BetterHelp Review 2020

by Mary Haynes
updated on

How it works | Chat and Video | How good are counselors and therapists | Is it Effective | How to Find the best therapist on BetterHelp | Our Tips to Get Most Out of BetterHelp | Cost | Free Trial | Privacy Policy | Is it worth it |

Whether you have a mental illness or need someone to talk to, there’s an incredibly intimidating stigma surrounding mental health issues. Perhaps the stigma doesn’t bother you, and your problem is finding the right therapist. Or, maybe you can’t afford to get help right now. That’s why the telehealth platforms like BetterHelp were designed. In this article, we’re going to give you the rundown of BetterHelp, including how it works and whether or not it’s worth the investment. Keep reading—for your mental health.

How Does BetterHelp Work?

BetterHelp works by matching clients to the relevant therapist and provides a platform to effectively communicate for online therapy. Here is a step by step process of how the whole thing works:

  1. You are matched with a therapist after completing a questionnaire at the sign-up. The sign-up questionnaire starts with the basics, such as your name, age, and relationship status. Then they progress to more in-depth questions about whether you’re experiencing anxiety, overwhelming sadness, grief, have any phobias, and so on. Overall, the intake questionnaire is brief and takes about 5 – 10 mins to complete.
betterhelp therapist matching
  1. You can also indicate the preference for your counselor’s age, gender, race, religion etc.
  2. After completing the sign-up, you receive the confirmation email from BetterHelp. Within 24 hours, the platform’s algorithm matches you with a licensed therapist.
  3. Once you’re matched, you’ll get 24/7 access to a private chatroom where you can communicate with your therapist via text messaging and also able to schedule any live therapy sessions.
  4. You are asked to choose the payment plan before you can send messages to your therapist. We have a detailed breakdown of Betterhelp cost in the sections below.
  5. After choosing the payment plan, you can start your online therapy.

Review of Betterhelp Chat and Video Features

It’s important to know how each mode of communication works on Betterhelp so you feel at ease before the therapy. Here we have covered it in detail for you.

Messaging Therapy

The messaging takes place in the secure and private chatroom on Betterhelp designated for you and your therapist only. The chatroom can be accessed from both the Betterhelp website and the mobile app.

betterhelp chat therapy session

BetterHelp payment plan includes unlimited messaging access although It’s not in real-time feature. You send a message to your therapist, however long or short, and they respond usually once a day from Monday to Friday. It’s that simple.

When your therapist responds, you’ll get an email notification or a mobile notification, depending on your settings. You can also include photos, video files, and audio if necessary. There’s also the option to flag a message if it’s urgent. This type of messaging therapy is beneficial if you need time to become comfortable with the process or don’t need immediate care. 

Like regular therapy sessions, the therapist will provide you with feedback, questions, insights, and guidance.

All the conversations are securely stored and could be referred to anytime. This is helpful if you switch your therapist who can go through your background and treatment history by reading your past messages.

Live Chat Therapy

Betterhelp live chat feature works the same as regular messaging. Only it’s happening in real-time. You’ll need to schedule your live chat session ahead of time, ensuring that you get your therapist’s undivided attention. 

The live chat therapy is a wonderful option if you’re the type of person who likes to review and reflect on the therapy conversations. It’s also advantageous for people who aren’t comfortable with speaking or video chatting directly.

Phone Call Therapy

Online therapy via phone call on Betterhelp works like a traditional phone call. You schedule your appointment in advance, just like the live chat option, and log into the Betterhelp website or app at the designated time. Your therapist will prompt you to begin the session, and you’ll be asked to type in your phone number. 

This option is great if you feel more comfortable holding a phone in your hand or don’t like to type out all your thoughts. Your phone number is also kept private from the therapist and they won’t be able to note it down.

Live Video Therapy

Betterhelp live video works the same as a Skype or Zoom call. As long as you have a decent internet connection, you’ll be able to take advantage of this option. It works the same as the other scheduled options—you’ll have to log in at your appointed time and wait for your therapist to prompt you to begin your session.

The BetterHelp platform highly recommends scheduling video chat sessions as they are the closest you can get to an in-person therapy services. They’re also the best way to get to know your therapists and get a feel for how they approach your needs. Plus, you’ll be in the comfort of your own home, which helps take the edge off if you’re nervous about video chatting.

Which Mode of Communication should you choose?

Once you get comfortable with scheduling live therapy sessions, you’ll likely schedule them more often. According to a recent study, online therapy via video is as effective as in-person therapy. All Betterhelp plans offer 1 live therapy session every week. We highly recommend using video for your therapy as this is closest to what tradition office therapy is.

Messaging is a handy tool that you can use to discuss your history, therapy goals, and issues you are currently facing. But this should not be the primary form of online therapy. It’s difficult to express emotions when typing messages and the therapist may not be able to see your body language and the change of your tone during therapy. Live Video, on other hand, will help your therapist to get clues from your facial expression especially if they are using therapy techniques like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR).

Betterhelp has excellent live video quality that would run in high definition if you have a decent internet connection. This live interaction would help to quickly develop a relationship with your counselor and make progress towards your therapy goals.

Review of BetterHelp Counselors and Therapists?

Since 2015, BetterHelp has been accredited with and given an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. The online therapy services on Betterhelp runs as a typical practice would run but only virtually rather than in-person meetings. It also lends itself as a more convenient tool for those with mental health issues and illnesses that can’t make the physical trip to seek help.

BetterHelp counselors are licensed and accredited psychologists (PhD / PsyD), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW / LMSW), or licensed professional counselors (LPC). All of them have a Masters Degree or a Doctorate Degree in their field.

BetterHelp requires a minimum of three years of training experience plus 1,000 hours of hands-on experience with patients from their therapists.

betterhelp therapists and counselors

The counselors’ credentials and expertise vary. They specialize in mental health, relationship issues, family psychology, clinical social work, and so on. They’re all thoroughly evaluated, cross-referenced, and vetted over a rigorous five-week process. Each potential candidate must also complete a case study exam by a licensed clinician.

According to the BetterHelp website, only 15% of the counselors that apply are accepted once the evaluation process is completed. The full licensing information of each counselor and therapist is provided directly on the BetterHelp website. In addition to their credentials, patients can read reviews on their potential therapist written by former or current patients to get a better insight.

The online therapy at BetterHelp is only as successful as the counselors and therapists it hires, which is why it’s the largest counseling platform out there.

Mental Health and Other Areas BetterHelp Can Help With

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults in America experiences mental illness. That’s 43.8 million people!

Mental health and mental illnesses can take many different forms. BetterHelp is not limited to only severe or specific cases, i.e., anxiety and depression. Online therapy is designed to help you overcome any issue you may be facing. That includes, but is not limited to:

  • Trauma
  • Abuse
  • Depression/Bipolar disorder
  • Grief
  • Intimacy issues
  • Parenting issues
  • Marriage issues
  • Anger management
  • Phobia management
  • Anxiety
  • Self-esteem

The list goes on. Anything that has to with your mental health and well-being applies, no matter how large or small.

How Effective is BetterHelp Online Counseling

After the Covid-19 breakout everything is forced to move online, so why not therapy? Online therapy platforms like BetterHelp offer a new and modern way to get mental health support far and wide. But just how effective is it compared to the real thing?

With BetterHelp you get unlimited messaging with your therapist plus 1 live session every week. The main concern that most therapists have is how they can effectively make interpersonal connections with their patients virtually. This typically something that depends on face-to-face interaction and cannot be achieved through simple text messaging.

However, research shows that live video therapy sessions can be just as effective as regular in-person sessions. Studies published in the Journal of Effective Disorder and Journal of Anxiety Disorder have concluded that online therapy for anxiety and depressive disorders is effective, practical, and acceptable health care.

There are even circumstances in which using an online counseling platform like Betterhelp is the best option. For example, it’s incredibly beneficial for patients that are physically disabled or simply don’t have enough time to travel to their therapist office. Plus, the idea of saving time and remaining in your own comfortable space while engaging in therapy is more than appealing.

