Effective Online Therapy: Choosing A Quality Provider

Medically reviewed by Arianna Williams, LPC, CCTP
Updated June 7, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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Many people today choose online therapy over traditional therapy with in-person sessions. The mental health crisis in America and worldwide has increased the demand for phone call, video, and messaging therapy. 

BetterHelp is the global leader in providing online therapy sessions. The platform's dynamic, progressive service offers digital therapy to millions of clients, with sessions offered by licensed and vetted therapists and counselors. 

With customized therapy sessions, peer-reviewed mental health articles, and a mental health podcast, platforms like BetterHelp aim to lead the charge in destigmatizing mental health. They provide talk therapy for general mental health concerns as well as mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. 

Learning about the best virtual therapy platforms like BetterHelp and the quality of support you can receive can help you decide whether this platform suits your needs. Below, we’re examining the efficacy of online talk therapy and covering the benefits of mental health services, such as virtual therapy sessions and endless messaging. We’re also comparing online and in-person therapy and discussing the best online therapy services available. 

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
What is BetterHelp online therapy? 

BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that has supported millions of clients in finding quality online therapy. The online therapy platform's counseling services are offered by licensed, accredited, and qualified providers. Only 15% percent of those who apply become BetterHelp therapists due to a stringent acceptance policy and vetting process. 

BetterHelp therapists have the skills and credentials to support various mental health needs, and providers offer BetterHelp therapy services unique to their clients.

These licensed and accredited providers may include:

  • Licensed psychologists (Ph.D. or PsyD)
  • Licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs)
  • Licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs or LMSWs)
  • Board-licensed professional counselors (LPCs) 

If you’re looking for a professional to prescribe medications, an online therapist might not be the right choice for you. You may want to find a doctor-on-demand platform with psychiatrists or psychiatric nurse practitioners. Digital providers like BetterHelp do not prescribe medication or offer medication management. 

When you sign up for internet-based psychotherapy with BetterHelp, you can be matched with a provider who fits your specific preferences based on your answers to your sign-up questionnaire. You can also select the method you'd like to use to communicate with your therapist, including the options for phone, live video sessions, or live chat sessions.

How does BetterHelp online therapy work? 

BetterHelp is an online therapy platform. Virtual therapy treats mental illness, distressing symptoms, and offers life guidance. It is a form of psychotherapy performed through the internet from a personal device. You can use the mental health services available through the BetterHelp platform from a smartphone, computer, tablet, or another smart device from any location with an internet connection. 

Is online therapy effective? 

Digital therapy may be a high-quality alternative to traditional face-to-face therapy in an office. It's a modern way to receive mental health treatment, but the research on its effectiveness shows it can have the same benefits as traditional counseling. BetterHelp serves over two million clients worldwide from all backgrounds, religions, cultures, and identities. Participating in internet-based therapy can also be a more available and affordable option.

Once you sign up with BetterHelp, you are matched with a licensed therapist that fits your unique mental health needs. After picking your preferred digital communication method, you can sign up for weekly sessions that work for your schedule. You can then be billed monthly for your four weekly sessions. 

If you provide it, your therapist may review your existing mental health history so they can provide better treatment.

Is BetterHelp legit?

BetterHelp therapy is a legitimate mental health service. The Better Business Bureau has accredited the company since 2015. BetterHelp employs thousands of mental health providers and requires that all mental health providers possess up-to-date credentials, accreditation, and licensure to ensure BetterHelp counseling quality remains high. In addition, extensive background checks, evaluations, and reference checks verify the integrity and quality of licensed mental health professionals before hiring. Due to this, BetterHelp is selective in its hiring of mental health professionals and vetting process for licensed therapists.

Can you pick your provider?

Before you begin the process of talk therapy, spend time journaling and reflecting on what you seek from the service. If you are unsure about your needs and goals, it may be challenging to establish a beneficial relationship with a BetterHelp therapist.

When you sign up for BetterHelp, you have some control over which licensed therapist you are connected with. Upon getting started with BetterHelp, you may be asked to fill out an initial questionnaire about your current mental health needs and challenges. After you complete the initial screening questions during your sign up process, you can indicate if you have any therapist preferences. These are personal to you and might involve requesting a spiritual, religious, LGBTQ, BIPOC, or same-sex therapist. 

The BetterHelp algorithm can use your questionnaire and preferences to match you with the best online therapist for you. The algorithm will typically find a provider that fits your responses and understands your unique needs and goals. Therapist availability, mental health concerns, and type of therapy will play a role in which provider is right for you. Teen counseling, couples therapy, individual therapy, emotionally focused therapy, and family therapy are common choices from patients. Try to answer all questions as openly, honestly, and thoroughly as possible to ensure the best match. If you find the therapist you are matched with is not providing the benefit you hoped, you can request to change your own therapist at any time through the BetterHelp app, selecting from other therapists who match your requirements.  

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
What are BetterHelp providers able to treat? 

BetterHelp counselors and therapists can support mental illness, stress, relationship challenges, family dynamics, parenting concerns, and many other areas. You do not need to have a mental health diagnosis to use the platform. An online therapist can simply help you focus on mental health and wellness or face the challenges of everyday life. BetterHelp's providers have a wide range of expertise, which may include the following areas: 

  • Marriage and family concerns
  • Substance use 
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Stress
  • Self-esteem
  • Anger
  • Relationships
  • Grief
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 
  • Bipolar disorder
  • General mental health struggles

The BetterHelp therapists matched to your needs are experts in your particular mental health conditions or areas of concern. They may help you navigate difficult experiences, feel renewed and energized, let go of old patterns that no longer serve you, and achieve healing. They can even help you unravel your views of morality, objective, subjective, or virtual morality. For younger patients, counseling for teens is available on our mental health platform. However, you will not see therapists at BetterHelp prescribe medication. Medication management is not available through most online therapy platforms. If you are interested in a digital-based therapist who can prescribe medication, we recommend speaking with your provider about being referred to a psychiatrist for additional treatment.

How long are the app sessions?

Planning the logistics of attending a therapy session can be a challenge for many. The juggling act of keeping up with work, school, kids, relationships, and self-care might scare individuals away from the “time commitment” of in-person therapy services. However, online therapy platforms can simplify the process with live video and flexible scheduling.  BetterHelp can offer a convenient opportunity to receive mental health services. 

BetterHelp’s online platform allows clients to partake in counseling sessions anywhere with an internet connection and smart device. While various options are offered, the basic plan includes one weekly live session. Sessions are scheduled in 30-minute blocks in the virtual psychotherapy room, but clients may be able to request 45-minute blocks by messaging their therapist. In some cases, video sessions may be longer.

How much does online therapy cost? 

Online therapy can be an affordable alternative to traditional in-person therapy. The cost of online therapy varies widely, depending on various factors. While BetterHelp does not accept insurance, BetterHelp offers financial assistance to increase our online therapy platforms. Below are some variables that may influence how much you will pay for online therapy.

Online therapy services

You may be wondering, “What is the best online therapy service?” BetterHelp is the world's largest online therapy platform, offering competitive pricing plans. However, various online platforms offer unique services depending on your needs, such as the Regain platform for online couples counseling. Ultimately, it is up to you to find the best online therapy services for your needs.

Types of therapy

BetterHelp and its sister platforms offer various counseling types, from individual sessions to marriage counseling. These different types of therapy may come with different costs. In addition, the number of sessions you use throughout the year could affect how much you pay.

When it comes to the therapy modalities that BetterHelp therapists use to treat mental health concerns, there is a wide range. People with depression or anxiety may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy; those dealing with stress may seek mindfulness therapy. No matter what you need help with, the qualified mental health professionals at BetterHelp can provide you with treatment that works for you.

Your counselor

Depending on your counselor, you may be offered a sliding scale fee with discounted sessions based on your income. Your provider’s specialty may affect how much their therapist fee costs. A professional who couples therapy or addresses certain mental health conditions may cost more than other providers on an online therapy platform. 

Insurance coverage and financial aid

If you’re considering utilizing online therapy services, you might wonder whether you’ll be able to work with a health care provider who accepts insurance. Many online platforms do not offer insurance coverage. However, financial aid is offered to select individuals through certain online therapy services, like BetterHelp. The BetterHelp financial aid option is based on income and other financial burdens. Some insurance companies may reimburse you for the cost of therapy received through BetterHelp. Reach out to the customer service department of your insurance provider to understand their coverage options.

Unlike with online therapy platforms, which connect clients with licensed therapists based on their needs and preferences, most insurance plans do not include a matching service. You may have to search for providers who accept insurance and then ensure your health insurance provider covers their services. Alternatively, once you find out if your insurance covers online therapy, they may be able to direct you to providers they work with. Likewise, inquire about health insurance portability if you’re changing providers and want to keep your current benefits. You can also ask your employer about a health savings account to help cover the per-session cost of online therapy.

Where you live

Where you live in the United States may affect how much you pay for therapy. Therapist rates can vary based on state and region. Since you must be matched with a licensed therapist in your state of residence, their rates may reflect the local area. 

How much does BetterHelp therapy cost?

BetterHelp's subscription plan price can vary based on your therapist's location and your financial ability. Often, a basic plan with BetterHelp therapy costs $65 to $100 per week (based on factors such as your location, referral source, preferences, therapist availability and any applicable discounts or promotions that might apply), which comes out to $260 to $400 per month and is billed every four weeks.

BetterHelp monthly costs are lower than many traditional insurance co-payments. However, the benefit you receive from the pricing can depend on where you live, your health insurance, and the type of therapy you seek. You can read BetterHelp reviews to see what previous users thought of the BetterHelp pricing and services. 

BetterHelp's community impact 

BetterHelp offers affordable mental health care for everyone, regardless of employment, socioeconomic status, or lack of experience with therapy. They also take their mission further by supporting under-resourced individuals and providing an equitable approach to care for communities in need.

The company has launched social impact initiatives to donate therapy to communities, non-profits, and individuals requiring financial aid. The platform has donated over 31,291 months of therapy to communities in need and over 42 million dollars in financial aid and discounts.  

For updates on supporting underserved communities, visit the BetterHelp LinkedIn page.

Why do therapists work for BetterHelp therapy?

Therapists may benefit from working for BetterHelp due to competitive rates and a manageable caseload that can be increased depending on a provider's schedule. Therapists can practice therapy as they see fit, abiding by BetterHelp's unbiased, professional, and scientifically backed code of ethics.

BetterHelp therapists who work 30 or more hours per week through the platform may also receive bonuses (subject to change). Additionally, therapists can receive free therapy through BetterHelp to support their mental health.

Why do clients use BetterHelp therapy? 

Those who choose to receive therapy with BetterHelp may find that the services cater to their needs. You influence who your therapist is, and if you are not satisfied, you can switch therapists anytime. In addition, sessions can be conducted in an online format. You can choose between video sessions, messaging, and voice calls. BetterHelp also promotes an empathetic, unbiased, and welcoming atmosphere that showcases that therapy is for anyone. To hear from our patients about specific therpaists, you search for a BetterHelp review to hear real experiences.

Getty/Luis Alvarez

BetterHelp is the global leader in online therapy. If you sign up for an online therapy provider like BetterHelp, you can get matched with a licensed, qualified therapist who can provide mental health support within 48 hours. Schedule your online sessions in whatever format suits you and your therapist, including live phone calls, video, or chat sessions. You’ll also get endless messaging so you can reach out to your mental health professional at any time. 

The online therapists at BetterHelp can support you with various mental health needs, such as anxiety, depression, self-esteem, marriage, and other challenges. Our qualified mental health professionals are trained in various therapy modalities, including cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and much more. Regardless of your needs, quality online therapy may benefit you.

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