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BetterHelp Review: Should you try this online therapy?

We evaluate BetterHelp and will give you all the pros, cons and pricing, plus tips on choosing the best therapist

Medically reviewed by: Nicole Arzt, MS, LMFT
Last Updated: Oct 11, 2021

BetterHelp Review

Gone are the days when an expensive in-office session with a therapist was the only way to get help. Online therapy is now one of the top ways people receive individual, couples, and group counseling. Not only is it often more convenient, but it’s also a more comfortable setting for many patients.

Therapy can be costly and difficult to fit into your schedule. Luckily, online platforms like BetterHelp make it more convenient to seek help. But is BetterHelp the right choice for you? Keep reading to find out how we evaluated it on the critical considerations for quality online therapy.

Editor's Summary

Overall Rating 8.8 / 10

With greater access to live sessions in the format you prefer, as well as thoughtful features like guided journaling, BetterHelp’s online therapy manages to rival traditional therapy and arguably provide even more comprehensive help – often with a lower price tag.

Pros

  • Professional, licensed, and rigorously vetted therapists with at least 3 years and 1,000 hours of experience
  • More frequent live sessions compared to rivals – all via your choice of chat, phone, or video
  • Flexibility in how you’re matched to therapists, and very easy to switch therapists anytime
  • Extras like instant messaging, guided journaling, and group sessions
  • Discounts and financial aid available, as well as 10% off when you use our coupon code: INNERBODY

Cons

  • Therapists can’t diagnose conditions or prescribe medication.
  • Pricing isn’t clear till after the questionnaire (but we’ll clarify all of it below)
  • When switching therapists, your prior messages and worksheets disappear unless you save them before switching
  • Usually not covered by insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid
Our Top Picks

BetterHelp

BetterHelp offers convenient online counseling in an intuitive, trustworthy environment.

After being matched with a BetterHelp therapist who fits your preferences and needs, you’ll get unlimited messaging and weekly, real-time therapy sessions via your choice of live chat, phone call, or video call. Schedule sessions when it’s convenient for you, and meet with your therapist from the comfort of your own home - or wherever you choose!

Individual Counseling
Reviewed by Innerbody Research
Teen Counseling
Reviewed by Innerbody Research
Couples Counseling (via ReGain)
Reviewed by Innerbody Research

Why you should trust us

The Innerbody Research team spent approximately 76 hours researching and testing BetterHelp’s services. We also evaluated how it stacks up to other online therapy platforms. We provide our take on each aspect of BetterHelp throughout this review so you can determine if it sounds right for you.

Over the past two decades, we have helped millions of readers make more informed decisions about staying healthy and living healthier lifestyles. We strive to inform you of your best options. Our research team purchases, tests, and compares a wide range of telehealth services like BetterHelp so we can write deeply insightful reviews and guides. Our articles are also thoroughly vetted by one or more members of our Medical Review Board for accuracy.

How we evaluated BetterHelp

BetterHelp is one of the most popular choices for online therapy. But how does it compare to your other options? We’ve identified several major criteria to evaluate BetterHelp and the services it provides: ease of use, quality of therapy, cost, and customer care and privacy.

Ease of use

Grade: 8.75

The best therapy in the world won’t do anyone any good if it’s not properly accessible. In fact, accessibility is one of the greatest advantages of online therapy as compared to in-person therapy.

In general, the BetterHelp app and website facilitate excellent service and therapy, with tools and features that are intuitive and straightforward to use. You’ll find access easy, whether on your desktop browser or in the mobile app. Getting started is a straightforward process involving a questionnaire that only takes 30 minutes to complete. You can let BetterHelp’s team match you to a therapist based on the answers to your questionnaire or choose your own by browsing the directory. All you need is a reliable internet connection and a camera for video sessions with your therapist.

BetterHelp’s interface has mechanisms for easily making changes in your service – like changing therapists, altering your plan, or canceling altogether. But we do have a few tips you should follow to avoid hidden pitfalls if you choose to switch therapists or cancel.

Quality of therapy

Grade: 9.5

As you consider subscribing to BetterHelp’s service, you need to know how its quality of therapy compares to traditional in-person therapy as well as the services of its online rivals. Who are the therapists, and how qualified are they? Do the therapeutic approaches lend themselves well to a teletherapy format?

In testing and in conversations with other BetterHelp customers, it became clear to us that the quality of therapy is very high. For many people, the company will be able to provide you with a wider and more diverse set of therapist options than you could reasonably access nearby in a traditional, in-person setting. When it comes to qualifications, licensing, and experience, we find that BetterHelp sets a good, aggressive bar for its therapists to meet. Most of these therapists rely on techniques that have proven effective in scientific studies.

Cost

Grade: 8

How much will BetterHelp therapy cost? Can benefits typically cover any of that cost? How do the costs compare to what you’d pay for competitors’ services or for traditional, in-person therapy? Are there opportunities to get discounts or financial assistance?

Costs compare favorably both to in-person therapy and to rivaling services, particularly when you consider the value of weekly live sessions included for every subscriber (not just available at a premium rate). Nonetheless, pricing information on the website is more opaque than we’d prefer; ordinarily, you wouldn’t know your likely costs prior to completing the questionnaire unless you’ve read our review here first. We’ll lay out the pertinent pricing details and factors below so that you can understand BetterHelp’s range of possible costs and discount options.

Insurance coverage also won’t be an option. But, unless you have great insurance with a low deductible, the cost of therapy will likely be a great value to you compared to alternatives.

Customer care and privacy

Grade: 9

Good, attentive service and a healthy dedication to customer privacy are two measures of a company’s respect for its customers. So how does BetterHelp stack up? Does it provide dedicated customer service professionals who offer prompt and effective help when problems arise? How well does the company protect your data and honor your desire for privacy? What measures does BetterHelp take to safeguard your sensitive information?

In a nutshell, BetterHelp is committed to quality, privacy, and security – and it shows. The customer service team replies promptly to issues you raise – promising to reply within 24 hours but, in our experience, replying in far less time than that – and answers your questions with the appropriate level of personalized care. And the company ensures that its therapists adhere to HIPAA regulations and protect your confidentiality. You can further protect your privacy using a nickname with your therapist. Since BetterHelp doesn’t work with insurance or employers, there isn’t even a basic level of information-sharing between such entities, which means maximum privacy for you.

What does BetterHelp do?

live video therapy session

BetterHelp is the largest online therapy platform worldwide. Ad tech professional, Alon Matas, founded the company in 2013 after seeking therapy for depression. He learned that most people who need it weren’t getting help. Factors such as lack of access, availability, cost, inconvenience, and fear make in-person therapy challenging for many people. Online therapy platforms like BetterHelp strive to offer an easier, more comfortable, and more affordable way to get help.

The demand for online therapy has skyrocketed in the last few years. According to the CDC, 40% of American adults experienced mental health or substance abuse issues during the coronavirus pandemic. It took a hefty toll on younger adults, essential workers, people of color, and caregivers. While online therapy became the only option for most during this time, positive experiences helped many people recognize that it’s a viable option in a post-pandemic world, too.

All of us can benefit from talking with a therapist. Everyone faces obstacles in life that can get in the way of our happiness or become roadblocks to our goals. And sometimes, when goals themselves change, we need help navigating and coping with difficult emotions.

BetterHelp therapists are all highly qualified to help you as you seek to improve your life. The company also works with therapists who specialize in particular areas of concern, including but not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Self-esteem
  • Life changes
  • Parenting
  • Relationships
  • Religion
  • Sexuality
  • Identity
  • Anger
  • Addiction
  • Eating
  • Sleep
  • PTSD
  • Grief
  • Family conflict

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Additional services

In addition to individual therapy, the BetterHelp homepage lists Couples and Teen counseling options. Each of these services sends you to a sister site when selected – Regain.us for couples and TeenCounseling.com for teens. Pricing for these services is similar to BetterHelp, and all therapists meet the same high standards and undergo the same rigorous screening.

BetterHelp has a separate website devoted to LGBTQIA counseling, called Pride Counseling. Its services are just as affordable and structured as the parent company, but therapists with Pride Counseling specialize in providing therapy to individuals in the LGBTQIA community. Pride Counseling also protects your privacy and anonymity as rigorously as BetterHelp.

Is BetterHelp legit?

Yes, BetterHelp is a legit, trustworthy company and a leader in online therapy with over 22,000 therapists and nearly two million patients so far. Many people prefer it to their traditional in-person therapy. As a company, it seems to understand that trust is a vital component to its success. The company ensures:

  • A safe and secure platform
  • Full compliance with HIPAA law
  • Greater affordability for some people, compared to in-person therapy
  • The option of anonymity
  • High standards for its therapists
  • A straightforward experience whether you use the website or the app

Who are the therapists?

The most important resource BetterHelp provides is its wide array of highly qualified therapists. Although it was acquired by Teladoc, Inc. in 2015, the company continues to employ the same rigorous therapist application process in order to vet therapists and maintain quality. BetterHelp reports that only 15% of therapists who apply to the platform are approved.

The therapist application process comprises:

  • A review of each therapist’s background, experience, and references
  • Verification of credentials
  • A case study exam evaluated by a licensed clinician; a video interview
  • A platform skills test
  • Therapists are also subject to ongoing quality improvement, monitoring, and client feedback throughout their tenure at BetterHelp.

All therapists have obtained at minimum a master’s degree in their field and are experienced and accredited as:

  • Psychologists
  • Marriage and family therapists
  • Clinical social workers
  • Licensed professional counselors

In addition, therapists have been qualified and certified by their state’s professional board; they have at least 3 years and 1,000 hours of hands-on experience prior to joining; after joining BetterHelp, they regularly go through peer review, results monitoring, and ongoing training and support; and they each have a mentor to help guide them through the BetterHelp process.

BetterHelp sets high standards for therapists who utilize its platform. While it maintains that it’s not responsible for patient-counselor interactions – BetterHelp is simply the platform – the company clearly makes a good faith effort to ensure the therapists are not only accredited and experienced but highly rated as well.

How much does BetterHelp cost?

Is BetterHelp free?

No, BetterHelp isn’t free, but it’s priced comparably with other online therapy websites or apps and, in most cases, costs less than in-person therapy. If you’re worried about whether you can afford therapy, you may qualify for a reduced rate. Additionally, financial aid can lower your rate to as little as $48 a week. But it definitely pays to understand in advance how BetterHelp presents these options.

Standard pricing

The standard weekly rate is $80. Unless you’re receiving financial aid, weekly rates on BetterHelp vary from $65-$80. The reason for the range of potential weekly prices is that those who qualify for reduced fee discounting can save $15 per week.

Don’t worry if you’re confused – BetterHelp actually offers two ways to receive a lower price:

  • Reduced fee discount
  • Financial aid

If you don’t know some up-front information about qualifying factors and aren’t aware that these are totally separate discount paths, you may miss your chance to secure the discounted rate that you deserve. We’ve done the testing and research – here are all of the details.

Reduced fee discount

Depending on how you answer the sign-up questionnaire, you may be presented with a reduced fee discount, bringing your per-week cost from $80 down to $65 – almost 20% in savings. For many people with financial hardships that create difficulty in affording therapy, this lower price makes BetterHelp an excellent deal.

Simply by completing the questionnaire, many people will discover that they qualify for this reduced fee discount. Specifically, there are three subjects areas in the questionnaire that qualify you for this assistance.

If you’re unemployed and, subsequently, you consider your financial status to be either fair or poor, you’ll likely qualify after explaining your circumstances. However, you can still qualify if you’re employed and your financial status is not “good”.

BetterHelp will give you the $65/week rate if you describe your financial status as fair or poor and further explain that you are:

  • A student
  • A veteran
  • Disabled
  • Employed with a low income
  • Impacted by COVID

Any one of these conditions qualifies you for a reduced fee discount. When it comes to low income, you’ll qualify for this reduced price if you earn less than $50,000 annually.

And consider this: applying your 10% discount using coupon code INNERBODY adds to those savings. In other words, if you qualify for a reduced fee discount and then apply your INNERBODY code on top of it, you can enjoy a low weekly rate of $58.50. That amounts to a 27% discount on the normal rate.

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Note: if you qualify for (and accept) the reduced fee discount, you aren’t presented with the opportunity to seek financial aid later in the questionnaire.

Financial aid

By applying for financial aid, you can secure an even lower weekly rate for a period of time – sometimes as low as $48 (40% off the normal weekly rate). Keep in mind that financial aid expires in 90 days, which means you’ll need to reapply for it after three months of therapy. The amount of aid depends on your circumstances, as expressed in a separate questionnaire.

Suppose none of the aforementioned conditions for reduced fee discount apply to you, but you feel you can’t afford $80 per week. In that case, you should click a button at the end of the questionnaire (on the payment page) declaring, “I can’t afford therapy.”

At that point, BetterHelp will ask you if you’d like to check eligibility for financial aid. When you proceed, you’re asked about your employment status, household income, number of dependents, race, and whether you live in a rural/non-rural area. Even if you characterized your financial status as “good” earlier in the questionnaire, it absolutely pays to check eligibility and answer these additional questions at the end; you can still qualify for as much as 40% off the standard weekly rate.

Qualifying for a reduced fee discount during the questionnaire does exclude you from seeking financial aid. You won’t see that “I can’t afford therapy” financial aid button at the end of the process.

Insurance

Therapy from BetterHelp is likely to be an out-of-pocket expense, but it’s worth checking with your insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid provider. The company has priced its services to be competitive with – or more affordable than – what many patients pay out-of-pocket when factoring in co-pays, deductibles, and stringent coverage requirements that insurance providers set.

BetterHelp automatically charges your original payment method every four weeks, but you can easily cancel any time. Simply log in, go to Your Account, and select Payment Settings. You’ll see a link to change or cancel your plan. Click the link and answer a few multiple-choice questions about why you want to cancel or change your plan. The company will also ask you to indicate if you’d like the same therapist should you resume treatment in the future. You’ll receive an email that confirms your cancellation or plan change. You must contact customer service to request a refund for any unused time.

Is BetterHelp worth the money?

Therapy, in general, is very much “worth it”. Most of us can benefit greatly from therapy, but in spite of this, too many of us neglect our own mental health and emotional wellbeing. Therapy can greatly improve quality of life. If you find that online therapy and live sessions are as helpful and productive for you as traditional, in-person therapy, then yes, BetterHelp is worth the money and a good value.

BetterHelp can be significantly more affordable than what many people pay for traditional therapy sessions, which often cost $100-$250 each time. Some highly sought-out therapists even charge more. These in-person sessions typically last 50 minutes, which accounts for part of the higher cost. However, you often lack the opportunity to interact with your therapist outside of your in-person sessions. BetterHelp’s value, in particular, is high thanks to extras like guided journaling, webinars, and unlimited instant messaging with your therapist.

Like all therapy, though, the value comes when you find the therapist with whom you can develop a very productive and useful routine and working relationship. BetterHelp allows you to find and, when necessary, switch therapists quite easily. This makes your chances of worthwhile therapy very good.

Getting started with BetterHelp

The sign-up process is relatively quick and easy, with clear guidance every step of the way. You’ll answer questions about yourself and what you’re looking for in a therapist. The entire process takes about 30 minutes. Here’s more detail on each step of the BetterHelp sign-up process:

Fill out a questionnaire

BetterHelp uses your responses to identify the areas you want to address in therapy, match you with an appropriate therapist, and understand your financial circumstances. You’ll begin with demographic questions before answering some questions about your therapy preferences and providing information about your overall state of health.

Create your account

You can choose to sign up with Facebook or Google accounts or by entering your email address and password directly into the site. BetterHelp emails you a code to verify your account. You don’t need to provide your real name.

Identify what you’re looking for in a counselor

Indicate whether you have a preference for gender, age, religion, and sexual orientation.

tell betterhelp about your therapist preferences

Then, select the areas in which you’d like your therapist to have experience or specialization, including anxiety, addiction, coping with life changes, relationship issues, career coaching, and parenting. Finally, give a brief description of what brings you to BetterHelp.

Get matched with a therapist

Based on all of the information you provide, a sophisticated algorithm matches you with a therapist who fits all or most of your requirements. It can take a day or two to receive a match.

While allowing BetterHelp to match you is a bit easier, the algorithm isn’t perfect. For instance, one of our testers was matched with a male therapist even though she indicated that she preferred a female. Fortunately, you can easily change your therapist at any time if it’s not a good fit.

Insider Tip: Though BetterHelp doesn’t make it obvious, you can choose your own therapist with this step-by-step process.

Confirm your plan and pay

Once you complete your sign-up, you’ll arrive at the “Welcome to BetterHelp” page featuring more explanation of how therapy works, in addition to a chart of how BetterHelp compares to in-office therapy. This page is also where you’ll see your payment options (credit cards or Google Pay). Weekly rates ultimately vary from $48-$80 depending on whether you qualify for financial aid or a reduced fee discount. If you’ve already received a reduced fee discount, you won’t see the “I can’t afford therapy” option here. However, if you see this button on your screen, it’s in your interest to check your eligibility for financial aid.

Your membership begins the day you start interacting with a therapist, and you can wait to pay until you receive your match.

betterhelp payments and financial aid

Begin communicating with your therapist

Once you receive your match, you’ll get an email from BetterHelp followed by an automated, introductory email from your therapist with a link to view and reply. Once you’ve replied to this message, you’ll need to pay for your first four weeks if you haven’t already. We recommend scheduling your first live session right away using the availability listed on your therapist’s calendar.

Email communication and customer care after sign-up

You can expect a reasonable amount of email communication from BetterHelp – usually a few times per week. Serving to guide you through therapy and help you get the most out of the services, these useful emails include:

  • Your membership summary, with a link to manage your account.
  • Status updates confirming payments, notifying you when you get matched or switch therapists, etc.
  • Live session appointment reminders.
  • Groupinar registration confirmations.
  • Reminders the day before and a few hours before scheduled sessions.
  • Security checks (you need to provide a verification code for the first few logins and any time you log in from a new device).
  • Alerts that your therapist messaged you.
  • Check-ins from BetterHelp to see how it’s working out with your therapist.
  • Your personal referral link. If someone signs up via your link, both of you get a free week. (Your friend receives their first week for free, and you get a free week added to your account).

There are several ways to get in touch with BetterHelp’s customer service team. We found email to be the most effective method of communication. The customer service team is prompt (replying within 24 hours, often much sooner) and provides personalized responses to your questions. The company is committed to quality, often prompting you to provide feedback so that it can improve your experience.

BetterHelp vs in-person therapy

BetterHelp and traditional, in-person therapy share commonalities, but there are also differences. Some of these similarities and differences are obvious, while others are subtler. Based on our testing and analysis, here are a few of the major similarities and differences, along with a chart from BetterHelp itself below.

Similarities

Range of treatment approaches

Whether you opt for BetterHelp or traditional therapy, you’ll be able to access a range of therapeutic treatment modalities.

Qualifications of the therapists

BetterHelp’s therapists are held to high standards in terms of their credentials and experience. A BetterHelp therapist will have, at minimum, three years and 1,000 hours of experience prior to serving patients through the platform. And all of its therapists have a Master’s or Doctoral degree, along with accreditation as psychologists, marriage & family therapists, clinical social workers, or licensed professional counselors. You can rest assured that these therapists are as qualified as therapists you’d see in traditional therapy sessions.

Differences

Psychiatric care

Seeing a psychiatrist for an in-person session in your locale will be different from BetterHelp therapy because full psychiatric services (the ability to prescribe medication) aren’t available at BetterHelp.

Available therapists from which to choose

BetterHelp’s platform gives you access to a massive variety of potential therapists who could help you. If you were to try to access the same variety of therapists in your geographic area, you might be traveling long distances to do so unless you live in a major metro area. Because finding the right therapist is a vital element for success, BetterHelp’s wide selection definitely helps. For those who live in more remote areas, online therapy is a game-changer.

Cost

Relying on traditional, in-person therapy sessions, which can cost $150 per session, is often considerably more expensive than using BetterHelp for online therapy with its mixture of messaging and weekly live sessions. There is also your time to consider – how much work or vacation time you might lose in order to have traditional therapy sessions. The route that is more economical for you depends somewhat on how much you hope to interact with a therapist for care. If you sense you only need one monthly interaction, traditional therapy might be slightly more economical. If you desire more interaction, then BetterHelp will very likely cost less.

Impact on your schedule and routines

For the vast majority of people, online therapy will be less disruptive to broader routines. You can schedule sessions to occur wherever you are located, rather than commuting to an office. Live sessions can occur via voice, video, or chat. The abundance of available therapists means that, as long as you’re willing to try a few therapists until you find the perfect one, you’re highly likely to find a therapist whose professional approach and schedule of availability are ideal for you.

In-person therapy

The biggest difference between traditional and online therapy is that online therapy attempts to replace in-person sessions with live sessions. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. Whether the live, virtual sessions are overall easier and more beneficial or, instead, not as useful as in-person sessions varies from person to person. Some people find that the qualities of an in-person session can’t be replicated by video sessions, while many other people prefer the convenience and greater frequency of BetterHelp’s live video sessions. After the reality of Zoom calls replacing in-office meetings for so many of us, the number of people comfortable with live video sessions has only grown.

BetterHelp compared to traditional therapy

When in-person therapy is a must: emergency, life-threatening situations

While BetterHelp offers similar benefits to in-person therapy, it’s not an adequate substitute in every case. Its therapists don’t prescribe medication, make diagnoses, or fulfill court-ordered therapy.

Online therapy is not suitable for treating severe mental illness or any active emergency or dangerous situation. Seek immediate emergency help if any of the following apply:

  • You are suicidal or contemplating self-harm – or if this describes someone you know. Call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline: 800-273-TALK (8255).
  • You are thinking about harming someone or something else or are experiencing any kind of crisis, Text “HELLO” to 741741 to reach a Crisis Text Line counselor 24/7.
  • You’re a veteran experiencing a crisis. Regardless of whether you’ve registered with the VA or enrolled for VA healthcare, you can call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and then press 1. Alternatively, you can send a text to 838255.

BetterHelp vs Talkspace

An abundance of therapy apps and websites have popped up in the past few years. While they share basic similarities – like messaging with a therapist, guided exercises, and usually a live session component – there are also some key differences. Some focus primarily on talk therapy, while others offer consultations during which physicians can prescribe medications they determine to be a valuable part of your treatment.

It’s crucial to seek therapy from reputable companies. Our top recommendation besides BetterHelp is Talkspace. Both services have a network of very qualified and experienced therapists. Both use a subscription structure. Both companies make it easy to switch therapists if you aren’t satisfied with your current therapist. But the two companies do differ in some meaningful ways. Here are two of the more significant differences:

Live sessions vs. messaging

Though some of BetterHelp’s participating therapists don’t do live video sessions, most of them do. And the BetterHelp service is built more around establishing a cadence of live sessions that works well for both you and your therapist. The general “default” cadence is something like one live session per week. While unlimited messaging is valuable, we believe that it can’t replicate some of the value of face-to-face interaction between therapist and client. Anybody who has ever misconstrued a text message can understand this point. Talkspace facilitates live sessions, but not at the entry-level; Talkspace requires a more significant investment. We believe BetterHelp has the better approach in this case.

Cost

BetterHelp’s service will be more affordable unless you opt for a messaging-only subscription (meaning you will have no live sessions with your therapist). If you’re confident that you can get everything you need from text messages only, then you can disregard this advice. However, we do believe that live video sessions provide significant value. When considering these and other factors, BetterHelp is our top choice for most people.

You can learn much more about the differences between the two companies in our full comparison, and our 2021 online therapy guide gives more detail about other therapy providers.

What is BetterHelp therapy like?

To succeed in therapy, you should commit to at least four weeks (the pre-set term you pay for on BetterHelp), with one weekly live session. It’s wise to continue therapy until you feel relief from the issues that made you seek help. You should also feel confident to use your learnings and tools from treatment if those issues resurface.

The time required to complete therapy varies based on the nature and severity of your concerns. For example, successfully treating post-traumatic stress disorder takes at least 15 sessions. For chronic conditions like depression or addiction, it’s often best to continue treatment much longer.

BetterHelp’s talk therapy centers on conversations between the therapist and patient. Most of the counselors take an eclectic approach or use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that is custom-fit to each patient. They combine talk therapy with actionable steps to address your concerns. Your therapist will likely ask you to fill out simple worksheets to help them understand you and your goals. Therapists will also suggest behavioral adjustments that might help with your issues. Most use evidence-based techniques (EBT) – therapy methods proven to work for the predominating case in scientific studies. It’s important to note that none of BetterHelp’s therapists can prescribe medication.

Live sessions

Like all therapy, a core part of your treatment depends on live one-to-one sessions. BetterHelp stands out from other online therapy platforms, which tend to charge more for live sessions if they even offer them at all. This company includes one weekly live session in your plan.

BetterHelp offers a simple, intuitive way to communicate with a therapist via the method you find most useful: chat, phone, or video. The method you choose depends on your therapist’s options (some only use chat for live sessions) and your preference. Since you can select your desired mode of communication each time you book a session, you’re not committed to one option only. We recommend trying all three to see what works best for you.

In our experience, a once-weekly live session with a therapist lasts 30 minutes. If you feel this is too short or too long, some therapists can vary the length and frequency of live sessions. We recommend asking your therapist early on if you have concerns about this standard length.

Of course, live sessions aren’t the only way to connect directly with your therapist. You’ll frequently be interacting via instant messaging and routine check-ins with your therapist as well.

Now, let’s explore each live session method.

Live chat

The primary advantage of communicating via live chat is that you’ll have a record of your conversation with your therapist available at your fingertips. Much like texting or a messaging app, the live chat option lets you use your mobile device or computer to message back and forth in real-time with your therapist. Since you schedule it in advance, you know your therapist will be available and responsive to you during that time.

For people who like to review discussions after the fact or who are uncomfortable speaking or being on video, live chat is a fantastic method of communication. It allows many people to open up in a way that they find difficult on the phone or face-to-face. Live chat is also a great solution if you don’t have a reliable camera on your preferred electronic device for using BetterHelp.

Phone session

BetterHelp allows you to communicate with your therapist via a traditional phone call if you want simply to talk. Some people find chat too impersonal but face-to-face sessions too technologically burdensome. Others are camera-shy or just find a voice-only interface more comfortable. Phone calls are also beneficial at times when you’d rather talk with your therapist on the go, such as during a walk.

Video call

BetterHelp video sessions are no different than video calls on most major platforms, such as Zoom, Google Meet, or FaceTime. You’ll need a reliable internet or data connection, which you can test before the live session. To see and speak with your therapist face-to-face, in real time, you’ll enable the camera and microphone on your computer or mobile device.

The video session is the closest option to an in-person therapy session. We recommend scheduling at least a few video sessions (one per week, ideally) right away so you can get a good feel for your therapist and how the two of you interact. Seeing each other’s nonverbal cues can be a helpful way to connect on a deeper level. Once you’re comfortable and have established a rapport, it’s easy to schedule a phone call or live chat instead if that’s most convenient for you.

Unlimited messaging with your therapist

In addition to live sessions, every BetterHelp plan includes unlimited messaging. You and your therapist use a dedicated “room” (the Counseling tab’s main window) – a virtual venue for you to communicate with each other in a secure, private way. You can leave messages for your therapist in this room whenever you think of something you want to share or if there’s something you want to remember to discuss in a live session. It’s also where your therapist leaves replies to you, asks you questions, and suggests worksheets for you to fill out. Messaging works through the website or mobile app so that you can review the conversation thread at any time.

When a message comes in, you’ll be alerted via email (and possibly a mobile notification, based on your settings), but you’ll need to log in securely to the site or app to read and reply to it. Much like email, you can include attachments, send video or audio files, and even flag a note as urgent.

It’s reasonable to expect your therapist to respond to your message (or messages) each day they work. Some therapists respond more frequently, while many aim for more of a daily cadence and address one or more of your messages in one, detailed response. We encourage you to figure out what works best by setting clear expectations that work for both of you at the beginning of therapy. If you end up dissatisfied by the frequency or substance of their messages – which does happen – you also have the option of switching therapists. But, again, it’s best to know your messaging cadence upfront so you can avoid frustration and ideally have a long-standing relationship.

Group therapy

BetterHelp offers group therapy in the form of what it calls groupinars. We recommend them to anyone who likes the spirit of camaraderie. Groupinars are live, one-hour web presentations hosted by one of BetterHelp’s most popular therapists. There are several offered each week, ranging from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Eastern Time). Groupinars cover the following topics:

  • Wellness
  • Relationships
  • BetterHelp
  • Trauma
  • Anxiety & Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Skill Building Series
betterhelp groupinars

You can attend as many groupinars as you want. To register, navigate to the Groupinars tab and click on the “More Information” button under the description, then click on “Register.” You’ll receive two handy emails when you sign up to attend – a confirmation email with instructions on joining and a reminder email before the event.

If something comes up and you’re unable to attend, BetterHelp sends you a link to view the live webinar within seven days; after that, the link no longer works. While some scheduled times are not ideal, especially morning sessions, you can still register and view the webinar later. The only downside is that you miss out on the group chat and the ability to ask the host questions.

The group chat window on the lower right corner of the webinar uses attendees’ initials to protect their privacy. Before a webinar begins, the host reminds everyone to refrain from sharing personal/identifying information that might affect anonymity. The host also reminds everyone that kindness toward one another ensures a pleasant and non-judgmental experience.

Journaling

betterhelp journaling interface

A valuable habit that promotes reflection and mindfulness, journaling requires as little as a few minutes to complete each entry. There are no actual rules to follow. Your journal is, by default, only viewable by you. You may choose to share individual entries with your therapist or automatically share all journaling with your therapist. Click on Journal Settings to export your journal into a downloadable file so that you retain a physical copy of it separate from the platform.

Many find it helpful to set reminders to journal on specific days of the week at specific times, such as every weekday at 9 a.m. and weekends at 1 p.m. You can journal using a freeform (self-guided) method or choose from hundreds of suggestions or prompts. Click “Shuffle” on your journal to get a random suggestion, or you can view all of them by clicking “Journal Suggestions” in the far upper right corner of the page.

betterhelp journal suggestions

What is BetterHelp's cancellation policy?

Canceling a BetterHelp subscription is very easy and can be completed online in just a couple of minutes.

Once you’ve logged in, navigate to your payment settings. You’ll see a link that allows you to change or cancel your plan. To cancel, simply click the link and answer a multiple-choice question about why you’re canceling. You’ll have the option to share the fact that you’re canceling with your therapist. Then you’ll be asked if you’d like the same therapist in the event that you resume therapy in the future. Once you confirm the cancellation, you’ll receive an email with a cancellation confirmation.

Finding the best therapist

The BetterHelp therapy team includes psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and licensed professional counselors. They are all board-certified by their state and have a minimum of a master’s degree in their field. To practice on BetterHelp, therapists must have at least three years and 1,000 hours of experience. The company ensures that every provider is appropriately licensed and remains in good standing.

Each therapist’s complete licensing information is on their profile. Therapist profiles also include their photo, years of experience, certification(s), availability, and approach to therapy. You’re likely to find some information about their personality and passions in life, too.

We found a diverse range of therapists in most metro areas, and our testers often had trouble choosing from several counselors who fit their needs. We want to help you get the most out of treatment, so the Innerbody Research team talked to many experts in addition to our rigorous testing of BetterHelp and other platforms. We also created a separate guide with seven tips to help you find your ideal BetterHelp therapist.

choosing a betterhelp counselor

The “right” therapist for you depends on many factors, including personal preferences and why you seek therapy. However, your therapist should have good communication skills, availability, and a goal-oriented approach.

Good communication skills

To an even greater extent than in-person therapy, online therapy relies on compatible communication styles between you and your therapist. Your therapist should be able to communicate via your preferred method during live sessions (chat, phone, or video). If you experience repeated scheduling problems or misunderstandings that interfere with your treatment, there could be serious communication issues. Any of these obstacles in communication can derail progress over time, and you shouldn’t settle for subpar therapy.

You should clearly understand when and how frequently your therapist will check and respond to your messages. Even if therapists are busy, they should not leave you hanging when you’re expecting to hear from them. Discuss your communication expectations early in therapy to ensure you’re on the same page.

It’s important to have professional therapist-patient boundaries. But it’s also crucial that your interactions are friendly and productive. Therapy inevitably gets uncomfortable at times, especially when you’re delving into complex issues. But if you’re feeling unsettled because of your therapist’s tone – or if you feel judged, belittled, or dismissed – it’s a sign that your personalities are not meshing, and you should switch therapists.

Availability

You should be able to view your therapist’s availability on the BetterHelp calendar interface to schedule a live chat, phone, or video session by clicking on one of the dates and times listed. Message your therapist if none of the listed times work for you or if you’re hoping to schedule a session sooner. Your therapist will accommodate you if possible or clarify that there’s no availability beyond what appears on the schedule.

