Review of BetterHelp Online Therapy Platform

We have studied 10 online therapy platforms to make your search easier.

What is the best online therapy platform?
Our top pick is BetterHelp

BetterHelp is the largest e-counseling platform worldwide. Their mission is: “Making professional counseling accessible, affordable, convenient – so anyone who struggles with life’s challenges can get help, anytime, anywhere.”

Pros and Cons of the BetterHelp Platform

PROS:

  • Flexible: Users have a wide range of multi-modal options including messaging, phone calls, live chat, and video chat to access the services
  • Reasonably priced: At $65 a month, which is comparable to other online therapies like TalkSpace at $ 65-$99, and ReGain at $40 to $70
  • Backed by clinical results: BetterHelp has been found to be comparable to face-to-face counseling(details below)
  • Personalized: Profile match of clients to therapists are managed based on the therapists skills sets and the clients’ problem area

CONS:

  • They do not have a suicide or self-harm hotline

How does BetterHelp vet their therapists?

BetterHelp has a database of 3000 licensed and accredited psychologists, psychologists (PhD / PsyD), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW / LMSW), and licensed professional counselors (LPC). The advantage that BetterHelp has over sites like TalkSpace is that the profiles of the therapists are available for the clients to view.

The induction requirements are strict to ensure only experienced and thoroughly qualified therapists are made available through their platform:

  • Each of them must necessarily possess a Masters Degree or Doctorate
  • They must have a minimum of 3 years and 2,000 hours of in-clinic work
  • The screening includes:
    • Correct licensure documentation
    • Proof of identity
    • Medical references from licensed therapists
    • Verified licensure information from the state licensing board.
    • Completed case study exam by a licensed clinician
    • Evaluation by a video interview
    • Induction requirements at BetterHelp: https://www.betterhelp.com/faq/

What do BetterHelp therapists specialize in?

BetterHelp offers its services within a defined range of mental health issues: including:

Stress,
Anxiety,
Relationships,
Parenting,
Depression,
Addictions,
Eating,
Sleeping,
Trauma,
Anger,
Family conflicts,
LGBT matters,
Grief,
Religion,
Self-esteem and more.

They state clearly that they are not the right platform for cases involving:

Minors, self-harm or suicidal issues, emergency, severe mental illness, psychiatric care, court ordered therapy and such.

What type of clients are BetterHelp therapists best for?

The BetterHelp services are geared towards individual therapies, couples counseling, as well as teen counseling (they offer added assistance for teen counseling through their sister site TeenCounseling.com).

How does BetterHelp work?

Since it’s an online service, the process starts with a series of questions that you need to fill online. The questions cover vital aspects of the issue you need help with, your medical history, as well as certain basic demographics like gender, age, and marital status. The counselor to client match is made within 24 hours, based on the profile you described, your specific issues as listed, and your wellness goals.

Once the therapist match is done, you are allotted a secure chat room where you can share your thoughts and concerns via messaging at any time. BetterHelp online services are available in four modes: You may use any platform that suits your mood, accessibility, or need of the moment. You could select the messaging or chat options for a more anonymous interaction, or use phone and video calling options for a more personalized experience.

The online services are available through these mediums: phone, tablet, or computer.

Chat room messaging:
You can log-in and post your queries, thoughts, concerns at any time, without waiting for an appointment.
Once active, you are assigned a dedicated chat window where you can message your assigned therapist.

Live chat:
This is a scheduled live interaction, using a dedicated chat window
You have a defined period of time where you may connect with your therapist in real time

Phone:
As with the live chat, you will need to log in to the chat room at a pre-scheduled time
The system will ask for your number and call you at the scheduled time (please note, your number is never shared with the therapist)

Video conferencing:
The video chat is the most personal, live interaction option available
You may log into your chat room at the scheduled time

How much does BetterHelp cost?

The entire range of online therapy services can be accessed at a subscription of $65 per month. This entitles the client to unlimited messaging and chatting, 24/7.

BetterHelp online services have been proven to be as effective as face to face counseling for most situations by the independent Berkeley Wellness Institute study, except for specific issues concerning self-harm, extreme mental illness, etc. They do have an offline alternative where one can visit the office for a face to face consultation, for an approximate fee of $150 per session.

While some clients use the services for a certain period of time and pause when they start feeling the positive effects of the therapy, many go on to making BetterHelp a part of their regular lives.

Why we like BetterHelp?

BetterHelp is our top pick counseling platform for a few reasons:

  • An independent Berkeley Wellness Institute study has found BetterHelp to be an effective alternative to face-to-face therapy*
    • 98% of BetterHelp clients made significant progress
    • 94% actually prefer BetterHelp over face to face therapy for reasons like BetterHelp’s quality of therapy, anonymity, affordability, and ease of access anytime
    • 70% of the clients showed reduced depression symptoms with the use of the platform’s services
    • The most progress was exhibited by clients who used BetterHelp’s services without having tried any face to face therapy previously
  • BetterHelp has the largest database of therapists
  • BetterHelp therapists are screened through a stringent process which only 15% of applicants pass
  • The complete licensing information of each therapist is disclosed to the client for transparency and comfort in the assigned counselor. BetterHelp makes it easy for the client to switch counsellors at any point.
  • *The results are based on a validated Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) that is a self-reporting measure frequently used in clinical studies to monitor depression symptoms and anxiety. There is a series of questions around 10 benchmarks that assess how the patients have been feeling over the past two weeks. The PHQ was filled in by the respondents at the beginning of the study and then again after 90 to 104 days of online counseling. Both results were plotted against each other to understand the improvement in the mental health of the patient.

Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

Here’s a couple of questions you can ask your potential future online therapist:

How does online therapy work?
For how long have you been practicing online therapy?
What happens if the platform/communication channel goes down?

About the author

Dina


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