BetterHelp review — is this online therapy site legit?

online therapy cost money prescribe

Maybe you’re one of more than 46 million U.S. adults with a mental illness. Or, perhaps you just need to talk some things out, get some advice, and a safe, comfortable place to be heard.

Unfortunately, finding and affording quality counseling that is right for you can be a huge challenge. Schedule challenges, money challenges, and even just finding a quality counselor you connect with all stand in the way of getting the hep you need.

BetterHelp the biggest online therapy apps, and makes getting counseling from a licensed therapist is as easy as sending a text or email, or engaging in a video or phone chat. (Click here to find an online therapist now.)

But how do you know if BetterHelp has the right online therapist for you?

If you’re looking for a detailed run-through, this article goes over how BetterHelp online therapy works, the types of therapy involved, and how to get started.

What is BetterHelp?

BetterHelp is the largest provider of online therapy. They offer counseling services for individuals, couples, and teens working through depression, anxiety, grief, narcissistic personality disorder, stress, addiction, and more. With private communications through chat, phone, and video sessions, BetterHelp simplifies mental health treatment.

Is BetterHelp legit?

An independent study in 2017 by the Berkeley Well-Being Institute at the University of California, Berkely, confirmed several benefits of BetterHelp’s online counseling service. The report states that people receiving therapy with BetterHelp saw improvement similar to in-person treatment, and that symptoms of depression were reduced overall.

Access to a licensed and accredited therapist anytime day or night might sound too good to be true. But this study and the positive online therapy reviews show BetterHelp is a legit company that can help almost anyone work through their problems.

How does BetterHelp work?

BetterHelp works by using technology to facilitate open communication between you and your therapist. To talk with your counselor, you can send text messages throughout the day or schedule a time for a live chat, phone call, or video session.  

The signup is painless and begins with a short questionnaire you complete on the BetterHelp website to better understand why you are seeking therapy, and what your preferences are in terms of schedule, gender and race of therapist and other factors.

Getting paired with a therapist takes about 24 hours. However, you can exchange messages right away after that.

Can BetterHelp therapists prescribe medication?

The selection of therapists you can work with are licensed and certified by their state’s board, which means they undergo the same rigorous standards of any other mental health professional. But like most online therapy companies, BetterHelp does not prescribe medication.

Does BetterHelp cost money?

Online therapy with BetterHelp can cost between $40 and $70 per week. Keep in mind you’ll pay by the month instead of making weekly payments. The service doesn’t appear to have different plans or tiers to choose from, but reports from users show that $65 per week is the average you’ll pay.

Traditional, in-person therapy costs between $60 to $200 or more per hour.

If you can’t afford to pay for BetterHelp, financial aid is available. Answering a few questions about employment status, income, and how many dependents you have could save you 25% or more off the regular price.

Is BetterHelp covered by insurance?

Some insurance plans will cover online therapy, although BetterHelp’s website states their services aren’t typically covered. Since healthcare plans all have different covered benefits, you should check with your insurance company to find out for sure.

Even if you have health care coverage, paying out-of-pocket might be less expensive. Because of the low costs, working with a therapist at BetterHelp may cost a lot less than you think.

Is BetterHelp worth it?

The question is not whether BetterHelp or other online therapy sites are “worth it” — but rather whether counseling and mental health services overall are worth it.

Related: 24 questions to ask before paying for online therapy

As troves of research has found, the answer is: yes.

A recent study published in Translational Psychiatry found that not only does cognitive behavioral therapy change a client's life, it changes their brain. A Forbes journalist summarized it like this:

The study in Translational Psychiatry, which suggests that people who have cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) have measurable changes in the way certain regions of the brain are connected. Given what we already know, this isn’t so surprising in and of itself, but the results are noteworthy because the participants had more serious mental health issues than are usually the subject of CBT studies. This is the latest in a growing body of evidence suggesting that talk therapy not only has significant and lasting effects on mental health, but that these changes can actually be measured in the brain.

First, it’s important to understand that any effort to increase your happiness and quality of life is a worthwhile investment.

With the help of cognitive behavior therapy, your counselor can help you retrain your emotional responses to people, situations, and events. This method can deliver the quickest results, and you may even notice a difference right away.

The value of online therapy sites like BetterHelp is that it is very convenient, affordable, anonymous, secure and takes away all the challenges that can stand between a person and the counseling they need.

BetterHelp vs. Talkspace: Which is better?

Not all online therapy platforms are equal. While most use cognitive behavior therapy online as the primary method of treatment, the intake process, services, and pricing options can vary.

Talkspace and BetterHelp are among top online therapy sites.

When considering BetterHelp vs. Talkspace, the cost is about the same. Neither service offers a free trial and both services start around $40 to $49 per week.

Talkspace offers unlimited text messaging as well, although the number of responses from your therapist depends on which plan you purchase. If you want to add video or phone sessions, you may pay more for those features.

With BetterHelp’s program, there are no additional costs to communicate via live chat, phone, or video. The weekly price allows you to message your therapist any way you’d like.

The option to choose among different pricing structures can make online therapy more affordable for some, but you should make sure you’re making an apples to apples comparison between the two programs.

How to get started with BetterHelp

With the goal of leading you to find happiness and live a better life, BetterHelp makes mental healthcare more accessible than traditional face-to-face sessions. They’ll also match you with a professional therapist for private online counseling no matter where you’re at.

Getting started is easy, and the price seems reasonable considering you can message your therapist 24/7. Plus, you can schedule video sessions, phone calls, and live chats around your own schedule.

Sign up with BetterHelp online therapy in a few minutes >>

About Holly Johnson

Holly Johnson is a financial expert, award-winning writer, and Indiana mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting and travel. Her personal finance articles have been published in the U. S. News, Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, and Life Hacker. Holly is founder of of the family finance resource, ClubThrifty.com, and is the co-author of Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love. Learn more about Holly here.

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