this process with this message,

    "I would like to stop counseling effective now. You're great. I just don't have time to check in, and I'm spending money for no reason. So I want to end service for the time being.

    Thank you, Mark."

    And one week later I get a message from the therapist saying,

    "You are still on my roster."

    That was it. No reason given. No suggestions for a resolution. Nothing.

    I was happy with the service up until this point. They should call this Hotel California because apparently, "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."

    I can't stand poor customer service or being taken advantage of. This experience tainted my entire experience with this organization.

    Subscribe at your own risk.

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

    • Dec 11, 2017

      Company Response from BetterHelp

      Hi Eddie, thanks for your review. It sounds like your counselor was not able to send you the "quit instructions" on your account. (It should be in a beige box in your messaging room.) You can get in touch with us at any time at contact@betterhelp.com or (888) 688-9296. We respond to all inquiries within one business day.


Showing 1-11 of 1107

Write a Review for BetterHelp!

Share your experience to help others discover great products!

Write a Review
BetterHelp