In the 21st century, issues of the mind such as depression and anxiety are becoming rampant. A recent study by The Journal of Internal Medicine reports that nearly 1 out of 6 Americans are on psychiatric drugs. There are many reasons we can postulate why so many Americans are on medication but it’s a reality. Although medications can help people, many people don’t wish to take them. Drugs can cause a multitude of side-effects and may not benefit the issue at hand.
Therapy may help many people without having the physical side-effects or risks of drugs, but it is often very costly. Many therapists charge between 150 and 200 dollars per session with limited insurance coverage. If you go to a therapist once or twice a week, the monthly cost may be substantial and unaffordable to many. Due to the pitfalls of medications or standard therapy, new companies are rising to try to help. One of the largest ‘3rd party options’ out there is BetterHelp. BetterHelp is a website that offers affordable online counseling and therapy from the comfort of your home. The company works around the world and has several thousand therapists and counselors to choose from.
This ‘3rd party’ option sounds appealing to many people — so we decided to go ahead and try it out.
First Impressions Of The Platform
Signing up is very simple. The signup process requires that you answer a few questions about yourself. The first questions are straightforward such as your age and gender. The following questions are about specific issues that you might have like substance abuse, anxiety or depression. I was also allowed to use a nickname for my privacy. After answering the questionnaire, BetterHelp will pair you with a specialized counselor to fit your needs.
The Cost Of The Service
How much does BetterHelp cost? BetterHelp fees are between $35 and $80 per week depending on which payment option you choose. If you choose to pay weekly, the fee is $80 a week. If you choose to pay monthly, the fee is $65 a week. If you choose to pay quarterly, the fee is $45 a week, and if you choose to pay yearly the fee is $35 a week. According to BetterHelp, the most popular option is monthly.
Does BetterHelp offer financial aid or take insurance? Financial aid is available for those that qualify. In order to qualify for financial assistance, you must fill out a survey on BetterHelps website with income, family and other socio-economic information. In the case of insurance, BetterHelp is generally not reimbursed by insurance companies.
My Counseling Session
I was paired almost immediately with a counselor named Stephanie S. who had multiple certifications including a master’s of counseling degree. I also had the option of how I wanted to communicate with my therapist. The options included instant messaging, telephone and video chat. I went ahead and opted for the phone chat option as that felt most natural to me.
The phone calls felt extremely natural and felt exactly like any other therapy session I’ve had in person. Live sessions work by scheduling once a week either a phone call or video chat session which usually lasts roughly 20-30 minutes. You choose a date on the counselor’s calendar, and the counselor will call you at that time. Note: live sessions are in addition to your daily check-ins and chat messaging with your counselor.
Stephanie was extremely professional, knowledgeable and helpful during our first session. She helped me identify the issues I wanted to work on, and we set up a counseling plan for future sessions. The live sessions felt exactly like a regular $150 an hour therapy session but from the comfort of my own home and for a fraction of the cost.
The other biggest benefit to me was being able to have daily check-ins with my therapist. With regular therapy, daily check-ins aren’t a thing. It can make a big difference with people who deal with anxiety or depression. Instead of having to wait a week to see my therapist I can contact her daily and get help daily. Often times when we need our therapist the most, they are not available because it’s not our ‘once a week’ session. Being able to contact my therapist daily prevented many ‘freak-out’ sessions I would have normally had waiting to see my therapist.
- Licensed Professional: Yes.
- Daily Check-In’s: Yes.
- Environment: From home.
- Schedule: Flexible 24/7.
- Anonymity: Yes.
- Cost: $35-80 a week.
- Licensed Professional: Yes.
- Daily Check-In’s: No.
- Environment: Office and commute.
- Schedule: Rigid.
- Anonymity: Mostly.
- Cost: $120-300 a week.
Licensed Professional: Both BetterHelp and traditional therapy provide licensed professionals. BetterHelp therapists range from basic counseling degrees all the way up to doctorates. With over 2,000 therapists to choose, finding the perfect match is easy. You can also change your counselor at any time with no additional cost to you.
Daily Check In’s: With BetterHelp you can message your therapist every day and get one to two responses back. Most traditional therapies do not allow you to have constant contact with your therapist. This doesn’t even include your weekly live therapy sessions included in the price.
Environment & Anonymity: Traditional therapy requires that you commute to a therapists office. This takes up precious time and gas money or cab fare. Going to a therapists office also removes some degree of anonymity. If someone you know sees you then the fact you are seeking therapy is no longer confidential. With BetterHelp you are guaranteed complete anonymity with the ability to do therapy sessions anywhere.
Schedule: With BetterHelp your therapist is extremely flexible with scheduling live sessions considering many of them work from home offices. You also have daily access with your therapist and do not need to schedule chat messaging sessions.
Cost: Cost is one of the biggest differences between BetterHelp and traditional therapy. Most traditional therapists charge between $100-300 dollars per session. If the therapist books you for two sessions a week that means you are paying nearly $800-1200 dollars a month. BetterHelp only charges you $35-80 dollars per week for their unlimited service depending on how far in advance you pay.
Does BetterHelp Actually Help?
In my opinion, BetterHelp seems no different than regular therapy and that it works just the same. I think we all need someone to talk to who can help us with our issues. Just having a trained specialist available to you may make your life immensely better. BetterHelp is a wonderful way to have affordable access a counselor and I would highly recommend it.
*Updated September 28th, 2018.