BetterHelp is an online counseling platform offering individual, couples, and family therapy sessions with board-certified therapists, allowing people to receive counseling no matter where they are.
Since its founding in 2013, the platform has hosted more than 92 million online therapy sessions through SMS messaging, live chat, telephone therapy, audio therapy, and face-to-face video sessions.
BetterHelp’s services have earned it an overwhelmingly positive customer rating, with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and a 4.5/5 “Excellent” customer rating on Trustpilot based on over 1,800 reviews.
Pros and Cons of BetterHelp
- Easy to switch counselors until you find the right fit
- High privacy standards
- Wide variety of ways to communicate
- Not typically covered by insurance
- Not all therapists treat all specialties
What’s Unique About BetterHelp?
BetterHelp is one of the few online counseling platforms to have hard data to prove its efficacy.
This comes in the form of a study consisting of active BetterHelp users conducted by the Berkeley Well-Being Institute, which found BetterHelp to be “as effective as face-to-face counseling”.
Berkeley came to this conclusion by way of the following results:
- 98% of users made significant progress
- 94% of users prefer BetterHelp over face‑to‑face therapy
- 70% of users reduced depression symptoms
Who Is BetterHelp For?
BetterHelp describes itself as offering “access to mental health solutions for people of all ages”, including solutions to problems stemming from any of the following:
- Family conflicts
- LGBT matters
These are just the specific issues listed; you’re bound to find counselors offering help to other issues not listed above.
However, BetterHelp makes clear that it’s not capable of substituting for traditional face-to-face therapy in every case, and isn’t able to make any official diagnosis, to fulfill any court order, or prescribe medication.
Specifically, the platform recommends not using its counselors if:
- You have thoughts of hurting yourself or others
- You are a minor or you are under the care of a legal guardian
- You are in an urgent crisis or an emergency situation
- You have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness, or if you have been advised to be in psychological supervision or psychiatric care
- You were required to undergo therapy or counseling either by a court order or by any other authority
- You do not have a device that can connect to the Internet or you do not have a reliable Internet connection
How Do You Get Counseling?
You can get counseling in four ways on BetterHelp:
- Exchanging messages with your counselor
- Chatting live with your counselor
- Speaking over the phone with your counselor
- Video conferencing with your counselor
The only requirements to be able to access any of these ways is to have a computer, smartphone, or tablet with a working internet connection, microphone, and camera (if you’re video conferencing). You can also change to a different way at any time based on your needs, availability, and convenience.
BetterHelp also aims to make their platform accessible to disabled users by aligning with the most recent Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) at the AA level, published by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Who Are the Counselors?
BetterHelp hosts of over 12,200 counselors on their platform, all of which are licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited psychologists (PhD / PsyD), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW / LMSW), or licensed professional counselors (LPC) that have a Master’s Degree or a Doctorate Degree in their field.
In addition to all of the necessary accreditation and education, all counselors have at least 3 years and 1,000 hours of hands-on experience. You can also clearly see full licensing information for each provider to allow you to do your own research if you so wish.
To give you an idea of how rigorously BetterHelp upholds the quality of their counselors, the application process for counselors lasts 4-5 weeks, with only about 15% of those who apply being accepted.
What to Expect on the Site
Signing up takes just a few minutes and requires you to provide some general and anonymous background about you (counseling history, current physical health, eating habits, etc.) and the issues you’d like to deal with in online therapy.
After signing up, you’ll be matched with a compatible counselor, which can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on availability.
Fortunately, your subscription doesn’t start, and, therefore, you’re not charged, until you’re matched with a counselor.
Is BetterHelp Safe to Use?
Outside of verified and qualified counselors, BetterHelp’s privacy and confidentiality standards expand beyond that required by law or regulations.
BetterHelp’s safety and protection measures include:
- You don’t need to identify yourself (you can use a nickname instead)
- Everything you tell your counselor is protected by strict federal and state laws.
- BetterHelp doesn’t cooperate or work with any insurance companies or employers, so nothing needs to be shared, reported, or filed with them.
- You can always click the “Shred” button next to each message that you’ve sent so it will no longer show in your account.
- All the messages between you and your counselor are secured and encrypted by banking-grade 256-bit encryption.
- BetterHelp’s servers are hosted in an “A Grade” facility, ensuring the best-in-class security and protection.
- BetterHelp’s browsing encryption system (SSL) follows modern best practices, providing world-class online security and encryption.
- BetterHelp’s databases are encrypted and scrambled so they essentially become useless in the very unlikely event that they are being stolen or inappropriately used.
However, if, for whatever reason, you would like to release your records to a third party (in-person counseling, for example) you can request to do so.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $60 to $80 per week for counseling, depending on your specific situation and needs. Conveniently, you can cancel at any time for any reason.
The Bottom Line
If it’s your first foray into online counseling, BetterHelp is as safe and as credible as it gets. With over 12,000 licensed and screened counselors with specializations in virtually any issue you can think of, you’re bound to find the perfect counselor to help you with the specific issue you’re going through.
You can also get counseling in whatever way you’re comfortable with, whether that means exchanging messages, chatting live, speaking over the phone, or video conferencing with your counselor.
If you’re interested in seeing how BetterHelp can help you, take the five minutes it takes to fill out their questionnaire to start meeting with qualified counselors in as quickly as a few hours.