BetterHelp Online Therapy: Pricing, Features, and Reviews in 2021
- Virtual counseling sessions
- 24/7 chat feature
- Licensed, professional therapists
- Personalized counselor matching
- Not covered by most health insurance providers
- Weekly membership starts at $60/week
- Discounts for people experiencing financial hardships
If your mental health feels particularly fragile right now, you aren't alone—especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Job instability, social isolation, loss of loved ones, and health issues are just a few of the factors involved in higher rates of anxiety, stress, and depression since the pandemic began.
A mental health survey conducted by Mental Health America found a 63% increase in depression and a 93% increase in anxiety from 2019 to 2020. Young people between the ages of 11 and 17 experienced the biggest increase in moderate to severe depression and anxiety.
Online counseling services like BetterHelp have gained popularity over the past couple of years. Not only are virtual therapy sessions safer than in-person therapy with regard to COVID-19, but they're also incredibly convenient and easy to use.
Read on to learn how BetterHelp works and determine if it's a good fit for you.
Why trust our expert review?
Our experts independently research and recommend online therapy platforms we believe provide value in the lives of our readers. Collectively, we've spent more than 1,200 hours conducting in-depth research on online therapy. Throughout this process, we did the following:
- Engaged in ongoing independent research
- Consulted with independent therapists, counselors, and psychiatrists
- Mystery shopped the brands
- Surveyed hundreds of online therapy users
- Tested various types of counseling services and formats for online therapy
- Interviewed experts in the field
- Read thousands of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports
Why we chose BetterHelp
We chose to review BetterHelp because it's one of the largest and most trusted online therapy providers. With a multitude of diverse professionals, BetterHelp is suitable for teens, individuals, and couples. And with some of the best prices for virtual counseling, BetterHelp is a great option for people on a budget.
Pros and cons of BetterHelp
Telehealth services like online counseling are quickly growing in popularity because they are an excellent alternative to in-person visits. Below is an overview of the benefits and downfalls of BetterHelp when compared to in-person therapy.
- Easy access via phone, tablet, or computer
- Phone, video, and chat therapy sessions available
- Convenient for people with limited mobility and those living in remote areas
- 24/7 chat feature
- Conversations saved to the platform for later review
- Option to change counselors at any time
- Can cancel membership at any time
- All counselors accredited and experienced
- Greater accessibility when compared to in-person therapy
- No face-to-face contact
- Not covered by most insurance plans
- May be too expensive, even with financial assistance
- Therapists cannot prescribe medications
- Therapists are unable to make official diagnoses
- Cannot fulfill any court order obligation
Price and payment options
BetterHelp costs between $60 to $90 per week, billed every four weeks. The amount you pay depends on your preferences, where you live, and the available therapists.
Health insurance providers, including Medicare and Medicaid, generally do not provide coverage for BetterHelp. However, the weekly cost of BetterHelp is about the same as the copay for in-person therapy services through insurance.
BetterHelp does offer financial assistance for people with financial hardships. Qualified people receive up to 40% off the weekly rates. Additionally, new patients receive 10% off their first month.
Customer service and satisfaction
BetterHelp is easy to use. As a user, you may use the website login or smartphone app for video therapy sessions, scheduling appointments, and messaging your therapist.
When using BetterHelp, it's helpful to know the following:
- You will receive an email notification when your therapist responds to you.
- You may schedule either phone, chat, or video therapy sessions.
- You can revisit messages when you log in.
Customers seem to be happy with the BetterHelp platform, along with the variety of virtual options and tools. If you have a question for the BetterHelp customer service team, you must fill out an online contact form and wait for a response—there is no customer service phone number.
How does BetterHelp work?
When you first sign up for BetterHelp, you fill out a questionnaire that helps pair you with the right counselor. During the questionnaire, you provide your preferences regarding your therapist's gender, age, language, religion, and sexual orientation. You also share your counseling goals to find a professional with skills that match.
Once BetterHelp matches you with a counselor—a process that takes up to two days—you can start using the therapy provider's services. These include:
- Weekly phone, video, or chat counseling sessions
- 24/7 chat via text
- A weekly interactive group session of your choice
- Digital modules
The baseline plan includes one weekly therapy session via the format of your choice—phone call, video call, or chat. You may message your therapist 24/7, but don't expect an immediate response. Typically, you should see a response in less than 24 hours.
