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Those of you who are suffering from anxiety or panic attacks might have already tried some sort of counseling by now, but have you ever tried online therapy? A lot of my readers ask me about BetterHelp. To those uninitiated, BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that was started in 2013 by CEO Phillip Defranco. Today, it is estimated that more than 1.000.000 people have used it for online therapy sessions.
Online counseling is definitely one of the best ways to reach out for help, especially for people who suffer from Agoraphobia or the fear of going outdoors. Often times, online therapy also works a lot cheaper than traditional counseling methods.
However, the Internet seems to be divided over the question: Does BetterHelp work or is it just a scam? Some YouTubers have even gone as far as to call it fake. Others are full of praise for it. These divided reviews and opinions can get very confusing for someone looking for genuine help.
So let us try and get an idea whether BetterHelp is really helpful, or if there are better options out there. This review will also cover other frequently asked questions, like cost, how it works and so on.
What is BetterHelp and how does it work?
BetterHelp is a platform that offers online counseling sessions for various issues and mental disorders like anxiety, phobia, depression, relationship issues, anger management, bipolar disorder, career and sexual problems, sleep disorders, stress, substance abuse, PTSD, trauma, abuse etc.
You can start by signing up for a free trial of 7 days, where they need some basic information about you. I have discussed exactly what they ask below. With the help of this info, they match you with a counselor that they feel is best suited for your needs. All counselors are licensed and certified.
You can then opt for phone counseling sessions, video sessions or live chat. As stated above, this is indeed a great option for people who have issues with face to face counseling sessions. Another advantage of BetterHelp is that they have over 3.000 licensed and certified counselors, so you will always be able to get help.
Basic information asked during signup
The signup process is easy and the entire process does not take more than 5 minutes.
Once you go on the site, you are asked very basic questions like your age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status etc. and they will ask you to briefly describe the problems you are facing.
Afterwards you are given a few choices about the kind of counselor you want. For example, you may be asked how important it is for you to have a counselor who is well versed in relationships, anxiety, phobia, depression, stress, abuse etc. You can give a rating to each of these different points on a scale of least important to most important. You can also choose if you want a male or female counselor.
To start the free trial, you need to provide your credit card information first. You can choose between PayPal and credit card. Then you get an email stating who your counselor is and a live chat may be started right away. Later on you can choose any other method of counseling such as video, phone call etc.
How much does BetterHelp cost?
BetterHelp offers a few free sessions for you to try. If you do not like the counselor, you can either get matched to another one or you could opt out of the sessions completely.
They have various plans starting as low as $40. These include phone sessions and they even offer one phone session of 20 minutes for free. If you like the demo session you can sign up for longer, in-depth sessions which come to less than $90 per call of 20 minutes. BetterHelp can cost anywhere between $40-$70 per week, depending on the type of counseling, the number of sessions and the duration of each session.
Note that many insurance companies do not cover the cost of online counseling such as BetterHelp. If you are unsure whether your company covers it or not, it is best to call them first and find out before you sign up for the demo session.
What about negative and fake reviews?
As with everything, there are always pros and cons and online therapy is no different. BetterHelp has received bad press too. Here are some of the negative things people have said about BetterHelp:
- There could be a long wait time until they match you with the right licensed therapist. This can be bothersome to someone who is looking for immediate help. However, it could depend on the criteria you have selected and also your specific problem.
- The Live Chat tends to have wait times too, which can be a bit frustrating. However, as far as comparing with other online therapy platforms, the Live Chat feature is a unique offering from BetterHelp that many others do not even offer. The Live chat speed may also depend on your Internet connection.
- Rumors about BetterHelp recording your info are rampant (as per some BetterHelp reviews online). They believed that the platform sold info to statistic seekers, but these allegations have been addressed by CEO Defranco.
- BetterHelp reserves the right to refuse therapy to some users after they have filled the questionnaire. Many have been asked to try ‘elsewhere’ meaning face to face therapy. I am not sure if this is a ‘con’ or negative point; if BetterHelp therapists feel that face to face sessions will help someone better, then it may be that the person does have a serious issue or needs immediate help that cannot be dealt with online.
- There have been dozens of testimonies of missed appointments and billing related complaints about BetterHelp. So it all boils down to being matched with a good therapist.
- Some users complained about getting copy-pasted messages and they felt that the counselors they had were not qualified enough and gave standard solutions. This is frustrating to someone who is looking for serious guidelines, so ask for another counselor if this happens to you.
- They ask for credit card information during the trial, so be aware of this and know exactly what you are signing up for. They may also auto renew if you have started a paid plan, so make sure you cancel on time, in case you no longer need their service.
BetterHelp vs Talkspace
BetterHelp is not the only online therapy program out there, but it is definitely one of the best ones, if you look at all the user reviews. I have compared them with the competitors – and BetterHelp wins.
But what is a review without a comparison, so another platform I want to mention here is Talkspace.
Both BetterHelp and Talkspace offer a great web and mobile experience. Some users feel that the sign up process of BetterHelp is easier than with Talkspace. Messaging services on both platforms have received good reviews and ratings. Audio and video sessions are also comparable.
As stated above, BetterHelp excels in one area where Talkspace fails and that is Live Chat sessions. Price wise, BetterHelp and Talkspace are almost comparable and both have different packages to suit various budgets, but most users felt that the live chat feature of BetterHelp really helps and is totally worth the money.
Should you use BetterHelp?
I definitely think that it is worth a try. If you have problems leaving your home or just need guidance from time to time, BetterHelp counselors are available and most often they reply almost instantly. This can be of great help if you are dealing with something that is affecting your life and daily activities. So go ahead and sign up, and who knows, it might change your life for the better. Good luck!
- Licensed, trained and experienced counselors
- Convenient therapy by video, phone or chat
- Low set cost for almost unlimited counseling
- Online therapy without leaving your home
- Counselors are usually quick at responding
- Long wait time while finding the right therapist
- The Live Chat can sometimes feel a little slow
- It is not traditional face-to-face counseling
- Many insurances do not cover online therapy
- Not for urgent crisis or emergency situations