Arguably one of the greatest advantages of the BetterHelp is being able to type up and save your family history, past traumas, relationships, and goals. If you decide to switch therapists, you don’t have to go through re-iterating a memoir.

Of course, the disadvantage is that the unlimited messaging isn’t in real time. That means your therapist may not be available when you need them the most. Your therapist also can’t read your body language or facial expressions from a message, which can leave a lot of people feeling unfulfilled.

Overall, Betterhelp is only as effective as your therapist. The best thing about BetterHelp is that it gives you access to therapists who are trained in a wide range of therapeutic methods. But your drive and motivation towards therapy are more than therapeutic methods. Even traditional therapy is effective when the client is inspired to implement what he has learned in the session. This is the same for online therapy as well. The more you apply what you have learned the more effective BetterHelp would be for you.

The two key factors in making online therapy at BetterHelp successful are your therapist and your attitude and approach. We have dedicated the next 2 sections to the same topic so keep on reading.

How to Find the best therapist on BetterHelp

It can be quite frustrating trying to get matched correctly on the BetterHelp Platform. More often than not, you’ll end up with a counselor who doesn’t match the preferences you checked off on your questionnaire. Additionally, when you go to change therapists your initial list of potential matches disappears.

When this happens, you can easily email customer service to find whichever therapist you were looking for. However, it’s recommended that you take the time to do the research and manually select your therapist rather than relying on the platform’s algorithm.

Here are our tips on finding the best therapist on BetterHelp:

  1. Goto the URL betterhelp.com/counselors/ where you can find the directory of online counselors on BetterHelp. The credentials next to the counselor’s name will give you the idea of how qualified and experienced the counselor is.
betterhelp counselors directory screenshot
  1. Or you can find counselors by the state on the URL betterhelp.com/therapists/. This page is more detailed with the therapist’s specialties and a little bio.
betterhelp therapist profile
  1. Browse the detailed profile of the counselor with the user reviews at the bottom
  2. Make a list of the counselors that appealed to you and send it over to customer service.
  3. You can also request to start your therapy with your preferred choice by clicking on “Start Button” and completing the questionnaire.
betterhelp therapist selection process

The BetterHelp platform provides you with all the necessary tools to dig in and research your potential therapist or counselor. Their online therapy platform encourages you to take the time to not only read up on your counselor or therapist but also to ask them plenty of questions during your first few sessions. Getting to know them first is essential to your healing.

Many people have found that despite the platform’s frustrating algorithm, they’ve been able to find a phenomenal therapist who truly made a difference.

If you’ve never tried therapy before, you should know that it’s normal to not connect with your first (or second) therapist. You just have to keep in mind the importance of finding the right one, because ultimately, that’s who is going to help you heal. The BetterHelp platform openly encourages you to switch therapists as soon as possible if it’s not a good match.

Our Tips to Get Most Out of Online Therapy at BetterHelp

  1. Address any technical issues

Betterhelp website and app can be accessed from all operating platforms like Apple, Android and Windows. Try to send a few test messages and play around with the platform. If the app or website seems to crash or get stuck, report the issues to customer service and they will fix it for you. Also, make sure you have a high-speed internet connection for high-quality live video therapy.

  1. Create a Private space for yourself during therapy sessions

Although online therapy is convenient and could be accessed from anywhere using your mobile, you should approach it professionally. Try to find a space where you can easily interact with your therapist without the distraction of family and friends.

  1. Set your Therapy Goals

In the first few sessions articulate your life challenges and the reason you are using the Betterhelp platform to your therapist. If you have anxiety or depression talk to your therapist about it and how you can get better. If you feel that your therapist is not a good match for your condition give them your feedback. Maybe the treatment they are planning is too generic for you or they lack the specialization or experience to treat your condition. Don’t hesitate to change your therapist which is easy and explained in the above section.

  1. Do the homework assigned by your therapist

Therapists usually assign tasks and give worksheets to complete after the live session. The worksheets and journals are accessible from your Betterhelp dashboard. You should complete the worksheets and try to maintain the journal of your everyday routine. You can plan your activities and note down the goals of your therapy. Also, use the journal to track the progress of your mental health or any other life challenges that you are seeking therapy for.

  1. Use Messages to express your feelings and emotions

Messaging is a great supplement of live sessions that is just absent from in-person therapy. Share with your therapist if you have any trouble completing the homework or if something happened during the day that disturbed you. Even if a weird thought popped up in your head, send a text or audio message about it to your therapist. Opening up completely will help you progress in therapy. Messaging is a great tool on Betterhelp that you can use anytime. You can also target to discuss the issues brought up in the messages during the live session.

BetterHelp Cost

Online therapy at BetterHelp costs $260/month but they have variable pricing options according to the length of your commitment. All subscription plans come with unlimited messaging and 1 live session per week with the counselor that can last for 30 – 50 mins. Listed below are the BetterHelp plans available as of Sept. 2020.

  • $80 per week – billed weekly
  • $260 per month – billed monthly
  • $540 per 3 months – billed every 3 months (that’s $180/month)
  • $1820 per year – Billed Yearly (that’s about $150/month)

You pay with your credit card or via PayPal, and can cancel at any time, for any reason.

Free Trial

If you can’t afford therapy, BetterHelp has other options. One of those options is a free trial. A seven-day free trial is offered after filling out the questionnaire and marking that you’re “still not ready to try therapy” on a series of prompts. Eventually, you’ll be offered a free trial.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is also available from BetterHelp for those who can’t afford outright treatment. The financial aid is given based on a potential patient’s income, and the amount varies from patient to patient. Overall, the platform’s financial aid can help save you between 20 and 50 percent of the total costs.

Insurance Coverage

BetterHelp doesn’t usually take insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare. Part of the reason is that the platform already offers competitive pricing compared to what you would pay out of pocket for traditional therapy and copays.

If you have insurance, it’s a good idea to find out how much coverage you have and your co-pay for a regular visit. Compare that with the costs of BetterHelp’s platform to see which would save you more.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

BetterHelp offers a straightforward cancellation process. All you have to do is log in to your account and click the “cancel” link under your payment options. You’ll be prompted to answer a short questionnaire of why you’re canceling and whether you want your therapist to know. You also have the option to resume therapy with the same therapist if you wish.

Full and partial refunds are available, but only at customer service’s discretion. Their first initiative is to resolve any issues and keep you subscribed to a payment plan.

BetterHelp Privacy Policy

BetterHelp takes privacy seriously. They take the appropriate precautions to ensure your anonymity and confidentiality. During sign up, you’ll give a nickname for the system to identify you. Your therapist will also not have access to your real name if you want and you can seek therapy completely anonymously on Betterhelp.

Even during your live phone call sessions, your therapist won’t see your phone number. You will, however, be asked for emergency contact information, which is kept private. Your emergency information will only be used if your therapist believes that you or someone else might be in danger.

Additionally, everything you talk with your therapist is under the protection of strict state and federal laws. Nothing is shared, reported, or filed with insurance companies, and there’s even a “shred” option to erase the messages between you and your therapist.

Nothing on the platform is released to a third party. All your messages and information are safely encrypted and scrambled, ensuring world-class security.

Is BetterHelp Worth it?

Betterhelp Online therapy is based on the same methods as traditional therapy. As discussed above online therapy is as effective as in person-therapy. If traditional therapy is worth the money, and it is, so is Betterhelp. In purely practical terms, Betterhelp platform will save you time and money compared to in-person therapy.

Any money devoted to improving mental health is money well spent as these challenges can affect all aspects of your life. If you look at BetterHelp as an investment, the dividends can pay off hugely over time.

Getting professional help with issues like depression, anxiety, and past trauma leads to better personal and work relationships, more confidence, and greater clarity of purpose.

BetterHelp therapists can give you a better understanding of yourself as well as the ability to manage stress in healthier ways. It can also give you invaluable tools to deal with the problems that are sure to crop up in the future.