Types of treatment available
The BetterHelp counselors specialize in therapy for individuals, couples, and teens. Some of the conditions commonly addressed include:
- Eating disorders
- Sleeping troubles
- PTSD and other trauma
BetterHelp does not provide diagnoses or prescribe medications.
Every BetterHelp therapist is an accredited professional with either a master's degree or doctorate degree and at least three years and 1,000 hours of experience.
Here are the types of therapists who work for BetterHelp:
- Psychologists (PhD/PsyD)
- Clinical social workers (LCSW/LMSW)
- Marriage and family therapists (LMFT)
- Licensed professional counselors (LPC)
Ease of use: Desktop vs. mobile
BetterHelp has a user-friendly mobile app and desktop site. You may use either one or both of these interfaces to schedule appointments, chat with your counselor, or join your video or chat therapy session.
BetterHelp vs. Talkspace vs. In-office therapy: Which is better?
BetterHelp and Talkspace are the two leading online counseling services. Both have certain advantages and disadvantages compared to in-person talk therapy, and there are subtle differences between the two.
Virtual therapy providers like BetterHelp or Talkspace are typically more convenient than in-office counseling. You don't have to go into an office, and there's an online interface that encompasses scheduling, video and chat sessions, worksheets, and more. However, you don't have an in-person interaction, which can be a downside for some people.
While both BetterHelp and Talkspace are online counseling providers, the differences may make one better for your needs. BetterHelp is more affordable, but only Talkspace providers can provide diagnoses and medications.
The table below summarizes how these three forms of therapy compare.
Virtual sessions (phone/video/chat)
Smart provider match
How we chose our top picks
We reviewed BetterHelp as a top pick for online therapy platforms based on the following criteria:
- Price and payment options
- Level of training and qualifications of therapists
- Counselor matching process
- Experience of therapy sessions
- Ease and consistency of follow-up during or after therapy
- Messaging response time
- User satisfaction and verified reviews
- Types of treatment available and areas of specialization
The bottom line
BetterHelp is an affordable online therapy service with licensed and experienced therapists. It's intended for teens, adults, and couples.
In general, we believe you can find many benefits to using this virtual therapy platform over in-person sessions, including a personalized counselor match, convenient access from anywhere, and a 24/7 chat feature. If revisiting your session at a later date is an important option for you, BetterHelp could be a good fit: All of your conversations are saved on the platform so you can review them later.
But online counseling isn't right for everyone. BetterHelp is unable to provide diagnoses or medications. Plus, you don't have the in-person feel some people prefer.
Frequently asked questions
How much does BetterHelp cost per month?
BetterHelp costs between $60 and $90 weekly at full price. Customers pay for four weeks at a time, with pricing ranging from $240 to $360 per month. BetterHelp offers financial assistance of up to 40% for people who are unemployed or experiencing financial difficulties.
Is BetterHelp legit?
Yes. Every one of the BetterHelp counselors is an accredited psychologist, counselor, marriage and family therapist, or clinical social worker with at least three years of experience. Just like traditional therapy, the privacy of BetterHelp patients is protected by HIPAA laws.
Does BetterHelp take insurance?
No, the therapy provider's services are not normally covered by health plans, whether through an employer, Medicare, or Medicaid. Customers must pay BetterHelp directly for its services, although weekly payments are similar in cost to insurance copays for in-person therapy.
Is Talkspace or BetterHelp better?
When deciding if you should choose BetterHelp vs. Talkspace for virtual therapy, know that both are trusted providers with licensed, experienced counselors. BetterHelp is more affordable, but only Talkspace has licensed psychiatrists able to prescribe medications and provide diagnoses.
Is online therapy as effective?
According to studies comparing online therapy to in-person therapy, virtual therapy is equally effective for helping with goal setting, depression, trauma, and multiple types of anxiety. The key to success with either form of therapy is consistency. You should also consider which form of counseling most appeals to you and your lifestyle.
Can BetterHelp diagnose you?
No, BetterHelp cannot provide a medical diagnosis. While the BetterHelp therapists are all accredited and experienced, they do not give diagnoses or prescribe medications.
Nicole Gleichmann is a writer specializing in biology, technology, and health. Much of her writing has been for medical professionals, including surgeons, dieticians, and chiropractors. You can find her articles on Health, Everyday Health, Technology Networks, CannaMD, and CBD Hacker. Nicole holds a bachelor's degree in organismal biology from Scripps College and has previously worked as a nutrition and wellness coach. She is an avid learner, traveler, and nature enthusiast who lives with her two dogs in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains.