BetterHelp Review: Is online counselling right for you?

BetterHelp is a company which has become the number one online counselling service, with over 31 million sessions and 2,000 therapists. The company says that they want to make counselling ‘accessible, affordable’ and convenient.

Clearly with these figures they are doing just this, and many people are praising their more flexible and modern service, which can cater for more people who are unfortunate enough to suffer from mental health problems.

BetterHelp was founded in 2013 in California by Alon Matas, who, when he faced mental health problems on top of a busy business schedule involving setting up some successful firms, found that he faced difficulties in finding support that would fit into his lifestyle.

What did he do? He decided to to use his expertise to create his own company, one which could make counselling more flexible and allow people to find support online in their own homes.

Or as they BetterHelp say, to create a service ‘so anyone who struggles with life’s challenges can get help, anytime, anywhere’. Their user base is big and growing, and they have clearly filled a gap in the market: this is because only half of people with mental health issues are receiving help, so the service has the potential to be a lifeline for a huge number of people.

How does BetterHelp work?

BetterHelp operates a membership system, in which you sign up for a monthly plan and then you are matched with a counselor. It normally takes, according to BetterHelp, 24 hours or less to be matched with a counselor. They operate their counselling system in four possible ways, these are 

  • Messaging your counselor
  • Engaging in live chat with your counselor
  • Talking on the phone with your counselor
  • Talking over a video conferencing platform, kind of like Skype, with your counselor

When you are messaging, you will be given a private chat room space, in which you can message a counselor, who will then respond to your messages and give you guidance on your issues.

Live chat is similar, but in real time. In this way, you will get an immediate response, but with the convenience of messaging. To talk on the telephone with your counselor, you will schedule a time, and you will be called at this time (note:your counselor will not have access to your phone number). You will log on to the system at an allocated time to engage in a video session.

Mental health issues come in a variety of guises, and the counselors at BetterHelp can help with a variety of issues, such as 

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Relationship issues
  • Being a parent
  • Depression
  • Addictions
  • Eating behaviors
  • Grief

BetterHelp Counselors

BetterHelp have a large number of counselors who can help you with a wide variety of issues, and they all have high levels of training and qualification. They have a wide variety of qualifications, such as PhD and PsyD and they have trained in numerous disciplines such as marriage and family therapy, social work, and so on.

You can browse the counselors on the BetterHelp website in order to match yourself with one who is suitable for your needs, and read a full-bio to see exactly what qualifications and experience they have. 

BetterHelp Cost

BetterHelp operates a weekly membership system, with rates ranging from $35 dollars a week to $80. This will give you unlimited access to your counselor, and considering that a single session with a therapist face-to-face can cost $250, this is very good value. If you no longer need counseling, or you reach the goals that you set yourself, you can simply cancel your subscription.

You pay based upon how much you pay for: if you pay weekly, you pay $80, and if you pay for a chunk of time at once, say six months, this will reduce you weekly costs. With a plan you get unlimited access to your counselor. 

BetterHelp Reviews

Reviews of BetterHelp have generally been very positive, with sites such as Trustpilot generally showcasing 4*+ reviews for the service, and users praising the results. BetterHelp publishes a number of reviews from users on their site, and on sites such as Trustpilot those who have used the site have said things such as;

One user says they have not been in therapy very long, and that it helped to make them feel comfortable that they were matched with someone from their state who specialized in the issues she was experiencing. She praised the convenience of the service, and she said that she is excited to see where the service takes her, as she is feeling consistent improvement. 

Another user compares the price of BetterHelp very favourably with therapy in general, saying there is a number of options, and even the chance to apply for even lower rates if you’re eligible. If you do not see eye to eye with your current counselor, you can easily request another, which is very important for such a service.

They go on to say that in the world that we live in, services such as BetterHelp are very important as they make counselling more accessible both in terms of time and place, but also in terms of cost. 

Another person who had been in therapy for quite a while, 5 years, says that they were always matched with inappropriate therapists in the past. However, BetterHelp’s system allowed them to be matched with ‘the best  therapist that they had ever had’.

They praise the convenience and adaptability of the service and the counselors, and the customer service provided by the non-counseling staff, which they say is first rate.

Another satisfied customer says that they have had a great experience with BetterHelp. They say their therapist is helpful and accomodating, and that they have benefitted from the goal setting in the their therapy session. They compare online (primarily message-based) therapy favourably to traditional therapy, saying that they prefer it, particularly the price, as they are recently graduated.

Finally, a user says that the service is different, not too invasive (which is very important if you are a private person) and they praise the convenience in terms of scheduling.

Summary: Is BetterHelp worth trying?

Online counselling services are exploding in popularity, and it is not hard to see why. We live in a world in which mental health issues are becoming increasingly prevalent, and therapy costs are spiralling, making traditional therapy out of reach for many. As well as this, we also lead much busier lives, and may find traditional therapy is off limits due to our schedules.

Another barrier to therapy for some is unrelated to cost: they may feel embarrassed or scared to face a therapist. Whilst this is obviously not a reason to fail to seek help, Betterhelp also doesn’t suffer from this problem, as their service can be much more anonymous, if this is what you want. Many wonder about the differences between BetterHelp and traditional therapy.

This is important, especially if you are thinking of signing up. BetterHelp retains all of the advantages of face-to-face therapy (you will get expert help from a qualified, licensed professional), with a few key differences;

  • You can chat anywhere and anywhen, in a number of ways - call, video, messaging
  • You can maintain complete anonymity, if that is what you want
  • The cost is much lower

Perhaps the key question you have about BetterHelp though is ‘does it actually work?’ There has been a extensive study conducted by Berkeley Wellbeing Institute, the headlines of which are published on the BetterHelp website, which claims that 98% of users made significant, 94% prefered it to traditional therapy, and 70% had reduced depression symptoms.

On reading the study itself, the conclusions were that the majority of members, after three months of membership showed a significant reduction in their symptoms, with the most severe cases showing the biggest improvements.

Although the study was not of a randomized controlled design, the results are certainly positive, and align with the positive feedback from users cited above .