There’s an app for everything: ordering your groceries, finding a pet sitter, and even accessing therapy. In fact, there are multiple apps that connect people with therapists. BetterHelp is one of the best-known apps for this service, but many still have questions about how BetterHelp works and whether it can really deliver the same results as an in-person therapist.
Get all the answers to your big questions about BetterHelp and similar apps. Connecting with a therapist through an app may be the key to regaining control of your mental health and your happiness.
What Is BetterHelp?
BetterHelp is an app where people can connect with therapists for both individual and group therapy sessions. The app also provides additional tools for assessing and strengthening mental health.
BetterHelp’s mission, according to their website, is “Making professional therapy accessible, affordable, and convenient — so anyone who struggles with life's challenges can get help, anytime and anywhere.”
How Does BetterHelp Work?
BetterHelp is a website and a mobile app. Once you sign up, BetterHelp guides you through different questions to best get a question of who you are and what you need in a therapist. Users can share preferences regarding the gender of their therapist, whether their therapist is LGBTQ or Christian, etc. Users can also share what specific issues they may be dealing with: depression, grief, eating disorders, etc.
With that information, BetterHelp sets users up with a licensed therapist in their state. Because therapists must be licensed in the user’s state, the number of therapists (and what they offer) will vary. But once a therapist is assigned to a user, the user can schedule an individual therapy appointment. Group therapy appointments are also accessible on the app.
BetterHelp’s subscription model offers users one individual session and one group session a week, as well as tools like journal prompts, assessments, and other worksheets for users to access 24/7.
What Therapeutic Approaches Can You Find On BetterHelp?
Psychologists and therapists have developed many approaches to therapy that may be more effective for addressing certain issues. Whether you’re specifically looking for an approach like EMDR or you’re open to learning about different types of approaches, you can find what you are looking for on BetterHelp. The app’s wide variety of individual and group therapists offers access to the following types of therapy and more!
Talk therapy is a general term that describes speaking to a mental health professional to address emotional or behavioral disorders. The practice of talk therapy began with Sigmund Freud, although psychologists typically call his approach to talk therapy “psychotherapy.” Many of Freud’s beliefs and theories have been largely rejected by today’s psychologists, but the practice of speaking to counselors, therapists, or psychiatrists remains popular and effective.
Talk therapy began as a one-on-one interaction: one psychotherapist and one patient. Individual therapy is still very popular, but some people choose to attend group therapy instead or in addition to individual therapy. Group therapy sessions are typically led by a single therapist and may center on a theme. On the BetterHelp app, you can find group therapy sessions centered on women’s issues, LGBTQ issues, depression, pet loss, addiction, trauma, and more.
Today, the most common talk therapy approach is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a process that examines a patient’s thought patterns and how those patterns affect emotions, behaviors, and decisions. If you experience an eating disorder, for example, CBT can help you examine the thoughts that surround food and meals. Once the patient identifies harmful thought patterns, a therapist can teach them healthier thought patterns that ideally lead to healthier emotions, behaviors, and decisions.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, was created as a type of CBT. The DBT approach takes a look at the connection between thoughts, feelings, and certain events; however, therapists who use DBT often incorporate more mindfulness practices into their sessions. With mindfulness, the patient learns how to be present with their thoughts and find more appropriate responses.
People use DBT to cope with things like addiction or self-harm. This isn’t to say that CBT is inappropriate for addiction or self-harm. People may be more responsive to CBT or DBT based on how they react to mindfulness or more “logical” practices.
EMDR and Brainspotting
EMDR and Brainspotting are relatively new approaches to trauma therapy. Using bilateral stimulation and practices in eye movement, these approaches attempt to identify where a person is “storing” traumatic memories and try to process these memories in a new way.
Does BetterHelp Offer Couples Therapy?
When you open the BetterHelp app, they ask if you are interested in individual, group, or couples therapy. If you are looking for couples therapy, BetterHelp will refer you to ReGain. ReGain is a service similar to (and owned by) BetterHelp that focuses on matching couples with mental health professionals.
Can You Access BetterHelp If You Are Outside the US?
Yes! BetterHelp is an American company, but it does provide counseling services to those outside the U.S. For more information, choose the link that matches your location:
- BetterHelp UK
- BetterHelp Australia
- BetterHelp New Zealand
- BetterHelp Canada
- BetterHelp Germany
- BetterHelp India
- BetterHelp Singapore
Is BetterHelp Legit?
BetterHelp is “legit,” but is not a guaranteed way to solve any disorders you may be struggling with. It does not take long for users to be matched with a counselor that fits their needs. If the user does not like their counselor, they can make a quick switch and work with someone new. But that is how BetterHelp should be treated - as a way to connect with mental health professionals. BetterHelp does not guarantee or monitor the quality of the mental health professionals on the app.
There is no guarantee that you will like the mental health professional assigned to you. In order for therapy to work, a user must trust the professional who is guiding them through it. The mental health professional must also listen closely to the user’s needs and address their specific goals. Not all therapists and users will be a good fit for each other. Someone who is seeking medication, for example, may not be initially paired with a professional who does not have the ability to write a prescription.
If you are interested in working with a therapist assigned by BetterHelp, give yourself time to research the therapist’s credentials to see if they fit your needs and the area in which you need counseling. Give yourself some time to work with multiple therapists and get a feel for what approaches you like. You may not find the perfect therapist during your first week on the app.
Who Should Not Use BetterHelp?
According to BetterHelp’s website, you should not use BetterHelp if:
- “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 were required to undergo therapy 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”
If you are dealing with a serious mental illness or believe you are in imminent danger of harming yourself or another person, consider reaching out to a primary care doctor or calling an emergency hotline. BetterHelp is not an immediate solution. It is a way to receive assistance and elevate your mental health.
Why Has BetterHelp Been Controversial in the Past?
You might have heard about BetterHelp through podcasts or YouTube videos. Influencers on these platforms might have shared their struggles with mental health before introducing BetterHelp as a solution. When these ads first started appearing, users were concerned that the paid partnerships between influencers and BetterHelp were encouraging influencers to share exaggerated or untrue claims about the company. In other questionable moves, rapper Travis Scott offered a month of free BetterHelp counseling to AstroWorld attendees who experienced great trauma. The move was, at best, well-intentioned but inadequate for what attendees had suffered.
Additionally, some users on social media have shared poor experiences with BetterHelp. Again, the app cannot guarantee that your therapist will be ideal for your recovery or mental health struggles. Not all mental health professionals are perfect. Finding the right match takes time. You may find a great therapist on BetterHelp for a price that is in your budget, or you may have better luck searching on websites like PsychologyToday or through your insurance provider. The answer depends on your needs and what therapists are available in your location.
What Does BetterHelp Cost Per Month?
As of January 2023, BetterHelp costs $320 per month. The cost is broken down into four weeks, which cost $80 each. Each week of BetterHelp includes one individual therapy session and one group session.
If you plan on attending therapy once or twice a week, this price could save you a lot of money. Therapists often charge between $80-$150 for a single session. (Many therapists offer sliding scale rates to accommodate clients who cannot afford $150 for a single session.) Insurance may also cover mental health care, but not all plans do. Insurance providers also typically offer a short list of therapists who are “in-network,” and it is not guaranteed that these therapists will use the approach of your choice.
If you only intend on going to therapy once or twice a month, this package may be a little excessive. BetterHelp does not offer refunds if you skip sessions. They charge $320 each month, every month. There are ways to save as you pay for BetterHelp, but the price does not change.
Does BetterHelp Take Insurance?
No. According to their website, “Neither BetterHelp nor Therapists on the BetterHelp Platform submit claims to Medicare, Medicaid or health insurers. Services offered using this site are generally not covered by health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.”
It is possible, however, to pay for BetterHelp using HSA, FSA, or HRA funds.
Can You Get a Free Trial of BetterHelp?
Occasionally, BetterHelp offers new users a free one-month trial of BetterHelp. Keep an eye out for these deals by listening to podcasts or following influencers who regularly promote BetterHelp and its services.
Is There A BetterHelp Student Discount?
BetterHelp does not publicly offer discounts to groups like students, veterans, or seniors, but you may be able to get a discount on your first month with the service. Podcasts and influencers may offer affiliate links and discounts to their followers.
This link for COVID-19 support may also provide counseling at a discounted rate.
What Is the BetterHelp Cancellation Policy?
BetterHelp allows you to cancel your membership at any time, but BetterHelp will not refund you for the time that you are not using. So if you pay $320 for four weeks and cancel two weeks into your membership, you will unlikely get $160 back. You will still have access to therapy sessions and the tools available on the app for two weeks.