During our testing, we discovered that some of the best therapists have limited availability because they’re in high demand. You may need to decide if it’s more helpful overall to have less frequent live sessions with your best match or instead have more frequent live sessions with a less-than-ideal therapist.

Goal-oriented approach

Progress isn’t the easiest thing to assess at all times, but your therapist is there to help you. Does your therapist describe plans or set milestones? Do you discuss progress? Your therapist should raise the topic if it doesn’t come up naturally. If you’re concerned about the rate of progress toward your goals, ask your therapist about the current approach. If you’re satisfied by the subsequent explanation, this may lead to progress. But if you’re not happy, consider switching therapists.

Getting matched to a therapist

By default, BetterHelp matches you to a therapist algorithmically using your answers to its sign-up questionnaire. When BetterHelp matches you to a therapist, the first thing you should do is read their profile to decide if the match seems right for you.

BetterHelp doesn’t advertise this option clearly, but it does offer a method that some testers found superior: choosing your own therapist. From our experience, we believe the best therapist matching process for you is a matter of comfort and personal preference. In the past, we were not the biggest fans of relying on the company to find your match unless you were brand new to therapy or unsure what kind of therapist is right for you. We preferred Talkspace’s more personable default method of finding your match; it relies on a conversation with an actual therapist who asks you similar questions.

But it seems that BetterHelp’s algorithm has become more sophisticated. When Innerbody’s research team tried the algorithmic matching method, they did not detect a difference in success between this method and the self-guided approach. One tester was surprised by her match, whose background did not cover one of her primary concerns. However, it’s easy to switch to a new therapist after already being matched with one. Most of our testers switched therapists at least once – some even switched multiple times in one week. (You should never hesitate to change therapists if you feel it would benefit you – more on that below.)

Choosing your own therapist

If you’d prefer more control over the matching process with BetterHelp, here are the details of this handy trick for selecting your therapist.

Step 1: Use a specific (and obscure) link.

Go to the BetterHelp website or mobile app and scroll down to the very bottom. In the footer section of the page, you will find a link that says, “Find a Therapist.” You can see the link in that location on the website whether you’re accessing it via phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop device. Click this link.

a trick for choosing your own BetterHelp therapist

Step 2: Browse your options to learn about the therapists.

Next, you’ll arrive on a page asking you to specify your geographic location by entering your city, state, or zip code into a search field. Scroll down if you’d rather choose from a list of major metropolitan areas. Once you provide your location, you’ll see you a list of therapists serving your area. While BetterHelp’s system technically allows you to choose a therapist licensed in any state, therapists can only provide therapy to those residing in their state(s).

Step 3: Viewing more therapists.

The displayed list of therapists is limited to 20, though popular locations usually have more therapists available. To see more of them, refresh the page. Repeat as needed.

Step 4: Read therapist profiles.

You will see a photograph and basic information about each therapist. It’s worth reading their profiles, which include valuable information about their amount of experience along with their descriptions of themselves and their practice. The way they talk about themselves reveals facets of their personality. Ask yourself: “Do their interests line up well with mine?” and “Does their personality and mode of expression feel relatable?” Answering “yes” indicates that they are likely a good match.

There is one potential drawback with choosing your therapist. Unfortunately, you won’t know if the therapist you select has availability that works for you until after you click “Get Started.” This action takes you to the checkout page, where you must pay for your first four weeks. Of course, if it turns out that they aren’t available at times that work for you, you can switch therapists easily.

Whether you opt for this self-guided method or the default, algorithmic approach, you can expect to try one or two therapists before finding the best match – possibly even more. There is no limit to how often you can switch therapists, so don’t stick it out if it doesn’t feel right. You may find the perfect fit immediately, but there’s no harm in switching whenever you think it will benefit you.

Working through challenges with your therapist

Once you’ve found your therapist, how will you connect with them, and what other services should you try? The website and mobile app offer intuitive, easy-to-use interfaces that make it seamless to manage your account, schedule appointments with your therapist, send them instant messages, register for group webinars, review previous sessions, and more.

Your success in therapy truly depends on a solid, productive fit with your therapist. BetterHelp acknowledges this reality by giving you and your therapist room to establish the cadence of live sessions that works best for both of you. The service is incredibly helpful, but only if your relationship with your therapist is fruitful.

Therapist response times

Your plan includes one weekly, scheduled live session, where your therapist will focus on you. In addition, you have unlimited messaging, which is like sending an email. Response times vary from therapist to therapist. It’s important to be clear with your therapist upfront and share your communication expectations with them.

Each therapist maintains their own schedule, so it’s important to understand when and how frequently your therapist will be checking and responding to your messages. Most of these therapists maintain schedules that provide a large period of availability. You can easily view your therapist’s availability through the BetterHelp calendar interface and schedule a live chat, phone, or video session by clicking on one of the dates and times listed.

Once you’ve scheduled your session, BetterHelp will send a confirmation text 24 hours prior to it. The company will not share your phone number with your therapist.

What if your therapist doesn't reply?

Each therapist is different and maintains their own schedule, so it’s important to establish communication expectations and availability.

If your schedule or your needs don’t match with your therapist’s availability, you shouldn’t hesitate to change therapists. Luckily, this is easy to do. In our experience, it only takes about 12 hours to be matched to a new therapist. You could decide to change therapists one evening and then, the next morning, hear from your new matching therapist.

If you’ve reached out to your therapist multiple times without a response and/or they have missed live sessions, contact BetterHelp to discuss your options. The company may reimburse you or offer additional weeks of counseling free of charge.

Changing your therapist

BetterHelp makes it easy to change your counselor if you are unsatisfied with your current match for any reason. If your therapist takes too long to reply to a message, the company suggests the option to switch therapists within your message thread. You can also do so through your account.

Insider Tip: Before switching therapists, be sure to review your existing therapy room for anything you’d like to copy and save into a safe file on your computer for later reference.

When is the right time to consider switching therapists? Here are a few major considerations.

Impersonal, shallow, or rote advice

When you’re starting off with a therapist, don’t be discouraged by initial back-and-forth that feels a little impersonal. This kind of interaction at first is actually not uncommon when a therapist doesn’t know much about you yet. The therapist is likely using rote, somewhat generic questions in order to get to know you. After some of this initial questioning, you should feel from the therapist a sense of deeper understanding and validation. What IS a red flag is if the feeling of detachment or unsatisfying back-and-forth persists. If that’s the case, switch therapists because you haven’t found the right person for you.

Good rapport and comfort level

You’re not looking for a best friend – in fact, it’s important that there are boundaries in the professional relationship between therapist and patient. But it’s also very important that you are fully comfortable and feel amiability. Therapy gets uncomfortable, of course, when you’re delving into difficult issues. That is natural. But if you’re feeling discomfort because of the tone of your therapist – or if you feel judged, belittled, or dismissed – it’s a signal that your personalities are not meshing.

Is therapy working?

Fundamentally, if you aren’t sensing progress and improvement, then it could be time to switch. Progress isn’t the easiest thing to assess at all times. Does your therapist describe plans or set milestones? Do you and your therapist discuss progress? (Your therapist should raise the topic if it doesn’t come up naturally.) If you are concerned about the rate of progress, ask your therapist about the current approach. If you are satisfied by the therapist’s explanation of the therapeutic approach – evidence of its efficacy, the rationale for using it in this instance, and what is reasonable to expect from the approach at different stages – then this in itself could promote progress in your therapy because you’ll be on the same page. But if you find the answers unsatisfying, then consider switching therapists.

Communication issues

Communication goes to the heart of effective therapy. If anything, online therapy relies even more fundamentally on compatible communication styles between you and your therapist. Success depends on being able to reach your therapist when you need help, receiving helpful and timely replies, and establishing an ideal cadence for weekly in-person sessions. If you prefer communicating via video for these sessions, but your therapist discourages it, that’s not useful to you. If you sense that you’d benefit from more frequent, shorter sessions as opposed to one hour-long session per week, it’s no good if your therapist can’t accommodate that cadence. And if you are experiencing repeated problems scheduling sessions or misunderstandings that are interfering with your treatment, there could be serious communication issues. Any of these obstacles in communication can derail progress over time, and you shouldn’t settle for a situation that isn’t good for you. Thankfully it’s easy to switch therapists with BetterHelp.

Along with the variety of therapists from which to choose, being able to change therapists easily is one of the major reasons we recommend BetterHelp so highly. If you request to change therapists, the company will ask why you’ve requested to make the change. You’ll have the option of sharing this feedback with your current therapist. It’s your choice, though sharing feedback is always valuable and a considerate thing to do for the therapist, as a professional, unless it makes you uncomfortable.

For instance, here’s a step-by-step description of what one of our research team members experienced:

Using the default, algorithmic matching approach, our team member was matched with a therapist immediately after completing the sign-up process.

  1. 10:49 a.m., Monday: She received a generic welcome message from her counselor (right away).

  2. 12:24 p.m., Monday: She replied with a detailed message explaining her goals for therapy.

  3. 8:22 p.m., Tuesday: She received a message from BetterHelp acknowledging that her therapist hadn’t responded and offering the option to change therapists.

  4. 8:59 p.m., Tuesday: She received a terse note from the therapist stating that he had hoped to speak soon, which was likely prompted by the company urging him to respond.

  5. 10:09 p.m., Tuesday: She requested to change therapists.

  6. 9:09 a.m., Wednesday: The company matched her with a new therapist.

In this case, her new therapist’s welcome message included a lot of detail about her availability and when she would respond. The response indicated that this therapist would cooperate to find a schedule and communication style that worked for our team member. In addition to being a better match for our tester’s previously identified preferences, this therapist was very responsive, and her availability worked much better.

Your experience may be different, but BetterHelp makes changing therapists easy for a reason: finding the right therapist for you is one of the most important factors for your success. If anything doesn’t seem right to you, make a change. This is how you’ll get the most value from online therapy.

BetterHelp reviews from customers

In addition to our own testers’ experiences, we interviewed several BetterHelp customers to find out what aspects of the services worked well or not so well for them. Their identities are protected with fake names to ensure anonymity. Their reviews are below.

Customer review: “Mikka”

Question: Without getting into too much detail, why did you decide to try online therapy?

Answer: “So, I suffer from anxiety and depression. It’s hard to open up to a stranger about these things. I think, looking back, I’ve been dealing with anxiety for a long time, like my entire life. Even when I was very young – not being able to deal with the fear I was feeling in some social situations. I’ve got depression related to the death of loved ones and don’t want to get into that here. I was nervous about trying online therapy… I was almost sick about it. I don’t open up to people easily, especially people I don’t know.”

Question: Why did you choose BetterHelp?

Answer: “I know people who do find help by talking with a counselor as part of a routine, sharing issues and thoughts. A couple of them are doing online therapy with BetterHelp, so I heard about it. I used to think I could manage things myself, but that’s not a good approach for people.”

Question: Overall, were your expectations met?

Answer: “My expectations were totally exceeded. I tried therapy as a child, and it didn’t help me at all, really. I already journal and already meditate. So I was shocked, and I’m just so happy to find out that this process could be so good for me.”

Question: What did you like most?

Answer: “My experience with the counselor I eventually worked with was just great in general. After I decided I needed to switch to a new counselor, I was able to choose from a bunch of them. BetterHelp showed me a page where there were like 8 different counselors, and I loved how much I could see about each of them while I was looking around. These people already were “matches”, you know – like, matched to me based on how I described myself and what I wanted. So it was narrowed down, and I was able to choose the person I wanted, which was amazing.

“Also, there’s this very cool journal where you can put in entries, share them with your counselor… It was quite helpful to have an online journal like that. I also liked the groupinars – a couple of them really drove at some of my major tendencies!”

Question: What did you like least?

Answer: “I switched counselors because my first counselor, I just felt a sort of communication issue, you know? It wasn’t her fault, but we just didn’t communicate as well as I’d like. Like, immediately, she wanted to have a live session and then wanted it to be a live video session. I was surprised. Even if that’s the best way forward, I felt like I was telling her how uncomfortable all of this makes me and my issues with opening up and all. And maybe she was just not picking up on that as much as I’d like, or I wasn’t fully understanding the initial steps that are kind of required? There were other things too related to scheduling. We just didn’t communicate the best way for each other. So I switched.”

Question: If you had one piece of advice to give someone considering trying BetterHelp, what would that be?

Answer: “Probably I’d say that you should just push aside whatever reservations you have or whatever doubts you might be feeling about whether it can help you. Because I can’t recommend this highly enough… I just could not believe the difference in my confidence and how much more at peace I was with myself. I did not expect that. I had to switch counselors, but my second counselor was just amazing, and we really communicated well. She just understood me. After several sessions, the difference for me was amazing. I was so surprised. I was afraid of therapy. I told myself I didn’t need it – for years – probably because I was afraid. If you’re like that, then my advice is to just do it. Ignore those excuses and try it.”

Customer review: “Lana”

Question: Without getting into too much detail, why did you decide to try online therapy?

Answer: “During Covid, I felt like it was really important to work out issues with a professional. With any type of health situation, I mean. And mental health is no different. In the pandemic, online therapy is the way to go. I wanted help coping with stress and was overwhelmed by sadness, and so I wanted to give online therapy a try.”

Question: Why did you choose BetterHelp?

Answer: “A couple of reasons… First, I had a friend who tried it and had a cool experience, and so I could use her referral code to try it. That was how I first heard about BetterHelp. And then, because I’m on my parent’s insurance, I didn’t want to use insurance for this. I wanted it kept private. So, with BetterHelp, I found out I was able to qualify for financial aid based on my situation – going to school, not making a lot in work, and stuff like that. I qualified for over a month for free, and during that time, I got 6 video sessions. This was super helpful.”

Question: Overall, were your expectations met?

Answer: “BetterHelp was a great choice. Yeah, I had a positive experience. It’s a little pricey, but honestly, it’s way better than what I’d normally pay for therapy. And I was able to get financial aid too, which was a great service.”

Question: What did you like most?

Answer: “For me, it wasn’t just about the video sessions. I thought a huge pro of BetterHelp was how you could text or voicemail with the counselors whenever you want. To me, that was huge. If you’re just doing normal therapy, you wouldn’t get that ability. I used that a lot.”

Question: What did you like least?

Answer: “I had a great experience, honestly. I’d recommend this to everybody, literally. Probably the price is the trickiest thing, but like I said, it’s more affordable than therapy the way we all used to do it. I feel like I got more for my money.”

Question: If you had one piece of advice to give someone considering trying BetterHelp, what would that be?

Answer: “Make sure you can connect with your therapist. You need to be able to open up fully with them. If you can be open with this person, you’ll get a lot of help. I found BetterHelp worked great for this – like for me, I’m not religious in any organized sense, but I am spiritual. I was able to convey this, and BetterHelp used it to connect me with someone who really understood where I’m coming from.”

Customer review: “Alaina”

Question: Without getting into too much detail, why did you decide to try online therapy?

Answer: “I’ve got a background where it was clear to me that I work well in online spaces – through work, through education, and socially. And I’ve sought out therapy in the past, just not online. So trying online therapy seemed like a natural course of action for me.”

Question: Why did you choose BetterHelp?

Answer: “I actually tried a few different online therapy places. So it wasn’t so much a matter of me singling out BetterHelp. I tried it as well as others like Talkspace. But I stayed with BetterHelp for a bunch of reasons. The counselor I found, the base plan and what’s included there – lots of reasons.”

Question: Overall, were your expectations met?

Answer: “Yes. In some cases, BetterHelp went well beyond what I expected. I thought the sign-up process was really thorough and thoughtful. It felt comprehensive, and the end result – who I was connected with – was really good.”

Question: What did you like most?

Answer: “The counselor I work with. She’s very open, receptive, prompt in responding – she makes it a great experience. I have a great relationship with her and feel really fortunate that I found her here.

“Also, I thought the sign-up process was top-notch. It was pretty comprehensive, which I appreciated.

“Is it okay if I say three favorite things? My third thing: How easy it is to try different counselors. I switched three times. My fourth counselor was the keeper, and I love working with her.

“Okay, a fourth favorite: the worksheets. My counselor provided awesome worksheets – worksheets for nearly every subject we discussed. Meditation and breathing exercises, communication, codependency – these worksheets were really useful. Still are – I refer to them all the time.”

Question: What did you like least?

Answer: “I didn’t like that there was no way to pause service. It seems like this would be a useful thing for lots of people. If I can’t pause it, then I guess I might need to end my service – and start over from scratch later? That, or I keep paying, it seems. The service is great, but I do think it would be good to be able to pause, if needed, and still keep your chosen therapist when you’re ready to come back.”

Question: If you had one piece of advice to give someone considering trying BetterHelp, what would that be?

Answer: “Keep switching counselors till you find the right counselor for you. It’s easy, and I think it’s the most important thing.”

Customer review: “Ellie”

Question: Without getting into too much detail, why did you decide to try online therapy?

Answer: “In a word: COVID. I tried this during quarantine because it would have been difficult to find a face-to-face session with a therapist.”

Question: Why did you choose BetterHelp?

Answer: “I chose BetterHelp specifically because I felt like it was important to me that a weekly video session was built into a plan.”

Question: Overall, were your expectations met?

Answer: “I’d say my expectations were met, but my expectations were not terribly high because I knew there were positive and negative reviews about them.”

Question: What did you like most?

Answer: “They allow for unlimited messaging throughout the workweek in addition to the weekly live session. So you can message them basically at any time, rather than texting friends who might freak out. You can send a message out of the blue. I think the messaging is a great experience. To me, it actually felt more personalized than going to see a therapist in person, once I found somebody who meshed well with me.”

Question: What did you like least?

Answer: “I guess my least favorite thing about this service is that BetterHelp didn’t prepare me for what to do if a counselor doesn’t work well with me. I had never done this before, and it would’ve been useful to get a little guidance. I feel like I wasted some time and money with my first therapist, and more information up-front about my options would’ve been useful. They could onboard new clients better. My first counselor didn’t tell me the live sessions would only be 30 minutes long, and I was surprised. She seemed like a great counselor, and they matched me well in many ways. But we could only do 30-minute sessions, and I just didn’t feel like we could go into enough depth. I also thought, even though I’m sure she was great, her messaging wasn’t ideal for me. It wasn’t prompt, and at one point, her reply was kind of inadequate. After switching counselors, things were better.”

Question: If you had one piece of advice to give someone considering trying BetterHelp, what would that be?

Answer: “Find the counselor who works best for you. Don’t expect that BetterHelp will guide you there; be proactive and if something isn’t right, switch.”

Is BetterHelp a private and secure service?

BetterHelp takes your privacy and security very seriously. All therapists adhere strictly to HIPAA regulations and abide by all state and federal laws to protect confidentiality. You never have to provide your real name, even during sign-up. You can remain anonymous to your therapist using an alias (a “nickname” in the system).

Your email is shared with ClickMeeting when you register for a groupinar (the term BetterHelp uses for group webinars), but no other personal information is shared. For anonymity, BetterHelp uses your initials as your display name. Recordings of each groupinar may be available to BetterHelp, affiliates, and registrants, so we advise you not to share any personal information during the groupinar.

If there is an instant message that you don’t want to remain in the Counseling section of your account, just click the trash can icon to the right of it to delete it. (However, having messages to revisit later can be beneficial in therapy, so we recommend using this sparingly.)

Because the company doesn’t work with insurance or employers, it doesn’t share any information with those entities. You need to fill out an authorization form to allow your therapist to share any of your information or records with a third party.

From a security standpoint, BetterHelp uses SSL encryption and banking-grade 256-bit encryption to make your messaging secure. Its highly secure servers essentially become useless if compromised in any way.

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