An Honest Review Of Betterhelp, From Someone Who's Been In Therapy For Years
Technology may arguably have its negative factors, especially when you think about how glued many of us are to our devices. But you can't argue with the fact that recent technological advances have provided life-changing positives, such as online therapy. The opportunity to work with a therapist through your phone or computer has heightened our access to mental health services, resulting in more convenient and affordable online therapy solutions, such as Betterhelp.
With the Betterhelp online therapy app, members can text, live chat, and schedule video calls with trained and certified therapists around the world. Although I am not against paid advertisements, I tend to err on the side of skepticism when it seems like every podcast host and influencer I follow is singing praises for the same thing—which, admittedly, is how I first came across Betterhelp. Skeptic that I am, I decided to take matters into my own hands and see how Betterhelp really compared to traditional therapy.
An estimated 31% of the U.S. population faces anxiety at some time in their lives—and as one of them, therapy has changed the way I manage stress, plus how I cope when my nerves don't want to cooperate. But the truth is, those years of therapy sessions would have cost me a pretty penny without health care coverage. Affordability even without coverage is a big reason Betterhelp's online therapy plan is so appealing. But is the platform as effective as traditional therapy? And is it worth the cost? Find out below in our Betterhelp online therapy review.
What is Betterhelp?
Betterhelp is an online therapy app that seeks to provide affordable care for mental health services. The app can be accessed on mobile or desktop, with multiple communication avenues to choose from. As an online therapy provider, Betterhelp is a tool for anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, tricky relationships with sleep and eating, and addictions. When you sign up for the platform, you're prompted to complete a survey outlining your circumstances, concerns, and what your goals are for therapy. You can select from individual, couples (on sister site Regain), or teen therapy (on sister site Teen Counseling). The company also has a platform specifically for the LGBTQ community, Pride Counseling.
Whichever division you choose, through the sign-up survey, the platform does its best to match you with a therapist who can help you work through these circumstances and concerns through text, live chat, or video sessions (or all three, depending on your needs and preferences). But let's face it, finding the right therapist for your individual needs can be tricky—and the connection you have with your therapist matters. That's why, if you do not feel the chosen professional is a good match for you, the app makes it easy to request a new option. Simply contact the support team and they'll help you find someone new.
Depending on the professional you are matched with and what you are dealing with, your therapist may use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), trauma-focused therapy, solution-focused therapy, emotionally focused therapy (EFT), mindfulness therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), or other therapy methods. You can ask your designated therapist or counselor about their methods via the live chat option before you plan to meet, or during your first session.
How much does Betterhelp cost?
Traditional therapy can cost anywhere from $100 to $200 (and above) out of pocket per session, depending on where you live and the type of therapy provided. Betterhelp's subscription-based platform costs between $60 and $90 per week, billed monthly at $240 to $360. The actual cost of a Betterhelp membership varies depending on a few factors: location, preferences, and therapist availability. When I registered for Betterhelp in Los Angeles, California, I received a quote for the $80-per-week rate.
When it comes to Betterhelp pricing, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that the company offers financial assistance to those who qualify. If you qualify for assistance, Betterhelp will work with you to provide more affordable therapy costs specific to your circumstances.
While Betterhelp technically doesn't accept or partner with health insurance, there is a little bit of a workaround for this. The Mental Health Parity Act states that employers must offer medical and mental health coverage in an equal manner. Because of that, some insurance companies cover what is considered "online behavioral health" services, which Betterhelp could be classified as. The best way to find out if your insurance will reimburse you for a Betterhelp subscription is to contact your provider and share more information about your Betterhelp membership, to see if they will cover some of the costs.
Our verdict at a glance.
- Affordable rate compared to out-of-pocket options
- Can cancel any time
- Matches you with a professional based on your own individual needs
- Various session options (phone, live chat, video, or a combination of the three)
- Specialty sites for couples, teens, and LGBTQ community
- Does not work with any insurance providers
- Cannot diagnose or prescribe medication
- Not all providers offer video
Who should try Betterhelp.
If you do not have access to mental health coverage and are looking for a way to try online therapy, Betterhelp is a great choice. Anyone who wants to improve their overall quality of life through various forms of talk therapy should give Betterhelp a try. Those who want multiple communication options and 24/7 support will benefit from what Betterhelp has to offer.
Who should skip Betterhelp.
For people who already have access to affordable therapy through their health insurance provider, Betterhelp may not be a great choice financially. Additionally, if you suffer from serious mental health conditions that require diagnosis or prescriptions, Betterhelp is not for you.
Is Betterhelp worth it?
After experiencing Betterhelp's services and considering how it compares to traditional therapy, I personally think it's worth it, especially when looking for more affordable and accessible therapy options. I have an amazing therapist that I have worked with for years, and, while she has helped me navigate so much, I felt that my Betterhelp sessions were also very impactful, as they provided me with different perspectives. In my personal therapy experiences, I have worked through deconstructing my productivity mindset, which had previously caused me a lot of anxiety in this productivity-obsessed world. Although I have spent tons of time working through this already, I actually had a significant ah-ha moment with my Betterhelp therapist that completely shifted something within. It truly felt like the missing piece from my years of therapy pre-Betterhelp.
With that said, from a financial standpoint, Betterhelp might not be the best choice for everyone. For example, I currently have health insurance that covers my traditional therapy sessions and am only required to pay a copay of $35 per session. If I attend therapy four times a month, that amounts to much less than the Betterhelp membership plan. So, if you are considering Betterhelp but do have mental health coverage through insurance, it might be worth looking at your plan and comparing the cost of Betterhelp versus traditional therapy. If, on the other hand, you don't have mental health coverage, Betterhelp is more affordable than traditional therapy. (mindbodygreen readers also save 20% on their first month with the promo code MBG, which automatically applies.
Another factor to consider is accountability. With Betterhelp, you have extensive access to your therapist and can text or live chat with them outside of your appointment hours. However, one thing that stood out at the end of each visit is that my therapist didn't prompt me to schedule another session. In my traditional therapy sessions, my therapist always follows up about when we are meeting next, which holds me accountable and brings a level of structure to the practice. While this might not be an issue for some, I tend to forget about making appointments and prefer to have a provider set up my next appointment while we are in each other's presence.
How safe is Betterhelp?
In terms of who can view your interactions with your therapist, if you consent, a licensed therapist from the BetterHelp Clinical Operations Team may review your interactions, only if concerns are raised about the clinical care or if there is reason to believe that there has been a breach of security, fraud, or another legal issue. That said, this would only be with your consent, and messages between you and your therapist are never shared with any third party. Sessions will never be recorded, nor does Betterhelp share when you send a message or have a session. For additional privacy, you may choose to use a nickname within the app and will not be asked for your last name.
Can Betterhelp prescribe medication?
Since Betterhelp is a therapy-focused platform, it does not recommend or prescribe medication. Betterhelp therapists also cannot diagnose you. For medical prescriptions and diagnosis, it is recommended that you schedule an appointment with a primary care doctor.
Does Betterhelp take insurance?
Betterhelp does not officially accept insurance or partner with any insurance companies. However, it could still be possible to get coverage for Betterhelp's services. The Mental Health Parity Act states that all employers must provide equal benefits for medical and mental health coverage, including something called "online behavioral health," which is a fancy way of saying online therapy, aka what Betterhelp offers. While it's not guaranteed, we recommend calling your health insurance provider and asking to have these mental health services covered. When discussing with your provider, you might be asked to share more information about your personal Betterhelp membership details (cost, etc.) and your therapist's information to determine whether you can be reimbursed for Betterhelp.
At the end of the day, online therapy can be just as effective as in-person options1. Betterhelp is an excellent resource whether you want to dip your toe in the therapy waters or potentially experience a breakthrough after years of traditional therapy. By connecting people with licensed therapists across the world and offering text, call, or video services, the platform makes online therapy convenient and accessible. While there are financial aid options and potential coverage workarounds, Betterhelp is not the best option for those who already have mental health coverage or anyone who requires a medical diagnosis or prescription. For this, you may consider online psychiatry or a visit to your primary care doctor.
Jessie Quinn is a Los Angeles-based wellness, fashion, beauty, and lifestyle writer with words published in Shape Magazine, NYLON Magazine, Chopra, Brides, Byrdie, and more. She is also a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and has worked for top experts in the wellness space. Outside of writing, Jessie is a certified Reiki Master, meditation teacher, and artist who focuses on the intersection of healing and creativity.